Cheap Beer & Sparklers
[first appeared in The Weekenders Magazine, June 2012]
Dominic wanted a divorce but I didn’t. He was right, I was wrong. I told him this after we had divorce-sex for the first time. He laughed. The thick glass ashtray was balanced on his bare chest and I asked him if it was cold.
“It’s fine. I like it,” he said, pressing down on it. He ashed and handed the cigarette to me. I smoked while I put my bra back on.
“What do you think about me saying you were right? About the divorce?” I asked, the cigarette dangling and dangling. I inhaled and handed it back to him so he could put it out.
“I know I was right. But none of that matters now. Look at us. Nothing about what we do makes any sense.”
“What, you living across the street from me?”
What could I say about it? I didn’t say anything. I pulled my panties up and asked him if he wanted a sandwich because I did.
Roscoe Pie was coming up from Texas to spend a week with me. Roscoe was my boyfriend. Roscoe was a beast. I loved him like I loved eating and sleeping. I loved his tattoos, his loud motorcycle, his fat bottom lip, his bearded face between my legs. We had only just begun. We were two hot potatoes when we were together. We were ridiculous and embarrassing and we were a joke. We were kinda serious. Everything and nothing. Something. We mattered and we didn’t. I barely knew him and I knew everything about him. Roscoe Pie was the reason Dominic and I had gotten a divorce. I chose my lust for Roscoe over my two-year marriage to Dominic, but I loved Dominic and I knew he loved me.
He loved me even though I ran away from him twice and kissed another man when we were married. He loved me even after I had sex with Roscoe before we got divorced. There was nothing I could do to get him to stop loving me, I’d tried. Our divorce was final last month. He was living across the street for two more months, housesitting for some friends of ours who were on a secret mission trip to China.
He had agreed to dinner. The four of us: Dom, his new girlfriend, Aurora, Roscoe and me. I offered up my place and I’d cook, I said. I didn’t know what I was going to make. All I’d bought so far was cheap beer and sparklers.
Dom came out of the bathroom wearing only a pair of boxers I’d given him, slung low on his skinny hips. I noticed a hickey underneath his navel. I hadn’t seen it when we’d had sex. I couldn’t see his stomach the way we usually did it; him behind me, tugging my hair. I hadn’t seen it when we were smoking afterwards because it was covered by the sheets.
“Your girlfriend still does that?” I asked, pointing. He smiled, rubbed where it was.
“Shut up,” he said.
“Is she prettier than me?” I asked. I was a little jealous even though it made no sense.
“No. But you’re different,” he said.
“Do you call her Princess Aurora?”
I slid his lunch in front of him after he sat down at the table; turkey and light mayo on wheat bread, a glass of ice water.
I sat across from him in my underwear, put my foot flat on the chair, let my legs hang open a little bit. He looked down at my crotch like he owned it.
He asked me who Princess Aurora was. I didn’t answer. When he reached for his water glass, I picked it up first and drank from it. Then I handed it to him and we held our hands there, overlapping on the sweating glass. He looked down at my crotch again before I let him have his water. I liked that he did that because to me it meant he hadn’t forgotten we used to be married. I used to be his.
The next day when I heard Roscoe’s motorcycle rumble and stop in the driveway, I ran to the bathroom to put on too much brown-red lipstick. I smudged some to make it all matte and sexy before I opened the door. He’d shaved his head since the last time I saw him and I told him he looked like a beautiful wild animal standing there on my front porch. He put his helmet down and picked me up. He made growly noises and grabbed my ass. I kissed him the kiss of a feral kitten, now alone with her sweet, sticky treat. I nuzzled my face into his sweaty neck and smeared my lipstick all over it. You can’t imagine how much I’d missed him, so I won’t even try to explain it.
I asked him if he wanted a beer and we sat on the couch. I threw my bare brown legs across him.
“I did something bad,” I said.
“I’m not surprised,” he said, drinking his beer.
“I had sex with Dominic.”
“Why?” He asked plainly.
“Did you want to?”
“Did you have a good time?”
“Did you think I’d be mad or something?”
He put his beer can on one of the glass coasters and turned to me. He grabbed the elastic waist of my pajama shorts and pulled them down. He pulled my panties down too. He asked me if I was wet for Dominic or for him and I said for him and I didn’t lie about that. He asked me if I was sure and I said yes.
“Violet,” he said after he’d reached behind him with one hand and taken off his shirt.
“Roscoe,” I said back.
“But if you wanted to cut that out and not sleep with anyone but me, I’d be down for that,” he said. He put his hands on my thighs and I could smell myself on his fingers.
“Oh, you don’t have like a million girls down in Texas waiting for you to come home so they can have another delicious piece of Roscoe Pie?” I teased. I slid down so I was lying on my back. He pushed up on his arms; his middle patch of chest hair hovering over me, along with the tiny, black cursive tattoo above his left nipple. Rust & stardust.
“All I’m saying is that the way things are aren’t the way things always have to be,” he said, suddenly serious.
It was sweet, like I was a jumper and he was trying to talk me down. And when we were together, we looked at each other. He put his hands behind my sweaty knees and pulled me closer to him. We held our mouths together, close together. We had the same breath.
I made spaghetti noodles with vegan Alfredo sauce. Roscoe rode his bike up to the grocery for some bread. Dom and Aurora came over and she wasn’t prettier than me but she was sexier. She smelled like marigolds and dirt. She had a nice box of wine and held it out for me like it was a baby or something.
“Thanks y’all,” I said, smiling. I told them where Roscoe was, brought up the fact that this was weird.
“Eff it,” Aurora said, blowing some of her thick, black bangs out of her face, “I think it’s awesome that you two are still friends.”
Dom must not have told her we’d had doggy-style sex on my bed yesterday. He definitely didn’t tell her we did it twice. I wondered if we’d ever do it again. He looked cute and stoned. He always looked stoned, even when he wasn’t. His hair was a mess, he was letting it grow out. He grinned, pinched my cheek. I swatted his hand away and gave him the finger. Poured the wine into Mason jars.
I heard Roscoe’s bike and the door opened. He filled the rest of the kitchen. Now that they were standing next to each other, Dom looked significantly smaller. Roscoe was wearing a stormy grey threadbare t-shirt and faded black jeans with his black motorcycle boots. He looked like a superhero. He ran his hand over his head and smiled at all of us, introduced himself to Dom and Aurora. His water-green eyes crinkled at the corners. I wanted them to leave so we could be alone again. I was obsessed with him. Roscoe put the bread on the table. I watched him set it down. I liked how gentle he was with it, how small it looked in his huge hands.
I bragged about how Roscoe used to play for the Texas Rangers. Dominic loved baseball so that got the two of them going. Aurora and I talked about how she used to live in Alaska and how she had a little girl in the first grade. She didn’t offer to show me pictures of her but I asked because I wanted to see them.
After dinner, Roscoe put his hand on my leg underneath the table and my knees turned to hot butter. Dom looked over at us. He winked at me. My lightning bug-heart was already working out a new flash pattern for both of them, I knew it. I got the sparklers. The four of us went outside, lit them in the smoke-orange dusk.