We fell asleep on the couch, alcohol on our breaths. Mambo and cha-cha-cha beats in our knees. Damn two-dollar high-heels left welts on our feet, but we danced all night with different brilliantine men: gold teeth, mustaches, pinky rings that looked too big for their pinkies. Manhattan Center was always packed on a Saturday night. Giant fans kept dancers cool, but never disturbed the shellacked beehives and too-good-to-be-true jewels.
Outside was 34th street with its neon Irish bars, burlap covered bums, and you and me, running away from the cigarette fog. Out those black and gold Manhattan Center doors, leaving behind cheap cologne, hairspray, watery beer, the bottle of Dewar’s that got us a table in the middle of the action, and that damn greaser who pulled on your hair when you said no, shoved his thumb against your forehead to force you to sit back down. And me, in my pink dress, too young to speak up, to make a spectacle, to declare my seventeen-year-old presence. Me, lifting the glass bottle over my head.
“You shouldn’t have done that,” you said as we walked through a crowd of tourists. I was your guardian angel. The one groomed to stop you from making bad decisions. What I shouldn’t have done was dance with the tall, white guy. I shouldn’t have placed my hand on his chest, felt his heat.
We walked up to the glitzy squalor of Times Square and stared at the boys with plucked eyebrows and hair-nets. We watched them bum off cigarettes from distinguished movie-going husbands. One boy leaned in and blew us a kiss. You kissed a ruby polished finger and returned the love. I licked whiskey and blood from my hand; the greaser’s blood not mine. I pulled a dollar from my bra and handed it to the hotdog vendor. “Two please and one Coke.”
You reached out, squeezed one of my tissue-stuffed boobs, and chortled into your paper plate of steamy onions slapped on top of a mustard smothered hotdog. “Just checking out my competition,” you said before taking a bite of your hot dog.
From a WIP short vignette collection by Gessy Alvarez.