A lil' sci-fi-esque, flash from me to you! xx
I should’ve flashed her with my indicator lights as planned, but I wanted to get the first good look at her, before she even noticed me. She stood poised on the steps of the Ramada, like a perfect porcelain doll from my mother’s mantelpiece. With her mouth half-open, the way she craned her neck to talk to a couple of guys, doormen I suppose, appealed to the darkest side of me.
She wore a thin, shiny dress that rippled in the wind and her fingers played with the fabric in agitated strokes. Tugging at the edge of her hem - first one side, then the other – she kept an easy distance between herself and the guys. I could tell she didn’t like the way they were looking at her, at her legs, encased as they were in knotted webs.
A tramp huddled at the bottom of the hotel steps beside her patent-leathered feet. Rocking back and forth, praying Buddha style, he held his palms up, accepting small change from people passing by. There but for the grace of God goes I, I thought and my foot jumped a little on the brake. It seemed like I was riddled with my mother’s bullshit lines but sometimes thinking of Rachel helped me to escape them.
I reached in my pocket, pulled out the photo of her and held it up to the window, studying it under the grimy street light.
That day, in a café over lunch, I’d shared with her all the things from the movie that were relevant to me; style of dress, choice of scenes, and my favourite line.
‘But none of those greasy dumps have a lift,’ she’d said, ‘Isn’t that where their last scene plays out?’
‘Depends on your preferred version…’
‘Well you and your geeks can argue the toss but up there, I bet the view looks pretty futuristic at night.’
It was tragic; she’d routinely smiled and nodded in all the right places, wasn’t able to veil the neediness in her eyes. She reminded me of myself as a kid, polishing those dolls under my mother’s watchful glare, willing myself not to break them. I wondered if I’d break her, in the end.
Shortly afterwards we’d left the café, messed about in the street for awhile. She posed for my camera, switching between pulling tongues and arching her back, like a newbie bunny girl on the block. Then she’d turned on her heel, spreading her legs to flip a foot out eastward and I’d hit the button, just managing to snap the shot. In the awkwardness in that moment, her legs cocked this way and that; I saw a sliver of possibility. So here we were, to test it out tonight.
The driver in front honked his horn like it was an emergency; the crouching bundle beside her heels itched itself and scratched. I looked up from the picture and back at her. She leaned against the stone wall in the stance from the picture, one it seemed she’d now perfected to an art. A murky yellow haze slid across her blue-black skin, illuminating the storm cloud of afro curls resting on her sharp, proud shoulders. I was reminded of the scene where Rachel loosens her hair.
I pushed the button to lower my car window and the glass slowly disappeared, letting in a rush of street noise - shoes on the pavement, juddering buses, and a choir of voices. I tapped the indicator a couple of times to get her attention, firing laser beams out into the night.
‘Rachel!’ I shouted through the open window, pinching an earlobe to disperse the sting from the frosty air.
She cocked her head, spinning around to the sound of that name, her teeth painting a crescent of white against the night’s black sheet. She clicked along the pavement in tight little steps, one silky thigh in front of the next. Crossing in front of the windscreen, the half-moon of her hips blacked out lights from the on-coming traffic. The goons by the doorway jerked their heads like cats keeping a close eye on their prey.
‘I didn’t see you pull up,’ she said, reaching across to squeeze my thigh a couple of times. Her eyes had a captivating twinkle, like the odd marble out in a bag. I liked the way our little game made them shine. Say it! I thought. I wanted her to whisper that line, a murmur in my ear.
‘I know it’s strange, that I look at you and think of her,’ I said.
‘Don’t worry; I can do android girl, no problem,’ she said, pulling a cigarette from the red slash of her mouth to blow out a hazy chalk line, ‘but let’s drive round the block a couple of times.’
So I twisted the wheel and pulled away from the curb. We cruised down narrow streets; me navigating into openings and hitting dead ends; her punctuating the silence with a ‘Yes, here. No. There,’ guiding me along what we both knew was an aimless drive.
Minutes later we stopped right back where we’d started, outside the Ramada. Another motor passed slowly by, its dipped headlights threw narrow, sickly beams into the filthy streets. I locked off the engine; the slight jingle of my keys was the only sound to linger between us.
‘It’s cold. No messing about,’ she said, stepping over a puddle to get out of the car. She shivered a little as the wind whipped through her dress and for a second I felt kinda guilty about forcing a girl as cool as her to live in an impossible shadow.
We walked arm in arm towards the Ramada and at the base of the incline she lowered her arm to squeeze my hand. The goons shuffled from foot to foot, owning the doorway space with exaggerated gestures. I watched them intently; never once saw the whites of their eyes.
‘Spare any change,’ said the hobo, camped at the hotel entrance.
‘No fixed abode, mate, tell ‘em no fixed abode’ I said, dropping him some coins from my pocket. We stepped past him into the hotel and I felt good, like I was somebody.
The lobby was sandwiched in silence; its steel pillars were punctuated by panes of glass that sparkled like ice against crushed velvet armchairs. I headed straight for the lift, my feet treading brisk, springy steps against the plush red carpet. She swayed seductively to the faint notes of saxophone sounds, her satin dress rustling on her hips.
She tapped a chic black fingernail against the elevator button; I doubted my ability to wait another moment to hear her say that line.
Inside the lift I backed her into a corner and we waited for the doors to close. But instead of cocooned silence the doors sprang open; out of nowhere another couple had arrived. Reluctantly, we shuffled closer together, making room for the intruders who’d come along for the ride.
She pulled my jacket towards her, brought her mouth right up close to my ear.
‘Put-your-hands-on-me. Deckard,’ she whispered.
And then she laughed; a throaty laugh that rang metallic against the walls. I winced and shrugged my shoulders; I should’ve been melting and closing my eyes. About three months had passed since we last had sex. Still, it bothered me more that I’d never have Rachel in this lifetime. Selfish huh?
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