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Red

Pivoting Right, Part III

By Conrad IlesiaPublished 2 years ago 25 min read

I

Today was a hard day. Hell, they are all hard days: clients, staff, vendors, all lying to me. Lies, lies, lies. What’s an honest man to do? Lie back. To my wife, my colleagues, judges. It only seems fair.

After the liefest, I jet across the street to Haligan's. Truth there. "My grandmother drinks that beer,” “you look like shit," "fuck you, it's staying on Family Guy,” “the Texans suck." Truth, served up twelve ounces at a time.

I walked past three people at the start of the bar and took my usual place in the middle, ordering a craft from Brent, a mostly empty room otherwise. Brent and I were small talking when I heard movement from the high top behind me. One of patrons leaving, I suppose, key-rattling, purse-swinging bullshit. And then I sensed her body close to mine, debating, pretending to be watching the Astros lose on the TV mounted above the mirror, above the bottles of gin and whiskey. As I ignored her, she started fiddling with her car keys again. She was angling for a post-last drink, I was sure. I glanced to my left at the large glass window at the entrance, “HALIGAN’S” in 1950’s font, written backwards from our vantage point, little angel wings above the H and S. And that's when it hit me. It was just a glimpse but I saw the red hair all the same.

Fuck my life.

Probably green eyes, too.

I asked Brent if Britney was coming in tonight.

Nah, just me.

Cool.

On the screen above us, the last batter struck out, bottom of the eighth. The customer to my left laughed at some stupid insurance commercial. She will get her drink, maybe on my tab, and go away. That would be best for me.

She stood behind a bar stool that was positioned next to me, cocking her head up to the TV screen, considering the stool like a boulder in her way on a sweaty climb. She turned her back to me to get into the seat and I felt a tug of her ass on my hip as she saddled in. I could smell the regret when she fully sat next to me and said hi. I glanced at Brent, hoping he would shoo her. She appeared sober enough to drive but clearly did not want to stay that way. I shot her a peace sign off my left hand but I was looking up at the game, top of the ninth, hoping I got this wrong. All I knew of her was the tuft of red hair and her scent and she didn't know me. All she saw was a pressed dark blue shirt accented by a dark blue tie, short black hair, black frame glasses bridging my nose. I'm certain she was built.

But that smell. That regret.

Regret of the man she loved. Regret for staying too long, for leaving at last, for letting him have the kids.

She asked how I was doing, her voice all whiskey and weed, a red-haired Janis Joplin. I turned to her.

Green eyes (of course), narrowed by fuscia mascara. Her breasts were pumped up as high as she could conceive them, proudly brimming out of her purple unbuttoned man's dress shirt. Glimpse of a light purple colored embroidered bra underneath. Filled. Sexy and stylish. Classy, almost. But I could see her maroon Chevy through the window and was certain the rolled down passenger window would never roll back up.

“I’m doing well,” I said, “My name is Sam,” extending my hand, which she took in her hand, giving it an awkward pump. She told me her name in return. That smell again: I could roll it up into a licorice ball and pop it in my mouth.

When she asked Brent for a Coors Light, draft, no lime, and he asked cash or credit and she hesitated, I said put it on mine, knowing the night would end in fireballs, cigarettes and a forceful goodbye. From me. And more lies. I knew. I knew, I knew, I knew. And, more importantly, I knew better.

That god damn red hair.

II

A

(1)

I was 17 years old. My brother-in-law got me this job at Amos Goode's Fine Men's Clothing Store. We sold all kinds of shit there but none of it could be considered fine. I worked in the Men's Department (I know, right?), selling misfitting off the rack suits. Merrilynn worked shoes (men and women and children's). She was 27. She had green Armenian eyes. It was the first thing I noticed about her and when we talked, I stared at those eyes to the point of embarrassment. I often caught her blushing and turning away but, at 17, I didn't correspond it to my staring. I figured she was shy. She wore the Goode's mandated black slacks and white blouse but how she ever fastened that top button over her bust, God only knows. Her red hair was shoulder length. I found her to be such an interesting girl.

I got to my usual after-school five to nine evening shift a few minutes early, maybe a Thursday, and began shuffling shirts, watching customers. Then she walked through the door. My mouth opened. She laughed at me. She had curled her red hair and suddenly this interesting girl with green eyes that I talked to on breaks became a beautiful, amazing woman. I noticed everything about her in that moment as she approached:

her lips—

her curled hair as she walked past me, smiling, sideways glance, hand over her mouth, stifling a chuckle at my expense—

the side of her bosom as she walked by, the fabric of her blouse stretched over her breasts to the mercy point—

those black pants defining a perfectly proportioned behind and hips—

her gentle falling laughter.

Girl?

No more.

She was the woman of a dream I didn't even know I had.

Regardless, we had to work. Me in men's, her in shoes. An hour later, she came through my department on her way to the restroom (the long way; she could have sneaked through the back of the shoe room) and asked if I was going on break at 7. I nodded at her and at some point after she walked past me, my throat dry, I said, "Yes.”

The timeclock on the wall beneath the federal minimum wage poster clicked. Click. Click. Click.

I wasn't supposed to be in the shoe department but it was a slow evening and she had been waving at me. I wandered over to her department about 6:30 and she was looking down at herself. I asked her if there was a problem, smiling at her. She looked at me and told me she couldn't get her top button to stay buttoned. I looked. Then it popped open. She giggled. She grabbed a safety pin from the cash register desk and started toward the back of the department through the door where the actual shoe boxes with shoes in them were kept.

"Come help me," she said, looking over her left shoulder, a little impatiently.

I probably should have looked around for the floor manager, a tall, lanky, energetic guy—but did she just look over her shoulder and say come help me? My feet were moving and my eyes were tracking her backside and my higher brain functions were done.

She stopped just inside the dimly lit shoe room. She turned around and waited for me. I walked through the open doorway. To my right, running parallel to the wall, were shelves of cheap women's high heels in assorted gauche colors in open boxes in descending size. To my left, on shelves like consecutive bookcases, arranged in perpendicular columns, were the men's shoes. I tasted roasted honey peanuts in my drying throat and when I stepped closer to her, I involuntarily took a gasping deep breath and inhaled her peppermint. And then she was in front of me. Fully. Breasts I have not forgotten and will never forget. An inexperienced, uncouth, clueless teenage boy. I wanted to touch. Feel. Experience.

Time slowed, like my first joint.

She re-buttoned the top of her blouse and asked me if it looked okay. I looked. The blouse hung ... then popped open and she laughed again. Looked at me and laughed. Not a little girl giggle the time. She invited me to try to clasp the blouse together with a safety pin that she held out to me. I did. But before I could get it fastened, my hands on both sides of the blouse, pulling the fabric together, my body starting to harden, our manager walked in behind us. What's going on here, he wants to know. I, she, um, needed help. He's smiling at me. Alright, kid, get back to your zone. Back to work, guys. The three of us exit the shoe area.

She and I went on break but the usual stuff we talked about seemed fake, distant, archaic. I touched her shoulder; she touched my knee. A co-worker left; another came in. Break over, we began walking back to our stations. At the edge of my section, before leaving me, she asked what I was doing Saturday. I said, "Nothing." (Really I said nuh nuh nuthin.) She told me I should ask her out. Our manager was lurking behind me so she quickly said, "Ask me after work," and got back to her section.

I had never ever asked anyone out before but, with her instruction, it seemed like it would an easy sell, unlike the men’s 38 x 30 off brand jeans with the butterflies on the back pockets.

I finished picking up my section before she did hers and, with Drill Sergeant in the shadows, I exited and waited outside. Bubbles were dancing the periphery of my brain. I waited. She came out and looked around. It was nine o'clock.

“Merri,” I said.

She smiled and began walking toward me. The bubbles took what was left of my brain.

I clumsily said, "We should go out."

She said, "We are out."

I thought "you're beautiful" and I imagined leaning my face in to kiss her.

While I hesitated, she said, "Where?"

Well fuck I hadn't thought that far.

"Give me your hand," she said.

She grabbed my hand, took out a green Sharpie from her back pocket and wrote the seven digits of her phone number on my palm. She turned my hand over and wrote the same seven numbers on the outside of my hand. She put the marker back in her pocket and walked away.

As she was leaving, she said, "Don't lose it."

I had not yet learned the art of checking out a woman's ass—that quick up and down glimpse—as she was walking away although I am certain she was aware that most men had. She sashayed away, looking over her shoulder while I grinned, plotting our first date. I regretted not kissing her, thinking "don't lose the number,” looking at my stupid left hand.

Saturday morning I called her and we talked as if we were on break and then she said she had to go. I asked her out again before we hung up and she said sure but not this weekend. What about the coming up Friday, after work? I casually said sure but that was a put on. I was on the ceiling.

(2)

My family was working class and my father did not believe in spoiling us or encouraging trouble. We didn't exactly live paycheck to paycheck but while most seniors at my high school saw a vehicle as little more than another necessity (although some of the princesses had some damn nice necessities), my dad didn't feel that way. So, when I wanted to take Merri out, I had to ask to use Dad’s car. Of course it came with restrictions: curfew, no drinking, no cruising. My friend David and I talked about my impending date and he suggested I go to one of the local gas stations and pop 75 cents in the machine located in the Men’s Restroom and get a condom. I did not. I did not think Merri and I would be doing anything requiring protection.

Friday was a teacher in service day. David and I and some other friends went to the outskirts of town to a dried out creek bed. One of our mutuals just got a new truck with oversize tires. He wanted to four-wheel in the mud and dirt. Not really my thing but I was a good sport. On the drive over, David popped in the just released Highway to Hell cassette. We listened to the whole thing at least once that afternoon. He said, "Look, bring her out here, drive down the access road and just park under the bridge." It seemed like a brilliant idea that she would never go along with. I reserved the thought. When he asked me if I got the condom, I said “yea” and he slapped my back.

We all traversed the week.

(3)

The Friday morning of the big date, before I did my usual three block walk to school, Mom told me she was taking Dad to work in her car, said she would pick him up after work, told me to be safe, handed me the keys to his Ford LTD and looked worried. Shit—I had the old man’s car. I had to get to school in time to get a temporary permit for the car, find a parking spot and still get to class on time. I was almost more excited about having wheels than the date. The day was uneventful, class, the guys telling me what a disaster I was going to be and hiding just a little jealously that my date was an older (experienced with a grin) woman. I took it in stride, figured this would be the first of many dates, that I had plenty of time. We would probably just talk on the first date.

From school I launched over to Amos Goode's. I got there 5 minutes early, milled around the clock, punched in at exactly 5:00 p.m., went to my department and started straightening the shirts. Merri came breezing past, punched in late, smiling at me on her way to shoes. We took our usual break, talked about nothing. Then it was 9:00. I was certain something had come up. Certain she would cancel. For the first time since I had actually asked her out, I got nervous, pen dropping, eyes darting, stuttering nervous. I started straightening the department, feeling the keys to the Ford hanging low in my left pocket.

She walked up to me, manager be dammed, and said, "If we're not still on, I need to call for a ride." She glanced at the corded phone on the wall behind Customer Service.

"Nowestuun," I said.

"What?" Her eyes squinted.

I looked at her and slowed down. "No." She looked confused. "We're still." I caught my breath. "On."

"Oh, good," she said, devil grin, and went back to her department to finish straightening until our manager belted out "Let's go!" a few minutes later and we filed up at the clock, punched out, got our stuff from Customer Service and left.

I waited for Merri to walk out with her but she said, "I'll be out in a minute," so I went outside and waited on the sidewalk.

She came out with a changed shirt, fixed hair and make up and asked me where I wanted to go.

Swallowing hard, I said, "You look very attractive" and I wanted to touch her face or shoulders or hand but she just said, "Where's your car?"

I pointed toward the parking lot and started walking in that direction and she followed. I told her I needed to drop by the house first and pick up some cash but that was a lie. One of Dad's other car-borrowing conditions was that I bring the girl by the house. Actually that was ok, too. My cousin Tim was visiting and while I thought Merri was smoking hot, I'd like to get his older dude take on her as well.

Merri was a woman in full. The pink and black plaid shirt that she had changed into was unbuttoned five buttons down and revealed a ribbed yellow wife beater slinking low enough to reveal a soft green bra and plenty of cleavage. My father, at the house, was courteous, extending his hand and repeating her name (Merrilynn), my mother suspicious (on the edge of a cutting remark) and all I could think about my cousin was my what big eyes you have. If you had to wait until you see the whites of their eyes, let the shooting begin.

Once my cousin's eyes were safely back in their sockets, my father told me to be careful. Mercifully, he did not remind me of the curfew.

Tim walked us to the door, slung his arm around me and said, “Don’t suffocate.” He laughed a big country laugh.

When Merri and I got back to the Ford, I asked where she wanted to go. She didn't care, anywhere was fine. I told her about my friend’s escapade in his truck and asked if she wanted to see the area. She said sure and we drove off, talking about people at work, the music on the radio, anything. Just before the bridge, there was a turn off to the right. I signaled, even though there was no traffic, got on the shoulder of the road and slowed, and then slowed even more before taking the sloping dirt road that would lead to the dry creek. There was a slab of pavement holding up pillars that were holding up the bridge. I stopped the car there. I asked her if she wanted to look around, get our feet dirty. She said no and told me to cut the engine. I did and I looked straight ahead. She asked, "Lights?" and I turned the headlights off and looked at her. The seat was a bench seat and she began scooting over toward me, her breasts getting closer to my right arm, her red hair and green eyes barely visible in the shadows. She reached to the outside of my right thigh and popped the seat belt. I was silent, frozen. She moved her arm across my chest; I could not do anything but look out the front window again. She asked if I liked what she had changed into. Now, I looked at her. And I heard myself in a robotic voice again say, "You look very attractive." I was on the cusp of turning the car back on and admitting defeat when she asked if I had ever wanted to kiss her while we were in the store working together.

“That day we were in the shoe room I did.”

She nestled closer to me and said into my ear, “Do you want to try to button me again?” My balls tightened and I became hard. She twisted her body so she was facing me, hand on my knee, perpendicular to the dashboard. She stuck her chest out. My hands reached to her breasts and I squeezed them together and looked at them, the original mission forgotten. I released them and started unbuttoning the bottom buttons of her mostly unbuttoned plaid shirt but she stopped me. She put her hand on my knee and casually brought it up my leg until she reached my testicles and then brushed my hardness and then encircled it with her fingers through my jeans. Midway up the traverse from my knee to my genitals, she turned to face me as much as she could in this cramped space and placed her mouth on mine. For this first time in my life, I was making out, my hands wanting to feel everything, her hair, her face, the sides of her boobs, her ass and whatever was in between her warm legs, without resistance, her tongue probing my mouth, one of her hands gripping my shoulder, the other up and down on my hardness. Suddenly she stopped.

She laid back on the bench seat. Do you want to get on top of me, she asked. I did.

We continued making out, now with me on top of her, jeans on jeans. My dick never felt so good, straining the fabric of my pants, pressed between the inseam of her pants. We could have squashed a tiny spider.

She reached both hands to my hips and matched the movement of my pelvis. Why don’t you take your pants off, she asked me, and unbuttoned the button of my jeans. I lifted my torso, unzipped, and put my erection, still covered by my underwear in between her open, but still clothed, legs. My breathing became more rapid, her kisses more aggressive and our movements more synchronous. And then that moment came. Literally.

My body slowed, still grinding, but she was unfazed. She explored more of my torso, hands up and down my stomach and finally said, “I want you to come in me.” I completely stopped at that point, lifted myself up and said, “I think I already did.” She let out an unhappy groan as I pulled my pants back up, zipped and buttoned, sat up on the driver’s side, behind the wheel. I shook my head from side to side, a silent apology. She put her head on my right shoulder, a silent acceptance of my apology.

We talked.

We had food at Burger King and then I drove her to her house, getting directions along the way, talking about what we would be doing the next day, Saturday. After dropping her off, I went back to the Amos Goode parking lot to burn off the last thirty minutes of my curfew.

She called me the next weekend, wanted me to meet her father. She came and got me. Drove me to her house. She lived in Tivoli, one of those villages with a hundred folks in run-down houses and broken-down cars rusting in their front yards. She was into Judas Priest. We listened to side one of Point of Entry on the car’s cassette deck on the way out. We're heading out to the highway. I got nothing to lose at all. I might have had a beer, two, that she had in the car for us. I didn't make a move on her and she didn't pull over to the side of the road. I met her dad and she took me home and that was that.

For the next few weeks, we went back to being awkward friends but I didn't pursue her. I'm not sure at 17 if I knew how to pursue. She was 10 years older than I was. I was grateful for the experience but I was hesitant—this was all uncharted territory. The phrase “baby daddy” did not exist in the mid-seventies but somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that’s what she wanted. I wanted to finish high school and leave Sendera for good. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life straightening shirts. My mind guiltily turned to Lidia, a short plump Hispanic woman with greying hair and a sweet, loud laugh, who was, in fact, at that moment straightening shirts for the rest of her life.

The third week after the date, a Wednesday, Merri came into work and whisked right past me. Didn't look at me, didn't say hello. Then she left the store. One of the other workers asked me if I had heard about her and looked at me accusingly. I told her I had not; that I just saw her come in and leave. The worker, Patti, told me that Merrilynn was throwing up in the bathroom. Then Patti just kept staring at me. I guess she got bored looking at me being clueless and went back to her department.

That was the last time I saw Merrilynn.

A few weeks later, Patti told me that Merri was pregnant and asked if I had heard from her. I had not.

B

They say that fetishes form in your adolescence, even if you are unaware of them. I am not sure that 17 qualifies as adolescence but ever since that night with Merri in the front seat of my father’s LTD, I was only interested in women with red hair and green eyes. It is not a common combination, even at the University of Texas at Austin in the early eighties. I was a junior there before I had sex again. Amber had beautiful curling red hair and deep green eyes. It took her a while to fall in love with me, long after I was in love with her. I thought she was cautious, almost timid; she thought I was superficial.

She stuck with me through my senior year at UT, both of us anxiously awaiting my acceptance from the law school, having the best sex of our lives in her black and white man’s plaid shirt that she wore—and took off—more often than not. Austin Law did not think I was as impressive as we thought I was and I trudged off to Bates College of Law in Houston, Amber finishing up her final year at UT. We long-distanced through L-1 and then, after her graduation, she came to live with me at my efficiency off Richmond near downtown Houston as my wife: the once and future Mrs. Steven Samuel Barrios.

I still remember the moonlight coming through the window, no curtains, her head on my chest, fast asleep, as I worried about class the next day, looking down on her red hair. When she would inevitably sigh and blink, still on my chest, I envisioned her green eyes, exhaled, and fell asleep with her.

III

A

For better or worse, I had a feeling that the Chevy Red drove would not start this evening.

My tab grew as did the number of missed calls from Amber.

Red needed a place to stay. Did I mention the couch in my office?

The second story of my building, before the building became law offices, used to have several oilfield offices, mainly dispatching the guys to their field jobs on Monday mornings and distributing their checks on Friday afternoons. Sometimes they would walk up the stairs a little muddy. For that reason, the men’s restroom had a shower in it, used by the guys to freshen up before spending their money on booze and sex.

After Red and I got to know each better that night, I used that shower, also, before heading home, the booze and sex already expended.

B

That Sunday, the Sunday after Red, Amber wanted to go to Saint Mary’s Catholic Church down the street from our home. I accompanied her. She took communion; I did not.

I’m Baptist. Sendera Baptist Church of Christ every Sunday. Then every other Sunday. Then not at all.

The Father, on this particular Amber Sunday at St. Mary’s, dug into his homily. When he touched upon infidelity, my wife squeezed my right hand, the one she was loosely holding in her left hand. For a split second, I pulled my hand away. It could not possibly have been more than a quarter of a second. But she noticed. Lord, did she notice. Later, I would say I had been dozing off and she had startled me. Natural reaction. In the moment, however, Red was on my mind, in the devil position, bent down over my green office couch cushions, looking back at me, waiting, her knees on the beige carpet, penitent, waiting for her savior to come.

Amber and I fought after lunch. With each passing word, she became more and more convinced that that night I came home late from Haligan’s, I had cheated. A redhead, right, she taunted. Nothing I could say or do convinced her otherwise, not even coming home every day the following week at 5:30 p.m., which, I suppose, was my confession, my offering, my sacrifice.

My ability to come home every day at 5:30 p.m. became inconsistent, as did Amber’s willingness to work through my imagined one night stand. She would intermittently, over the next three months, ask me to file our divorce, I mean, since that’s what I do for a living. I held out.

Red came by the bar occasionally after that one night and we would walk across the street to my office but I never had to use the shower again.

The last few times we saw each other at Haligan’s, I just paid her tab (cash) but ended up saying “no” to the walk.

The sex between my wife and I also saw more frequent periods of inactivity.

Amber and I flew out to see our kids in Dallas in May. After that visit, I found myself wanting to be with Amber more, bringing work home on the weekends. My late night now was somewhere between 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., the crowd getting younger and more rambunctious earlier in the evening, squeezing me out.

I became comfortable with my and Amber’s marital accommodation. The regret that Red felt that night, that whiskey and weed and sex night, was now a shared experience between my wife and I, one in reality and one in imagination. But shared all the same, regret being more natural to share than a false sense of joy.

IV

Tuesday. I’m home, baby.

I closed the front door, locked it and yelled out, “Hello!” No answer. I trudged upstairs to our bedroom, slightly out of breath. Door was open.

When Amber and I moved into our home five years ago on Highland Avenue, we placed the bed between the south-facing windows. The foot of the bed headed north.

Amber was lying on her stomach, head west, feet east. She had on a soft hue orange tee shirt and, further down, well fitted blue jeans. She was flipping through a magazine. She commented that I was home early but didn't stop looking through the magazine or turn to me. Well I mean it's 5:30, I replied, but I knew what she meant. I was home early. I stood now directly behind, glanced at her ass and loosened my tie and unbuttoned the top button of my shirt. She looked back over her shoulder at me and asked me if I wanted to cum on her ass. My mind stalled out. She said come here. I just looked at her. She motioned with her fingers, jerked her head to the side and repeated: come here.

“Babe,” I protested.

“Fine, Sam,” she said, “go back to the bar and fuck your whore.”

I just wanted a shower. An explanation wouldn’t hurt either. Why so horny, lover?

I walked to the west side of the bed, her head at my pelvis and grabbed her shoulders. Rubbed them.

“Babe,” I said again, lower and slower and deeper. She looked up at me and smiled. “Babe” was a question but she took it as a request.

“Te quiero,” she said and ran her hands down the length of my thighs. I unbuckled my belt, took it off, held if off to my left and let it drop, unsure if this was what she meant. It had been a while since we had done this particular ritual.

“That all you got,” she asked.

I just wanted a shower. Then we could.

“Babe, just let me—“ Storm clouds covered her face. That Amber frown. I stopped talking, leaned forward and kissed her forehead.

She has the blinds open but the South Texas sun is below and the blinds are angled down. I unbutton my pants and sway slightly from side to side, like we’re listening to Sade. She laughs at the sight but she also grinds her hips into the mattress as she says, “You’re an idiot.” The sun continues to set as I slowly unzip, watching her reaction. She licks her lips, faux porno style and I harden. “Take them off,” she commands, and I comply, eventually naked, full, and in her sway. She takes my penis in her hand and guides it to her mouth and I look down at the top of her red hair and then I pull away because

What the fuck.

I pull my underwear and pants back up in one swift move, button, no zip. The sun has given up on us now so I move toward the light switch. Flick.

“What,” she demands, propping herself up on her elbows. “Don’t move,” is my only reply.

Fake white illuminates the room. “Don’t move,” I repeat, sensing “the fuck?” in her movements. I go back to the west side of the bed. “Put your head down,” I command and she complies and I am looking down at the top of her head again, her chin on the mattress. I string the hair on the top of her head and struggle to catch my breath. “You,” I start.

“What, Sam, what,” she practically yells, looking up, exasperated.

“Blonde,” I finally say. And it gets quiet.

She goes north to south on the bed, her feet toward the headboard, on her back, grabs and tucks a pillow under her head, crosses her legs. “Oh, yea,” she says, “I didn’t make it to my hair appointment today,” her brown eyes accusing me. I move toward her brown eyes, unbelieving.

“Your eyes,” I manage to mumble.

“Christ, Sam,” she exhales, “you need my contacts in for me to blow you?”

The rest of the evening, I am silent. Amber is not, recalling all of my indiscretions, real and imagined, and I’m guilty down the line. Not one tear is shed between us. I listen, neither confessing nor denying. There is no shower and there is no sex. She is Amber, my blonde, brown-eyed wife of twenty years.

V

Wednesday.

I got to the office earlier than usual. I prepared a divorce petition. In the Matter of the Marriage of Steven Samuel Barrios and Amber Sylvia Barrios. By 11:00 a.m., I have filed the petition and am down the street at the Downtown Texican Bar and Grill, asking Amy what was the closest thing she could get me to just eggs and bacon. She thought about it and then said, “I got you. You want Tecate?”

I only wanted coffee.

Amy, dark hair, dark eyes—barely registering—asked if I was OK, setting the black coffee in front of me. I assured her that I was.

After a moment, I was taking my first sip of coffee for the day and hoping I had enough left on the credit card, after court costs and filing fees, to leave Amy a generous tip.

erotic

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Conrad Ilesia

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