Before meeting my current fiancée, my last (as in probably final) one-night stand was last year with Vita, an Indian-American woman I’d met earlier that night at the newest, trendiest (and now no longer trendy) gallery downtown—not the first time I’d had sex with an Indian-American, though I don’t really have a preference for that or any other racial or ethnic group.
Anyway, the gallery was holding an art opening for a group photography show featuring mostly pretentious, atmospheric, black-and-white shots of crumbling urban infrastructure. Vita walked up to me and asked “Wanna see something interesting?”
“Sure,” I said.
Whereupon she grabbed my hand and led me to her own photo, a full-color one of a shiny, pink, duck-shaped inner tube before an Army-style camouflage background. The photo’s title was Duckin’ Cover.
“I like the kick-ass attitude,” I said.
“Whose—mine or the photo’s?”
“Heh, well, both, I suppose. Actually, I’ve already seen the photo. I liked it a lot, especially the title. I’ve always liked fowl language.”
“Now that quacks me up.”
“And I—I—oh, no, I can’t think of a duck pun. Waddle I do now?”
“Well, we can get some wine at the wine table.”
The next morning, at her apartment, I woke up naked and uncovered in her bed. (Duckin’ cover–get it?) She sat on the edge of the mattress, fully-clothed, loading film into her camera.
“I have a shoot in a few hours,” she told me. “It’s for this new upscale fashion website. I’m going to take pictures of models in an abandoned steel mill.”
“Yeah, economic devastation is chic.”
“Just a joke there,” I said. “Though not entirely. My grandfather worked in a steel mill for thirty years, until the industry collapsed in the early Eighties, and he lost his job. For the next decade, he barely got by as a tow truck driver. Then he blew his brains out. Right in his truck.”
I stopped talking.
A few seconds later:
“I’m sorry about what happened to him,” Vita said.
“Thanks,” I said.
A few seconds after that:
“I have to go now,” Vita said.
“Oh, yeah, of course,” I said.
“You can have something from the fridge if you like.”
“Thanks. And I know the drill. I’ll let myself out.”
Neither of us tried to exchange numbers or kiss each other goodbye.
My grandfather had never worked in a steel mill. He had worked as an insurance adjustor for thirty years, and he’d retired wealthy just a few years ago. Plus he’d never even attempted suicide. He was still alive, in fact.
I’d lied about his background because anyone with an upscale job or assignment makes me jealous, though maybe I wouldn’t have played such silly mind games on her if I’d liked the sex we’d had a little better. Does that sound shallow?
Copyright © 2016 by David V. Matthews
revised April 15, 2016