AT FIRST SIGHT • by David Lynn Allen

He tipped the bottle straight up over the glass and shook it. Nothing came out. Empty. After a few failed attempts to set the bottle upright, he laid it on its side and watched it roll the length of the counter, stopping when it bumped against the microwave.

Tommy’s girlfriend of two years left him earlier that morning after yet another screaming match. She filled her suitcase and stormed out of their apartment. He celebrated in his usual manner, mixing Jack with Coke, drawing the curtains and playing video games in his underwear. It was a workable distraction, at least until the alcohol ran out. He rummaged through the kitchen cabinets and then the fridge, and found nothing. No whisky, no beer, no wine. He stumbled to the bedroom and dug out a shirt and shorts from the pile next to his bed. There was a liquor store at the corner, within reasonable walking distance.

He dressed, not bothering to fasten his shirt buttons or zipper.

Outside the apartment, Tommy grabbed the handrail and cautiously made his way down the stairs. It was good that she left, he thought. Just another fake blond with another fake personality playing games until she stopped getting what she wants. Screw her, screw all of them. He was done with women. He made this last vow as he opened up the building’s front door. Squinting into the sun, he gingerly stepped down from the front steps only to be knocked back onto his rear.

Tommy searched for the source of his assault, quickly finding it in the fuzzy form of a tall, wide female striding purposefully down the middle of the sidewalk. She had walked through him without acknowledgement, not breaking stride. His ire rose. Watching her strut away from him, he determined to put the bitch in her place. He smiled. She was headed towards the busy shopping district. He would have an audience.

As his eyes adjusted to the light, his quarry came into focus. A mess of dirty blond hair hung limply down her back, over a striped purple and black shirt several sizes too small. Tommy grinned — she obviously wasn’t worried about her appearance.

If he was surprised at her shirt, he was shocked as his eyes took in her entirety. A pair of jean shorts, also several sizes small, squeezed low around her waist, exposing a long stretch of butt crack in back, and God-knows-what in the front. If she was aware of the awkward glances and stares her appearance drew, she wasn’t showing it. She stomped steadily on.

Her right hand grasped an oversized purse, which she swung widely, obviously, as if to protect her personal space. A young couple approaching took the hint, stepping off the sidewalk and into the street to avoid being barreled over. She was challenging the world to a game of Chicken, and she was not going to lose.

Tommy remained standing by the apartment steps, his anger turning into something akin to admiration. He was watching a rarity; a woman unconcerned about the judgments of others, unafraid of being an individual. A girl honest in her appearance and actions. An individual. God, if only his new ex had a fraction of that girl’s gumption and integrity….

The sun beat down upon Tommy; still wobbly, he leaned back against the building and became acutely aware of his parched tongue and lips. He decided to leave the girl alone and go straight to the liquor store. Grabbing the railing with both hands, he pulled himself to his feet and started to turn, when he saw it.

In the small of her back, just below the bunched-up bottom of her too-small shirt, was a tattoo. An intricately designed, red, blue and green diamond, with equally colorful wings extending from each side. It was beautiful, and gorgeously off-center.

Whisky could wait. Tommy was in love. He had stumbled into the antithesis of all of the tiny, overmade, pretentious, hypocritical girls who had ever worn him down. She was everything he wanted or needed.

Realizing that she would soon walk across the street and out of his sight, he knew he had one chance to catch her and express his undying love. He straightened his shirt and zipped his fly. Ahead, another pedestrian hopped off the sidewalk and into a shrub to avoid the purse. God, she’s magnificent.

Tommy put his right foot down and staggered forward.

David Lynn Allen is a part-time writer, aspiring to one day become a full-time hack. He currently practices his craft near Louisville, Kentucky, usually while hopped up on caffeine at two a.m. with a trio of mutts jockeying for lap space.

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