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Lessons in Dating

On this glorious 4th of July we get another lesson.

This time we learn about: Love--American Style.

Lessons in Dating by Jeffery Kuczmarski

Angela placed an ad on craigslist.  She wanted a man who could boil water, shaved once a week, got lost in a kiss and knew how to laugh a true, head-all-the-way-back laugh.  She wasn't desperate.  She was redheaded, brown eyed and had a figure that snapped necks; not too thin and not to curvy with an ass that was friendly to foreign objects.  She liked to eat linguine, read James Ellroy and listen to jazz.  She wasn't opposed to mild kink, 420 or cocktails strong enough that the olives got tipsy.  She worked less than some and more than others.  She’d like a NSA fuck buddy but wouldn’t rule out more if someone could manage to kick start her heart and make it purr in her chest like calico kitten.

Then she sat back and watched her inbox fill.  She could have built an ark and floated on the responses.  She took her time and culled through looking for the right tone.  She poured herself a glass of bourbon and fired off a reply. 

Jimmy arrived ten minutes late for their date at Broadway Cellars, all nerves and sweaty palms with a buck-toothed grin, offering candy and then cigarettes.  She laughed and took one of each, sucked on the raspberry Jolly Rancher and then fingered her lighter awake.  She took a long drag and held the smoke down like a greedy lover, then placed her hand on his knee under the table. 

His leg jumped like a spooked bunny and hit the underside of the table.

Angela grinned.

“So tell me, what do you do, Jimmy?” she asked, evaluating him.  He was a clean-cut mid-western boy.  From Iowa or Wisconsin and grew up in a small town.  He probably knew how to milk cows, make cheese and fillet fish too.

“I’m a computer programmer.  I make software for the advertising industry.”

“Oh, my, isn’t that fascinating.  Tell me all about it.”

Jimmy droned on about the challenges of pulling large amounts of data from a SQL database into a .Net web application.  Golly, it was slow.

Being stabbed with a knitting needle would be more fun thought Angela as she feigned deep interest and nodded her head at the right moments, then snaked her hand up his thigh.

“And where are you from?” she asked.

“Tomahawk, Wisconsin.  My parents raise chickens.”

She choked back laughter; she couldn’t believe her luck in the first round.  He was straight off the farm and was nerdy and inexperienced to boot.  He’d most likely feel too dumb to report her to the cops and might even talk himself into it being someone else or blaming himself.  With any luck she wouldn’t need to find someone new next week.  He had soft office hands and by the way he nursed his drink, couldn’t hold his liquor.  Her stomach did butterflies as she flagged the waiter with a wink, ordered another martini with extra blue cheese olives for them both, popped off her blue French shoe and then ran her stocking covered foot against his left ankle.
His cheeks went beat, then overripe strawberry.

She leaned closer as if listening intently and reached over with the nimble fingers of her left hand.  She could feel the bulge.  Her fingertips itched as she stroked it gently and then ran a nail over the hard plastic edges of the credit cards and then turned and caressed the velvety wad of cash poking out of the leather billfold.  She had teased it three fourths of the way out of his pocket when he knocked his drink over and sending cold booze into her lap.  The sudden chill made her gasp and her hands shot involuntarily to the wet spot.  The goddamn klutz.  She bit her tongue, excused herself and ran to the bathroom.  She looked down, cursed; her dress was stained for sure.  She plucked some paper towels from the dispenser and dried herself off.  She would have applied more lipstick and some gloss but in her anger had left her purse behind.  She sighed and went back to the table.

There were two fresh, full drinks at the ready on the table but he was gone.
He must have gone to wash those sweaty hands, she thought and downed her drink in a single gulp and got another.

As the minutes ticked by, she drummed her fingers impatiently on the table.
Jesus, was he puking already, after only three whiskey sours?
When twenty minutes went by, she got a funny feeling and asked the waiter to see if the gentlemen she was with needed any assistance in the restroom. 

The waiter returned.  There was no one in the restroom matching that description.  Would she like to order food or perhaps have another drink? 

The silly farm boy must have gotten flustered about the spilled drink and bailed.  Next time, she’d need to pick one that wasn’t so clumsy.  And to put a cherry on the shit-sundae, now she’d need to hustle double time; the rent was due in two weeks.  She asked for the check but the waiter said it was already paid.  Well, at least the farm boy had the decency to pony up.  She reached in her purse for a smoke and her hand did a double take as it groped and found only air where her wallet should have been; shock sparked off her face like a Tesla coil.  She rooted in disbelief, hooking a crumpled cocktail napkin at the very bottom.  She pulled it out, unfolded it and read the neatly printed words, “Your thumb’s a bit stiff, stick with your middle and forefingers.  I dumped your wallet in the trashcan off the men’s room; drinks are on you.”

Jeffrey Kuczmarski's little black heart beats in Chicago where he carves wood with steel. Jeffrey's visual stuff has been displayed at the DIY Trunk Show and is available on Etsy under Perpetual Relief. Jeffrey's stories can be found in the anthologies Danger City, Danger City 2, and Hardcore Hardboiled. And there's the tongue in cheek novel, Unnatural Trouble, on Amazon. Jeffrey thanks everyone at OOTG, Shotgun Honey and Thuglit for the wood chipper, the ice pick and the unmarked bills.