I could see their faces glibly eyeing each other from across the bar. It was midnight on broadway, and the college boys were out in droves, patrolling the downtown streets in search of stray felines to seduce for a night. I participated because of a higher virtue, because this is what college boys do, though I mostly resented the banality of it all. I had downed about five beers at the pregame, a group of what seemed like a dozen guys and girls smashed into a dorm room, country music blaring to muffle the gagging and laughter as we pulled on the bourbon. I can still smell the spilt beer wafting from my clothes.
The neon lights buzzed and their soft light illuminates the hazy humid air. School seemed like it had just began, but at the same time, felt like I was trapped in this purgatory, where every year is like the last, the booze, the music, the studying, the cramming, the girls, and the amphetamines to make it all work in harmony.
“ID.” the man at the podium asked, looking up from behind his glasses. He had a buzz cut, a high and tight, like a marine cut, and looked about fifty years of age, with big jowls that drooped below his chin, and deep circles under his eyes, though not dark. He wore raw pastel denim overalls that looked like they were freshly pressed, and a raggedy marines t-shirt underneath. I reached into my back pocket to retrieve my wallet and handed him my ID, making sure to maintain eye contact with my dead eyes that said I wasn’t here to fuck around. He pursed his lips and inspected it. He was morbidly obese. He eyed my picture then back at me and handed me the ID and stamped my hand.
I surveyed the room. It was full of drunk college girls and douchey college boys. The girls wore pig tails and cowboy boots and flowing sun dresses that revealed lots of leg, and the boys wore some variation of boat shoes, khaki shorts and polos, or a ratty t-shirt emblazoned with greek letters. Their hair was usually unkempt and wild, too busy to give a care.
“Holy shit it’s loud!” my buddy yelled into my ear. I winced.
“Yea,” I said “it usually is.”
“There are so many hotties!” he yelled back.
There was an old cadillac parked inside the bar that served as part decor and part table, and astroturf that gave the appearance of grass, but emanated the stench of spoiled beer from years of exposure. There was a live band playing loud country rock to the left of the room, and a long bar further back, with tables on the right. In front of the band was a writhing mass of bodies, gyrating to the music, eyes rolled up into their heads, one arm in the air while the other gripped their drink.
That’s when I saw her.
Doe eyes, with a coy smirk that danced with the music. She was totally present amongst the crowd, swaying her hips, waiting for something, someone to catch her attention. And that’s when our eyes met.
Her eyes squinted like pursed lips, beckoning me to chase. Time slowed as she moved her hips slowly to the beat which seemed to match the rhythm of my heart.
“Boom.” I say out loud. My buddy turns to me and then looks into the crowd and spots the shining ray of light. He smiles.
“Oh shit! You’re in love!”
“I’m not in love, but I’m going to make love.” I say, cracking a smile at my own cleverness, and the fantasy that was beginning to unfold. He smacks me on the back as if to say “Go get’em sport!” and I maneuver through the crowd with deft confidence until we’re standing just inches apart.
She looked up at me with a blank expression, as if to ask “And who do you think you are?” But she knows who I am, so the expression immediately melts into a smile, and her eyes light up. I smile back, my eyes locking onto hers as they whisper through the noisy bar, “I want you.”
We reach out and touch each other, allowing our hands to feel the outlines of the others body, and a place to pull each other closer.
An hour later we’re moving in full embrace on the dance floor, tongues tasting the salt from each others skin. I ask her if she’s ready to go. She nods softly, happily, dreamily. I ask if she’d like to come to my place. She produces the same happy nod.
I grab her hand and find a pledge, one of the newest fraternity recruits that’s essentially a slave until initiation, always sober and on call to drive or do whatever necessary errand the brothers demand.
“I’m getting out of here” I tell the kid. “Who’s car do you have tonight?”
“Uh, Cam’s.” He says. He’s 19, but he has a fake. All the pledges have fake ID’s. They drive the brothers to the bars, and wait alone in the corner, waiting to be called upon to take them back to campus.
We go home.
We kiss. We get naked. I try to fuck her.
I sense she is drunk, much drunker than I realized. Because of my relative sobriety, I sense the faintest sense of hesitation on her part, as if she’s not sure she wants this to happen.
In that moment I’m left with two options: show her how much I want it, how much I care, how enraptured I am with her essence, her body, her scent, her seduction. Or, ask myself if she’s in the right state of mind to want me, if she even wants to be here, or if she’s just suspended reason for the night.
I take a moment to reflect on these two options as I gaze into her angelic visage. Her eyes are half opened, and smiling. Because she’s happy? Or because she’s drunk? There is a vulnerability to her. Her mouth is parted, and her breathing is barely audible. Her lush lips, freshly moistened by our kisses, reflect the moonlight from my window.
I dismount her petite body, and collapse next to her. We lay there for what feels like an hour, though it could be moments, before she rolls over and reaches her arm across my body, and lays her head in the nook of my chest.
“Thank you.” she says.
We proceed to talk about life, about her mother who passed away when she was a small child, about her father, a Vietnam Vet who struggles with health issues due to Agent Orange, and can’t get the veterans healthcare her deserves. He’s dying too, and his only child, his sweet daughter, is at college, away from him for the first time. She is barely 19.
I reflect on that night.