Oh Rendezvous (short story)
She was just far too busy to slow down.
At least, that's what she told me after putting down her third empty glass of Sauvignon Blanc, leaving fingertip marks on the bowl like footprints in snow.
"No, really," she continued, pouring herself another.
"Sorry, that should really be my job."
"You see," she said, ignoring me. "It's always when people slow down, when they stop moving onwards and upwards, that's when they die. Keeping life new and exciting, that's the trick." She blew at a wisp of hair - greying at the root, blonde at the tip - that had fallen on to her eyebrow.
"Thank you", I said to the waiter as he placed our soup starters on the table between the cutlery. "So," I began, leaning forward into a cloud of oniony steam. I picked up my own glass by the stem, took a sip and consciously put on my best curtain of confidence. "Care to share of your... death-averting activities?" Flirting with death hadn't been the plan, but I decided to run with it.
She tilted her head to the side, in a mirror of my dog - Buddy - appraising me, a wry smirk on her glossed lips. "Now, I bet you'd like to know, wouldn't you Mr..?"
"No. Don't tell me." She leaned back in her chair, uncrossing and re-crossing her legs. "We don't need names tonight."
The perfectly practised, yet seemingly spontaneous, teasing reply that I should have produced with ease was proving somewhat elusive, the line that would have flushed her cheeks and sent a rush of blood down between her thighs - probably. Instead I just grinned back like a North Korean school child on camera and shifted about in my seat, making the candle flame tremble. Clearly, I was out of practice. Though, in my defence, it had been many years since... well, it had certainly been many years.
She smoothed out creases from her paisley dress, releasing me from eye contact. I took the opportunity to crack my neck and glance self-consciously around the room, but no one was paying us the slightest bit of attention. We were two old Fords parked among Italian sports cars compared with the young couples dotted around us, yellowing full beams outshone by a halo of halogen brilliance. When I returned my attention to her, she was fixing me with an expression verging on annoyance; perhaps it was the neck crack.
She reached for the wine bottle.
"Sorry, you keep beating me to it."
"Darling, I want you to be thinking about me, not the goddamn wine."
"Yes. Erm, of course. Will do."
I began slurping at my soup. She was watching me, a liquid smile growing and shrinking through the glass as she sipped under swimming eyes.
"So, Mrrr," she was starting slur, "you see, if we want to go on living, you know, you and me, we're going to have to keep ourselves busy." She waved at the waiter, her hand flopping over and landing in a lazy point in the direction of the newly empty wine bottle on the table. This was going to cost me bomb, I thought. "So, what could we do to keep ourselves busy on this fine evening?"
"Well," I took a gulp of wine - still my first glass - to steady my nervous, then almost jumped in my seat as I felt her toes creeping up my inner thigh; it was all I could do not to spit the Sauvignon out over the tablecloth. She was doing her best to wear a knowing, suggestive expression, but it must have been a while for her too. As her lips went from smile to pout and back again, her eyes lost their synchronisation and began swimming independently, while her head seemed to be swaying in what must have been her own personal breeze. The waiter filled her glass from a new bottle while I avoided his eyes and tried not to squirm, then he set the bottle down and left with a barely concealed smirk. "Well..." I reached down and put hand between her big toe and my balls, "the night is still young; let's see where it takes us." Not the best line, but a step in the right direction.
She frowned at me and her eyes briefly resynced, then her foot was gone and she was leaning forward, holding the sides of the table for stability. I quickly blew out the candle before it singed her neckline "You get the bill. Then, let's go to my place."
Before I could respond, she fell back into her seat and flung her arm up in the air, where it wobbled about until the waiter returned.
"More wine?" he grinned. Her arm floated back down and landed next to her drink.
"Bill, please," I offered.
For the duration of the 5 minute taxi ride, she splayed herself across the backseat and insisted on trying to unbutton my shirt. The driver looked mildly dismayed when he clocked this playing out like a cheap blue movie in the rear-view mirror and put his foot down, making her flop into me as we turned off a roundabout. Mercifully, he had pulled up outside the house before she was able to recover her composure.
"That'll be 7.50 mate." I handed him a tenner, then waited an awkward moment while she tried to find the door handle. "Did you want your change mate?"
"Yes, that would be nice. Thank you."
Once inside, I slipped off my jacket and hung it on the door, then kicked off my shoes, releasing my feet for the pinch of unfamiliar leather. I turned to see her high heels lying at the foot of the staircase like forgotten memories, their exposed soles more worn than their leather would have admitted. A few steps up and there was her dress, thrown over the banister like it had done something wrong, then her bra hanging limply over a step a little further up. My eyes continued ascending until they reached the landing at the top where she standing, arms folded, a legless Aphrodite. Clearly, that breeze was still bothering her too.
"Are you coming?" she said, slurring suggestively, then she turned a little unsteadily and disappeared into the bedroom.
I darted up the stairs, slipping on her dress and failing on my hands so that I completed the climb on all fours before getting to my feet at the top and following her into the bedroom. I closed the door, but then quickly opened it to boot the dog out of the room.
"Good boy Buddy, good boy."