By Patrick Plummer.
“I don’t like the phrase,” Andy said. “Orientation sounds like something you do the first day in college, or at a job. What does it have to do with sex?”
Dana gulped the beer and decided to be less confrontational than usual.
“What would you call it?” Dana asked.
“Sexual predilection defines it better,” Andy said and flicked the lighter again and again but produced no flame.
“Here,” Dana said and took the cheap lighter from Andy and with one thumb popped up a flame and lit Andy’s cigarette. Andy touched the back of Dana’s hand to steady the flame upon the tip.
“Orientation implies that we are directed. I don’t believe that.” As Andy spoke the gray fumes drifted out, making the words hang in air.
“What does it matter?” Dana asked. “We came to the same place.”
“No one brought me here.”
Dana fired up a cigarette and blew out the smoke with exasperation. “And here we sit, waiting.”
“I don’t think Sue will come back,” Andy said.
“She left her things.”
“She packed a bag.”
“But her photographs, she would never leave those.”
“Well, Dana, she may come back for them. For the first two weeks I thought she’d moved in with you.”
“Would that have bothered you?” Dana asked.
“It wouldn’t have surprised me.” Andy tapped the ash onto the saucer and took a drink of beer, letting the coolness sooth his throat. “I know how much she enjoyed you.”
Dana slumped at the kitchen table, her broad shoulders were supported by her elbows. The thick arms were muscular and black armpit hair stuck out of the soiled muscle shirt.
“I know you were with her,” Andy said, “I could smell you on her.”
“It wasn’t a secret. We weren’t trying to hide anything.”
“I know,” Andy said as he crushed the fag into the saucer. “She told me, but I already knew. You were her fantasy. And it took months to finally invite you over. To see what would happen.”
Dana smiled, smoked and drank in the beer and the memory of many evenings in their apartment.
“Do you think we pushed her too far?”
“I don’t think we pushed at all, Dana.”
They sat quietly in the kitchen drinking beer and thinking about Sue.
“She’ll be in contact when she’s ready,” Andy said.
“Did you two have a fight?”
“We never argued.”
“Did she give you any sign that she was upset or confused?”
“She just left, Dana.”
“Left us both.”
“Without a word.”
Andy got up to grab two more beers from the frig. As he came back to the table he admired Dana’s strong, bare back. He put the beer in front of her and looked at the thick thighs exposed by the loose shorts that had ridden up her hairy legs.
“I used to trust you implicitly when I thought you were a lesbian,” Andy said and laughed. “Now that I know you’re bi-sexual I only trust you half as much.”
Dana opened the beer while contemplating her response. She gulped the drink and said after belching, “You were delicate enough.”
“It surprised me, that you would let me inside.”
Andy touched her hand and she squeezed his fingers with her thumb.
“It was the passion of the moment. And I knew that Sue enjoyed watching us.”
“But you came.”
“I hadn’t been with a man in twenty years. And having Sue. She was so ready to please me. And you didn’t intrude. You were just there.”
“I enjoyed pleasing you too.”
“Did she ever talk about me?” Dana asked and pulled another cigarette from his pack.
“She did. Always with affection. But she thought you put up a front, trying to be tough. You’re gentle inside, Dana.”
She lit the cig, blew out smoke and scratched her large, sagging right breast.
“I wish she would call. Or send an email.”
“She’s done this before. Sue likes to be alone sometimes. It’s nothing we’ve done.”
“The last time,” Dana said, “I was rough.”
“She liked it.”
“After that, did she change?”
“We made love again after you left that morning. It was nothing you did. She was gone when I got home from work.”
Dana smoked, and he watched her thin lips press the filter and drag. She was a handsome woman. Wore no make up, made no pretense.
“Would you like something to eat, Dana?”
“I’m not hungry. But you go ahead.”
“I can fix us something. You’re welcome to stay.”
Dana put her calloused hand on top of his.
“I don’t want to be alone right now,” she said.
“Neither do I.”