Maureen is not the kind of girl you’d want to marry but she is the type of girl you can’t seem to live without.
As I wait patiently on the corner bar stool, her hand slightly caresses my own which triggers an immediate tingle reaction down my spine as she moves effortlessly within her confined space behind the bar, pouring drink after drink for each lost soul bellied up at the bar’s ledge. She leans into each male patron never breaking eye contact; ensuring that every individual receives the special attention they each believe they deserve but don’t ever earn.
She has mastered the skill of seduction or at least the illusion of it as she works the room
tirelessly and without hesitation; each calculated move being awarded with monetary payback which is what must keep her coming back night after night. Her short leather skirt and front tied tank top, never appropriate outside this bar, fits her like a glove and is instantly noticed.
A hush falls over the room as the name “Maureen” is announced over the loudspeaker, inviting all the attention to her and the front stage. Immediately her persona begins to change into the person everyone here is willing to pay to see. Maureen, wearing her four-inch red stiletto pumps, pushes her way through the crowd swatting off pathetic attempts of attention-grabbing comments and unwanted advances and waits for her music cue to begin. As she advances the round center stage, I observe her from a nearby table as I do most evenings, take a lengthy deep breath and retousle her hair before it is her time to shine.
The moment the cold and smooth metallic pole is tightly embraced between both of her hands she becomes a living God to the rest of the room and all eyes are fixated on her. The way she moves tells me she must live for this moment…this attention…this adrenaline. An overwhelming sensation engulfs me and within seconds I am transported somewhere else becoming someone else as her movements and counterfeit lust flood the room. When I catch her eye, even just for a brief minute, I can tell that the physical high this provides to Maureen no man or drug could ever replicate.
After her shift comes to an end and Maureen makes her way back behind the bar to clean up for the night, I slide a fifty-dollar bill with her name written on it down the dark wooden bar top. She hesitates but then smiles back faintly in my direction and then without another thought, places the gift in her cleavage for safe keeping. As I slowly make my way to leave, I turn back around briefly with the hopes of catching her attention one last time before the night comes to an end, but my glance is only met with emptiness as she has vanished and is no longer in sight.
The darkness engulfed the night. Even the moon and the stars were hidden from view as we barreled rapidly down the desolate, one lane road in our 2004 rusty Ford Ranger truck. A truck neither purchased or chosen by me but rather won with a royal flush and a bottle of Jack Daniels years ago by my husband, Mick. If you asked me, he didn’t win much that night but a headache and a tin can on wheels.
“Look…I’m sorry for what I said at the party. I didn’t mean to embarrass you. I just…I just…needed to get all of that off my chest,” Mick slurred into the dense, thick night air that hung between the two of us within the front seat of the truck. Most nights I could tolerate his drinking, but that night wasn’t one of them.
I scowled motionless out of the passenger side window and into the opaque abyss; a shock struck my spine and shot straight down to my toes at the thought of what could be lurking out in the vast sweeping void of this bitter December night. It was at that moment my head was propelled forward hitting the cold metal dashboard of the truck while at the same time a loud crash that resembled a thunderclap shook the front right-side of the truck.
Mick, while still wearing the remnants of a beat up, hand-me-down Santa suit from the party we just escaped, attempted to control the off balanced truck now raging forward recklessly towards the unforgiving and unfamiliar highway in front of us.
“What did you do?” I cried once I was able to lift my now bleeding and pounding forehead up from the trucks console.
I immediately pulled down the visor mirror above me and began to use the small light to take in the physical damage to my face. My thick long brown hair had become matted with dark red blood and a cut the size of a silver dollar was now smack dab in the middle of my forehead slowly dripping blood down the slope of my face like a leaky kitchen faucet.
“I…. I don’t know what happened,” he whispered. “One minute I was driving and the next… the next…something just ran in front of the car. I swear I didn’t hit anything!” he said as the volume of his voice began to slowly increase and morph into sheer panic.
“How would you even know what happened, Mick? I knew you drank too much tonight and now we’ve probably killed something or someone and will be forced to walk home in this god forsaken cold.” I scathed loudly across the truck.
I grasped the door handle with a tight grip and let the hollow tin door swing open letting all the warm air escape out into the cold night sky. The second my bare face met the unsympathetic and frigid temperatures I immediately began cursing Mick’s name under my breathe which left trails of smoke like vapors looming behind me as I hobbled to the front of the truck to investigate.
“Are you coming?” I yelled back over my shoulder to Mick to ensure I was not taking this walk to certain death by myself as the air had grown eerie to the point it had become unequivocally motionless.
He responded, “I’m right next to you,” which took me by surprise, but I found reassurance in his voice. Though unreliable most of the time I always find myself right back in his arms. A place of comfort I can only assume.
We could only see an inch at a time in front of us with every step we took. Eventually I stopped in my tracks and began feeling around the darkness for Mick’s hand until I felt his five fingers lock in with mine. We both stood, paralyzed, breathing slowly as we peered out ahead of us but were only met with a dark nothingness.
My Toughest Opponent
I dread hotel rooms. Not the actual room, per say, but what lies in the middle of that room. It could be a twin, double or even king-sized bed made for two. It could be bunk beds, a waterbed or even a futon. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that one layer removed from the top of the bedspread or comforter rests a top sheet and that top sheet is my sworn mortal enemy.
Yes, I realize how irrational and trivial this may sound. Who has an adversary that is made up of a poly cotton blend or even sometimes pure silk? An enemy that consistently refuses to fold properly and in fact, requires a partner to do so. A deadly opponent who has beat me again and again at the game of tug of war. Tight, scratchy, and never pulled up high enough, a top sheet offers zero purpose and provides no solace to those in desperate need of sleep.
At the end of the bed, where the sheet and the mattress come together is where my hate originates from. Military style bed making by professional hotel housekeepers will keep me up all night due to my kicking feverishly and lashing out, as I try to force my feet from the prison the hotel wants to keep me in.
You would never believe what the top sheet has put me through in my own home; the hiding of television remotes in every nook and cranny and the sheets ability to always tumble down from each corner of the bed, defying to stay tucked in, is just the beginning of this harsh treatment.
Not to mention, getting twisted around my body like a cocoon that resembles being suffocated in your sleep by a midnight intruder, and the fact that it has provided just one more thing for my husband and I to argue about in bed…the top sheet has got to go.
I have heard others say, a rebuttal of sorts, that the top sheet is a glorious addition to the bed ensemble. They argue on and on that a sheet can protect you from the potential rough surfaces of the quilt above or even believe that the top sheet is the one thing that can keep you cool at night. Neither of those arguments stand a chance against the cream, beige or even white straitjacket that I have contended with when in battle with my greatest foe, the top sheet.
So, I will continue to make my comfortable king bed with only half of the sheet to appease my better half and allow my legs to have the freedom they deserve. I will no longer search for the remote on my side of the bed nor will I steal the sheet from the snoozer lying next to me.
My hotel stays, though few and far between, will now begin with liberating each corner of the bed from the oppressed treatment the sheets have been subjected to, so that the battle of the war will have been won, by me, before it ever has begun. Yes, the top sheet, though an unwavering and always diligent rival, will never be too much for my loathing and triumphant spirit.