“Monkey, I know I shouldn’t,” her perfectly strait teeth nip her bottom lip inward, biting down just hard enough to indent the skin, pulling her chin strait and flat. You never intend on things like this to happen in your every day life, or at least you don’t normally, but they occasionally do; actually they almost always certainly do.
“I understand, Squirrel, you’re drunk,” so was I. My bright green and blue plaid button up shirt, something you’d see at a hipster concert, was glowing like a bug zapper in the neon lights of the club. The loud music pulsating like some type of tribal beat did nothing but built the moment up to some monolithic throw back to primordial days. The points on my shoes almost mashing her exposed toes back up into her heels. The perfect scene and setting for something truly magical to happen. Not magical as in something romantic, that would be too cliche; but more in a David Copperfield sort of way. A way where spectators, which I chose not to have very many, would stand aside scratching their head while they asked “how’d he do that.” And the truth, I’d have to tell them, is to plan something like this you would have to either be a genius, or a bastard.
“You’ve always been so nice to me, Monkey,” she lets out after a few cautionary “ums” and “uhs.” The kind of sounds you make when you know exactly what to say, but your brain is forcing you not to say them, alcohol or not. Kind of a like a fill-in-the-blank test you can ace, but you’re trying to get back at your parents for some reason. Maybe they forgot your birthday or something.
“Why wouldn’t I?” my hands at her side, trying to behave as best they can while the hormones race through every inch of my body, especially the inches that counts for most people. The kind of inches men fight wars over, the kind of inches that set the scale for your own level of godliness among men. She has to feel it, feel me. She has to feel what she’s doing to me.
“I didn’t think you’d show up tonight,” she says, slipping her arms over my shoulders. Her underarms are tight, clean. Instinctively I check for underarm stubble, that gray patch of unneeded hair trying to escape the skin. Nothing, clean and smooth. Like everything about her, aside from her intentions and ideals.
“It’s your birthday,” I say into her ear, loud enough to overpower the throbbing music, “how could I not show up on a day where only you matter?”
It’s a rhetorical question, of course. The whole situation seemed rhetorical, almost like that “what if” kind of thinking you lose yourself to in a late night fantasy when the real world dissipates into the pillows and blankets strewn over your mattress. In a late night steam release before you finally settle down for the night, completed and messy. But this is where I find myself, whether it be by luck or by skill, or if I’m a genius and a bastard.
Her black dress is tight against the curves on her body, too tight. On purpose or on accident, it isn’t something unpleasant or unwanted, at least for a guy. Tight hips, tight body, tight top squeezing her breast up and over their restraints; the kind of dolling up a girl would do if she was in a movie, the kind where she didn’t keep her clothes on all too long.
“You’re showing a little too much skin Squirrel,” I say as I pull up on the straps to her top, hoping to hide some of her body to make it easier for me. I have three sisters; it’s only natural to act out the brother role when confronted with a situation like this. Thinking of family, if you aren’t sick, helps cool the nerves and tension.
It doesn’t help much. They just bounce up and down; they shake for a second as they settle back against her chest. I smile a nervously, if you could tell my nerves, but I’ve been a bastard so long that my nerves were graphed to the muscles, the tendons, the bones. Strong as steel yet as weak as a man could ever become. My face is normally like granite though, the same position, the same grimace.
I watch her eyes bounce from one of mine to the next and then to my lips, then back up again to my eyes; making a triangle as she bites her lip again and smiles. Her green eyes continue the pattern two more times, almost to the drone beat of the music, as she lets out a few more empty fill-in-the-blanks.
“We should probably find your friends,” I say over top of the music, the only weapon I have to cut the tension as her pelvis pushes against mine. I feel her hip bones pierce into the fabric of my jeans; my belt buckle crams against the underside of my stomach.
“You’re my only friend, Monkey,” she says with another flutter of her eyes. The percentage of distance between us keeps decreasing. Like the beeps of a heart monitor, slowly trailing off as mine begins to race. This was all so much easier in grade school; before I was a genius. Before I was a bastard.
“Then who are all those people who came with you?” I ask as I feel her fingers lock behind my neck, searching for a trigger. The larger ones brace each other as I feel her tug me closer to her, decreasing the percentage a little more. The smaller ones caress the back of my neck, finding that androgynous spot that riddles the skin with goose bumps.
“They’re not like you,” she says, smiling as my fingers find each other on the mid of her back. I’m not helping the situation as we crush ourselves a little closer together, smashing and grinding our reproductive organs in the most obscene and uncomfortable fashion possible. “I’m not sure anyone is,” she says into my ear.
Even over the music I can tell that her tongue was rolling at the end of her words, like the hiss of a snake. Not that she’s evil over anything, though I’m sure you can find a handful of guys who would beg to differ; and not that we’re doing anything wrong, as people on the opposite side of the fence would also beg to differ. A lie I like to keep saying to myself. A lie to keep my conscious free before it starts realizing the repercussions, before it builds up to sleepless, life analyzing nights. The dramatic reactions, the blame, the “guilt.” All after effects of climbing to the top and pissing on those below me.
The percentage decreases again. Thirty percent and I’m a genius and a bastard. A doctor watching his patient die. An accountant watching his clients’ stock crash without selling before it’s too late. A dealer accepting a junkie’s anxiety medication for a quick fix.
A person rushes by us, a bar back of some sort with a turtle neck sweater. My first instinct is that of being caught, even though I’m telling myself we aren’t doing anything wrong. A subtle break, like a sudden climb in the stocks to give the accountant a sigh of relief, a breather to decide which course of action to take, or like a kid listening for the sounds of his mom stirring in her sleep as he reaches into her purse; caution at its finest.
My eyes follow the bar back until he pushes open a swinging door and disappears into the kitchen. The fluorescent lights flood the darkness of the club, like fire in a cave. The primates wince, almost blinded; but she doesn’t budge. Even in the harshness of lights commonly used for schools and hospitals, offices and grocery stores; she still looks clean and smooth, tight and soft.
“We should probably go get you some water, you’re drunk,” I tell her. Trying to sell the stocks before the market takes another plunge. I wonder if this is how accountants felt during the crash of the housing market. But if anything, this feels more like the beginning of a heist. My gun loaded, my guts clinging to courage.
“I’m supposed to be drunk, it’s my birthday.” Her left hand rests on my shoulder, big fingers touching my neck; while her other hand palms the back of my head, running its fingers into my hair. The market takes another plunge, the heart meter almost flat lines at that exact moment. Ten percent and our bodies are feeling each other through their clothes. Every inch of her turning into hands grabbing at me. But I’m the bastard.
The bar back rushes out, flooding the hall way with light again. Like the first cave man bringing back a burning branch, freshly lit ablaze by lightning. I don’t know if that’s how it happened, but we’ve all seen that cartoon. The other primates in the hall, well they just keep locked together. Lips pressed against lips, exchanging tongues, teeth, saliva, germs, pathogens. Its common practice in this club, I’m assuming. The bar back doesn’t even take notice as he cuts his way down the corridor with a fresh case of beer. I catch his eyes as he passes us, empty. He’s seen it all before. A rerun with different actors. Another night of monotonous labor while monkeys try to evolve the species another generation.
The lights go back out and the DJ mumbles something over the speakers. He could have had British accent and a degree in linguistics, but over throbbing, rhythmic music he sounds like the loudest ape in the wild, beating his chest on a full moon to assert his overall dominance to the entire tribe. The whole time I feel her trying to reduce the percentage in a prolific manner. Remember, I’m the bastard in this.
I look around some more. Perhaps for an escape, perhaps to build the tension higher. Locked faces, grinding bodies. Couples, strangers, friends hooking up on a drunk whim, ex-wives out on their husbands’ dime, off the clock strippers, wives who are unhappy, rollers, and a handful of bastards, geniuses, or both to couple them all. Primates in clothes, waiting to undress. What am I in this. The bastard genius, the friend crossing the line, or just another monkey in an overpriced designer pair of slacks?
She says something, not loud enough to hear, but then again I was watching the primates in their cave. “Monkey,” she says, stretching the E sound like the fabric of her dress. I snap to attention and connect with her eyes. They begin to triangulate again, finding coordinates to land. Her lip curls into a smile as she bites the bottom one again. I can smell the alcohol and tobacco escape the sides of her mouth. How her teeth stay so white when she’s at about a half a pack a day I’ll never understand.
“Where’s your boyfriend,” I ask, knowing full well I tried to pour as much alcohol down his throat just to make sure he would be guaranteed to be absent. It wasn’t that i planned it that way, but that’s how it would seem if anyone decided to call me out on it.
The accountant of a conscious in my head is finally screaming “Sell, Sell!” That doctor is pulling out the defibrillator. And I can see the slight snap of conscious boiling behind her eyes. Not tears, but a slight flutter of reason, a tiny blip of calculating the repercussions. The higher brain functions that separate us from apes, that let us reason enough to build tools, to craft the wheel. Though they have found some tribes of chimps that use sticks to fish out ants and craft spears to pierce fruit from trees. But natural instincts are hard to fight off.
“He went to the bar and never came back,” she says as a wave of disappointment flushes over her, but even that dissipates as her hand slides from the back of my neck to the side of my face. “But you came back, Monkey.”
I always do.
“You always do,” she says at five percent.
Five percent away from a mistake, five percent away from animal instincts, five percent away from changing the dynamics of our relationship. The doctor’s patient slips away. The accountant loses his clients’ millions. I’m a bastard, I’m the genius.
And we’re at zero percent. Millions of years of evolution, thousands of years of civilization, and even as a bastard genius; we’re still nothing more than monkeys crammed into clothes pretending to be something more.