Katherine kept a pack of menthol cigarettes hidden away in the back of her glovebox. She let no one in on her dirty secret. It was only in times like these, stuck in traffic, that she would dig one out, put on her parking brake and let a nicotine buzz ease her problems away.
Traffic began to move again. She released her parking brake and sprayed a dash of Burberry Brit on her neck to mask the smell of tobacco. Even the closest loved ones to her were unaware of the secret habit. Something that would become a recurring theme in her life.
Her boyfriend Greg, a label he self-applied in a drunken haste, gave Katherine a hug as she walked into his apartment. He loved her perfume and was too caught up in his own ecstasy to notice the lack of emotion her reciprocated advances. Over the past few months Katherine felt as though she was forgetting who she was, and in doing so had forgotten why she loved the 20-something year old tattoo artist holding her now.
She could dye her hair again, that was her typical response to these fleeting moments of emptiness. ‘No, that just wont work this time’, Hiding her discomfort as she kissed Greg on the cheek. “I’m going out tonight”, barely giving him a moment to say goodbye before the door was closed and the house was quiet again.
“God, they still broadcast the news here in black and white”
The voice of a woman caught me off guard, not a commodity one comes across very often in bars like these. That is to say, bars full of broken men with their dreams asleep at the bottom of half-full whiskey glasses.
“M’am”, an elderly voice at the end of the bar, “The whole world is in black and white ‘round here”.
“If only it was so easy”, snorting under my breath.
She laughed, “Dirty old men in the dark drinking their lives away”
“I ain’t so old”, raising my eyes to get a better look at the strangers face in the light.
She was a pale woman, 26 or 27. She wore her dark hair long to cover a weight of emotion over an otherwise plain face.
To put it lightly, she fucked me and smoked my last cigarette. What more of a reason do you need to dislike a woman? We’ve barely exchanged last names before we’re fighting to get each others pants off, soon it’s a fading memory. Laying on my back staring up at the ceiling fan through whimsical tosses of cigarette smoke.
She’s going to sit there for a moment, taking everything in before she takes off her stockings and falls over into my arms. I can’t help but keep my eyes on the cigarette she set in the ashtray by the bed, such a waste. “Don’t ever let a woman sleep with her stockings on, I hate waking up in them”, speaking under her breath to herself, “it’s like I’m being suffocated in a mornings breath.”
She squeezed my hand, “We should have a good time tonight”.
“You never told me your name”, attempting to pry jeans off without the use of my arms, which were wrapped firmly around her waist.
“Shh…”, pressing herself against me, biting onto my ear, “let’s not complicate things”.
‘Don’t let it get complicated’, I suppose that was a decent message to take away from the whole thing.
Saline. Find me some fucking saline…
Digging around a hotel bathroom in the dark, trying not to wake up the woman lying on the bed. Fumbling through bags that weren’t mine, trying to remember her name in case she woke. Not that I was concerned about her rest, I just needed to get away for a few minutes to gather my thoughts.
Half an hour later I’m sitting at the hotel bar nursing my forehead with a cold glass of Laphroaig Quarter Cask, the familiar grind of Advil grinding behind my swollen eyelids. I’m missing a sock and I feel off balance, but I wouldn’t let it bother me enough to wait around for the brunette upstairs to roll over off of it. There’s a business card gripped firmly between my fingertips, stained with bright red lipstick and a name written in cursive, “Katherine”.
With a name like that, how could she ever be scared?
I put a 20 dollar bill on the counter, gave several rude gestures to the table of blondes that had been eyeing me disapprovingly, and began the long journey back upstairs to the room.