Too Close for Comfort
by Max Cantrell
In the corner, back against the wall, inches from my face. Sinatra sings Cheek-to-Cheek. He leans in. I lean out. Pew! Talk about putrid breath! Any nearer and I’ll puke. Or whack him.
I want my arm about you
That charm about you
“’Scuze me…um…need to pee.” He looks hurt. The peeing ruse always works at parties. His right arm – the one he’s using to praying mantis me into the corner – drops to his side. He moves reluctantly backwards. Like he’s throwing a really big fish back into the sea. Mutters of course, sorry, didn’t realize. Looks at his shoes. Shiny black suede divorcee shoes. He’s afraid I’ll pee on them if he doesn’t move fast enough. You never get the smell of pee out of suede. The idea pulls strings at the corners of my mouth. I ‘d love to really pee on his shoes. Just to see him Fred Astaire clackety-clack. I burst out laughing at the thought. Enough Martinis. He lifts the customs barrier and I squeeze past.
I imagine his ex-wife, Pond’s Night Cream all over her face, putting the black suede shoes lovingly next to the armchair, under the pin-stripe suit ready for the next day. With the give-away striped pink tie. Poor bitch. There’s a seedy hotel nearby and he’s banging his peroxide secretary’s brains out. Now I really want to puke.
Downstairs there’s a pretty brunette with colourful tattoos waiting at the toilet, humming. She turns to me and smiles. She leans in. I lean out. Don’t people know about personal space?
“Nope.” Never tell a stranger you’re alone at a party. Just in case.
“Me neither.” The answer makes no sense. Her big green eyes have way too much mascara. She wants me to ask her.
“Got a boyfriend?”
She shakes her head. “Nah. Don’t like men.” A couple come out, cheesily arranging their clothing, and push past us. You can smell the fast sex.
The brunette shrugs. “Some people have nowhere to go.”
“But in a toilet? I mean it’s so…” She can see the disgust on my face and laughs.
“Wanna pee first?” She motions to the open door.
“It’s OK. You go. I can wait.” She smiles and disappears inside the toilet. Doesn’t close the door. I hear pee gush. For crying out loud! I pull the door closed. She giggles. The toilet flushes and we’re face to face again. She leans in, her lips much too close. I lean back. Slightly.
“See you upstairs?” She smiles widely and high heels clatter up the stairs.
Max Cantrell: Painter, writer, life-lover and recently married lover. Who needs more?
Our Reader said:
This is a quirky and stylishly written piece, jam-packed full of glamorous metaphors. The narrative voice was enticing and I was pulled in by their clever imagery and witty remarks.