Harrington Calls It a Night
The beer taste like lukewarm piss and that’s putting it nicely. Not that I’m a connoisseur of piss or anything body waste related, it’s just that the color is the same and the semi-frosted glass isn’t working in its favor. I slam back the backwash swill, forcing it down in a large audible gulp, bang on the bar with my right hand in triumph and let out a mock groan of disgust once it lands in the pit of my stomach, keeping company the previous eight from earlier. I check the time on my watch and calculate the beer to minute ratio just for shit and giggles. Eight beers in an hour and a half; I’m slowing down as the years speed up on me. I used to drink faster and much more than that with a piggyback of shots to boot, but hey, who’s counting?
My hand is up in the air before I even realize it, impatiently waving over the bartender, Kelly, to fetch me another glass of piss. This time, hopefully it comes from the tap across from me and not the toilets in the back.
“Are you serious?” Kelly asks, an eyebrow cocked in exaggerated anger. A smirk forms in the right corner of her mouth, only making her cuter before she continues. “And here I thought you respected my position here.”
“Aw doll. You know I love ya.” I smile back at her, drinking in her tall slender frame. At five-foot seven with dirty blonde hair and dangerously smoldering brown eyes, she knew how to use every last inch of that body to her advantage. “Hit me up again, won’t you?”
“Now that’s better,” she says, turning around slowly but not before throwing me a wink over her shoulder. She the reaches into the cooler and pulls out a cold frosted glass, puts it up to the tap (Miller Lite, my daddy’s beer) and draws off another one for me. “This one’s on me, suga. Don’t say I never gave you anything.” More smiles are exchanged between us as she walks away catering to the other drunks and losers and I tilt back my head once the beer is to my lips, eager to continue my destructive binging.
Surprisingly, this one isn’t that bad. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I could still make out Kelly’s finger prints around the base of the glass. I purposefully place my fingers over them, imagining my hands in hers, her skin on mine. Yeah, right. Dream on, old man. Dream on. I laugh out loud, finishing half of the brew in one massive gulp, helping me to knock out such foolishness from my head. It works, and by the time I’m finished and ordering another, my buzz comes on strong, drowning out the jukeboxes’ blaring music and making the lights go all soft and hazy.
That’s it, I’m outta here. I feel my face go numb and hope others don’t notice how drunk I am. Kelly knows that face by now, the face she sees easily a hundred or more times during the week, especially on her shift: the look of defeat, of drunk, of inebriation. She brings my tab without even asking and offers to call me a cab, but she knows better than that. I’ve driven out of here almost blind and half insane courtesy of Sir Captain Morgan and his first mate, coke. She does this out of care and concern and she touches my heart. I take her hand within mine, letting her know I appreciate her looking out for me, reach into my back pocket with my free hand and pull out my wallet and throw down a fifty dollar bill on the bar.
“That’s way more than twenty percent, suga,” she says, not taking her eyes off the bill in front of her. “What am I going to do with you?”
“Only time will tell, young lady. Only time will tell.” She shoots me a look that could melt polar caps before taking the fifty and that body of hers back down to the other end of the bar, no doubt further fattening her pockets. One last pitiful stare and I am up and off the torn fabric of the barstool and headed out of the door but not before a few ‘alright man’s and ‘see ya’s are thrown out my way.
The parking lot is almost empty except for the vehicles belonging to the true soldiers: the professional alcoholics. They will be here long after I’m gone and depending on Kelly’s mood and tips, she may extend the usual time of two a.m.to three. My car is parked across the way from the bar to avoid the patrons who come out and have a tendency to piss and puke between the vehicles when they leave. Plus, I’ve made some enemies in my time and flattened tires along with keyed scratches don’t set well with me, so I take the extra thirty second walk for peace of mind. I almost face-plant about halfway across the lot but a quick honk from the F150 coming up on my right followed with an almost as loud “watch where you’re walking, motherfucker!” temporarily sobers me up enough to regain my balance. The passenger flips me the bird with both hands (ambidextrous little shit!), and then he and the driver peel off, screeching tires breaking the night’s silence.
I fumble for my keys, forgetting which pocket they’re in and when I find them, I can’t seem to find the lock on the door due to my diminished motor skills bought on by my high as hell B.A.C. After a minute of trial and error, it goes in; a flick of the wrist and success with opening. After cracking my head open on the frame getting in, I start her up, ignoring the wheezing and gasping of the maintenance ignored engine. I’ll have to get around to a tune up pretty soon before I find myself on the side of I-95 at some ungodly late night/early morning time calling for a tow. Finally turning over, I put her into drive ( I always park ass-end first in the event of a quick departure) and start to head out when a moment of clarity hits me and I drop her back into park again in order to put on my seatbelt. Dumbass. Its stupid moves like that that will guarantee my getting locked up. I buckle up and head out of the parking lot being sure to stay within the speed limit and use every turn signal. It’s a miracle but somehow I make it home in one piece and not pulled over or smeared across the streets as a reminder to others not to drink and drive.
The apartment letter on the front of my door, right below the keyhole is the same as my average grade in school, f. I’m not sure if it was because I was stupid or that I skipped a healthy portion of classes. Either way, it was the one defining grade I remember fondly. For a brief second a memory floods back at me. It was of me receiving yet another miserable report card and adding a small loop to the F’s on there with pencil, making them B’s before handing it to my mother. She saw right through it. Not only did I receive a beating from her with my daddy’s thickest leather belt doing a number on my rawhide, but I also learned the meaning of the word, alter. It literally had been beaten into me that afternoon and I have never used the word since.
I enter making sure to bolt the door behind me. Even drunk, I realize I’ll be an easy target once I pass out and I don’t live in the best of neighborhoods so why take the chances? I stumble pass the sofa and into my tiny bedroom, landing face first into the pillows. Ah, relief never felt so good! My eyes are closed before I hit the bed and they stay that way while the colors bleed and fade behind my eyelids. I wish I would have taken the time to at least taken off my pants; I would be that much more comfortable, but I’m home and safe so I can’t ask for anything more.
A loud and thundering pounding invades my drunken slumber and just when I think it’s going away, it starts up again, forcing me to open my eyes and raise my head slightly in agony. I hoped by doing this that it would go away, but no, the knocking continues. In fact, it grew louder once I swung my feet off the bed and sit up questioningly.
There is someone at my door. This is not a dream or the beginnings of a throbbing hangover. There is an actual person or persons knocking at my door at three in the morning, more than likely knowing that I am home. My adrenalin kicks in and I am up and reaching under the bed for the aluminum bat I purchased for such an occasion. It’s tapped end in my right hand reassures me that an ass whopping will ensue for the unlucky bastard on the other side of my door. I creep up slowly to the door and just as my eye peers through the peephole, the loudest knock yet erupts in my face and ears. I was expecting a big ugly goon, complete with a knife or bat of his own or worse, a gun. That was my first thought. My second was some jaded lover of old coming to vent about how I treated her so badly and what an asshole I was, am and forever will be but I wasn’t even close. I wasn’t even in the same ballpark.
“Harrington,” she says, relived that I am home, pissed that it took me so long to answer. “Yeah, it’s me, silly.”
“What the fuck are you doing here?” It came out sounding harsher than I intended and I hope she realizes that it’s because I’m in shock. Drop dead women don’t come around me much; especially drop dead gorgeous ones at my door at three-something in the morning.
“You gonna keep yelling at me through the goddamn door or are you gonna let me in?” With my right eye to the peephole, I see her with her right hand on her hip, the other pointing at the door, frowning in disgust. I put the bat down against the corner behind the door than take off the five bolts and the chain on the door. Again, not the best neighborhood.
“About fucking time, Harrington,” she says, shooting me her best Billy Idol sneer and brushing past me as if I wasn’t there. I close my door and relock it just as my hangover reminds me that I’m still human. The knocking may have stopped but in my head my whole block is pounding to get in. “So this is where you live. Somehow, I’m not surprised.” This is said as she surveys my small but practical apartment.
“It does the trick. And you’re here because –“
But before I could finish, she has my wallet in her hand, creased and worn from the years of residing in my back pocket. It was originally dark, squid-ink black but over time has grown into a funky shade of dark grey with white blotches around the corners. All I can do is stare at it stupidly with an “is-that-mine?” look plastered on my mug.
“Yes, it’s yours,” smiling like she caught me doing something wrong. “Your drunk ass dropped it right next to your car. You’re lucky I’m an honest gal.” This she finishes with a wink and a slight shake of her hips. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you with a loss for words. It’s kind of cute that I could have that effect on you after all these years.” She steps closer to me, close enough that I could smell the lingering of the cigarette she must have had before coming over mingled with the slight sweet smell of the French vanilla body spray she favors. I breathe in her essence, absorbing myself in her aura, breathing in her being. I close my eyes, savoring the affect she is having on me but then a quick jab in my ribs brings me back to reality. “Hey, don’t be gettin’ all passed out on me and shit. The least you can do is thank me, you big lug.”
“Thank you, Kel. You’re a hell of a gal.”
“I was expecting more than that, dumbass. You think I came all the way out to this shit part of town for a simple ‘thank you?’ You better guess again, fella.” And before I can give her a response, my wallet is dropped to the ground and an angel steps closer to me and grabs the back of my head with a force unimaginable from such a small frame and lays on me the biggest kiss I have ever felt in my life. It’s a kiss filled with fire, a kiss filled with passion; it’s everything I ever wanted from a woman’s kiss and then some. I kiss her back, half out if surprise, half out of sheer desire. I feel her tongue searching for mine and I reciprocate her advances by catching it between my lips and sucking on it hard. Her body presses into mine and I accept her fully, grabbing onto her hips and welcoming her into my embrace. I’m still in shock as I feel her arms lock in behind my neck and her pelvic region undulating against mine.
“Kell, I had no idea. Are you drunk or something?” I ask, not letting go of her, frightened that she may turn tail once she realizes who her lips and body are in contact with. But that’s not the case this early October morning. No, that’s far from the truth. She answers back with a mischievous, sexy grin and a hip thrust into mine that put all my fears to rest.
“I always wanted you. I find it hard to believe that Fate would have you leave your wallet for me to find. I know that there are signs and this, my dear, is a sign like a motherfucker. Now, are you going to accept this sign or argue against the inevitable?”
She doesn’t have to ask me twice.
Even in my drunken haze, I know a good thing when I see one and brother, this is an opportunity only afforded to someone like me once in a lifetime. I pick her up; our lips still locked and carry her to my bed, her legs hanging off my arms like socks on a clothes line hanging out to dry. I lay her down on the oldest queen sized mattress ever known to man and I climb on top of her, letting her feel my arousal through her pants and my jeans. “Are you going to keep a lady waiting all night, Harrington?”
That’s the last whole sentence we speak for the next two hours.
Our clothes come off effortlessly as we continue to kiss with our hands roaming over each other with an urgency I didn’t know I still possessed. We make love in the early morning with me on top of her, her on top of me, me behind her. At one point we climax together. She yells out someone else’s name but that doesn’t concern me. I am too far gone in the magic of Kelly, the warmth of Kelly to even bat an eye over it. We collapse in exhaustion, drenched in sweat and passion, clinging to each other as if we were the last two people on Earth. We fall asleep, legs and arms entwined, facing each other.
I awaken to the sound of a car alarm and a breaking of a bottle from the open window across from the bed, the ruckus coming directly from the alley five stories below. I worry that this might wake her but she is out like a light. I listen to the soft angel-like snores coming from her mouth and envy the way she can just knock out like that without the need of sleep aids or alcohol. I look over her shoulder to get the time off my dust covered alarm clock, taking caution as to not wake her. It’s a quarter past six and miraculously my hangover is nowhere in sight. This is a first and I look at it as a sign that maybe life isn’t so bad after all. Maybe after forty-something years on this mud ball of a planet God has decided to throw a bone to this old dog. Maybe I’ll be allotted some happiness if only just once before I croak. Maybe…
She starts to stir, raising her head an inch or so but keeps her eyes shut. “Harrington?”
Shhh, baby. Go back to sleep. I got you.”
“You got me. I like that.” A small smile touches the corners of her mouth but only for a second as she curls up closer to me, burying her face in my chest, sleep overtaking her once more. I hug an angel closer to me praying that God has somehow altered my future, at least for a day or the next few hours to come. Oh my God, I just used that word! I sound like my mother. Given the circumstances, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. I kiss her forehead and close my eyes, letting myself relax in Heaven just as the morning sun rears its head, shimmering through the cracks of my blinds, filling my room and heart with warmth and light.