I have included Night After below. The story is a short one, and more of something I would like to expound upon (a writer in the City looking for his next story) but for now I'm working on the sequel to When Gods Fail. The Struggle Trilogy will soon be available in print form, and I will add the link as needed. Thanks to everyone for reading.
By Nelson Lowhim
Copyright 2012 Nelson Lowhim
This is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real people, living or dead or otherwise, is purely coincidental.
I stared at the man who walked back and forth in front of me, his bathrobe tied with a perfect square knot. As if he had spent more than a cursory second tying it to make sure I would never see him naked again. He didn't care to respond to my "good morning" comment or even attempt to maintain eye contact. I was leaning back on a sofa, sprawled out so that no body else could fit on it.
When he entered the room, I noticed through the corner of my vision that he flinched after he saw me. It was, after all, his place.
"Are you planning on leaving soon?" he asked, finally looking me in the eye; though he gave it up as soon as I smiled. I waited a few seconds to reply to see how he would react. I sensed that he was feeling rather let down. He rustled some envelopes on a glass table, as if he were busy doing something other than talking to me.
"Yeah, no reason to stay, is there? Can you give me a ride downtown, or call a taxi?" I said. I wasn't really asking anything more so than poking him to see what he would say, or perhaps stutter, or the grand prize of choking back his anger. He started it, really. I had merely wanted a quiet night in the town. Sip my tequila on the rock and try to forget the past few years by taking more years off. Then this asshole decided to mock me. How funny that our roles should—only half a day later—be switched. I’ll be honest; I never tried this before. Of course, I’d jacked off to a few pornos like it downrange. That was the only reason I decided to do it. In my mind it looked like fun. Besides, it beat streaming Internet porn in my shitty apartment.
"Yeah, taxi. You have to pay of course, after all this," I waved my hand to ceiling to point at the upstairs bedroom. "Wasn't my idea was it?”
"I… I suppose not," he said. He was back to being a beaten child, one that knew no matter how much resolve it had, it's father's fists and drunken rage would always win. Last night at the bar he had been full of himself. Like an officer I once knew.
A look around the house and I could see why he had felt like that. The house was large with marble floors and shiny Persian carpets covering much of it; it was in a good part of town and decorated rather expensively. The Italian leather sofa I lay upon was surrounded by artifacts from all around the world. He must have traveled a lot. He made money; whatever it was that he did, he was good at it and selling his talents.
"Well? You going to call the taxi?" I asked, though I fully understood that I could have been kicked out of his apartment.
This time he had enough resolve to stare at me for more than two seconds. That pitiful determination sent him back to the table and he started to look through the phone book for a number. The fact that none of his prior accomplishments meant anything to me must have been different. In normal circumstances the fact that I lived in a run-down never cleaned studio apartment, while he was the owner of—what I consider—a mansion would mean he was king. In my view he was a pog.
"Hey baby," she cooed as she came downstairs in nothing but a bath robe that hadn't been tied; that was in fact slightly open and showed those perky breasts. Though she cooed to him—after all he was the one with a legal arrangement with her—I felt her eyes glance over at me and I toyed with the thought of getting up and grabbing her once more. The man and his disgusting paunch and skinny arms was holding her just above the hips and trying to cover her with her robe.
"Hi honey," he replied, giving her a kiss. Her presence and actions gave him confidence. After all, I may have owned the night but he owned the day—his gold chain was proof of that. "You shouldn't walk around with your robe like that."
"Why?" she asked. "We're all friends here," and she glanced over at me, smiled. Yes, indeed she was friendly. She must have married him for money and knew exactly how to convince him to do her bidding while making him think it was his idea. But she also knew when she was crossing the line and she tied up her robe. "Who were you calling baby?" she said as she walked into the kitchen.
"A taxi," he replied and now he looked me in the eye, a stern look that said: "I win the war you young prick" and starting dialing numbers. "For our friend here," he emphasized "friend" and sneered at me.
"Don't be rude Frank, let him have a little something to eat. After all you invited him here."
He put down the phone and went over to the kitchen. After some murmurs she called out to me: "Hey Matt, Matt right?"
"Yeah," I said deepening my voice as best I could.
"Would you like eggs or something else?" she asked.
"Eggs are good Caroline," I said as I got up and walked to the kitchen to join them, but also to look her up and down and absorb as much as I could. The least I was going to get out of this was a stare at those amazing curves, burn her eyes into my imagination and use it for later.
"Oh you're sweet you remembered my name," she gave that glance once again as I walked into the kitchen. "Isn't that sweet Frank?"
"Yeah, positively," he huffed as he was standing over the stove heating up some oil in a pan while she starting to mix the eggs.
"Scrambled eggs okay with you?" she said smiling at me while looking at my below my belt then up at my eyes. Once she scrambled the eggs she walked by me and dragged her hand across my two legs. "Frank, I'll do the eggs, go set the table.”
As Frank walked to the other room with the dishes for the dining table, Caroline stepped up to me with a kiss and she slid a paper into my pocket and gave that smile. "Call me next weekend before you leave okay?"
"Of course," I replied, happy she remembered my upcoming deployment. Last night she seemed taken by it. It's good to be a warrior.
"Frank won't want to see you again, so it will have to be at your place," she said as she glided back to the stove. Of course I was worried that once she saw my shoddy apartment the reason why men like Frank get to marry women like her would become obvious and she would walk away. But that was okay for the same reason that Frank never wanted to see me again. That reason came last night when I had my hands all over Caroline, and he was feeling uncomfortable with watching—his major selling point at the bar.
I grabbed a magazine, opened it and pretended to be deeply immersed in it—even furrowed my forehead—as Frank walked in a few seconds later. I felt him stare at the both of us as he tried to listen to the silence for clues.
"The table is set," he said.
"Perfect baby," she replied, "why don't both of you sit down I'll be there in a second."
I sat down with him, the silence he heard when he walked in the kitchen had deflated his confidence once again and he stared at the table. I had no reason to torture him any further—I had my number. I ate and left with a "later", which was not directed at him or his evil stare that got bolder when the taxi arrived. I looked back as the yellow cab drove away; could see her in his arms kissing him and saw him laughing at something she said as they both walked into the house. I looked at the slip of paper and realized she had given me a 555 number.
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