Soft Rock was post-coital and sweaty. He couldn’t help it; he was, by nature, a great perspirer. He liked the jazzy feel of the bed he was lying in. This was good for an afternoon delight. Sky rockets in flight and all that falderall.
Soft Rock looked at the woman next to him. She seemed satisfied, but her face had the minor key shadings of disappointment, some atonal dissonance. This was something else he knew well on the faces of his afternoon dalliances. The woman leaned over and scooped up a pack of Pall Malls and lit up without offering him one. That was just fine, he wasn’t focused enough to have that kind of pressing need.
“I didn’t ask you at the wine bar,” he said, “but I was wondering what your name is.”
The woman spoke in a strong European accent that he didn’t notice from before. “And why do you want to know something so useless?”
Soft Rock said, “I don’t want anything. I’m not so forward or intent. I’m too accommodating for that. I was only but curious. Like wanting to know 13 down on a crossword puzzle I have no faith that I’ll finish.”
The woman sucked her cigarette, “If that is the case, I am a five letter word for roll out the music.”
“Can you give me a letter?”
“First letter might be P.”
Soft Rock swallowed; why did he have to mention crosswords? But then tumblers relaxed and he said, “Polka. You are Polka.”
She nodded with a smirk on her face. “Remind me that if we ever meet again, to not have you help me with the Saturday Times Puzzle.”
Soft Rock was satisfied that he was that clever to discover her secret. Of course she was Polka. It made logic: the rhythmic lovemaking, the old country gasps of possible pleasure. “Do you have a shower off the bedroom?” he asked.
Polka nodded and said, “Not for you.” This was all right, this sheen of sweat and release was the closest Soft Rock was going to get to funky.
The sound came from below. It was the scratch of keys and locks. It was the heavy thud of boots on stairs. “My husband.” Polka said it, but he was familiar enough with the script of this scenario that he could have jumped on her line and spoken it for her.
“I’m all about the window. Don’t worry about me, I never break anything.” He clutched his clothes and gave up his shoes for penance.
“No,” said Polka, “I don’t think I am worrying about you.” The door burst open and there was a middle-aged man with torn jeans and bristle brush hair.
Soft Rock jumped out the window and landed like a legless cat. He only realized how scraped he was while he was running down the street. The guy, the husband, he knew him from town. It was Punk. Punk Rock. Same last name as him, but no relation.
He could hear the screaming as he turned the corner. He heard Punk shouting, “With him? You were in my bed with him?”
Soft Rock knew he had to stop soon to put on his clothes but he was too enamored of the running. He was a wanderer. Running on empty. Gone baby gone. Whatever that all could mean.
David Macpherson lives in Central Massachusetts with his wife Heather and son George.