Sex and Valentine’s Day.

          My hormones were raging and I needed to get laid like yesterday. So I called my friend and asked him for a hook up, all the way.

          “You wonna go to a strip club?” he asked.

          “No,” I replied. “I don’t like the way strippers smell.” I had been down that road before and vowed to never return.

 

          Gifts, flowers and candle light dinners make a perfect Valentine’s Day celebration. But compound that with sex, and the heavens open to display a shower of fireworks. The fat lady sings. And it’s funny because you can always tell when someone has been laid. They have this ridiculous glow on their faces, say hi to everybody in the office and laugh at the smallest jokes. But above all and most conspicuous is the complacent, almost smug expression on their faces. They think that they own the world.

          My names are Jack Gasolin and am 40 years old. My wife and I have split after fifteen years of marriage and I intend to make maximum use of my newfound freedom. All those things that had been denied to me by the institution of marriage, I’m gunning for them: hanging out with the boys, drinking, clubbing, dating, sex… sex…and then more sex… there goes the word that makes the heart flutter. I used to think that marriage would bring more sex but that hadn’t been the case. The sex had trickled down over the years and I had missed those youth days when sex had meant sex… two people clawing at each other in a parking lot and not caring about a thing in the world.

          Anyway… it was time for me to get back in the game. I felt like an old athlete coming out of retirement. Did I still have it?

          The name of the club was ‘Grown and Sexy’ and I looked at it with awe as we pulled into the parking lot at around 11pm. The first thing I noticed were the fancy Rolls Royce cars and Hummer SUVs pulling up at the entrance. I watched as elegantly dressed women stepped out of the fancy cars and glanced into the tiny mirrors in the palm of their hands, as they patiently waited for their men to park the cars. There were no kids outside fighting or trying to sneak in with fake IDs. The men were dressed in suits, cufflinks, ties, blazers … and gelled hair.

          “Thomas, are we dressed alright?” I asked my friend as I did a quick self-check: white shirt, no tie, black pants. I looked like I was wearing some kind of uniform.

          “I have an extra blazer in the back seat,” my friend offered. I grabbed the blue coat and instantly felt better.

          The first thing I saw when I walked into the club were the glittering drinking glasses on the round tables and the nicely dressed folks with arms wrapped around each other. The laughter was audible, the music hummed to a bearable volume. It looked more like a dining room than a club. But then I looked up and saw the dance floor and couples waltzing to the beat of the music… step in the name of love.

          “You have to have a partner to get on the dance floor otherwise they will throw you out!” Thomas yelled into my ear as we walked around and cased the joint. Everybody looked so young. It had been a while for me.

          “Grey goose martini,” I told the bartender as we leaned over the counter.

          My friend furrowed his brows at me. “Go easy Jack, you used to be a light drinker if I remember.” He flushed down a shot of vodka and smirked his lips. “Aaaah, that’s more like it.”

          “Hi guys!” A female voice beside me. I span around and saw her. She was taller than me: long brunette hair, mischievous eyes, a short black dress and long sexy legs. She wasn’t stunningly beautiful, but she was beautiful.

          Thomas introduced us. “This is Benette. Benette, meet my friend Jack.”

          “How do you do,” I said.

          Her palms were soft and tiny in my hand. Her smile was warm and I noticed that she never once blinked or shied away from my gaze. I instantly knew that she was a woman of strong character, a go-getter. I was pleased with my friend’s selection. I raised my glass. “Benette, tonight we drink and party!” She laughed and we clanked glasses.

          Apparently Benette was very popular. She hugged a bouncer walking by, and a waiter stopped to compliment her sleeveless fur coat. “Red looks great on you. The usual drink?”

          “Yes dear.” Benette laughed in a sexy way.

          It was Valentine’s Day and red was the theme for the night. Her usual drink was a double shot dry vodka and I winced as I watched her down the drink. “I have been coming here for the last seven years,” she said as she swayed to the music.

          Her declaration made me take a second look at her. I did the math in my head and realized that she was in her mid thirties. A Rihanna song played in the overhead. “You wonna dance?” I asked her.

          She didn’t reply. I watched as she glided to the dance floor, one hand pointing towards the ceiling. I scrambled after her … too quickly.

          The beats were riveting and at first we did the two-step dance with a respectable gap between us. But once the drinks hit us, that was history. She put her right hand around my neck and grinded her thighs against my groin. I felt aroused. This was going to be an easy kill for me. I started picturing her naked … I was going to soak the sheets… with her sweat.

          You put a hundred drunk men and women together in a dark room. What do you expect? Some sex is definitely going to happen… My friend’s words of wisdom.

          The song ended and she grabbed my hand and rushed me over to the bar. She ordered two double shot vodkas and after yelling cheers and clanking glasses, we gulped down the drinks and dashed back to the dance floor. The video screens on the wall were nsync to the songs playing in the overhead.

          And then the DJ broke it down and dropped Chaka Demus and Pliers, and more couples crowded the dance floor. Benette turned and put her rear against my thighs. Then gently, she took my hands and placed them around her waist. She wiggled her body and I tried to keep up and flow with her, but when she buckled her knees and dropped low, I couldn’t follow her. I watched her wiggle her waist … my eyes were glued on her rear. A thin line of perspiration trailed down my face: my heart pounded like a racehorse.

I looked up and the disco lights hit my eyes. The room began to swim and I turned and found my friend Thomas staring at me with curious eyes. I looked at him again and realized that it wasn’t curiosity, but rather something else… maybe sympathy or regret. He had been the best man at my wedding fifteen years ago. He had watched my wife and I ride into the sunset to begin the rest of our lives together. He had envied me then. And now here I was… a forty-year-old man, scrambling for a one-night stand. Somewhere along the way, I had stumbled and made a wrong turn… it was never meant to be like this.

          “Are you ready to leave?” Benette asked me. I was.

          “Did you drive?” I asked her.

          “No. I never drive when am drinking. A friend dropped me off.”

          We jumped into my friend’s car and Thomas drove us to her house. Benette and I cuddled in the back seat, her head leaning softly on my shoulder.

          “Why do I suddenly feel like a chauffeur?” Thomas jested and we laughed at him. He dropped us off at Benette’s house and left. I told him that I would find my way home and he understood. It was time for me to get back on the horse.

          We entered Benette’s house through the kitchen and it hit me how child unfriendly the house was. There, on the counter, I saw drinks of all kinds lined up in a fancy display of bottles … cognac, vodka, patron…

          “A drink?” she asked as she took off her fur jacket.

          “Yes.” My eyes devoured the premises. A town house; two bedrooms upstairs, a fancy living room and kitchen below. Every piece of mosaic art and wall hanging had been delicately selected to suit a particular theme.

          “I love your house!” I exclaimed.

          She laughed. “I like you Jack. You are cool.”

          A big dog sauntered into the room and Benette kissed the animal. “Halo Captain, did you miss me?” The dog wagged its tail happily. I tried to avoid it.

          “Let’s go upstairs,” Benette said as she handed me a glass of patron. “It’s cozier.”

          She was right. White love seats welcomed us into the upstairs lounge and I felt like I had arrived. This was the way to live. We drank and engaged in idle talk: the just ended Super bowl, the debate on gun control, whether Hilary Clinton was going to run for presidency, cans of fresh air for sale in China… The more we drank the more we talked … the less sense we made.

          “Did you know that there’s a man hiding in the bushes in the five dollar American bill?” I asked her and she laughed and told me that I was drunk. We drank some more.

          “What the heck is Valentine’s Day all about anyway?” Benette asked with a slur.

          “Some guy named St. Valentine gave us an excuse to drink,” I joked and as I took a swig. “But it’s also the second most celebrated holiday after New Year.” I added.

          The patron was strong and I felt myself getting tipsy again. Benette moved closer and touched my face with her hand. “How come I have never seen you before?” she asked. Because I was married.

          I didn’t reply but instead leaned forward and kissed her hard on the mouth. I saw her eyes grow big but she did not kiss me back and instead pushed me off.

          “What are you doing?” she cursed and stood up, a shocked expression on her face. I thought she joking. I was horny and frustrated, and so I grabbed her and pulled her back on the couch. My hands ran over her body and she jerked and tried to kick me off.

          “Stop!” she said. “Please stop Jack! You are drunk. I can’t, am married!” Her lips trembled with emotion. But I couldn’t stop. I was in too deep to pull back, until I heard a growl behind me, that snapped me back to reality. I froze and turned very slowly. It was the big dog, Captain!

          “He doesn’t like people touching me,” Benette said as she crawled away from me. And then she turned to the dog. “Captain, sit!” The dog hesitated. “Captain, sit, now!” I watched as the dog finally obeyed. I slumped into the couch, and pretended to be more drunk than I was.

          “What’s wrong with you? I thought you liked me?” Benette screamed at me. “What’s wrong with you men. All you ever think about is sex! Gosh!”

          “I like you,” I said as I tried to sober up. “I thought you brought me home to…” I was confused. My fingers drummed uneasily on my knees.

          “Its Valentines Day, you fool!” she yelled. “My husband travels a lot and I didn’t want to be alone. I brought you home because you are fun to be with and talk to!” She had me on the ropes.

          I didn’t know what to say. I was embarrassed at my unscrupulous behavior. “I’m sorry,” I whispered. “I’m sorry,” I repeated as I grabbed my jacket. “I will leave you now.” I felt like a trespasser.

          She watched my face and something in her softened. “Are you going to be okay?” she asked as she opened the door.

          “Yes.” I couldn’t look her in the eye as I stepped under the arch of the door.

          “Jack?” she called and I turned and looked at her. Our eyes stayed transfixed for a minute and then she reached out and hugged me. “I’m sorry, I misled you. You are a good person.”

          I hugged her back without uttering a word. I made a clumsy exit, my ears still stinging from the tongue-lashing I had received. A door closed nearby. I stumbled down the dark fancy streets and the night swallowed me. The time was 4am.

          I’m married. The words played in my ears and I started running, tried to get away from my memories, but I couldn’t. I eventually stopped running and walked. Sirens blared in the distance: a tire burst. I looked up and saw a group of belligerent looking characters, rap music blasted from an idling SUV. One of them showed me the middle finger and I turned away and headed for the highway and here, headlights burned my eyes. I hugged myself tight, a grave expression on my face. In the blink of an eye, I had almost committed rape! I couldn’t believe it. For me, committing rape had been something beyond the realm of possibility. Not anymore. I could clearly see the headlines in the papers; my parents’ shocked and embarrassed expression.

          I like you Jack, Benette had said. But my blood had been flowing away from the brain and I had prejudiced her: tagged and bagged her before doing an autopsy. What right did I have to stereotype people? What was it about me that made me better than her?

          Benette. She spent her weekends club-hoping and still somehow respected the institution of marriage. I had followed all the marriage protocols instilled by the society and still my marriage had failed. Where had I gone wrong? I couldn’t remember.

          I counted the coins in my pocket and walked into a red booth. I dialed my ex wife’s number. “Halo!” A sleepy voice answered. The sound of an Angel.

          I didn’t know what to say.

          “Jack? Is that you?” she sounded concerned.

          I broke down and started crying at the mention of my name.

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My book A Whisper in the Jungle has been picked by a publishing company and approved by the board. It has been scheduled for release soon.

 

The music is all around you, all you have to do is listen

 

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