I went to the bar straight from the water park, reeking of garbage. The sanitation department was not allowed near the wave pool or water slides, even after the park had closed, and my jumpsuit was soaked with sweat and dirt and god knows what else. A bag of garbage I had pulled from a trashcan in the parking lot had busted open in my hands and fat, twisting maggots spilled across my arms and chest, wriggling on the tops of my sneakers. Mel had sprayed me down with a hose in the garage, but it hadn’t done much to ease my discomfort.
        Now I was sitting at the far end of the bar, ashamed of my station in life, just a few months past the drinking age, forced to work the summer to pay back my parents after I’d crashed my mom’s car at a four-way stop. I was too young and too white for the black guys at work and the Mexican guys didn’t speak English or that was the impression they gave me. So I was lonely as hell, wishing someone would take a dump in the wave pool so I could brush past some girls in bikinis on the way to retrieve it.
        There was a woman, maybe fifty, maybe thirty, hard to tell with the dim light and her makeup, and she’d been looking at me from across the bar for a while now. She was wearing a sleeveless t-shirt that showed off her tattoos, green and yellow flowers winding around her arms. I had heard from someone that yellow and green tattoos were the hardest to remove with lasers but this woman looked like she would never even consider the idea of removing her tattoos. I sent her a beer and she took it and I switched to a slightly cheaper beer to make up for the extra drink.
        She came over to the seat beside me and I waved her off. “You don’t want to get near me,” I said, and, of course, goddamn of course, this got her interested. “You think you’re some kind of bad boy?” she said. “I could break you in half.”
        “I stink like garbage,” I said. “I work sanitation; you don’t want to get near me right now.”
        “You smell good,” she said; now she was right beside me. “You smell like a man,” she said, and her mouth made this shape like right before you start sucking from a straw. I got hard, pulled at my jumpsuit so it wouldn’t show, and kicked out the stool from the bar so she could sit.
        I knew it was a little too soon to worry about it, but that didn’t stop me from worrying if the night was going to end with me fucking this woman. And I couldn’t decide if I was scared of it not happening or of having to go through with it. I’d had sex with some girl a year before, both of us drunk, and I knew I had not done a good job. And I’d made a promise to myself that I would do better the next time and then another opportunity didn’t present itself and I went back to jacking off all the time and not worrying about it. Right now, this woman giving off that vibe, that you and me is gonna fuck vibe, I was wishing I had tried harder to get better at it.
        “You wanna come back to my place?” she asked me after only one more beer. “You’re cute and you’d look good in my apartment.” I said yes, okay. I went to the bathroom to buy a condom from the machine but it took my money and I wasn’t about to complain to the bartender about it. If the woman overheard and learned I didn’t have protection, it might queer the deal and I guess the fact that I worried about the deal getting queered meant that I wanted the deal to happen. When I got back to the bar, the woman, I did not know her name and she’d never asked for mine, said, “We’ll take my car, but you drive. I can’t handle another DUI.”
“What about my car?” I asked.
        “I’ll drive you back in the morning,” she said, like it was the most casual thing in the world to drive guys back to the bar so they could retrieve their own car the morning after she had fucked them. I was so conflicted about fucking at this point that I wondered why people did it at all if it meant so little.
        I took the car where she told me to go, not a great section of town, and we walked up the stairs to her apartment on the third floor. We made out against the door for a few minutes and we walked inside and there was this kid, this little girl about eight or nine or ten or fuck I don’t know kids well enough to say, but little, and she was sitting on the sofa, holding this giant rabbit in her arms. “Candace,” the woman said, “what the hell are you doing here?”
Page 1 2