I meander through a sitting crowd who pay more interest in browsing instagram and the cost of IPAs than the woman standing in a dimmed spotlight onstage. Her long, straight fringe catches the edges of thick, winged eyeliner as she sways her hips to a solo, higher pitched rendition of "You Got Me Babe" wailing from her curved, glossy red lips. Her black, absurdly ostentatious leather dress hikes up her thighs far past age appropriateness, perversely exposing deep wrinkles and purpled spider veins that she wears explicitly well. I intoxicate on her euphoria, exclusively sipping from the fountain of her youth while the audience goes ahead and orders another round of something more hoppy.
The song lingers. Deciding I want a smoke, I pass a bantering bouncer at the front entrance who remarks how arousing he finds the black haired woman's off key performance. Outside the air is thick with weekend smokers. I reach into my back pocket where I have mindlessly shoved a pack of reds and hopefully some matches. I seem to always forget matches.
I lean my back on a vacant telephone pole, fondling an unlit cigarette loitering, while I scour for a light. A group of youthful twenty-something year olds leave the bar stumbling and laughing, not drunkenly, rather blissfully. I notice you by the way your hands hold your sides as you bend in hysterics. By the time you regain your posture, I realize I've been staring. The group of man buns, faux tortoise shell glasses, and wide brimmed black hats form on the opposite side of the telephone pole, rolling cigarettes and passing a lighter. I'm waiting for it to meet the edge so I can casually lean in and ask for a light. You're standing in the center of an abridged half circle when you get tossed it but before I notice that it's taken a detour, your hand is dancing in my face. You manage the rest of your body through a couple of friends and ask if I want a light. I flounder a yes and with one hand holding a lighter to my cigarette, another on the small of my back, you strike.
Your dark brown eyes fix on mine and I forget to exhale. Leaning forward, somehow meeting the curve of your neck, I fall into a coughing fit. Between breaths I feel your hands find their way to my waist. You hold my curve the same way you held yours and pull me close. I recover my breathing and posture, standing with my body against yours, when your lips settle on mine. We're pressing noses and cheeks, neglecting the hazy commentary from the voices of your semi circle. One hand holds the frame of your face, the other resting on your shoulder with a burning cigarette, I forget we're strangers in a karaoke bar.
We kiss until I feel the burn of ash on my fingers. Hesitantly arching my back, I pull away from you. As your arms hold my waist still, I drop the burnout to the curb putting it out. I look down finding my footing atop the smoke and looking back at you I catch you staring. I dust the ash from your shoulder and laugh.
It's late and your friends want to find another bar near downtown. From the other side of the telephone pole I can hear you prompting them to stay a little longer but they say they've already called a taxi. When the taxi pulls in, I watch as all of your Cosby sweater and colored trouser friends pile in. You follow behind but just as everyone is seated, you close the taxi door.
The sky is clear but the lights from the city are brighter than any stars. We walk down the street with my arm around yours until you suddenly stop outside a corner liquor store. You tell me to wait outside. When you come back out carrying something wrapped in a little black plastic bag, before I can ask, you hand me it and tell me to open it. Reaching into the bag, I pull out a small grey lighter. I smile and you kiss me.
We sit on the curb outside the liquor store smoking cigarettes and talking about everything we can think of. Your words roll into mine and mine flow into yours. We laugh and kiss; intrigued and fascinated by the ease of our attraction. But somewhere between commentary on bar etiquette and explanations of irrational fears I notice the weekend smokers have gone home, the florescent closed signs lean in late night windows, and by the time of your watch its nearly 3 in the morning. The sky has greyed with clouds and it has begun to drizzle. When we pull away from each other long enough to notice the rain, our clothes have soaked through, and our last cigarettes are damp. We both agree it's time to go home.
We wait under the flashing lights of the corner liquor store until the taxi pulls up to the curb. Before I walk to the taxi you grab ahold of my waist, bringing your face near to mine. We kiss slowly and softly this time. The driver honks his horn, disrupting the silence, as we realize how long he's been waiting. You walk me to the car and as I yank my seatbelt on, I ask you to get in. You flounder a yes and close the taxi door behind you.