By Jamey M. Genna
We were in the car, a brown Datsun Z, driving, taking Tiffany to her apartment. She needed a ride. Dan was driving her home from a morning beach meeting. We had done the coffee thing together.
“So how about it?” he said to her. “You didn’t say. Are you going to the concert with me or not? I have two tickets.”
“Oh, I don’t really like Stevie Nicks,” she said. That wasn’t an answer.
“I do,” I spoke up from the back seat. The seats were leather. They tilted downward and inward. I felt like I was in the seventies, riding in the back of my sister’s blue Firebird. The sides of the cream leather scooped in around my hips, very narrow. I wanted to see what the inside of Tiffany’s apartment was like.
Dan looked at me over the tall narrow seat in front. Hey, I was no sloppy seconds. I was older that’s all. Or maybe I just felt like I was. Tiffany was very young, with black, swoopy, long hair.
“Yeah, take Audrey,” she encouraged. “She likes Stevie Nicks.”
At the pavilion, we stood way in the back on the grass. Dan looked nice. He had on jeans and a t-shirt. He clapped and moved his hips. I sang the words. I knew all of them. I had on a mini-skirt and a blue jean jacket.
Stevie was leaning out into the audience touching people’s fingers, singing into the microphone. She had on a tent-like piece of black lace that enshrouded her.
“She’s still cool,” I told him, even though I hadn’t really followed her history or her band, just made out to them a long time ago.
The music stopped. Stevie was crying. She said, “Somebody stole a ring from my finger. I’m sorry to be like this. But I can’t go on until it’s returned.” She entreated miserably, “It was a ring from my grandmother. It means something to me. It doesn’t have any value.” Her non-singing voice was quavery like my grandmother’s.
There was an apologetic movement in the masses at the front of the stage, then the concert continued.
We were at my apartment, sitting on my floor in the living room. I didn’t have a couch yet. I imagined I would get a couch with subdued green tones, sage or mint. Something Californian, from a swap meet or a discount furniture store. My friend Renee told me about a place. She and her husband had gotten two new couches there—they were a nubby white fabric. She was introducing me to the credit card and Pier One Imports after my divorce.
I was just talking. “Everyone at this health club where I worked had breast implants. I don’t see so much of it here,” I chuckled. “Tiffany’s looked real enough.” Tiffany wore white haltertops made of thin material and her skin was dark brown. Her breasts puffed out over the line of the fabric like brown marshmallows.
Dan said, “I’ve had surgery.”
I looked at his ears, clipped and pinned to his head. Yeah, there had been something odd. The proportion. Dan was a big guy, a former professional football player. He had a long, large head, and a large body, his shoulders were a triangle, but he was fit.
“They stuck out when I was a kid.”
“They look fine,” I said.
We started kissing, but after a while I stopped it.
“Look at the light,” I said.
I had a plant in the corner under the windows. It was sitting on top of a black plastic container. It was a rubber tree plant with wide flappy green leaves. The moon was shining on the leaves making them look like they glowed with oil.
Tiffany asked me, “How’s it going with Dan?” She lived in a stucco apartment complex. She had a black lacquer coffee table and prints of pink orchids in plastic gold frames hanging over her sofa.
“Why,” I said, “do you want him back?” I laughed. This was all we had to talk about. I knew she wouldn’t stay sober for long; she was too young to be clean.
Dan and I went to a movie. The theater was fairly empty, so I flipped my sandals off and put my bare feet up on the back of the seat in front of me. The movie hadn’t started yet.
“I’ve been sober two years now.” Dan said.
I didn’t want to talk program. “Previews,” I said.
On screen: a man consoling the mother of his lover who had just died of AIDS.
In the middle of the movie, a large black man was standing in front of me in the next row. He came stomping over. “You’ve had your feet on the back of that seat through the whole movie. I can feel it. You need to put your feet down,” he said very loudly. He had on a white polo shirt and his biceps were straining the subtle elastic in the short sleeves. He was leaning into me over the seat.
I lifted my feet off and slipped my sandals back on. I couldn’t think just then what to say.
He went away, down to the end of the row and sat down righteously with his date.
We were outside the movie theater.
Dan was saying, “Before I got sober, I would’ve said something to him. I just can’t get into any more fights.” I thought he would probably call his sponsor about it, later.
“I get it,” I said.
He called me to go out on Friday. “I like you,” I said. “It’s just that I know what I want in a guy. You’re into sports. I’m not.”
I don’t think he heard me right because he said, “Thanks for your honesty.”
Jamey M. Genna teaches English in the East Bay area of California and is a graduate from the Masters in Writing program at the University of San Francisco where she is a Major Projects advisor. Currently, her collection of short stories titled Nobody Has to Die for It to Tell You Something is a competing finalist for the Black Lawrence Press Ontario Prize. Recently she has had work published in Blue Earth Review, Pinyon, the literary anthology Shade, and Phantasmagoria. Her story The Painting is available at VerbSap.
Photo "Self-Portrait 1" courtesy of Kathryn McCallum, Orlando, FL.
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