Like the rest of the servers, a crisply uniformed automaton bartender presented their drinks in a manner so efficient, Kenny wondered if their motions were being choreographed by a central consciousness. He mainlined half his G&T on the first lift. He dropped the remaining half of his drink on the bar and turned his attention back to Sam, who was gingerly placing her beer on the bar.
“Have you ever had an experience that was so amazing, eye-opening, transforming, that you couldn’t seem to recover?” she asked.
Kenny dove to the bottom of his G&T, as he slipped into a state of deep contemplation. He quickly swallowed his way back to the surface, as he motioned for another. He knew exactly what Sam meant. He knew it, because of a chance encounter at a record store that found him living in Amsterdam with a woman who felt like his. In the split-second remaining before his eagerly anticipated response, he back-flashed to the night he met Maud—the night she rode back to the flat with them in the van. He recalled crossing the bedroom threshold with her in tow. With all its ecstatic nerves and base desire, that first moment standing in the filtered moonlight was still fresh enough to relish. He reimagined Maud sliding her index finger under his chin and coaxing his mouth onto hers. Her erotic chutzpah still reached out and yanked him back into the past. It was as delightfully shocking to him in reverie as it was in person. He still couldn’t believe a girl like her was with a big lug like him.
Why me? He thought as he thought.
His mind was then tickled by the memory of her nearly obscene striptease. On that fateful evening, at his impressive blood-alcohol level, he had a hard time believing his eyes were not playing tricks. He flushed as he recollected her skillful disrobing of him. In less than a minute, that evening’s dry but sweat-stained rock star clothes were in a pile near his feet. He could still feel his embarrassment at his condition and his yearning to shower before she touched him. But she ignored it, brushed it aside even, as she dropped to her knees and fellated him at the foot of the bed—his condition be dammed. He recalled the way she took charge of his awkward body and directed it do precisely what she needed. He had never been so expertly manipulated emotionally, physically, and intellectually. It was all he’d never dreamed of, because he didn’t know any of it was possible for guys like him. But once he knew, he couldn’t unknow it, he couldn’t breathe without it. He needed the zeitgeist of the evening to extend beyond the remainder of his days. And for that to happen, he had to claim this woman who’d so deftly manipulated him.
Luckily, she wanted to be his.
And so, she was.
And so, he knew all about amazing, eye-opening, transforming experiences that left you unable to recover.
Sam took Kenny’s pause to mean he presumed her question rhetorical. It was not, so she pressed on, “I feel like I’m battling this perpetual hangover. I’m hung over Amsterdam. I miss the city, I miss the people, I miss our flat. Fuck do I miss smoking joints and drinking wine our little rooftop patio! I’m hung over being a rock star—the rock star standing out front and kicking ass. Being a backup singer is not nearly the same thing. It’s something like slinking back into the shadows after you’ve bathed the center stage spotlight. It’s totally lackluster. And I’m hung over him—that leather-coated, sexy, smirking, fucker,” Sam reached out and grabbed Kenny’s arm, she looked stricken, “I can’t shake his ghost. It lives with me, it sleeps beside me, it haunts me!” Sam tapped her chest with her free hand to emphasize each point, “I need a fucking exorcism or something to move on. This tour’s been hell dragging it around with me from city to city. I get a break for an hour or two every now and then, but then boo! There it is again,” Sam pulled both of her hands in front of her shoulders and flared them outward to punctuate the “boo!”
Kenny flinched slightly, then nodded, “Yea, I know, probably better than anyone. Why—”
Sam interrupted, “Some nights I wake up drowning in equal parts sweat and Heineken after dreaming that ghostly fucker is on top of me with his hands around my neck choking the life out of me. Some mornings, over coffee and Advil, I plot a reunion where I choke the life out of him in some sleazy motel on the outskirts of Eau Claire. After I screw his brains out, of course.”
Excerpt from All or Nothing Girl, the forthcoming novel from Blake Charles Donley