He sat in a nearly empty hotel bar with the remains of several stiff drinks on the table in front of him, staring at a lifeless mobile phone. He had been sitting in this position for some time now, and his bones were beginning to creak in protest, yet he did not shift his seat, staring at the little digital screen as if he could make it ring by the sheer force of his will.
A tired bar maid swayed by his table with a laden tray, wafting the scent of deep fried food and cheap perfume to his nostrils. A young couple in the corner leaned over their strawberry daqueries and giggled about some useless drivel as they made big eyes at each other. An old man sat in the corner exuding a stench of stale cigars and old sweat, muttering to himself as he made sweet love to a rock glass full of whiskey. The benches were in sore need of repair, with sharp edges poking out of the worn red velvet apulstry, and digging into his already taxed rump. The tables were thick and scarred by countless nights of abuse, and the carpet was stained with a thousand unspeakable things. Tired lamps with green glass flickered on the walls, illuminating tasteless prints of sunsets and wild horses with the captions “Welcome to Montana” on brass placks beneath them.
On your average day, he would not be caught dead in such a seedy pile, but on this particular evening he was awaiting the arrival of a woman. “You’ll love her Dave,” Said his best friend Charlie, “She has a wicked sence of humor, and a view on life as twisted as yours.” He did not want to do a blind date, no matter how tempting the woman was preported to be, but there was no way he could turn back now. Charlie could be quite persuasive, especially while buying rounds at the bar, and before the night was over he had set a date with an unknown female voice on a cell phone. He instantly regretted it upon waking the next morning, while he nursed his aching head and damned Charlie to seven hells for his tequilla shots.
Three days latter however, here he sat at the grubbiest dive he had ever seen, in some out of the way industrial district of the city. The unknown woman had given him an address and a description of herself: 5 ft. 11 inches tall, long blonde hair and blue eyes. He did not put much stock into the picture this brought to mind, all the beautiful woman he had ever met couldn’t hold an intelligent conversation with a rock, and this one seemed right out of his league from the get-go. He was 43 years old, 5 ft. 10 inches tall, with limp, balding sandy hair and the beginnings of a paunch. He worked as an accountant, but he never thought it suited him, he would much rather have been a poet. He looked at all of life around him with a wry sence of humor, and wrote things in notebooks that he hid in his closet where nobody could see them.
As the barmaid passed his way again, he signaled for another vodka soda. He stared at the soggy coaster before him, and his drink appeared there as if by majik. He took a sip and stared at the wall for a bit. “How do I get myself into these things?” He asked himself quietly, but had no answer. The wall across from him had faded squares from the places where old pictures had been hanging for years without moving, now gone off somewhere to a quiet death- or so he hoped. The thought of someone buying one of those horrid monstrosities and actually hanging it, were too much for his sensibilities. He framed in the blank areas in his mind with the possible ugliness of their most recent tenants. Judging by the other bits of “art” in the room, they were probably so disgusting they had to be removed for health reasons.
Tiring of this game, he began to look at the colored spots on the floor, and pondering the different shades of splotches and streaks, inventing stories for each one. A large red stain by the neighboring table was caused by the suicide of a man who spent too long staring at the ghastly prints… A green streak on the floor was from the cook dragging in the daily special, fresh off the highway, roadkill soup. The smells from the kitchen were enough to put him off eating dinner tonight… A light colored circular puddle by the bar was from some dedicated employee in the distant past who had begun the monumental task of actually attempting to shampoo the carpet before realizing there was no chemical known to man that could penetrate the grime.
He soon tired of this as well, and just let his mind wander around inside his skull. Art is intended to reflect life, he pondered, so why would someone do such a horrible thing to a perfectly innocent canvass, then sell it to ignorant business owners who wouldn’t know art from a dingo’s kidney? Having heard somewhere that it would lend sophistication to his establishment, he grabbed the first thing available to him, and hoped desperately that it would distract the customers from what they were in fact eating. Or perhaps it was to calm them down when they figured out that half of the bottle was water. In this way, he supposed, these prints did their job quite well, for they reflected perfectly the profound stupidity of mankind, as it flailed about desperately in philosophical waters, trying in vain to learn how to swim. Yes, these pictures could be seen as art indeed, if one did not look too closely.
He suddenly noticed a woman at the bar who had come in while he was on his little mental vacation. She was sitting on her stool like a bull rider, gripping with her knees, ankles wrapped around the steel rings, palms flat on the bar… As if daring the universe to make her move, or bracing for the unpalatable drink she was about to receive. She had long black hair, and wore faded Levi’s with big black boots. This was all of her that he could see, as she sat with her back to him. He began to weave a tale of towering proportions around her identity. She was a warrior-no, an FBI agent, and she was under cover, attempting to infiltrate the crack ring being operated out of the back room. She carried two pistols, one in a shoulder holster, and one strapped to her ankle, and she was very accomplished in their use. She was a black belt in martial arts, and the daughter of a marine, who taught her how to drink like she meant it. She had three older brothers who walked in fear of her, and she was the ruling terror of the school yard as a child. She had a scar on her abdomen from a near deadly gun fight, and part of the bullet was still lodged in her flesh. She breezed through her men casually, as if they were a mere side trip for munchies on a long road trip, a quick exit from the highway, then on to bigger and better places. Each one a step on her own personal ladder of success, getting her fingers in all the pies, and pulling strings like a master puppeteer. Her only weakness was chocolate mousse, and this was the only way to placate her rage if you had happened to light the fuse. She would be a jogger and a yoga stretcher, who purred like a kitten in the bedroom, and liked to cook omelets. She would take her coffee strong, black and piping hot, but would use a little sugar if she thought nobody was watching.
He smiled to himself as he wove her story, falling in love with her slightly, as the mental image coalesced in his mind. He made himself look elsewhere, realizing that he must be seen as a learing drunk in the corner booth, grinning at the back side of some raven haired beauty at the bar. Thoughts of the woman had reminded him of something a college buddy of his had told him once. An insomniatic babbler who would smoke mass amounts of hash and regale his roommate with odd bits of lore and native stories into the wee hours of dawn. He had said that all woman were Goddesses, and that is why men feared them so. He had said that a woman’s body was so much more durable than a man’s in order to carry children and birth them, and so they would channel divine energy into their flesh, empowered by the secrets of a monthly blood. Unattainable, and unfathomable to the male aspect. If this woman were a Goddess, she would most definitely be Athena, thought Dave, a fierce wolf woman with a big sword and the love of battle. Or perhaps Diana, a patient hunter of the wood with an ash bow and a pack of hounds. A silent but deadly force stalking the shadows of the trees with a sure bare foot in the moss.
“Hello,” Said a voice at his ear, “Are you Dave?” He was startled out of his pleasant fantasy world by that very woman at his elbow. She was very short, about 5 foot 2 inches tall, and stunningly beautiful up close. Small breasts rode high under a thin black T-shirt, and she was not wearing a bra. She had the most amazing eyes he had ever seen, grey and smoky, with thick black lashes, and she was pointing them in his direction. Belatedly realizing that she had asked him a question, he struggled to recall what it had been. “Yes, I am Dave,” he managed to say, “What can I do for you?” He had not meant for it to sound like a lame pick-up line, but the presence of this lass was enough to make even James Dean stutter, and he had never been good with the ladies. She smiled a thousand watts at him, and slid into the booth on the other side of him. “Hi, I’m Lilly,” She said, extending her hand, “Charlie set us up, I’m your date for the night.” Her grip was hard and warm, and it took him another moment to adjust. “I’m sorry, I was expecting a blonde wearing cheap perfume and drab conversation.” He said this without thinking, and Lilly laughed with her head thrown back like she really meant it. “Oh, well, sorry if I’m a disappointment,” She replied, “I wanted to give you a false description so I could check you out first. You know, make sure you were crazy.” “You mean make sure I WASN’T crazy.” “Oh no, I don’t like normal people, there are already too many of those. I like to be shocked by good old fashioned originality.” She sat back in her chair after delivering this line, and watched to see if he would bite. He found himself smiling at her across the table. Now this was a woman he could talk to. He found himself telling her of his assessment of the room, and pointing out the stains and blank squares on the wall. He even found himself telling her of the story he had made for her in his mind. This shocked him so much he blushed madly, he had never shared his twisted view of the world with anyone, and she had pulled it from him in the few moments she had spent in his presence. Lilly was not put off however, she treated him to another full throated laugh, and said, “Oh yes, you are wonderfully twisted, I like you already. Let’s get out of this trash heap, and over to someplace we can get a real drink.”
So just like that, they left that hell hole of grease and flat beer taps for a tavern Lilly liked to frequent, as she explained how she had purposely sent him to the most decrepid bar she could find. “I just wanted to see if you were too good to brush up against dirty, and if you were some frood, I didn’t want you hanging at any of my joints. No harm no foul, right Dave?” He laughed in disbelief. “Frood? Did you just say frood? Do you read Douglas Adams?” “Of course I do,” She said, almost offended that he would think she did not, “Doesn’t anyone with half a brain?” He laughed and did a silly jig with the happiness of a simple moment. Maybe, he thought to himself, she will turn out to be an insufferable loony, but right now I’m just surfing on cloud nine with a smile. He surprised himself once again by actually saying this out loud.
She explained to him about the laws of attraction. “You see, opposites attract, right? Everyone knows this, but like also calls to like, and I’m sorry to say, but with both of us in the same city, you never stood a snowballs chance in hell of escaping. Now, what do you want to drink? Myself, I’m about to lay claim on the first bottle of whiskey I find, and Lord help anyone who tries to get in my way.”
So off they went down a dark city street, a small black haired pixie with a major in philosophy, and a balding tax accountant… Completely the same in every way that mattered.