Night Out (short story pt 1)

The term “ugly hot” came to Tina’s mind. His face was long and thin, pock marked around his chin, which was pronounced given him a somewhat comic look. He was leaning against an orange yellow brick wall, made red and dreadful in the lamplight, outside the yuppie bistro where she worked.

In his jeans, white v-neck, and faded sports jacket, he could have been anything or anyone. A college kid. A business man. An artist. A homeless man. The wispy barely there goatee and devil-may-care hair only deepened the mystery.

She couldn’t be sure why she had come over to him. It was the end of her shift and she never stopped to talk to men she didn’t know outside the restaurant, though they frequently tried to talk to her. The last thing she wanted to do was endure the drunken advances of patrons twice her age who thought this was their golden chance to get to know her on a more personal level.

But she had seen him talking to another girl that worked there. She didn’t know her well, but she could see the girl in her distinct black button down shirt and knee length black skirt that was more or less the uniform for the girls of the bistro. The new girl was shifting her hips back and forth, visible from behind like a slow motion pendulum, apparently with the force of her interest in the conversation, though Tina felt it was a bit over the top. “Come on, get a room, then,” she thought. But the man seemed to be performing, working to impress, and Tina had a code—if someone was going to show off in her vicinity, she would call him out on it.

She walked right up to the cocky bastard in the pale coat and said, “Ok let’s see it.” He took her in for a second, took his lit cigarette and extinguished it on his tongue ending with a bow and a leer that she supposed was meant to be ingratiating. The other girl tittered with interest, but Tina was far from impressed. Yes, that act was great in high school. But now at his age… (How old was he? She couldn’t tell.) It was pointless, juvenile, and disgusting. She told him so, and turned to leave. If she walked quickly enough she could catch some good 11:00 television, put her feet up, and have some cheap zinfandel. It wasn’t much, but it was usually the highlight of a Friday work night.

But he seemed less than inclined to let her walk away. “Don’t go home, sweet lady. What’s the point of drinking alone? There’s so much to see tonight.”

So, he was odd and presumptuous, the not entirely inaccurate. He segued quickly into trick number two: blowing passable smoke rings with a cherry flavored cigar. The rings actually held their shape as they climbed the night air. It was a little impressive, but she wouldn’t admit that, on principle. “I have to go,” Tina said. She noticed the other girl was gone, seemingly having melted into the shadows.

“There’s nothing on TV. It’s summer. It’s all reruns,” he chided. His prescience was becoming irksome. Was she that obvious?

“I have somewhere to be,” Tina lied.

“Let me try again. I can tell you are a lady to be reckoned with. My first two tricks, pure silliness. I’ll do the third one for serious, this is the night for it anyway.”

She smirked a little despite herself. What would this shabby little man pull out of his proverbial hat next? The possibilities were underwhelming.

He took her hand, quite without asking, and began to walk quickly across the street. Cars were coming steadily, and often too quickly for the width of the two-lane, one-way street, but he seemed to walk without looking and she was so stunned by his behavior she followed.

He released her hand quite innocently on the other side and pelted for the great stone edifice in front of them – the public library. Wide stone steps lead up to the glass front doors, which were locked and dark at this hour. But instead of taking the steps he flitted to the side of the building. She had to run a little in his kitten heels just to keep sight of him. By the time she turned the corner, he had already managed to pull down an access ladder on the whitewashed concrete sidewalls of the library. He gave her a quick jerk of the head, and began to ascend the ladder.

“What are you doing,?” Tina called from below.

“A third trick,” he responded. He was at the top of the ladder and hoping over onto the library’s flat roof before she could respond.

“No,” she said to herself. “I’m not following the strange man onto the roof of this building.” But Tina was guilty of more than a little curiosity in her nature. She stood in the alley waiting for him to call out again, to explain his little trick, but she heard nothing. Minutes went by. He might have evaporated altogether for all she knew.

Incredulous, she found herself climbing the ladder after him, in her Mary Janes and pencil skirt. “Curiosity did the cat,” she thought “why not me?”


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