A man wakes up disoriented, with no recollection of what he did last night.
Jim Brever woke up in an unfamiliar setting, which added more disorientation to his already unsettled mind. He sat up, letting the heavy blankets fall around him and he circled his head around to inspect the room. The headache, a result of too much liquor the night before, pounded his head as if some ancient warrior thought it was a battle drum. On the faded yellow wall hung an oil painting of a watering can with roses inside, and he deduced that he was in a hotel room.
"Hello," he called out hoping that he was not alone and someone could explain his dilemma, but there was no answer.
He turned, put his feet on the floor to get out of bed, but when he stood, the pain in his head intensified and sent him spiraling to the floor. Man. What a night I must have had. If only I had a clue what happened, he thought as the ceiling spun around his point of view.
Images, recollections began to surface in his brain, but still last night was a mystery, a mystery he needed to solve.
Sauza. I remember Sauza. And lots of it. Plenty of lime and salt, too. But what--
The phone interrupted his thoughts and he cautiously climbed back into bed in hopes of answering it.
"Hello," he muttered, optimistic that he did not sound desperate or tired, though both were a probability.
"Hi. It's Heather, from last night. Anyway, if you would please hurry up and get out of my room I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you," the caller snipped.
Jim assumed the caller was the woman he must have encountered last night, but his confusion was still overwhelming. "What happened last night? Who are you and--"
"You don't remember last night? Oh well. It does not really matter, I suppose. Just please leave my room and--and--"
Her tone was steady and reserved, which left Jim not knowing her emotions. Was she angry with him? Was she sad?
"Is everything okay, miss...uh...Heather was it?
"Yes. Heather. Just please leave!"
As he was about to open his mouth to respond, the dial tone filled his ear. More ideas of last night began to reveal themselves, though.
I remember a woman, a beautiful woman at that. Her hair, yes, her long brown and luxurious hair, was highlighted blonde in all the right places. She kept smiling at me, inviting me to dance with her. Mmmm. And that smell. Yes, her wonderful feminine smell, with just the right touches of sweetness and professionalism. Must have been this Heather that just called.
After a minute of reminiscing, he decided that he needed a shower before he obeyed Heather's one wish. He again climbed out of bed, but slower so as not to have the throbbing headache send him to the floor. Once on his feet, he smiled, but then the spinning room made him nauseas. He shook his head with vigor and then rubbed his temples before heading into the bathroom.
After entering the bathroom, he glanced at himself in the mirror, but the person who stared back at him looked nothing like Jim Brever. His normally kempt auburn hair was in a tangled mess, thanks to excessive sleep. Red lines spider-webbed through his eyes and dampened their natural coffee color. Stubble dotted his chin, cheeks and neck, sandpapery to the touch. He could fix the hair with a shower, but hasn't the necessary utensils to fix the rest. He turned on the water--hot only--and the bathroom filled with a reviving steam. After he stepped into the shower, he sighed in content from the healing effects of the shower.
Interrupting his heavenly shower was a soft voice that said, "I asked you to leave."
Confused, Jim peeked his shampoo-covered head around the shower curtain and saw her, the woman he remembered from last night. Her hair looked a bit tattered, but still beautiful, and her eyes were reddened with sorrow--or guilt. "I am sorry. I just needed to take a shower before I left."
She said nothing.
Jim put his head back into the shower and began to rinse the foam from his head. More reminiscences started to come back to him from seeing her though, and that distracted him a little. He smiled, thinking about her beauty, her smells. They met last night, he remembered, and she initiated, he bought. Her laugh, he remembered, was sweet, childlike and real. When she laughed, she meant it. They talked, danced, drank, but then what? Sex? What other conclusion was there but sex?
He turned off the water and reached his hand out to grab a towel to dry off and cover himself, though he was certain that she must have seen him naked already. Plus, he had nothing to be ashamed of about his body, either. He was not a body-builder, but he went to the gym three or four times a week and jogged, as well. After pushing the shower curtain to the side, he stepped out of the shower and saw her still standing there gazing into the mirror. He smiled, she turned and quickly fled the room and the sound of a door slamming filled his ears as she left the hotel room.
Was I that bad?
He entered the main room again in search of his clothes. He swiveled his head as more pieces of the puzzle came back to him. Things they talked about last night, like wine--she liked Cabernet Sauvignon, jobs--she was a production analyst in town for a seminar, and music--she liked the classics: Beethoven, Mozart and Tchaikovski.
He found yesterday's suit draped over the back of a chair and put it on. He grabbed the tie and put it in the inside pocket of his gray pinstriped suit jacket. As he walked to the door, he gave a final look around for anything he may have left behind, but found nothing. With his hand on the doorknob, he hesitated and thought for a second. Then, he turned back around and walked over to the desk at the back of the room. Hotel stationary sat atop the desk and he ripped a sheet from the pad. After finding a pen, he wrote:
I am sorry if I offended you in any way as I meant you no harm. I was quite drunk last night, but I thought we had a wonderful time. Am I right? Anyway, I just wanted to say that I am sorry if I did offend you and that I left the room as you wished.
He placed his business card--which proudly displayed both his office and cell phone numbers--on top of the note and left the room.
As he walked down the hallway towards the elevators, he kept an eye out for Heather, but never saw her. He pressed the down button and waited a few seconds for the elevator to arrive. Once the doors opened, he waited for a young couple to exit before stepping into the cab. Upon reaching the lobby, he stepped out of the elevator and glanced around one more time in search of Heather, but he did not see her.
He left the hotel and oriented himself. The Mayan Grille, which is where they met, he now remembered, was directly across the street from the hotel. His Obsidian Lexus SC 430 sat parked in the lot, alone.
Jim Brever was not a wealthy man, but he was single with little expenses, so he liked to indulge. Along with his love of cars was his love of some of the finer things in life, like Tequila--mainly Sauza, but 1800 and Cuervo would satisfy, wine--any California red, and music--jazz, but the legends like Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. He also dressed well with suits from Hart, Schaffner & Marx, shoes from Kenneth Cole, casual wear from Ecco, a Rolex and simple Brut cologne.
He crossed the street and hopped in his car. As he pulled away from the Mayan Grille, his cell phone started to buzz. "Hello, Jim Brever," he answered, but he only heard silence for a second before succumbing to the annoying sound of the dial tone.
Five minutes later, as he turned onto the expressway, his cell phone buzzed again. He unclipped it from the car charger and recognized the caller id as the one from five minutes earlier.
"Jim Brever," he said. There was silence for a few seconds, so he said, "Hello?"
Something faint came through, or was it static, or his music? Unsure, he said, "Hello? Is someone there?"
"Yes," the caller finally said. "It's...it's Heather. I am...sorry, too. It's just that...well...I had just a great time last night and...well..."
He waited for her to finish, but she never did, so he said, "It's okay, Heather. Do you want me to come back? Do you want to get together and talk?"
"Yes..." Silence again. Then, "...No. I don't know. I am confused."
"What are you confused about?"
"Me. What do you mean, me?"
"I don't know. It's hard to explain, but I will do...Never mind. I am sorry to have bothered you."
Dial tone again, leaving Jim even more confused than before.
Who is this woman?
At the next exit, he got off the freeway and changed direction to head back towards the Mayan Grille--the hotel, if necessary.
Ten minutes later, he pulled into the lot of the Mayan Grille, which now contained three cars. He entered the yellow stucco sided establishment and found a table quickly since Mexican breakfast is not popular, it is the nightlife the place is famous for.
"What can I get for you, Ser?" the black-haired waitress whose tag read Ines asked.
"Just coffee, por favor."
She gave him a mock smile at his attempt at Spanish, and then turned to get his coffee.
Jim opened up his cell phone, hit a few buttons to retrieve his recent call list, then hit the send button after finding Heather's number. After six rings, the call went into her voicemail.
"Hi Heather. It's Jim. I cannot end things like this. Would please meet me at the Mayan Grille so we can talk? Please."
Ines returned with his coffee as he was on the phone and he took a generous sip after blowing away the steam. Refreshing. And with it came more memories. Maybe it was because he sat here, in the Mayan Grille, the place where they met. The bar was in the back of the place and he looked over there. He could almost see himself dancing with her, could almost smell her perfume. The vision engulfed him in strange feelings, feelings he had never experienced before. Was he falling for her? Maybe. But he hardly knew the woman he--maybe--shared one night of passion with. How could it be love?
Ines came back and refilled his coffee, he thanked her--in Spanish again and she responded with her mock smile again.
He looked over to the bar again, and to the tiled dance floor beside it. Holding each other close, laughing, he could see Heather and himself. They looked happy, so why hasn't she called? Why hasn't she shown up?
He flagged down Ines to let her know he would be right back, and then headed into the bathroom. Four cups of coffee had that effect on him. When he walked back to his table, he saw Heather opening the door to leave.
"Heather! Wait!" he yelled out.
She turned, but maybe she shouldn't have, maybe she should have just left--or never shown up to begin with. But upon seeing Jim, she was paralyzed, frozen with emotion. She woke from the soft touch of his hands, leading her to the table, where they sat across from each other.
Jim began, "I'm sorry. It's just that you sounded so...so distraught on the phone. I just wanted to make sure that you were okay. That everything was fine. I just want to talk. I can't end things like this. You baffled me when you said you were confused about me."
"I never should have called you back," Heather mumbled. "I never should have come here, either. But there is something that draws me to you, Jim. It's confusing."
"Let's talk it out then."
"I can't. I have to get on a plane in six hours. I never wanted last night...well, that is not entirely true." She looked up at him with only her sad eyes. "I got more than I wanted, that's all."
"What happened last night? I mean, I remember you...things about you--Cabernet Sauvignon is your favorite, right?"
She smiled at his remembrance while fighting away the tears. He reached his hands across the table, but she pushed them away.
"Please don't," she said.
"Why are you doing this? I thought we had a good time last night. I thought we had a connection. A vibe."
She tilted her head up and looked him in the eyes. "I don't need this right now. Okay. I really don't need this...or you. I never should have called you back. I am beginning to think that coming here was a mistake, too."
"But you are here."
"Yes I am, but I can't do this, okay."
She paused for a few seconds.
"Because I am married."
"Don't lie to me. If you don't want to see me again, just say so."
"Honest. I am married," she said holding up her hand to show Jim the diamond ring on her finger. "Sure. Things are not great between us, but we are still married. All I wanted was one night. One night of sex, no strings attached. But you come with many strings, Jim. You wanted to get to know me. You listened, too. And remembered. Then, after we got back to my room, you just wanted to talk. Take things slow."
"So nothing happened between us last night?"
"No. I wanted to, but you passed out in my bed. I just sat there and watched you sleep, thinking about the night we shared. The dancing. The drinking."
She paused to search for the right thing to say, but could only find, "I know I shouldn't feel this way about you, but I do. But I can't. I have to end it. I have to end it before it starts. But I can't let you go."
Jim reached across the table, took hold of Heather's hands and caressed them with his thumbs. After a few seconds, she pulled away and shriveled into the chair, trembling.
"I can't do this, Jim. I can't," she said, and then rose from the chair and walked out of the restaurant.
Jim stared befuddled at the empty chair like she was still there, a mirage. He dropped his head and covered his face with his hands. When he looked back up, he thought he saw her, but maybe it was just an illusion, maybe he just wanted to see her. But it was real because she put her arms around his head, pulled him close and began kissing him, letting her passion and lust for him emerge. After a minute, she pulled away.
"I love you and I'm sorry," she whispered in his ear. Tender and smooth, she ran her index finger across his cheek as she gazed into his eyes. She took a hesitant step back, turned and walked away with sorrow in her stride.
Jim thought about following her, but didn't. His eyes began to water from the thought of her. Did I break this woman's heart? And that thought almost broke his own heart.
He finished his coffee and left a five-dollar bill on the table for Ines. After exiting the Mayan Grille, he saw the hotel across the street and studied it for a few seconds. Then he shook his head no and proceeded to his car. But his heart had other ideas. He strolled across the street, entered the hotel and went directly to the front desk.
"May I help you, sir?" asked the gray-haired man behind the counter.
"Yes. Could you please tell me if the woman in room 727 has checked out?" Jim inquired.
"Certainly. Just hold on a second, please." He looked away and began to type something on his keyboard. After a few seconds, he looked up and said, "Mrs. Reynolds has not checked out yet."
"Thank you," Jim said and walked away from the counter. He spotted a gift shop around the corner and entered, though not sure what he was looking for. Near the front of the store was a shelf with cards of all kinds. Jim found one with pink roses on the outside and blank on the inside, so he bought it and went outside to find a place to write. Outside the shop were a few tables, and Jim sat down at one and pulled out his pen.
I understand that we can never be together, but I can't leave things like this. That kiss confused me, and now I am in a quandary. I hardly know you, yet I feel like I've always known you, like fate brought us together. You consume my thoughts, my heart. When I close my eyes, all I see is you, your beauty. I had to let you know this before you went home and since you left the Mayan Grille so fast, I didn't get the chance. I am sorry if I hurt you, if I broke your heart, but what choice did you leave me? You tell me you are confused about me, well, I am confused about you.
And you know what? And maybe this is just the kiss talking, but...I love you. I love you Heather. I will never forget that kiss, so soft and unreserved. I have never had a kiss so warm and meaningful in my life. I will never forget that kiss. I will never forget you, either. I will cherish the memories of you, of us, forever.
--With love, Jim Brever.
Smiling, he folded the card closed, placed it in the envelope and sealed it with a kiss and a tear. He stood up and walked to the elevator, hoping to get to the room before she checked out.
The doors opened on the seventh floor and Jim walked out of the cab. He traversed the hall, stopping at room 727 and was ready to knock on her door, but changed his mind at the last second, slipped the card under the door and walked away. Before he made it back to the elevator, someone jumped on his back and gave him a wet kiss on his cheek. It was Heather.
He turned and she fell back to her feet. He reached out to her and she welcomed him with a tearful hug. Then a deep and meaningful kiss ensued as they worshiped each other's lips.
"I wish you could stay," he said while looking into her glorious azure eyes.
"So do I. But I must go. I will never forget you, Jim Brever."
"And I will never forget you, either, Heather Reynolds."
Then she turned away, ending the relationship before it started. Jim watched her as she walked back to her room, smelling the last hints of her perfume. Upon reaching her door, she paused, looked his way, mouthed, "I love you," and blew him a kiss. Jim caught it and pulled it close to his breaking heart and mouthed, "I love you, too."
Then she disappeared into her room and Jim knew he would never see her again. In his mind, though, she would always be the one who got away and he almost wished he had never met her. But if he had never met her, he would not have those wonderful memories of the most beautiful and wonderful woman he had ever met.