Typical Friday night at The Roundabout, bar packed, mostly with guys hoping to get lucky, tables full, mostly with couples who already had. A few loners, some drifting about constantly casting for a nibble, others like me, content to sit and nurse their beer. I vaguely wonder how many of them are married but on the prowl, also like me.
I come here often, ever since I found out Jeffrey was cheating on me. He knows I come, assumes I’m cheating on him. Fine. Let him think what he wants. Actually, I’m hunting. Some day I’ll find the right one.
Joe and the Stringers play from the tight little corner set aside for the band near the back, a mix of blues, jazz, and something I can only characterize as “different.” Just in front of the bandstand another little square is set aside, supposedly the dance floor. Some couples actually dance.
I watch the crowd with feigned disinterest. A guy, maybe just out of college, brushes up against me, then gives me the grand apology, purely an accident, as if he didn’t mean to bump into my boob, all the while looking me up and down assessing my potential. I probe him more subtlety, assessing his. I’ll pass.
“Get lost,” I say, taking another swallow from my bottle. He moves on, still fishing.
Four couples are dancing now, trying to follow the music without much success. Joe is playing an actual danceable tune. They just can’t dance. One lone fellow is out there too. He dances like my dad at a wedding reception after having too much Champagne. I sort of feel for him. I stare too long and he looks up, catching me watching him. I quickly look down and swivel back around to face the bar.
I feel him coming toward me. At last, I think, I may have found the one.
He slides between me and the next barstool, violating any decent sense of personal space. I look at him coolly.
“Would you like to dance?” he asks, all puppy dog enthusiasm.
I shake my head, no, then brush the hair out of my face.
He wiggles his bottom up onto the barstool and signals to Mary for two more of the same, one for him, one for me. Mary pops the tops off two bottles and sets one before each of us. I glance down coyly and blush a bit.
“You come here often?” he asks.
“Yeah, pretty often,” I admit.
He’s taken aback. “I’m surprised I haven’t noticed you before. What’s your name?”
“Kevin. Kevin Waller.” He extends his hand. I just look at it.
He slowly pulls it back and wraps it around his beer bottle. “So,” he keeps casting, “do you dance?”
I nod. “I’ve been known to.”
“Just not with me?”
I laugh and give him a soulful look of commiseration. “My feet hurt, and nothing personal, I’ve seen you dance.”
Now he blushes.
“You get an A for effort though.”
“Well, I try.”
We sit there in companionable silence for a bit before he goes on, unwilling to give up.
“So, Marie, what do you do for a living?” he asks.
“I’m a research assistant at the university.”
“What kind of research?” he asks with what seems like genuine interest.
I smile and shrug. “For all you know, I’m doing research right now.” His face lights up at my warm smile. In the back of the room Joe shifts from fast-paced to slow dance.
“I’m better at slow dancing,” Kevin tells me, extending a hand. I shrug, what the Hell, and take his hand. I spend the next five minutes trying to protect my feet.
When we get back to the bar I ask him to watch my drink while I use the lady’s room. He nods and watches me walk off. From the corner of my eye I see him slip a little white pill into my beer bottle. I smile to myself.
I have a little difficulty getting him up the steps to his apartment. After he drops his keys for the third time I snatch them off the floor and let us in. I don’t want to attract attention out here. I lead him in, close the door, and settle him on the couch. I don’t sit down, and keep on my white cotton gloves.
Switching the bottles was easy. I just waited until his was about at the same level as mine and then laughed at some goofball out on the dance floor. Of course Kevin had to look.
I’ve always had this strange power of suggestion. If I want to make someone leave me alone, I can usually get them to wander off. But to plant a complex suggestion, perhaps a suggestion a person would strongly object to, I need the subject to be compliant. Kevin was now putty in my hands.
I took a photo of Jeffery from my purse and held it in front of Kevin.
“Look at this picture, Kevin. He’s the manager at the QuickWay on Jefferson. You know where that is?”
He nodded, yes.
“This guy’s a real asshole, Kevin. We hate him. Don’t we?”
“In three weeks, at 8:15pm, go into QuickWay and shoot the bastard in the head for me. Will you do that, sweetie?”
“Make sure he’s dead.”
I repeat the routine a half dozen times to ensure it takes, then lead him into his bed room, have him strip and crawl into bed, then plant a false memory of him coming home with some blond who looks nothing like me.
I let myself out.
After I caught him cheating Jeff asked me if I wanted a divorce.
I want the insurance.
© 2014 by J. M. Strother, all rights reserved. Photo © 2014 by J. M. Strother, all rights reserved.