“What do you think you’re doing?”
She stood there, hands on her hips, accusingly… staring directly at me.
She was a short, wide woman with blonde hair, worn in an outdated style. She wasn’t un-pretty, but she was quite obviously pregnant.
This is a new wrinkle, I think to myself, amused by her proprietary stance. With raised eyebrows, I stare across the booth at Frankie, who half-smiles sheepishly. I wait for him to speak. He is silent.
“We’re just co-workers having a beer,” I reply casually.
“Yeah,” Frankie backs me up.
“You stay out of this!” She snaps, pointing a stiff finger at him and then turning back to me.
“You better not fuck my husband, okay?? What the fuck are you doing having drinks with a married man, anyway? Why don’t you go find your own man?”
Her face flushed with rage, she stands her ground, unwavering– waiting for me to do or say something.
“There’s nothing going on, Lisa! You are embarrassing her.” He shakes his head at me, rolling his eyes for effect.
“You’re not coming with me?? If you don’t come with me I am taking the car!”
“Fine. I’ll get a ride.”
“Are you serious??” She stands there looking back and forth at the two of us and our neat little table with the cold glasses of beer and the little cardboard coasters. We look like young lovers on a date, albeit in matching outfits–black slacks and tuxedo shirts. She is an intruder here. Persona non grata.
He takes a sip of his beer and looks back at me. I nod.
Taking one more hot, stabbing glance my way, she storms out of the bar. Minutes later we hear the screech of tires and see a flash of red through the plate glass window that frames our space, as the sporty little two-door turns out of the parking lot.
“My place is just a couple blocks away,” I offer. “Do you play chess?”
Frankie was a busboy. In the hierarchy of the industry he was near the bottom rung. Just a step above dishwasher. But, I didn’t care about the pecking order. I thought he was cute. So cute, that one day I decided I would seduce him.
Even though I was single, divorced for a good many years by this time, I found few opportunities for erotic entanglements outside of the workplace.
I was funny like that in my early 30s. I would set my mind on a particular young man. I liked the challenge of it, the chase. I was never that bold to just say it, though. It had to be a subtle but persistent invitation, so that, in the end– it was him seducing me. Yes, that’s the way I liked it.
His mother, Wanda was a bartender. In the hierarchy–and this is a subject of debate within the industry–as a server, I considered us equals in the chain. She was a petite, chatty woman with a southern accent and a real gum-snapper when there were no customers around. She was prone to utter phrases like “well, bless your heart…”
She wore her curly brown hair in a high, messy ponytail on top of her head with some kind of bow or ribbon fixed in it. Cutesy, I guess you would call the look, but it was the mid-1990s, after all. She was a good 15 years older than me, I suspected, but I was drawn to her warm, nurturing personality. This made my attraction to her 22 year-old son all the more taboo, I thought.
It wasn’t difficult to cozy up to Frankie. Our work provided a multitude of opportunities for sly flirtations, even bold statements of intention, followed by a sharp turn on the heel and a brisk getaway. There was a hide and seek quality to the game that endlessly excited our libidos.
But, in all our little getting-to-know-you chats, he never once mentioned Lisa.
To be continued…