Veronica’s Trilogy by Doc O’Donnell
Part I: The Beginning, the Bliss, the Edge of the Cliff
She whispers in my ear and, though I don’t hear what she says, I’m hers. And I think she knows it. Jukebox music and chatter collides in the air leaving a steady hum. No sound is complete. Indecipherable. She could have said: If you want to live, call 000 now. I’d still give her my heart, my soul, my everything. Not that it’s much. But it’d all be hers.
I follow her and her friend around. She throws me glances from behind a veil of heavy black eye-shadow, letting me know that she knows.
Her red lips look like they’d be sticky to the touch. I imagine kissing her. Elastic strings of red pull me back when our lips separate.
I stop drinking beer and start sipping water. Clearing my head.
Her friend’s found a fella and wandered into a corner for hand-up-the-skirt kisses.
She sits at a table, alone. I move to her, counting my steps. Left, right, left right. I’m worried I’ll trip and give away my sober cover. Our eyes meet and she flashes a quick smile. Not giving too much away. But enough that I think it’s an invitation. She knows I want it all. She has to.
That water? she says.
I hold up my glass, a schooner. She doesn’t need to know I’ve stopped drinking for her. Not yet.
Vodka, I say.
Course not. With water.
So it is water then.
Well, yeah, I guess. Can I sit?
I don’t know. Can you?
She smiles. A proper smile this time, a soul-crushing smile. Or maybe it was a soul-swelling smile. Not sure yet. I sit because I want to make her smile like that until her cheeks hurt.
We talk about nothing, about everything. The night moves along but time becomes irrelevant. Seats fill and empty and fill again around us.
What’s your star sign? she says. No, wait. Let me guess.
I don’t even know my own star sign.
You don’t know your own star sign? How can you not know your own star sign?
I don’t say anything. I know whatever spills from my mouth will make me look like an idiot. Instead, I play it cool, mysterious. I shrug.
She studies me, up and down. I’m embarrassed by my clothes: a sweat-soaked, white tee. Ripped and stretched. Grey jeans that used to be black. The standard uniform for a lonely night at The Black Diamond.
You’re a Taurus, she says. Yep, definitely a Taurus.
When’s your birthday?
I know that much. What date, silly?
Ha! Yep, like I said, you’re a Taurus.
So, what’s that mean?
It means you’re strong and stubborn. Passionate and sensitive. Taureans are always good lovers.
She glances at me and pushes her dark hair from her face and leans in close to my face and mouths, Always, and I want it to be her hinting but she’s just teasing. Has to be. There’s no way she could be hinting. None.
But they can be jealous and possessive, too, she says. She leans back into her seat, away from me.
Okay, then. What’s your star sign? I say.
I thought you didn’t know anything about horoscopes.
So what’d be the point of me telling you my star?
I want to know something about you. You seem to have me all figured out.
Maybe I’m not sure I want to tell you something about myself.
That’s not fair, is it?
Fair? Who said anything about fair?
I stammer, mumble. I’ve got nothing. This girl. She’s just playing. I need to get out of here before I fall even more in love with her.
All right, I say, I’ll let you get back to waiting for your friend to be done in the corner.
Sure, I say.
I stand. She picks up my drink and skulls the whole thing.
Vodka, huh? she says. That’s one weak glass of vodka you got there.
I’m just playing the game, like you.
What makes you think I’m playing?
The whole vague thing, I guess.
Ever thought I’m just a vague person? I am an Aquarius, after all. We’re space-cadets. In our own world.
Yes. Now, do you want to come play in my world or not?
I can barely breathe and I feel like I’m shaking. I sit and lean in a little closer to her.
So, what’s your name? I say.
Oh, Veronica. Nice name. Very old-school.
That’s enough small-talk, she says. I hate small-talk. So pointless. You pick these things up as you go. There’s little need to discuss them now.
Okay. What do you want to talk about then?
How about we start by moving our conversation elsewhere.
Sure. Want to go outside?
I was thinking my place.
The slap of sticky, wet skin. The hard timber headboard knocks against the wall. A hand on the back of my neck pulls me closer to her silhouetted face.
I’m coming, says Veronica.
My heart beats so hard it shifts my centre of gravity. A swell hits the back of my eyes and sends me collapsing to her side, panting.
The urge to cry, something I haven’t done for years, envelopes me. I roll on my side, facing away from her. Instant-regret festering in my gut. I should have walked her to the front door. Asked for her number. Called her in a couple of days. Taken her for dinner. Somewhere other than The Black Diamond. Somewhere nice. Like she deserves.
Instead, I took her home and fucked her like a dog.
Veronica shuffles across and holds me from behind, her hand not quite reaching over my whole chest. Her head sits between my shoulder blades. Despite being much shorter than me, she fits behind me with such precision that it’s frightening to think about not having her there. My mind falls apart and her heart hammers through my back and I mistake her heartbeat for mine for second. Her breath, warm in my ear. Shivers ripple down my spine and hit a nerve that makes my leg twitch. She giggles and does it again.
Our breathing. The same, breath for breath. I feel more at home in this bed than I’ve ever felt in my own and it makes no sense because it’s dark and I can’t see her face, let alone know where my jeans are or where the door is.
I hope I never find the door.
I don’t want to leave. I want to lay here until the sheets are dirty and tell her every damn thing that’s ever happened to me but, instead, I just lay.
I try to breath out of time with her but no matter how slow or fast I breath she’s there with me, every time.
We settle into deep slow breaths.
Doc O’Donnell is a rock ‘n’ roll dropout that writes, what he likes to call, Dirty Noir from a cramped apartment in Newcastle, Australia. To pay for the bills and booze he looks after the elderly, soaking up their tales/tails. His work has dirtied the pages and screens of Crime Factory, Pulp Metal Magazine, Short, Fast, and Deadly, Thunderdome, Outsider Writers Collective and forthcoming in Warmed & Bound, an anthology featuring new stories by Craig Clevenger, Stephen Graham Jones and Craig Davidson.
He can be contacted at: www.docodonnell.com