Izzie has a date with Drew, hobbit man with a history. Easy read.
|Chapter 5 in the Novel "Per Diventare". Can be read independantly, or with the other chapters "Per Diventare" , "Per Diventare Due" , "Per Diventare Tre" , and "Per Diventare Quattro" . Enjoy!
I was sitting in my front porch, watching the rising wisps of smoke from my cigarette when he pulled up the curb outside my house. His car, small and low to the ground, matched him. He sat for a minute and I watched as he switched CD's in his player and cleared off the front seat, throwing a stack of things into the backseat. I watched him shut off the engine and climbed out of the car, slamming the door behind him. He was just as I remembered him, from the oversized t-shirt and matching baggy jeans, held on with only a belt around his hips. He looked up and down the quiet street and started towards my door, watching his feet. I stabbed out my cigarette and went to the door to meet him, smelling my wrist to see if I could still smell the vanilla I'd chosen as perfume for the night. I swung open the door, startling him on my front steps.
"Hey," he said, taking a step back and holding onto the rail.
Gatsby's growled from his post behind the baby gate in the kitchen.
"Pet bear?" He peered into my house with a smirk.
Tom sounded the war cry and the two of them filled the house with their alarm. I shut the door behind me and smiled. "Just my dogs. Ready to go?"
I followed him down the stairs and I felt a rush of nerves as we walked side by side, neither of us knowing what to say. He climbed into the driver's seat and unlocked the doors, giving me permission into his car. The engine started with a groan and we pulled away from the curb. "So, you have dogs."
I laughed and eased back in the seat while still clutching my purse between my knees. "A great Dane and a Chihuahua. They're pretty cool."
"That's cool." His head nodded slowly as he spoke, keeping his eyes on the road while his fingers punched through a number of different songs on the radio, all foreign and strange. "Like bluegrass?"
"Yeah, it's okay."
He pointed at the stereo system and its lit buttons. "Ever heard of Yonder Mountain String Band?"
I listened to them and ran the name through my mind. "Yeah, I've heard of them." They were from Colorado, I thought, but not sure enough to say it.
"I saw them once, out in Colorado. I was visiting a friend that lives out there. I have a lot of friends." He scratched his beard as he spoke. "They live all over the place, but anyway, I saw these guys play and they were fucking awesome."
I really didn't know what to contribute to the conversation, never having gotten the bluegrass bug. "Bluegrass is always better live."
"I partied with the guys afterwards and we had like this total blast. Especially Dave, the banjo player."
I nodded and watched the street lights pass above the car, noting the way the orange lights painted a dim coat over the black sky, creating an odd, almost science fiction lighting to the night. I listened to the words of the playing song with its plunky sound. My inner thoughts have made you flee. I know you were just tryin' to be what you want to be. I let you in to see me for real and you walked right out that's what I feel. You said you needed time to be alone. The singer reminded me of a whiny, rejected teenager, overanalyzing a breakup. "Maybe she just didn't like him," I said under my breath.
"I'm sorry, what?" He asked, tipping his head. "I didn't hear you." His hand tapped on his knee resting by the shift stick.
"Nothing," I said, not sure he'd be as analytic as I felt.
He flipped the CD to another song. "This is my son's favorite." He reached for a cigarette and lit it, rolling down the window a crack. As the music came on, he started speaking with the words. "Hey Old Man, listen here. I had this dream and you were there. We were cowboys, sleepy cowboys."
"How old is your son?"
"Three." He shifted in his seat, pulling out his wallet and flipping it open, displaying happy pictures of a bright eye'd boy with a crew cut.
I took the wallet and studied the picture. "He's darling," I said, holding it out. "He looks like you."
"Thanks." He dropped the wallet in his lap. "Thank god he didn't take after his mother. Movie theatre, right?"
I checked the clock. "Yeah. Movie starts in fifteen minutes. Mind if I smoke?"
He showed me his lit cigarette before tossing it out the window. "Needless to say, his mother and I don't get along."
"Does anyone get along with their ex's?" I asked flicking the lighter until a steady flame glowed.
"I'm not talking like most people. I hate her." He swerved into the other lane and turned towards the theatre drive. "I guess you should know that right now. I hate my ex wife." He switched the CD again and someone crazy yodeled before the song started.
I didn't know what to say, something I'm finding to be the case beside this man. "At least you're honest about it," I said, taking a drag off my cigarette as he pulled into a parking spot and turned off the engine.
"No point in lying, I guess. I think it makes me a bad person and I'm probably going to hell, but I can't help it. I hate her." He stared at me as he spoke, as if eye contact would drill this knowledge into my heart somehow, burning an imprint so I wouldn't forget.
"You've made that clear. Now, what response do you want me to have?" He just looked at me and I shrugged. "I don't know what I'm supposed to say."
He scratched his beard and looked out the window. "Honestly?"
"No, I prefer dishonesty."
He laughed and turned to me. "I want you not to care. I want you to be happy on this date with me and to have a good time so I can see you again."
"Well, then," I said, rubbing his beard with the back of my hand. "Let's get this date started because I really want to see this movie."
"That's cool," he said, swinging open the door. He stopped and looked over his shoulder. "I'm glad you agreed to come out with me."
I climbed out of the car, throwing my cigarette to the ground and smashing the red burn out with the toe of the ballet flats I'd chose, as to not tower above the petite man. "Better make it worth my while," I said, taking his arm as we walked to the glass doors smudged with fingerprints of customers before.
"That's my plan."
We ended up at the Old Saloon, sitting at the bar with a beer in front of each of us, still laughing about the travesty of a movie we'd just seen. "It's critically acclaimed," I said, apologizing for my choice.
"That's cool," he said, flashing the wicked smile I was quickly learning to like. "It wasn't that bad."
"Oh, really. I don't think they used the phrase "Fuck a duck" in the forties."
He acknowledged the thought by tipping his beer. "Yeah, it wasn't one of the best films. My buddy and I've become amateur film critics. Kind of a hobby, I guess. What's your favorite movie?"
I brushed my hair off my face and leaned back in the fake plastic bar stool, propping my foot against the wood paneling. "You've never heard of it."
"The Power of One."
He set his beer down and turned in his chair, pointing the facts out in the air with his index finger. "Morgan Freeman and one of those teen stars...Who was that?"
He waited for me to acknowledge defeat and I laughed, feeling my hair bounce off my shoulders, something I notice only when I feel feminine. "You've seen it?"
"Great film," he said as a man squeezed beside him, resting his arm on the bar. Drew nodded at him and spun his chair away from me. "Hey," he said, shaking the man's hand. "How's Johnny?"
The man, missing his front teeth grinned and slapped Drew on the back. "He's doing great. Looking forward to that trip to the ballgame. Still going right?"
Darcy tapped at the cash register, watching Drew with a smirk as she slid cash into the proper compartments. I tried to pay attention to Drew and the conversation, struggling without knowing who Johnny was or what he meant to Drew. The man with the missing teeth talked in a loud voice about the greatness of Johnny with tidbits that filled in some of the blanks, but not enough to follow the conversation. As the minutes passed, I sipped at my beer, lit a cigarette, smoked the whole thing and put it out. The man kept talking and I watched the baseball game on the television in the corner.
Darcy stood at the bar with her hands in her back pockets, watching the door behind me and Drew in turns, her eyes moving between the two targets until she turned abruptly, grabbing a towel off the counter and washing off the clean space beside me.
Tony slid into the stool beside me and she smiled, standing back from the bar. "Want something?" she said to him, reaching for clean glass. She began filling it with Jack Daniels and squirted it full with bubbling Coke. "Where've you been?"
I could see Tony shrug beside me, keeping my gaze on the television. Darcy was called from the other side of the bar and Tony took his drink in his fingers, holding it loosely before taking a swallow. "Hey Iz, how are you doing?"
"Good. Good and you?"
He shrugged again, glancing at Darcy. "I should sit somewhere else," he said.
"I understand. Wouldn't want you to get in trouble."
I watched him walk around the bar, stopping for a minute to glance at me. I smiled and he took a seat beside the Brother's German. A safe place with no jealously.
"Hey, Rob. Cover the bar, would ya? I gotta pee." Darcy dashed out the door with her cigarettes in hand, leaving Rob watching the crowd with intense eyes.
"Hey, Rob. How's school going?"
Rob had been manager of the Olde Saloon for eight years, since his release from the Army. He had the face of a Lion, a look exemplified by the goatee he'd started growing along with his hair.
"Damn, the military was the best thing I ever did. School's so much better free. How's it going with you?"
I looked at Drew, still lost in conversation with the gap mouthed man. "I'm doing good."
"You're always doing good," he said, taking an order from the waitress.
I looked around the same crowd and feeling as if, tonight, I didn't belong at this bar among these people. I stood up and touched Drew's shoulder. "I'll be right back," I said, heading out the rustic trimmed doors lit by an old Pilsner neon sign. Taking a right outside the door, I shoved open the woman's door and was greeted with a thick cloud of blue smoke. A woman's voice came from behind one of the stall doors, followed by another woman's laugh.
"I can't even believe he's here with her. He's way too good for that bitch."
It was easy to recognize Darcy's whiskey, bar-rag voice, as well as the giggly girl laughter that followed.
"I suppose I should get back to work before Rob realizes how long I've been gone."
I waited for the door to swing open, leaning on the sink counter with my arms at my side and my eyebrows raised. As Darcy and Kimberly emerged, they stopped for only a second when they saw me.
"Excuse me," Darcy said, reaching for the sink and faking a smile. "How's it going?"
"It's going great. And you?" I stepped aside for her to wash her hands, as Kimberly kept her head down, mumbling good under her breath.
I closed the stall door behind me and locked it, hoping they'd be stupid enough to say more. They didn't, at least not until the door shut behind them. Left alone in the bathroom, I did my business and washed my hands, stopping to check my make up in the mirror. Cleaning away the black mascara smudged beneath my eyes, I smiled and prepared to head back into the lion den, hopeful my companion for the night would join my side, instead of leaving me alone in the clearing.
I eased back into my seat, interrupting whatever conversation he was having with Darcy, who smirked at her petty accomplishment. "I think Tony's going to need another drink," I said, nodding at her boyfriend watching the game in silence. She turned away with an obvious roll of her eyes and I turned to Drew. "So, who's Johnny?"
We sat in his car out front of my house, talking about the current state of politics and liars over the hum of the engine. He kept glancing at the clock and then at my house. I knew what he was thinking and debated the invitation that sat on the tip of my tongue. Few people have walked the floors of my house since I pledged five hundred thirteen dollars from my paycheck every month. I walked through the empty rooms the day they gave me the keys, studying the new white drywall, clean, tidy carpet, and immaculately painted woodwork. Since that day, I'd ripped out all the carpet, stripped the brown paint off the window frames, and painted the walls with a rainbow of fall colors. I was currently working on remodeling the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room, waiting for the time and money that was holding me back from finishing.
"Do you think we could finish this conversation inside? I kind of feel like I'm in High School sitting out here."
He presented an argument I couldn't disagree with and we climbed out of his car, fidgeting with the keys in my coat pocket as we walked up the sidewalk and weeds sprouting from the cracks. "I haven't gotten to the outside yet," I said. "I'm still remodeling inside."
"Are your dogs going to eat me?" he asked as I opened the door and lead him in.
Gatsby and Tom barked from the kitchen. "Hey, boys. I'm home." I could hear Gatsby's huge feet tapping on the wood floors. "I've got to let them out. Have a seat, I'll be right back." I ducked into the kitchen and tied Gatsby to his chain. Tom darted out the door, dodging the Great Dane's clumsy gait.
"Would you like something to drink?" I asked from the back door while making a mental list of drinks in my refrigerator. "I could make coffee or tea," I offered, letting Tom in the door. "Otherwise, I have milk."
"No thanks," he said and I wondered if he was wandering around my living room, checking its belongings.
"Hurry up, Gatsby," I said, imagining him looking over the sepia toned pictures I'd framed with famous quotes from minds of the past. "Come on," I said, tugging at his chain to get his attention, worried that I'd left my shoe drawer open and he'd see the pile of shoes I'd collected over the years. Gatsby pranced inside, stumbling on the single step. I unhooked his chain. "Be good," I whispered, patting his giant head.
Drew was sitting on the couch, draped in a cheap oriental carpet, with his hands resting at his side. "Like the couch cover?" I sat in the corner of the couch, crossing my legs and feeling more at home with the stranger among my life. "Gatsby likes to sit on the couch, but his toenails dig holes in the upholstery."
He looked it over. "Inventive," he said, reaching his hand to me. I took it, the touch of his smooth flesh causing me to catch my breath for fear it would leave me. I slid across the couch, still cross legged, to his side.
"I'm really glad you came out with me tonight." He cupped his hand beneath my chin and I closed my eyes, feeling the rise of dopamine’s as tingles flushed my cheeks. He pressed his forehead to mine and I opened my eyes, meeting the intense stare of the big blue eyes and noting the thickness of his lashes. "I hope we can do it again."
"Kiss me and I'll let you know."
His lips were soft and sent a rush through me that I wasn't sure I'd ever feel again. He pulled my face closer to him and wrapped his other arm around my waist, pulling me closer and closer until my legs draped over his lap. As we kissed, his fingers wrapped through my hair. When he pulled away from a kiss that lasted so long, but not long enough, I smiled. "I think we'll have to do this again."
"You look beautiful tonight," he said, curling me beneath his arm. He pressed a kiss to my forehead. "And you smell good too."
"Thank you," I said, glad not to be looking into those eyes as he spoke. I was used to hearing that I was "hot" and "sexy". Beautiful was something I hadn't heard in a long time and it had an effect on me that I didn't quite understand at that moment, but wasn't going to take the time to analyze it.
"I'm sorry I didn't say that earlier," he said, his voice hushed to a whisper. "I'm not very good with women."
I regretted laughing the minute I did it. "I'm sorry," I said, clutching his hand. "That just struck me as funny."
His muscles tensed and I sat up to look him in the face, confused by the direction the conversation was taking. "Why don't you think you're good with women?"
He shrugged and pulled his arms away. "I just never have been."
I kissed him, slow and, hopefully, reassuring. "You've been great all night."
Kissing lead to exploration of each other's bodies and I slid my hand up his shirt, my fingers tracing the taut muscles hidden beneath the baggy shirt. He unbuttoned the top three buttons of my shirt and pushed aside my bra, teasing my nipples between his nails until a groan escaped my lips. I took his hand and clutched it against my chest, slowing the make out session to a stop. "It's getting late," I said, glancing at the clock. "I've got church in the morning."
He didn't say anything, but he didn't move, pulling me close to his chest.
"You can stay here, if you'd like," I said, tracing his lips. "But no sex."
He nodded slow and kissed my knuckles, making me self conscious of my dry scratchy skin.
"I don't rush into that," I said, part hoping that he'd leave, taking his temptation with him. But I closed my eyes and could imagine falling asleep in his arms, smelling his aftershave and feeling his beard brush against my shoulders.
"That's cool," he said. "I respect that. Are you sure you're okay with me staying here?"
I nodded and stretched my legs in front of me. I took his hand and led him up the stairs and down the hall to my bedroom.