Billy Coté lives in Ithaca, New York. Formerly a musician by trade, he founded the band Madder Rose in the 1990’s and was the principal songwriter. They recorded four albums for Atlantic Records (three of which were good) and toured extensively in the United States and Europe. After the rocking was done, he scored a number of films with Mary Lorson. He is very close to completing his first novel, The Other Bill.
A WOMAN LURCHES UP to the bar holding a mason jar filled with clear liquor. Her blouse billows and falls around her, only partially tucked into her skirt. She steps on my toe and scuffs my boot, this action unnoticed or disregarded. She plants her feet and turns toward me. I am the one she is here to talk to.
“Your lover left you, and now she has those dogs. The dogs are stupid and they run through the house, knocking things with their tails.”
“Well, I don’t see how this concerns you.”
“It concerns me, sir, because she is a woman for the ages--a creator, a provocateur, and an artist. Her work uplifts our condition, even as you diminish it!”
“Please calm down. You couldn’t know all the facts. It’s complicated, and you’re drunk.”
She remains stern, unyielding, says, “Your dismissal is a matter of public record, and has been discussed at length in the community. You are not well thought of, nor are you well liked.”
She sits herself down on the stool to my left. We have only just begun. She crosses her legs and I spy the roundness of her haunch. For a second I picture my cheek against it.
“I’ve asked the bartender to put on Sketches of Spain, even though I might be laid bare,” she says. “These songs make my soul ache, but also soar!”
She closes her eyes and hums along with a surprising lilt.
The music works its particular magic and I witness her mood flash. I recoil as sympathy washes over her puffy features. I would prefer her acrimony. She traps me in a clumsy embrace and I feel how big she’s become, her bra digging into the flesh on her back.
“Who will save you from yourself, my pretty fool? I do not have the resources for such a hopeless endeavor,” she sighs, and holds me closer still.
We disengage and she continues to hum along to the mournful euphony, hugging herself, swaying in rhythm. Her hair falls across her face and she looks nearly lovely. But then she darkens and her eyes grow cold and she curls her upper lip. Her big ass plops back down on the stool. “I cry for your poor lover and I wish no mercy on you or your wretched soul!”
She turns from me and waves down the barman, who shocks me by refilling her glass to the brim with gin and tonic water, barely leaving any room at all for a meager wedge of lime. She lulls and leans on the bar, her elbows sliding in opposite directions, her chin stopping inches from the wood. A slender and mysterious woman with thick black hair passes by, a hint of lavender in her wake, and I watch her as she crosses the room.
“There! Right there. Do you see how your attention is so easily taken? You are a
shallow male no better than any other, perhaps worse. Your lover is a poet and a saint, but she has only slightly improved her station, trading the likes of you for her horrible, pungent hounds. How many of those pups haunt her chambers now? Nine? A dozen?”
“Quiet! What you did cannot be undone. And what of the rumors? Did you sup from a younger woman’s table? Did you leave your mark on some supple, inner thigh? How could you stray when you had magnificence, right there in your own home?”
Again she stands and bumps me, her thick middle owning enough ballast to put me on my heels. As she leans in, her shirt falls from one shoulder, revealing her bra strap to be in a twist.
“Now listen, you. I did nothing of the sort, at least nothing that can be proved. My lover’s bent became too much when the maestro told her she was creating a new form of theater, a dynamic avant-garde art with a capital A, even as he tried to place his hand within the folds of her skirt. Her ego and ambition outgrew what our love could manage. Our house became a shrine to the promotion and advancement of her project, charts and drawings scattered across the floor and taped to the walls. It was only then I started my pornographic writings and journals. Indecent? Maybe. Within my rights? Why, of course.”
She pulls her blouse back over her shoulder and slurps from her jar. I watch her face, nearly palsied with alcohol, and wish that she would shut-up about all this. In need of respite I glance back at her rear, and notice it’s retained its shape, its roundness, even though its breadth has increased greatly from even a year ago.
“Your journals were an affront. Your adolescent ramblings and messy scenarios were vulgar, and brought embarrassment to your lover. She is a great artist. You, a purveyor of filth, and of trash.”
“But did you read them?”
“Yes. Front to back.”
“And tell me, what did you think?”
“I cannot. Excuse me.”
Drunk-y leaves her perch and heads for the restroom. I down my drink then go over and wait in the hallway just outside the head, parking myself near a neglected potted plant. I stick my cocktail straw into the dry dirt. When she exits the ladies room I step in front of her. Grabbing her long brown hair, I tilt her head back, and place my lips on hers. We kiss, our tongues joining, causing both of us to moan. My cock is pushing into her soft front. I tell her I want to fuck her in the men’s room stall. I take her hand in mine and lead her inside, but she stops short, collars me and slams my head against the hollow metal of the stall door. The sound reverberates though the cinder block room. My glasses are askew from the blow, the wire ear pieces now pointing in different directions. It occurs to me that I’ll never get them straight. I crouch down and lean my back against the wall, dazed. Drunk-y kneels in front of me, her skirt soaking up filthy water from the tiles. She rubs my temples and says, “My, what a poor, lost lamb you are. Whatever will you do?” Her breath is stinking and sour, but I sense the warmth of her flesh inches from my own. Though my head throbs, my tool is unflagged. Instinctively I try to kiss her again, but she pushes my face away, gently this time. She gets up, checks herself in the mirror, dabs at her skirt with a paper towel. She exits the men’s room without another word. I’m left there, still crouched, my penis straining and jammed to one side.
Back at the bar, I see a tall man with dark hair and angular features slide in next to Drunk-y and say hello. He's got a healthy buzz on himself, a drunkard's glow. He seems confident that a well-tested autopilot will kick in and guide him through the rest of the evening if necessary, an alcoholic in bloom, still with two wheels on the road. A droplet of sweat falls from the tip of his nose and lands on the bar, explaining the new, subtle notes of fetid perspiration present in the air around us. He lets his shoulder touch hers, barely, initiating physical contact, insinuating himself into her space. He makes small talk, asking mundane and leading questions about her life, exactly the right approach with a girl like Drunk-y on a night like this. It takes her a minute to register his interest, but when she does she shifts her bulk slightly in his direction and regales him with overwrought and pointless anecdotes, selected randomly from the air around her forehead. He nods and smiles and keeps their glasses full, biding his time, experience telling him that at some point in the evening things will get sloppy, and that is when he will well and truly shine.
As I watch I realize that there can be no better match for Drunk-y, each of them given over to intoxication as a matter of course, resigned to the sun driving spikes in their eyes each morning as their bodies rot from the inside out. Soon she is laughing and nudging his thigh with her mitt, finally leaving it there, only inches from his testicles. He speaks softly, craning his neck forward and cooing, an exotic bar room bird soaked in spirits and stale smoke. She swoons and glances in my direction. Seeing me she says, "Love can be a real thing, if you're caring and gentle, if you are considerate of your lover, and tend to her desires."
She leans over and kisses her new friend lightly on the cheek. There is a tiny tear in the corner of her eye. He notices me for the first time and smirks. His eyes are unfocused, a dull blue. A little burp escapes his lips.
"I barely know this man," she says, nodding toward her new friend. "But he has already surpassed you in kindness and loving support. He will be welcomed directly into the fishy stink of my loins."
They turn towards each other and proceed with their ritual. Drunk-y is ignoring me now. I take this opportunity to align my frames, but they are beyond repair. I realize then that I am lonely, and so engage in conversation with people who are only general acquaintances. Each person I speak with is hopelessly boring and likewise has no interest in me. I begin to wonder if Drunk-y would consider coming over to my room sometime. Passed over and by myself, I drink more drinks.
Later, I walk outside and into the back lot. Drunk-y is there with her new friend. She is bent over the hood of a car, skirt up around her hips, her big, round ass exposed for the entire world to see. He kneads her like dough, taking great handfuls and squeezing. He bends down and breathes in, whimpering at the summit. Next he stands up straight and smacks her rump steadily and with force. The flesh on her haunches and thighs moves in rhythm, slightly behind his beat. I cannot deny the wild eroticism of this scene. Her cheek sits on the damp metal of the hood. She notices me and says, "We all need a lover who will meet our needs, but you must meet theirs, too! If you can't learn this, your heart will wither."
As I walk away she remarks to her new companion, “I am forever devoted to his lover, but not those filthy beasts, those damn hounds. Now, please proceed.”
With a cry she gives in to the moment. I can only assume penetration. I start my walk home, and the wallop of flesh recedes in the distance. Tonight I will masturbate, thinking of Drunk-y's mouth, recalling the smell of disinfectant and metallic sweat. I will think of her ass and the tremor of its coarse flesh. I will consider her words, and that maybe she is right. Maybe I am a despicable man.
All things considered, I've had worse nights.