Check out the first story of Vee in the FELT TIPS anthology, available from your favourite ebook retailer.
Vee looks at me askance, a brow raised. “Are you sure you’re the same woman from your notebook?”
I flush. That me, the one she’d read about in the coffee shop half an hour ago, was many years past.
“I didn’t think punk chicks liked sherry,” she continues, resting her hand on the back of the leather chair that faces the small fireplace in my apartment. The blue and black polish on her fingernails is chipped, her hands reddened from the chill walk home. Her legs in their raggedy fishnet stockings have pinkened from their usual pale hue.
“Jack Daniels, then?” I try to keep a straight face, but Vee’s laughter is infectious.
“I’ll try the sherry,” she says, and I move into my postage-stamp kitchen. She follows and the snug space seems smaller still. My hand shakes as I take the bottle from the cupboard over the fridge and fetch two crystal glasses from another. That kiss in the shop doorway has unsettled me. I want more from her, but I don’t want to press. Tonight seems like a dream.
“My grandmother gave me sherry when I was a girl,” I say, trying to keep my mind from picturing Vee in my arms again, but naked. I carefully fill the delicate glasses. “She was a lady, never worked a day in her life.”
Vee takes the glass I offer and sniffs it. “Not bad,” she says. “I could pretend to be a lady.” She lifts her glass, clinks it against mine. “To notebooks, and stories.”
The sherry is sweet on my tongue, but what I really want is her sweetness again.
Vee looks at me from under her lashes as she sips her sherry, a smile quirking at the corners of her lips. “What else should I know about you?” she asks. “Do you have a collection of opera records? Wear white gloves?”
“To my grandmother’s dismay, neither.”
“She probably wouldn’t like me,” Vee confides.
“That doesn’t matter. She’s long gone.” I take Vee’s hand and her fingers twine with my own. “I think you’ll like my record collection.”
Vee practically skips into the living room, pulling me along. She tosses back the last drops of her sherry and sets the glass on a bookshelf before dropping to her knees to peer at the lowest shelf. My record collection is much reduced from my younger years, but I kept all my favorites.
She pulls out a 7” single with a tattered cover and I recognize it immediately. I’d been ashamed to own it, Blondie’s hit single, ‘Heart of Glass’, thinking that my friends would doubt my punk cred, but I loved that song.
Vee holds it out to me and my fingers close over the heavy paper, feeling the familiar creases.
“Are you sure?” I ask. I’d expected her to pull out my Iggy and the Stooges records, or my old Clash imports that I’d saved for and taken so much pride in.
“Of course,” she says. “Debbie Harry is the bomb.”
“You’re losing your punk cred now,” I tease. “You’d have been shunned to admit a love for Debbie Harry after this song hit number one.”
Vee scoffs. “Then they wouldn’t know what they’re missing. Play it, Alex. Please?”
I pull the dust cloth off my old record player. I found it at a thrift shop, delighted at the cheap price and the stacking spindle. It’s been awhile since I’ve played an entire stack of singles.
The record drops into place and the arm swings over. The crackle and pop of the first grooves come through the speakers. I listened to this record so often that its quality has declined, but the sound is familiar, like an old friend.
At the first tikka-tikka of the percussion, Vee takes my hand again, tugging me to her. “Did you see Blondie in concert?” she asks as we sway to the music.
I lean over and put my sherry glass next to the record player so that I can put my arms around her. The heavy toes of her combat boots bump against my thin leather boots, and our knees touch.
“Once or twice,” I say, taking the lead and sending Vee into a twirl, away and then back. She giggles and staggers against me. Her body is warm, soft yet angular where her hip bones show against the light fabric of her mini-dress. She’s perfect. I want to kiss her again, but fear I’ll come on too strong.
Vee moves to the music, draping her arms around my neck. She leans in until our foreheads touch and I’m looking into her grey eyes, the lashes dark and long, dusting over her cheeks as she blinks. Her pale skin is flushed and her Monroe stud glints in the light of the lamp. Her lips are pink where the violet lipstick has worn off. I could look at her forever. But looking won’t be enough.
Her mouth is soft under mine and she parts for my tongue. We come to a halt, though the music still plays. She tastes of the sweet stickiness of sherry, and a hint of the coffee we had earlier. I don’t want to let her go.
“Put on another record,” Vee says, her words breathy against my lips. “A long one.”