Austin After Hours
Guess I’ll never learn! I’m Shawn Finney, and this episode has all the makings of a super ‘Dream Evening’.
I’m a sucker for a sad song and dance, and this little lady knows exactly what she is doing, her body virtually melting into mine with serious and obvious endorsements – should you get my meaning. Perhaps I should put it this way: I was a bit embarrassed when the dance ended, and we returned to our seats.
I’m in Austin, Texas, one of my favorite cities in the whole world, calling on some Tech accounts. It’s close to 10:00 PM and I’m bone-tired, thinking maybe I’ll go to my spacious room, order a cheeseburger, fries, chocolate milk shake, get fat and watch a movie.
Thing is, I overthink the whole thing. Yeah, true, I want that cheeseburger, fries, and chocolate milk shake, but I’m just passing a busy lounge in the hotel, hearing the laughter, music, mixed with some soft feminine voices, and my old devalued brain thinks I’m likely missing something by going to bed so early.
Well, I no sooner get seated on a posh bar stool when this raven-haired beauty gets shoved into me by this big ole boy in a cowboy hat who is clumsily on his way to the Men’s Room – not drunk, just clumsy and full of apologies to me and the gorgeous lady.
When the cowboy passes, the lady and I make some eye contact and it’s my belief something warm and friendly is palpable between us. She is just getting back from the Ladies Room, heading for a corner booth where two other women sit with amused grins.
I end up in that corner booth with those three women, and as the fickle finger of fate would have it, they all worked at one of my Tech accounts. Raven hair’s name is Barbara, and the other two Joyce and Nancy. So, we have lots to talk about, except, truth be known, I’m thinking of how to cut this long-haired raven lovely out of the pack.
Into my second drink, the small combo start playing some late night soft song, and I notice Barbara glancing at the dance floor. I’m thinking that’s a signal for me to ask her to dance… I do and she accepts the invitation.
Now, the room has low lights, for which I’m thankful, and I can tell the world that if excitement in dancing is measured by groin grinding, racing heart-beat, muttered monosyllabic inanities, then I am one excited Tech Salesman about to blow body fuses.
Barbara’s two lady friends pause on their way out of the lounge. “You two have fun. We’re going to our rooms.” They smile and leave.
Now, I’m thinking… If the ladies work for the Tech Company here in Austin, why are they staying in the hotel? So, I ask Barbara.
“There’s a Tech Convention in town and the company wants some of us staying at the hotel to manage the hospitality suite for the VIPs.”
“My company didn’t make me aware of any convention and no one mentioned it today during my rounds.”
“Well,” Barbara concludes, “it’s off the radar. ‘Hush-Hush’ kind of stuff. Even I don’t know what transpires at the convention meetings, but I do know it’s a really big thing.”
Back at the corner booth, with another drink and the crowd thinning out, Barbara and I make it official that we are indeed connecting – body and hand touching, dreamy eyes, asking personal questions of each other.
No, neither of us is married. No, neither of us is going steady. Yes, there are relationships that lasted for a while.
“You’re too lovely, Barbara, not to be encumbered. Recent break-up?” I ask.
“Yes,” she answers, pauses for a moment, “Do you mind if I become rather blunt, Shawn?”
That question rings my bell. It’s loaded with expectations of the good kind and the bad kind. I figure it can’t hurt to be optimistic. “No, Barbara, I don’t mind – become rather blunt!”
I hope for the best!
“Well, I have a room here at the hotel, and you have a room here as well. Would you like to continue our ‘getting to know each other’ in your room or mine?”
After flip-flops of victorious surprise, I squeeze her hand and say, “Let’s use mine. It’s spacious and has a great view.” We both laugh, likely on the same wave length, ‘yeah, really’? Space and views are going to be up close and personal.
While Barbara wanders out of the lounge, I pay the fairly large tab – which will find its way on my next company expense account – and go in pursuit of Barbara.
I expect Barbara will be just outside the door of the lounge, but not so. I look around the large lobby and no Barbara. Maybe she needs the Ladies Room, so I go and stand a few yards away.
Finally, I open the Ladies Room door a crack and yell her name – several times.
What the hell is going on? She has taken no money from me. She seems genuinely interested in me. What game is she playing? Is there something sinister at play? Nah, no way! Not in this classy place!
I wait and I wait.
Finally, peeved and let down, I go to my room on the 18th floor, fish in my pocket for a room entry card and cannot find it. I go back down to a virtually empty lobby, no sign of Barbara, get a new entry card and return to my room.
The door opens easily and I enter the semi-dark room. The city lights pour through the windows and provide clear outlines of the furniture and the mini-bar. I consider for a moment another drink…to placate my self-pity and mild depression. No, I will do no movie skit here! I’ll just put my disappointment to bed.
For a moment I plop on the large sofa and contemplate the evening. What a bummer! I mean, so beautiful all the way to the end, then a bummer!
I sigh deeply, lazily shed my clothes and leave all items in a heap on the sofa.
I enter the spacious bedroom and flip the light switch.
My eyes are ready to pop out of my head!
A purring voice says, “I thought you’d never get here!”
There on the bed, covers pulled down, her lovely long raven hair spilled across a king-sized pillow, her blue-green eyes soft and pleading fake forgiveness, her forefinger at the corner of her lush red lips, and her voluptuous body in a tantalizing position, was the missing Barbara.
I stand and look with wide eyes and a silly smile on my face. A certain part of me is swelling with joy and pride.
I look idiotic as I do a swan dive onto the king-sized bed.
And, oh, yes, there was indeed a most delightful ending…
Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood – April 25, 2016
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