It’s not Dick’s bar or the Atlantic. It’s somewhere else along Brewer Street in Soho.
She texts a pic from the ladies toilet. She is holding a rose between her teeth. It might have been the same shot as on Valentine’s Day but the flower was a different colour.
He opens the text and smiles. Another one for the album. He sees her return to her party. He feels isolated. Only a weirdo turns up to look on at other people having fun. She is in pink lace diaphanous tight tight dress breasts unclad beneath. A voyeur with sore eyes.
Amid this happy throng they need to communicate. She indicates an exit for a cigarette. He doesn’t smoke. Neither does she but she’s borrowing a packet and a lighter from the woman beside her.
Is one of those men your husband?
They all are, she laughs.
So no point in asking if any of them have been your lover?
No, but my girlfriend is somewhere in the café. She is very beautiful.
I sent you the envelope.
I got it. Something was missing.
My soul? My panties?
He had taken the letter from the envelope and photocopied it. And for the last two weeks he had cut up and pasted twenty seven facsimiles. Some made no sense. He thanked William Burroughs.
He stood out on the street a few minutes more. Wanting to look back in at her. Wanting to walk away. Perhaps to another bar. Get trashed. Go home listen to sad sorrowful mournful melancholic songs and sing to her.
He put the unused cigarette into his jacket pocket. A souvenir.
A waiter, young, Spanish, vivacious, brought the order of a espresso martini. They spoke, they laughed. He looked to her table for approval. She was engaged in conversation with others. She laughed. It hurt. All the times they had laughed together. Her narrowed eyes cat like. She knew his gaze. She felt his intensity. Drank her flute of fizzy. Picked up someone else’s, drained it and reached for a third quick successive drink.
He sipped the martini. Welcomed the dark bitterness of the coffee. He had wanted to ask her about all the seas she swam in, lay on her back and floated in, looking up at the sky or to the depths below. He wanted to know about the colours she had seen. Absorbed through skin and mind. What influence the colours had on her.
Then she came towards him. Hammered. What the fuck. Handed him her phone. We need a group pic. He went to the table. Let them arrange themselves and took a few. She said, now, you with us, you in the middle next to me, I want to send to my husband. Show him the fun he’s missing.