blurred reality
overheard at the table near the door

pandemic aftermath

This is not where I want it yet. And it will someday be the ending of a larger story that I've been writing in bits and pieces since 2006. 1376 words. adult stuff, a little.

She walked, like she always did, like a nymph, light on her feet, but determined. Her arms swung confidently, a little prettily, at her side, her head was held high and noble, her eye caught the attention of several whom she passed. Her hair and her hips both swayed with the to and fro movement of her steps. She looked perfectly ordinary, yet completely mysterious. 
"I'd like a gimlet, Tanqueray Ten, up and very cold," she accosted the bartender, yet offered a sweet sly smile. He nodded and went straight to the job, as she watched. She turned to the man seated on the stool next to her, and spoke again, "I love the fragrance of gin, don't you? It would be lovely in a perfume."
The man hardly knew how to reply, so startled was he to see her there, sitting next to him and chatting as though it was all a matter of course. Erica examined him. He was astonishingly just the sort of man she enjoyed looking at and also sitting next to. He was mostly medium, height, weight, all just as she'd like, and he had icy features, dark but greying hair, and hands that looked strong and useful, but well-manicured at the same time. Erica was not into cavemen; if the metrosexual had not been invented, she'd have had to create the type herself, and would have used something like this person as a model. Icy features, perhaps, was carrying the thing a bit too far. He had a sharp, rectangular face, and a long sharp nose, but his lips and his eyes appeared warm and humored, probably, hopefully, amused by her direct nature and upfront approach to conversation. 
The gimlet arrived, and Erica took a long cool sip, fluttering her eyes shut for the briefest of moments, and smiled. "Heavenly."
"Yes. And I do. That is, I do enjoy the scent of gin." Simon shocked himself by speaking this way to someone he'd never met before, who did indeed appear to be rather odd, but engaging, somehow, and very sexy. 
"Glad we got that cleared up then. Been here long?" Erica thought she may as well come straight to the thing. No sense wasting time on the weather at this point in the game.
She took a long sip of her drink while she waited for him to reply. 
Simon leaned an elbow on the bar. "Actually no, I mean, yes, uh, about half an hour."
For lack of a better reply, Erica responded, "It's a nice place."
They looked at each other for a minute, maybe two, before speaking again. Strange times, these, not unlike wartime, which artificially brings people close together in swift order. Maybe it's not artificial; maybe what's artificial is the usual way of doing things; formally and hesitantly edging close to someone, which sometimes breeds dishonesty. People have time to scheme up ways to appear better or more than they really are. But in extreme circumstances, there's no time for that and most of the niceties matter very little, in the final analysis. 
And Erica could feel it; that thick atmosphere between two people whose signals match, the one that you just know the other person can feel as well, even though it's hard to know who will be the first to admit it; always a tiny uncertainty the expression won't be returned, even though deep down, the truth says it already has been. 
So they talked, and Erica melted, because Simon had a lilting southern accent of the sort she adored; even-toned, a bit musical, and Simon felt giddy, because it was such a relief to just be himself with someone, not a grieving or supposedly grieving widower, just a man in a bar talking with a striking and sexy woman.   
Simon was drinking something brown, on ice. He sipped it carefully, almost reverently, and Erica watching him run his tongue over his lips every now and then, knew he saw her staring, and did it anyway.  
What did they talk about? Those days the topic was so often about the flu, who had it, who got over it, what the latest word was on avoiding it or recovering from it, until everyone was weary of the conversation, yet kept having it anyway. But Simon and Erica conversed like two people who could have met up in any previous year; what she liked and disliked, the difference between Southern and Northern people, the weather, but only lightly, as both realized that was a topic that strayed too close to the current state of things, what they'd had for dinner this evening. Simon liked baseball and wondered how the MLB was going to sort things out for this season, or if they even could, and Erica wondered about the Olympics, which had been put off until the end of the year. As they talked, they got more into a flow of conversation as though they were picking up where they'd left off the day before, instead of having just met. They leaned toward each other a little bit, and when Erica excused herself for the restroom, Simon edged his stool a little closer to hers. The place was mostly empty except for a few tables in the back. 
After a second gimlet, Erica felt like she was swimming in a light, delicious fog, and also like Santa Claus had just deposited her dream date right in front of her. Simon had a way of blinking that made her catch her breath a little, and gorgeous crinkles around his eyes; laugh lines, they were, and when he laughed, which he did more as the evening marched forward, his lower lip jutted out a little boyishly, making Erica wish she could take hold of it with her teeth, lightly, of course, and pull his face to hers. 
Simon wanted to touch the curl of hair Erica kept tucking behind her right ear. He wanted to touch the hand she used for the habit, and for playing with the little square napkin that came with her drink. When she caught him looking at her hand for an extended period of time, she took her left one and placed it on his forearm. 
"I don't feel like being alone tonight. Do you?"
Erica was not a one-night stand woman. The only one she'd ever had was quite by accident back when she was young and stupid and girlish about sex and love. And she wasn't thinking about a one-night stand with Simon. Nor was she thinking of pulling him more concretely into her life by using her wily charms on him. She just wanted to be with him until it was time not to be, and wanted to make sure he felt the same way. 
"I have a fantastic hotel room down the block from here. Come have a look." Simon realized as he spoke that it sounded a bit idiotic, but Erica was just tipsy enough to find it charming instead. 
The bartender laughed as he saw them leave together, shaking his head a little at the way the world works. That's what bartenders do. 
Even though she'd had only two drinks, Erica felt like her head was swimming somewhat, but decided to chalk part of it up to the man standing beside her in the elevator, which they were taking to the 19th floor. They leaned into each other, arm to arm, and when the door opened, Simon took Erica's hand to lead her out into the hall. Their fingers naturally entwined, hips bumping slightly, before either was completely aware, Erica found her other hand on the side of his face, his lips pressed against hers, as he slid his free arm around her back. And in this fashion they slowly and a little clumsily stepped back toward Simon's door. Not willing to break loose in order to find his key, Simon pulled Erica into a tight embrace; parting mouths open with exploring tongue against tongue, against teeth, pulling each other's mouths toward the other, her hands in his hair, his gripping her waist, until a throat clearing made them both stop for a moment to realize someone was standing very nearby. 
"You appear to have a room, you know, seems it would make sense to go ahead and use it, eh?" Simon and Erica looked up to see a tall blond young man holding his own door key card on the other side of the hall. 
Simon struggled in his pants pocket for his wallet as the young man opened his own door and with a wave, said, "Cheers," went inside, pulling the door after him. 
Erica laughed. Simon managed to slide the key into the door, and motioned for her to enter, following her in, and locking the door. Then he, too, laughed. 
"I've always known you, right? That makes this okay."
"It's like we're just picking up where we left off. It's very okay." Erica began to poke around the room a bit, still catching her breath from the kissing whirlwind unlike any she'd experienced in a number of years. She felt half her age in some ways, but felt very much all of 40 years in others. She knew she could do this. And she knew she wanted it. 
The room was lovely; actually there were two rooms; a sitting area and the bedroom, which she could see through an open door. There was a tray on a side table which held a bottle of whiskey and a couple of glasses. Probably wouldn't do to go any further down that road, but it did look like awfully good whiskey, and helped color the portrait she was putting together of the man she found herself alone with. 
He came to her, watching her lift her heavy hair up off her back and letting it drop again, and so he put his hands in her hair, leaning into the back of her neck to kiss it, sliding his hands to her shoulders and down her arms, taking her hands beneath his, entwining their fingers again, and they stood that way for a moment; his chest against her back, his breath on her neck, and then she lightly turned to face him, and there they began all over again, pressing into each other in a quiet, fevered attempt to melt together into one liquid object. 
Simon reached over and turned on his iPod clock. Peter Murphy's I'll Fall With Your Knife floated into the air. 
"Well if the birds
can reach the sky
to this land
I'll be with you
till the sun bursts from your side
with my hands
I reach to you
when you think your chance is passing by
when you blow your moon away
I'll bleed like the reed
fall with your knife
it's here I'll be with you..."
From that point until they moved into the bedroom, Erica could not say how much time passed, nor could she have recounted the movements between the two of them, only knowing that when they fell onto the bed, she felt like she'd fallen into a dream of the sort romantic novelists describe in their monthly offerings to the paperback aisle of the drugstore. 
Lying on the bed, however, her senses were sharpened, and the whole experience came into focus. She unbuttoned Simon's shirt, and spreading it apart with her hands, slipped it from his shoulders. He was not very muscular in development, but his figure was well-defined, nonetheless. She found herself kissing her way from his collarbone down his torso to the light patch of hair that started just below his navel, but before she could go any further, Simon swung around so that he was over her, lifting her blouse over her head, slipping his hands under her brassiere and releasing the clasp in the back. Then he kissed her mouth swiftly but strongly before bending his head over her breasts, where he began by flicking his tongue over her nipples, cupping her in his hands, very tenderly kneading the flesh between his fingers, drawing his tongue up and back like a cat savoring its supper. 
Erica brought her hands down Simon's torso to his hips, and began arching her body toward his so that her pelvis met his in a hungry gesture, and then she began caressing the back of his thighs, up over his buttocks, lightly digging her fingers into the firm flesh. He brought his face up to hers again and they kissed, over and over again, deeper and deeper, until they were fucking by mouth; the sweat on their skin became audible as they rubbed against each other. When he entered her from below, Erica felt as though nothing before that moment had ever been right, or enough, or exactly what she'd needed it to be. He groaned softly, "Ohhh, it's you," and she murmured her assent without speaking an actual word.