(Previously published in Aimee Dearmon's Blog.)
"So," she said, (about eight hours ago) "Let's be daytime drunks. "It sounded ok to me. I wasn't doing anything except exhaling a Parliament and wondering if I should purchase a coffee pot with an automatic turn-off switch.
She was one of those blondes who could have been something in her day. She looked a little battered by the kind of yucky life that knocks the spit out of you. She had that deep, sexy voice created by tobacco and that un-sexy double chin created by Twinkies. She was dressed in a too-tight denim skirt and snug-fitting blouse revealing strong cleavage and a weak, flabby tummy. She had a coffee stain in the shape of a heart over her right breast. She didn't seem to care about the stain and I didn't care about it, and our bartender Scout, didn't give a shit about it.
So, I decided to take the big leap. I moved to a bar stool next to her and introduced myself.
"My name's Walter Blankenship." I held out my hand in an amiable fashion.
She was flabbergasted. She looked at me with shock and awe. Finally, she took my hand. "You are Walter Blankenship?"
"Yes," I returned.
Yes. I am Walter Blankenship. I am the man who chose to leave work for the afternoon by feigning a bad case of the runs. I was quickly excused. I am Walter, the guy who seems to fuck up everything and everyone I'm around.
Well, there are some exceptions. I have a nice collection of model trains and I did give somebody ten bucks for the survivors of Katrina a couple of years ago. I can be noble.
As I tried to figure out who I was--am--she said, "I'm Robin Fileggi. You took me out for a coffee once. Don't ya 'member?"
"No, I'm sorry."
"We were in a class at College of DuPage together. It was a class about Kafta," she said.
A vague image of having coffee with a junior college cheerleader and long days of being overwhelmed by a depressing German writer began to materialize. I could hardly remember as everything I learned in college was quashed from my memory by afternoons like this or having stayed awake forty-eight hours to view all of TV-land's Sanford and Son marathons. I heard the actor who played the son, Demond Wilson, had become a preacher.
"Okay, I remember you. You were a cheerleader," I said.
"No, a pom-pom girl."
I was starting to recall a pretty girl who had coffee with me. And, we took a writing class together. Someone wrote a story about a guy who turned into a giant cockroach.
"So, we meet again." I offered a toast, my screwdriver to her pink drink. It made a delightful clink.
"You told me something the day we had coffee that I never forgot. You told me I had a beautiful soul," she said.
"I did?" I couldn't remember what I would have said to a pom-pom girl.
"And, you know what?" she asked.
"I named my cat after you. Walter, the cat."
"Well, I'll be damned. You named a kitty-cat after me."
"Yep," she said.
"I'm so honored."
"Poor Walter died. He drank some anti-freeze in my parking lot, but I had him for thirteen beautiful years."
I was sorry to hear that. Robin kind of teared up and excused herself to the john.
I never like cats. I'm allergic to them. They make me sneeze.
Scout came over and winked at me like he thought I was gonna get lucky this afternoon. Scout was kind of lucky with the ladies. He liked to give me blow-by-blow descriptions of recent blowjobs. I wasn't in the mood to hear his pornographic drivel today. I was with a real lady, a former pom-pom girl who had matured into the type of gal who wanted to be a daytime drunk. I always thought it was a good thing to set an attainable goal.
Robin bustled her way to the jukebox. A crinkled dollar slipped in and slipped out and finally slipped in for keeps. All of a sudden the sound of Dean Martin's, That's Amore, filled the bar. All My Children was on and the TV blinked to create dark, romantic lighting in the fine establishment. An old lady with a John Deere hat seated at the end of the bar seemed pissy when she heard the music because she couldn't hear all the soap's dialogue. Will Erica Kane cheat on her sixty-ninth husband? The old lady may have to tune in tomorrow.
I found myself dancing with Robin, a slow waltz. She leaned into me and I leaned into her. It was like magic, and then it was like two daytime drunks holding each other up. I told her I wished I were her cigarette.
A half-hour later we were in a queen-sized bed at the Harlot Hotel across the street. It was fun to wrestle with her in the dark. I kind of wanted her to go home and get the pom-poms, but it was what it was.
So, it was eight hours later. Eight p.m. TV was showing a Steven Seagal movie. I had never noticed it before, but when Seagal runs, he runs like a girl. He is no match for Walker, Texas Ranger, which is advertised to come on at nine p.m. I'm doing my best to keep the volume down and let her rest.
Why is it that all us men like to see bad guys get kicked in the face? Why does it bring us joy to see Seagal force a confession out of a B-movie actor by dousing his face in a toilet stool? Who knows?
I also wondered how old Robin was. And, maybe we should have used a rubber. Geez. I hoped she wasn't pregnant. The last thing I needed was to be a father of a pom-pom girl or boy. I hoped she didn't have any diseases either.
As I looked at her lying on the bed, all I could see was her belly and her belly button, and it wasn't a very pretty belly button. It is a picture I am going to have to edit from the reel of film in my head.
From under the covers I heard her say, "Would you be a dear and go get us a bottle of Pinot Grigio?" It was if the belly button was speaking to me.
She said, "It's a white wine. Just take some money out of my purse."
I looked over at the belly button. I lit a smoke to make the purse search harder. I had that smoke in my face as I searched in the crimson wallet until I found a twenty. I grabbed the room key.
"Okay. Pino Gregory. Be back soon."
I walked down the hall and walked back up the hall so I could remember the room number. 208. I was proud of myself for taking that action.
I could hear a woman enjoying sex in room 214, or maybe it as a guy watching porn and someone else was pretending to enjoy sex. Whatever it was, it's quite possible there was a beautiful damn thing going down in 214 for somebody.
I stood at the elevator for a minute before it opened. As I stepped onto the small OTIS elevator car, I read the weight restrictions. I was okay.
There was a brown sack of empty Blatz cans. Even a daytime drunk like me could smell the stale beer odor taking over the small compartment. But, an empty Blatz can was a good place to douse my smoke.
I was thinking in terms of getting back in time to watch Walker, Texas Ranger. I knew I could catch the end of the Seagal movie because it was going to be re-played at ten o'clock.
As I moseyed down the street, I thought my hair must look messy, that I hadn't buttoned my shirt up and I was tired and could use one of those power chairs Arnold Palmer advertises on TV. Cars whizzed by. Buses whooshed by. I grabbed a parking meter to keep myself upright. I thought about rewarding it with a dime, but no. That would be wasteful.
Finally, my quest was within reach. City Liquors in all its neon glory, was like Pike's Peak to Pike, like Mount Rushmore to Rushmore, and like the Pulitzer Prize to Pulitzer. I staggered in.
"I'm supposed to pick up some Pina Gregory for the little woman," I lied to the cashier. She was no little woman.
He was a young black man with a big knot on his head. It looked kinda like he had been kicked by Chuck Norris' cowboy boot. It was a nasty thing.
I asked him, "Have you ever been on TV?"
"No," he replied.
"Well, I thought you might have been an actor."
"No, I don't think so. What do you want?"
"Pina Gregory. It's a fine, white wine."
"Do you mean, 'Pinot Grigio'?"
"Yeah, that's what I mean." I was happy he was so brilliant.
After buying three bottles, there was enough money left for another pack of Parliaments. Life can be sweet.
Again, I wished I had Arnold Palmer's motorized chair that some people don't even have to pay for if they're on Medicare. This damned life ain't fair. Now, I had to smoke and walk against the wind and carry this fine wine two more blocks.
As I made my way back to the sanctuary of room 208 of the Harlot Hotel, I coudn't remember what day it was or if tomorrow was Saturday. I sure hoped so.
I knocked on the door. The door opened and Robin was in a T-shirt. It was a Bob Marley T-shirt and for some reason, I thought he was staring at me. Anyway, Bob would never do nobody no harm. She zipped right into bed again.
I got the ashtray and two Styrofoam cups. I couldn't open the cork the traditional way, so I put the room key on top of the cork and used the Gideon Bible to pound the key like a chisel. Voila! The cork was floating inside the bottle and I could now pour the fine wine into the cups. The spillage was minimal.
I crawled into bed and set the ashtray in the middle. We clinked our Styrofoam cups together as I lit her a Parliament. Chuck Norris sang the Ranger theme song. It was a special moment.
Author: Gary Doherty
Gary Doherty has a Master’s degree in social work. He has been employed with the State of Illinois for the past 20 years as a guardian for disabled adults. He is involved with the Red Herring Fiction group in Urbana, IL. His work has appeared both online and in print and he has participated in public readings of both non-fiction and fiction pieces at local coffee shops, churches and bars.
“I enjoy a theme of down and out persons living out their simple lives. I like to add humor and sensitivity to my stories.”