Twelve Shots

She sat him down over twelve shots of whiskey.

“Each drink,” she said, “is a new subject.” She smiled, and they took the first shot. “What do you want to talk about?” she asked. He shrugged. “How about jobs?” So they talked about what they did all day, how they hated their boss, how they needed raises and all of the normal conversation. It didn’t last long.

“Okay,” she said. “Let’s take another.” They clinked the glasses together and took the second shot down, this one smoother than the first. “That warmed me up,” she said, and told him that summer was her favorite season. He told her his was fall, but summer was nice, too. She spoke about past memories of summer camp. He was a boyscout.

They took the third shot. “You know,” he said, “my parents are divorced.” “You know,” she smiled, “after 35 years, mine are not.” They laughed but she felt terrible, like she made a joke about his life. She touched her hand to his wrist and said she had a very lonely, unhappy childhood. He understood why, though he admitted maybe he did not understand how. She thought hard and told him she always felt alone even if she wasn’t. “This,” he said solemnly, “I understand especially.”

He motioned to the fourth shot, and smiled. They raised the drinks at each other and tipped their chins back, letting the smooth whiskey burn down their throats. “What now?” he asked. “Why are we out here tonight?” she asked him. “Is this a date?” “No,” he said. “But it could be if you want it to be.” She frowned and smiled, then frowned again and looked at her empty drink. “You’ll have to forgive me,” she mumbled. “I didn’t really eat dinner.” “It’s okay,” he said, and this time touched her hand with his: “Do you think this is a date?” She turned to him, squinting. “I’d rather not say.” “Not say,” he asked, “why not say?” “Because I’d rather not know. Not yet anyway.” “Fair enough,” he agreed, “but then we may have completed that subject.”

“Okay,” she agreed and took the next shot and waited as he, surprised, took his a moment later. “Would you mind if I played something on the jukebox?” she asked, and stood up. He sat on his bar stool alone and watched as she walked, all hips, to the jukebox across the room. Her ankles seemed to tug at her shoes as she walked, dragging spiky heels across the hardwood planks. She took a few minutes to choose music, and eventually settled on a popular Rolling Stones song. He walked over to her with the last set of glasses, her two hands placed wide-set on the jukebox, her hips swaying softly. “I think that was a subject onto itself.”

They took the last drink down and he brushed hair out of her eyes, his fingers lightly dragging against her cheek like her heels on the floor.

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