Six drinks into the evening the neon flared brighter off the brass and chrome of chair rim and table top, the crowd paused for a sip and a drag between songs, and the night settled on the boy at the end of the bar. The girl at the bar took the last of a dwindling pile of Euros on the bar and poured him something tinted with smoke that clung to the sides of the glass and a tall pilsner besides; the boy breathed the shot in and set the empty glass back down just as an English voice punched from the speakers, the number-one hit no matter what language, I’ll Take It In the Ass (For You). The boy stared into the distance and reached out for the glass, brushed fingers with the girl as she stole a sip of his beer.
She was dark of skin and hair and eye, and stringy rather than lithe; thrift store jewelry clambered for real estate on her fingers, wrists, and neck—the tarnished silver and cheap gold of old dead women, tiny chips of diamond, pearl-buds, and all manner of polished pebbles in wiry clasps—and underneath was a sort of discount rockerpunk, black cloth jacket with wide sleeves to get lost in, black jeans that might have been a second skin, a men’s black cotton v-neck. “…von Liebe wird von der... der antiken Philosophie...” she said, voice a little scratchy. There was black lipstick stuck to the top of the beer as she set it down, mumbled something, left her hand next to his.
They split the beer, then split the bar.
He took her by the hand, warm palm to palm, fingers curled around unfamiliar hardware, and led her to the floor. The beat picked up as they faced each other, the lights began to shift to a pulsing red and blue strobe. A little apart, they began to dance. He with his hands in the air, elbows up, heels lifting to the beat, eyes on her; she moved with the crowd, compact in her own space but mobile, keeping the boy in her peripheral vision, head dipping in time with the bass. Her lips moved, maybe she said something, but neither one could hear. They came together, sometimes, their little bubble of personal space moved and contracted as people entered and left the floor, sometimes right on top of each other, his breath on her face, her hands on his hips. After an eternity, give or take three songs, she slapped him on the ass and fell off the floor laughing, the boy in her wake.
A noise came from her throat, high and piercing, that caught the boy wide-eyed and ducking; she ran to a table with four other girls and a jungle of half-empty glasses laden with half-eaten fruit. She nibbled an olive and gave a brief speech, gesturing in his general direction. “…in gegengeschlechtliche und... und die Freundesliebe in menschlichen...“ she stopped to lick her lips, and the girls laughed and waved her on. She grabbed his wrist, cold metal digging into his skin, and dragged him out as the girls waved goodbye. So they quit the club.
On the streets, she led a conversation of hands. Gesticulated and mouthed things he couldn’t hear, always sought his eyes with hers, thrust fingers repeatedly for emphasis at concrete gargoyles and cornices, ancient public boxes with angular runic spray-tags, fragments of old stone that erupted up from beneath pavement in twisting alleys and side-streets. Mostly he listened when she talked, words flowing past him, ears pricking at cadence, emotion, the affects of speech. “Standpunkt innerhalb der Existenzphilosophie ... Der Mensch existiere ursprünglich nicht ... sich die Liebe, die sich vorbehaltlos öffne, wenn sich...“
He tried a word. She stopped, stared. He tried again, pointed at her, and she grinned. “Liebe,“ she repeated, punctuated with a grin that swallowed her face. Her arm caught his, then, gripped it tight through the jacket, and they staggered together as she led him on.
In her apartment, in the dark, candles lit, iPod lodged in white plastic speakers, blushing roommates chased out with hissing threats and thrown pillows, he stripped off his jacket, sitting on the bed in her room as if naked in his t-shirt and jeans, rubbed his bare arms. The bed was a single, covered in a quilt of pink and white patches, plush dragons and unicorns claiming the hill of one lumpy pillow that leaked goosedown, a heavy knit thing that must have cost three sheep their winter pelts at the foot. Staring about, he relaxes; she emerged from the bathroom sans jacket and jewelry, the v-neck falling lower on her than he’d thought it might, accentuating her cleavage, a pale tube in one hand. He stood up, reached an arm out toward a bare shoulder, stroked it down the back of her arm, moved in with parted lips. She frowned, and he lifted his hand, backed off.
Onto the bed she clambered, dark fingers that seemed more slender without her rings fiddled with the iPod, and the speakers emitted a new, familiar tune—the strains of I’ll Take It Up The Ass (For You). He saw her there posed on hands on knees in the quilt, bare feet poking out of the bottom of her pants. The jeans seemed looser about her waist, and he realized her belt was off. “Die wörtliche Übersetzung von to fuck ist ‘ficken.‘“ she said, and wiggled her butt in the air.
He smiled and climbed on the bed.