She didn’t like the look of him, but what was she supposed to say? He was going to buy her a drink, and she really needed a drink after what Tony put her through. So, she disregarded her intuition (which was right for once), and let him buy her a drink. It didn’t mean that she had to put out or anything. Besides, at 65 most people wanted her to put it back in.
“Thanks for the drink,” she said. He just stared. She took a large sip of her gin and tonic. “This really hits the spot.”
He was transfixed.
“Yeah,” she went on, “My old man, Tony, he was busting my chops tonight, saying that I couldn’t go out without making him some dinner. But I told him his dinner was already in the oven, and he had forgot on account of him having a problem with his memory.”
The stranger never moved.
“So I tells him where he can find it, and then I grabbed the baseball bat and knocked him around the head a bit, just to make sure what I’d said got through to him this time. I’m not going to risk him getting back up again to sweet talk me into sleeping with him.” Her eyes went a little crossed. “I says, hey, I’m a married woman and you know what he said? I have no idea because I wasn’t listening anymore. I was down the street for the pub even before he thought to mention the d-word. Truth is, I don’t want to get a divorce. There ain’t no one in the world that’ll put up with me the way Tony does. Don’t get me wrong, he ain’t no angel. You have no idea what kind of shit him and his gang are into these days. I keep telling him if he doesn’t watch it, he’s going to turn out deader than all the creepy stuffed animals in his office. He knows a guy that does taxidermy and this guy regularly needs friends in the highway patrol, so now and then they ‘trade’ services. Particularly when this guy is up for review by the state parole board. He always wants Tony to be doing favors for him. But what does Tony get in return? A couple stuffed woodchucks and a deer made out of sticks and rabbit skin. Tony calls it ‘art’ but it doesn’t look like anything I’ve seen. I’m more into the classics myself, the kind you see at a regular museum. Stuff with Elvis and Jesus and shit. But to each his own, I guess. I never did think that Tony was all that bright to begin with. But he thinks he’s all that. Typical male ego. You can domesticate the lot, but they’ll always end up throwing it all away in a pissing contest. Right now, he’s in a contest with his younger brother. Tony won’t admit it, but he’s loosing the argument.”
She stopped to take a hit off her drink and that’s when the stranger finally spoke.
“It sounds like you’ve had a hard time of it,” he said smooth as silk.
“Hard time of what?” She was wondering why they kept turning up the TV. Wasn’t it loud enough already? Besides, who watches that crap anymore?
“Well, with this Tony fellow,” he continued. “It sounds like he doesn’t appreciate all the things you do for him, how much you need him.”
“Ain’t that the truth!” She tilted her head back and finished of her drink. Damn that TV was loud, and her mouth felt soft and swollen.
“What you need is a vacation,” she heard him say and nodded in agreement, except once she started, she couldn’t seem to stop nodding. After a moment she laughed at herself. A sloppy, drunk laugh. Which was odd because she’d only had the one drink. Must be good stuff.
“Vacation!” she yelled and the bartender shot her a disinterested frown. The stranger put some bills on the bar and then put his arm around her to help her off the stool.
“Let’s take a vacation, right now!” He said with almost unconstrained excitement, as he lead her out of the bar into the dark night.
They found her two days later, wandering on the railroad tracks, naked as a jay bird and mumbling something about a vacation.