prose: temporary vice

27 Dec

Sara shook my hand with a firm grip and apologized for a cold hand.

“Well, it is 20 degrees out?”

“Is it? Really?” She seemed genuinely surprised or faked it well.

“Seems so.”

I drank in her sweet innocent smile, plain appearance and general welcome; Sara had to be early twenties. Later, through careful Internet research, I found out she graduated from NYU, did post-graduate work at Georgetown, and lived in Washington DC. She was the niece of the party’s host.

“Can I get you a drink?” She offered and, with little hesitation, accepted.

“Bourbon, if you have it.”

“Of course.”

I scanned the room as she fetched up my libation. A typical democratic crowd; a general cross-section of the neighborhood. A few upper-end folks, a handful of lower end, and the rest spawned from the disappearing middle class. How I ended up there revolved around a friend of a friend, let’s invite Jack because he will never go kind of deal. But I showed up. Sober, at the start; much to the surprise of all. I made my way around the room, said hello, provided introduction, received functionary if not overly polite smiles, and took refuge in the kitchen with the other cast offs and miscreants.

Sara found me leaning against the sink.

“There you are.”

“Here I am.”

She handed me my drink and lingered. I sensed conversation, a task I do not excel at in any arena and, sure enough, it arrived.

“So, what do you do?” Sara asked plainly, leaning against the counter next to me, her own drink in hand.

“I write.”

Her eyes lit up slightly as she struggled to feign East Coast indifference.

“Really? What sort of things?”

“Things?”

“Yes. That you write. As in, what forms or genres to you construct within.” Sara’s words flowed fast and close together. She had been through a few drinks by that point.

“Um, well. You know. The usual.”

“The usual. No. I don’t know. That is somewhat evasive.”

“Indeed.”

“Truly.”

I stared into her eyes and smiled inwardly. She had bright, smart eyes, Spanish Inquisition eyes, the kind of eyes you can fall into and quickly drown. Big and blue, Sara’s eyes filled her face. but not overly so. Her nose small and petite, her mouth swift to smile.

“I write blurbs for DVD packaging,” I offered as I slammed the remains of a rather pleasant bourbon. Her eyebrows bounced up and down as she wrapped her head around my occupation. “Adult entertainment type DVDs.”

Sara’s face went slack and I hoped that she would find offense in this, but her smile quickly returned.

“No, really?”

“Really?”

“You write the back cover descriptions for porn?” Sara spit the words out mixed with a bawdy laugh, loud enough for the other kitchen refuges to briefly pause from heavy drinking. One guy, with a thick beer belly covered in a red tee-shirt that read “Ho-fucking-ho” nodded his approval at me.

“Yeah.”

“So,” Sara leaned in with a whisper, “do you watch them?”

“I used to. Now I just ask for a general description of the contents, key names and whatnot, and go from there. It’s not the greatest challenge.”

“Oh.” Sara seemed disappointed. “As long as it pays the bills, right?”

“Exactly.”

I asked where the bottle of bourbon could be found and she did the honors for me, returning quickly, and suggesting we go to the backyard where we could talk. And Sara could talk and talk and talk. Her career quest was a position with the State Department and Foreign Services, hopeful of a position in the Middle East. When I showed a bit of knowledge about the Socio-Economic situation in said region, she really got going. It another hour and four more glasses of bourbon to get through her treatise on Women and the Middle East.

Around eleven-thirty I decided enough was enough. I found Sara compelling, interesting and somewhat seductive.

“You have a smoke?” She asked suddenly.

“Sure. Another social smoker?”

“We all have our vices, not matter how temporary.”

“As long as you can manage them, I say indulge.”

“I have another vice.”

“Do you?”

“I do. Wanna hear it?”

“No. I can guess.”

“Really? That confident?”

“No, but you’re a terrible poker player, yeah? You have easy tells.”

“I don’t.” Sara laughed, then whispered, “Okay, tell me.”

For the better part of the evening she had not left my side, frequently held my arm or put her arm around my back when we sat by the fire. Sara brushed her hair from her eyes, unconsciously touched her mouth, and stared at me when across the room retrieving another drink or talking to a departing friend. I told her this. She fell silent.

“I see.” Sara sobered. “So you know my other vice?”

“Sure.”

Of course, at this point I am bluffing. Big time. Even at the height of my arrogance mixed with several generous helpings of a fairly decent bourbon I could never tell what a woman thinks. Most men can’t and, as a point of fact, shouldn’t. The woman’s mind is best left a mystery.

“Oh.”

“So I have to leave. Tomorrow’s a big day.” Truthfully the next day, December 24th, would be a big day. I had not yet purchased a single Christmas gift and while the list isn’t long the expectations of the recipients was significant.

“Okay. Well, it was nice to meet you.” Sara stood, shook my hand, and walked away.

“Huh.” I muttered.

It took a few minutes to find the host and thank him for the invite. In the few minutes we stood on the front porch I remembered a bottle of wine I meant to give him as a gift. When I got to my car I found Sara leaning against the driver’s door smoking a cigarette.

“You weren’t leaving like that, where you?” Sara said.

“I guess not.”

I retrieved the bottle and returned to the host. He showed genuine surprise at the label and shook my hand again.

“Merry Christmas,” he said.

“And to you.”

When I made it back to my car I found Sara in my front seat.

“Have you ever written a blurb for Teenaged Babysitter’s Gone Wild 7?”

I thought a moment.

“I think so. I did the whole series, I must have.”

“Did you watch it?”

“I dunno. Probably not.”

“Maybe you should.” She turned to me with a Grinch smile wrapped across her lips. “Or I could just reenact it.”

“Yeah?” I engaged the key and started the car. “Ain’t that something.”

“What’s that? Not the vice you were thinking?”

“No I actually got it right for a change.”

“Really?” Sara leaned in to kiss me, her hand drifting across my zipper. “I wouldn’t have guess that.”

“I don’t live that far.”

As I got out of my car in the garage I walked past a box of DVDs. Each one I had written the blurb. At the top of the stack sat Teenaged Babysitter’s Gone Wild 7, the only title that had been opened and watched.

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