life after scarlett's letter – Bryan Atkins

 

            Scrotums are very under-utilized during sexual activity. A man’s pouch is a very tender area, which can be the source of intense pleasure or great pain when handled in the appropriately corresponding manners.

 

            And that’s what I liked about her. That’s what first drew me in. She looked like the kind of girl who knew how to do both.  She looked like she was capable of anything.

 

            Her name was Scarlett… at least that’s how I knew her. She’d been a nightly attraction at the Ponderosa for about a month, and been an object of my obsession for nearly as long.  My friend Jim owns the Ponderosa and I frequent often enough that the staff and all the regulars think I’m a business  partner. I might as well be. I’ve sure as shit spent enough of money inside the confines of its dingy, smoke-stained, whiskey-scented, and purple-and-grey velour walls. But I never gave a dollar to a girl like her before, not there, not anywhere.

 

            And I have a lot of money to spend… but the only thing I ever finance is my own alcohol consumption, certain extracurriculars that involve illegal substances of one variety or another, and the hopes and aspirations of all the small town blondes that come to the Ponderosa looking for one thing or another that they couldn’t get in their podunk little towns from their podunk little boys. Whether it be money, or attention, a chance to break away from their past, or just a good fuck and some nose candy, I didn’t care. I treated them all the same, and they were more than happy to oblige.

 

            But Scarlett, she was different. First off, she was brunette, and long and lean. She wasn’t the typical perky-tits-and small-frame cheerleader type I was used to. She didn’t have big hair or a bright orange tan. Her tits were real, which in and of itself was a bold move in her line of work, but aside from that she had a quality and depth of originality that the others couldn’t reproduce, even when they were stacked three high, spread eagle, and dripping with cocoa butter and whipped cream… but I digress.

 

            The night I first decided to approach Scarlett was my first time in the club in almost a week… and people noticed. Everyone was glad-handing and head-nodding and beer-tipping. All the ladies of the house treated me to their most sincere “missed you daddy” gropes, and stuck their tongues in my mouth like over-eager teenagers, or rubbed their tits in my face… typical stripper behavior, y’know? But not Scarlett. She stayed at the edge of the bar and just stared. Not so much that you’d notice… but not so little that you wouldn’t.

 

            After a couple of longer than usual shared glances in the midst of my welcome back parade, I decided to take a trip to her end of the bar. She had been my morning shower ritual for almost the entirety of her time at the Ponderosa, and I figured it was time she met me. I figured I owed her as much, considering.

When I reached her, she was already disinterested. I checked my shirt… no mustard stains… smells ok… not in style but not so far out of fashion that you’d notice. So I approached her with “the line”. It’d always worked before, but something told me that my self-deprecation ruse wasn’t going to earn me a damn thing this night. But what the hell, sometimes you just have to go for it.

 

            “Excuse me, it seems as though your rather turned off by me, and I must say I understand completely, but I had to come up here and tell you in person that you are an absolute vision. And while I know I’m utterly repulsive to you and my presence alone is insulting to both your beauty and your sense of decency, I was wondering if I might be able to buy my way into your good graces?”

 

            “You can buy me a cocktail… but I can’t promise I’ll drink it.” And then she left, wiggling her hips ever so subtly all the way to the stage.

 

            So I did, and she didn’t.  Who saw that coming, huh? She danced three times and not one time did she make her way to my table. The drink sat there all night and I went home alone. We didn’t even speak. As a matter of fact I didn’t see her again for three days, and when I did it wasn’t at the Ponderosa.

 

            It seems Scarlett was two-timing my friend Jimbo with another gig… at the Pizza Palace. I wasn’t sure at first. But it was definitely her… she had an oddly shaped hat and a loud red-and-yellow shirt that made her look a little like a hotdog straight back from the condiment bar, but the way she moved from the counter to the oven spoke of a woman who knew her own sexual rhythm. She was graceful, not the mannerisms of your typical pizza flunky for sure. She was confident, she knew her strength. What the hell was she doing at the Pizza Palace? She didn’t see me for a long while, not until after I’d finished half my soda and went to collect my pizza. For the longest time I just sat there watching her sweep. She manipulated the broom like a slow hand-job. Each movement, precise and sensual. I had almost convinced myself that I was in love.

 

            And then we made eye contact.

 

            As soon as she saw me she bolted towards the back. I went out the door and around to where I thought she might be… and found her. When she saw me she let out a sound I’d never heard before or since, something desperate and sad and angry all at the same time. And then she proceeded to slap me harder than I’ve ever been slapped… well at least without paying for it, anyway.

 

            “What the fuck?”

            “Why are you following me?”

            “I’m not… I jus-… I just wanted some fucking pizza… and there you were!Jesus Christ, lady… I buy you a drink and a couple of days later you slap me? My ex-wife didn’t even make that transition until our third year together.”

            “Why would your wife slap you after you bought her a drink?”

            “I said, 'honey what do you want to drink'… I brought back a sex on the beach like I knew she would order and told her that me and her sister just did what she was drinking.”

            “I’m sorry…”

            “It’s not your fault I slept with her sister.”

            “No, I mean I’m sorry I slapped you… kinda.”

            “What do you mean kinda?”

            “Well, I didn’t know you weren’t following me.”

            "You could’ve asked?"

            “I did.”

            “I mean before you slapped me.”

            “I’m sorry.”

            "Me too... I mean, I didn’t mean to scare you. I was happy to see you. I’ve been thinking about you since the-"

 

            Before I could even finish my thought she was passionately mauling my face. This bitch is crazy, I thought. And then I thought… you know what crazy can do in the sack. And then I knew I was in love. I waited about an hour for her shift change, then we headed back to my place.

 

            I can’t be sure what happened next. I’d like to say we made a couple of trips around the merry go-round. I’d like to think we talked about our fucked up childhoods, compared our neuroses, and found comfort in a bottle of whiskey and a new found romance. But, all I can say for sure, is that I woke up with one hell of a headache, and a letter from Scarlett that I keep in a cigar box by my bed to this very day.

 

            It was personal, I don’t know how she knew some of the things she, knew but she did, and I won’t elaborate on the details. It’s just none of your damn business. But, needless to say, she wasn’t impressed with my pickup line, nor my casual liaisons, nor the manner in which I appropriated my finances. She concluded by telling me that she had removed exactly $13,795 from my bank account and that she wasn’t about to repay it. And furthermore, I’d be a fool to come after her.

 

            It was a hollow threat, it had to be. But I didn’t think much of it. I decided to let it go, because it was such a bold and unexpected move, and because it was such a random amount. If she was willing to go to all of this trouble to take my money from me, then I figured she must really need it. I still had plenty left, and what was I going to spend it on but assorted party favors and the chance to rent random bodies for increasingly peculiar purposes? Nothing … absolutely nothing else. 

 

            Two months past and nothing much had changed. I hadn’t seen Scarlett; I was still disinclined to go after her. But not because I was scared, because I genuinely didn’t want her to think I was a fool. I could tolerate a lot of things but I wouldn’t consciously choose to be anyone’s fool. Especially not hers. I kept reading the letter she had left anytime the bottle was empty, or the pathetic chorus of blondes were either passed out or too embarrassed about our encounters to stay.

 

            My life’s a mess. 

 

            I went by the Pizza Palace the other day, and it was boarded up and dust-ridden. But on the upper-most corner of the door there was a noticeably new and freshly printed black and white flyer that read "under new ownership." I’d like to think Scarlett stuck around, that she bought the place and is opening up something decent, something worthwhile in this seedy little hole of a city. Something with personality, something useful, something clean. I’d like to think she made me feel so bad about myself that night that she managed to coerce me into becoming  a silent partner in a shiny new business venture in that dilapidated old building. Or that I had to drug myself up to keep from remembering the significance of the pain and the pleasure she made me feel that one day of my life, that one damned day when I felt something.

 

            She had me by the balls. Maybe she still does.

 

            Of course, I like to think she’s happy with how things turned out… it helps me cope. I like to think that she’s taken my shit money and done something, anything, worthwhile. I like to picture her in that red and yellow Pizza Palace smock, giving it to the broom slow and hard. I like to imagine that she's sweeping the main stage at the Ponderosa with it, just one last time, with all the sensuality she can muster, before she rips off that shirt and throws it so hard that it splatters like 13,795 packets of ketchup and mustard all over those Godforsaken purple walls. I like to imagine her lips as she snarls "I quit." I'd like to watch her as she slinks out the door of that velour hell without ever having touched her drink. I like to think about that drink I bought her and what it might taste like. I like to think she nervously laughs, and tries to convince herself that I'm just another asshole who wanted to fuck her. I’d like to think that about myself.