Mallory habitually went to the corner bar on sunny weekdays when the only other people there were unshaven, grizzled men with missing teeth, the kind who had regular barstools and would let you know it if you unknowingly sat in someone else’s seat.
When new management painted the wood paneling black, set red votives on every table, bought stemware for martinis and started serving little bowls of artisan potato chips—extra crispy, with pepper and sea salt—Mallory expected the clientele to change, but the geezers hung on.
Even though at three o’clock all the virile men were still working hard typing propositions and making counter-offers, filing motions or asking Where does it hurt? Mallory couldn’t resist showing up on bright afternoons. There was a pay off in arriving during daylight.
She loved, beyond most sensations she had ever experienced, the moment of blindness that came upon walking into the corner bar. Each time she approached the entrance along the blazing sidewalk, she anticipated the cessation of sight with new zeal. Once inside, she quickly pushed the door closed to cap off the light, and moved into the darkness without slowing, all her cells jolted awake.
Of course she enjoyed it because it was temporary. She didn’t actually wish for blindness; although, she had heard there were some people (very sick people) who did. There were also people she’d read about who said they couldn’t stop masturbating—it was torturous for them—yet they were compelled to constantly maul at their genitals. Mallory wasn’t one of those people either. She thought about these pathologies a lot, though, comparing herself to the most ill cases she could imagine.
Today, by the time she reached James the bartender at the far end, tiny lights emerged from blackness: the illuminated EXIT sign over the back door, the small LED screen of the register. Not the votive candles; they wouldn’t be lit for hours. Besides James and two men sitting several seats apart at the bar, the place was empty.
Mallory ordered a vodka and chips and went to one of the distant booths. From here she could watch the backs of the men and imagine she was alone. When James brought her drink, she did something she had never done before. She asked him to sit.
With a chip on her tongue, salt melting and pepper burning, she slid her hand under the table and inside the front of his jeans. She swirled the pads of her fingers lightly over all his loose skin, teasing until it stretched taut, giving her something to grip. He put his arm around her back and burrowed underneath, twisting his fingers in deep. They rode like this, eyes open. If they managed to come before anyone noticed, she’d light a votive and let the aroma of hot wax pass like sweet fleeting blindness. Until then, she watched the men at the bar facing their drinks and wondered when the door might swing wide blasting in daylight.
Visit more fab Flash Friday entries here!