Twenty-First Century Romance: The Fall of Emotion

Lines of euphoria dress a marble counter top while eager participants fidget in anticipation of their turn. One by one, the lines disappear as the white powder travels efficiently up rolled hundred dollar bills. My eyes travel around the room to take in my surroundings. Small beads of sweat begin to form on the back of my neck. My mind is racing; thoughts fade in and out like the sun on a partly cloudy day. I’m not sure as to how I ended up here in this swank loft with cocaine slowly consuming my senses. I scan the room again, but this time I’m interrupted. My eyes are locked on a dame sitting on the edge of the pool table. She raises a brow and entices me with a dangerous look. Unable to subdue my intrigue, I set off weaving through a sea of burnout liberals towards piercing green eyes— like a cat who spies a loose string dangling from a ball of twine.
I must make it mine.
Her lips curled into a sly smile as I grabbed a stick and presented her with a challenge. “Feeling lucky?” she asked, cocking her hip to one side and sliding off the edge of the table. “Only time will tell,” I countered. “Shall we make a friendly wager?” “What’s on the table?” “Depends on your game,” “Loser buys a round.” “I can always go for a drink,” I racked the balls and slid the cue ball to her end of the table. She bent slightly, leaning in on the table, eying up her shot. A few perfect, mahogany curls fell across her face. The multi-hued light cascading from an old, stained-glass lamp danced across her skin, accentuating her beauty.
With a loud crack, the balls scattered across the table, and the 1 and 4 fell into opposing pockets. I chalked my stick and swallowed my nerves. The balls began sinking, and the heightened tension in my muscles loosened. She started kicking my ass rather quickly. As the eight ball fell into oblivion, I realized now came the hard part. I’ve never been a fan of making small talk.
I always wondered why, since “small talk” is so prevalent in our day-to-day lives, WHY NOT TEACH US! More often than not, you overhear conversations in bars go horribly wrong. And for some reason, it seems to be us men who are so bad at it. As I tried to formulate a sentence without sounding like a jackass, she cut off my thoughts with a demand.
“Johnny Walker Blue on the rocks,” she demanded without blinking. That is the sexiest thing a woman has ever said to me. I didn’t know they drank scotch. She pulled out a cigarette from a small silver tin and placed it between her lips, but off to the side in a suave manor, very Humphrey Bogart. I instantly had the desire to figure her out.
She retired her pool stick back to the rack with pride and grabbed my hand. “Come with me. There is a fantastic dive not far from here. You owe me a drink,” she whispered.
I followed her through the sea of people, down a narrow staircase and out into the crisp autumn air. Getting my bearings, I noticed we were on 16th Street headed towards Sansom. I followed her with child-like wonder for about five blocks until we happened upon an out-of-place red door. She fumbled around in her pocket and presented a key, like a sacramental offering to the door.
“Here we are, the cheapest bar in the city,” she stated sarcastically, directing me into the living room. The room was dimly lit and painted a deep purple with soft grey accents. There was a black, what looked to have been hand made bar with three high stools, a long, black, worn in leather sofa. Along the sofa was a low coffee table whose ornate top fought for existence under the mass array of coffee table books. The World’s Deadliest Pirates, Led Zeppelin, Constellations & Galaxies, and Marvel: Superheroes were strewn across the table begging for my attention.
She stood behind the bar, enticingly shaking a fifth of Johnny Walker Blue at me.
“Neat or on the rocks?” She asked. “Neat,” I replied. She smirked, walking toward me, handing me a snifter of Blue. She grabbed a mirror from the bar and sat it on top of Led Zeppelin, pouring a pile of white powder out of a tiny plastic bag. She grabbed a Pets Plus bonus card from the table and began to section the dust into inconsistently sized lines. After bumping two lines, one up each nostril, as if to share with the left and right side of the brain equally, she handed me the mirror. " Bump?" she offered. I took the mirror and a twenty-dollar bill I had been using earlier out of my pocket and perfected its cylindrical shape.
Snifff.
The cocaine rushes up my nose and I feel euphoric.
Now for line two, snifff. I place the mirror on the table and grabbed my scotch. She’s sitting in the corner of the couch, relaxed, smoking a cigarette. Dark brown hair spiraled down below her shoulders framing her face like a painting. Her eyes are glazed and focusing in and out on the flickering flame of a candle. I sit, relaxing into a groove on the couch lighting a fag. The smoke dances the tango through the heat of the candle and then drifts out the opened window. After being transfixed on the smoke for the duration of my cigarette, I glance over at her, and she is rising to her feet. Her body slinks over to the bar like a woman from the 1920s, who have both sex appeal and class. She takes the mirror, placing it on the bar, and takes one more line to the head. Pulling her finger toward her, she motions for me to do the same.
As I feel the tingling in my brain and the numbing at the back of my throat, I hear music being turned on.
No fucking way. The ambient sounds of Mossy Rock, the band of a friend of mine, flood my ears, and I pull her toward me, placing my hand on the small of her back. I can smell the sweet aroma of grapefruits contrasted against that of cigarettes.
We make love with the music through our movements, eyes closed, just bodies moving as one. I follow her lead as she moves us toward the side of the room until, bam, she pins me up against the wall pressing her lips hard against mine. I quickly regain control of the situation putting her back against the wall and holding her hands in place above her with my palms on hers. Our mouths move in unison, and I tighten my grip as she fights for control. I grab her thighs and put her higher against the wall, forcing her to wrap her legs around my hips for support. I kiss down her neck, and our clothes begin to fall in layers to the floor like the autumn leaves to the ground outside. I carry her over to the warn couch and run my hands along the sides of her smooth body. I feel her quiver allowing tiny little goosebumps to emerge across her skin as I run a finger down her stomach. Making circles around her breasts, she moaned, reaching for my wrists and flipping me over. She planted small kisses all down my body starting with nibbles at my neck into gentle pecks on my hips.
Like the last horse out of the desert before a sandstorm, she rode me. We managed to go through an eight ball of coke, every surface in her apartment and two packs of cigarettes before we ran out of breath and broke our bodies more than a foot apart for the first time that night.
She slipped out of the bed, the last of our endeavors, and disappeared from the room. I sat up and lit a cigarette as my mind began to race. Fight or flight, fight or flight. Was she giving me the time to leave? Women never leave this opportunity; there is always a sign, and it is “HOLD ME,” or “CUDDLE.”
Normally, I really want to leave. After several minutes of paranoia, she sauntered into the room with a silk robe and a tray holding a green wrought-iron pot with two matching cups and a galactic, glass-blown pipe. I honestly thought I died in that very moment. She took the bowl, which was overflowing with beautifully green, crystallized buds and motioned to cheers. I poured the tea and handed her a cup. We finished the bowl and savored our tea like trophies for our endurance. I handed her a cigarette and lit one for myself. When the light from the flame illuminated her face, I felt a knot tie in my stomach.
She spoke, without breaking her transfixion on the wall across from her.
“Don’t feel obligated, but the offers up,” she said with nonchalance, redirecting her gaze toward me. I cocked my head to the side, as if to make her elaborate.
“You’re welcome to stay, but you won’t break my heart.”
She put her cigarette in the ashtray and let the candles flicker like a lullaby as she settled into her groove. In that instant, I knew I had to fight. I inched closer and held my arm around her waist, nestling into her spot on the mattress. I kissed the soft nape of her neck gently, like a ripe, sun-kissed, summer peach and let my brain drift into darkness.

Twenty-First Century Romance: The Fall of Emotion

JPunko

Joined March 2008

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Work in progress.

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