Every night from eight until twelve, Jennifer perches on that stool at the end of the bar. A pretty woman in her early thirties, abundant in shape but by no measure fat, she generally wore her long autumn blond hair in a ponytail. I guess that’s what first caught my attention for it is such a perfect look on her. She orders the same drink, a Hurricane, again and again until she can no longer see clearly to place the glass to her lips. Then, if she hasn’t yet found what she’s looking for, or a suitable substitute, she staggers out of the door with the help of any man wanting to snag an easy feel and climbs into her rusty, old pickup truck. Living quite near to the bar, she has yet to get caught DUI or worse yet, kill herself. Sometimes, sitting here eavesdropping, I get the impression that such an “accidental” death would suit her just fine.
I suppose I should tell you a bit about myself if you are to grasp the importance of this woman in my life. I am a balding, middle-aged man, comfortable, but by no means wealthy, married once (it didn’t work out), no children. My official reason for coming to this bar, and many like it, is to observe. You see I am a Sociologist, which, simply means that I like to study people. It’s not glamorous work, but I like it. I sort of fell into the profession after an accident while working on a tugboat and had to retrain for less physically demanding work. But I should be honest if you are to really know why Jennifer is so intriguing, to me anyway. I actually like to be around people, but I am shy, or what some might call, socially challenged. It has always been easier for me to be a silent observer than to initiate a conversation, so in places such as this bar I’ve been haunting for the last several years, I generally sit quietly, nursing a single beer, or two at most, all night (I don’t like to drink, but it seems odd not to in a bar).
After I noticed Jennifer nearly two years ago, I made it a point to always seat myself around the corner of the bar at the end where she always sits. I am to her immediate right for the entire evening, but that is not the direction she is ever attentive to. From this vantage point, I can listen, but she never notices me. If I were to sit on her left, she would cry on my shoulder throughout the evening, and perhaps even let me take her home. Now, please do not misunderstand, she is not easy, but rather, simply available. She seems to be quite interested in the opposite sex, perhaps more so than the average person, so too most, she would be judged a slut. Yet, I see her differently.
What I see is a woman who has not found the type of man who could not only put up with her little indiscretions, but would truly understand that that is just how she was manufactured. Such a man would need to understand her craving for sensual pleasures and, either join her in her hedonism, or allow her the freedom to indulge herself when necessary. He would need to treat her as the wild mare that she is and not seek to break her untamable spirit. That is how her first, and only marriage ended.
Jennifer married straight out of High School, mostly to escape the hard-line conservative approach of her mother. When she had met Bo, he was working offshore as a skipper’s mate for one of the local drilling supply companies. He had been there for sometime and had been trying to get his captain’s license, so besides the rotating schedule that brought him home for one week out of three, he was very busy studying regulations while at home. A sturdy man, well-built and darkly tanned from the salt air of the Gulf of Mexico, he was a good provider, an excellent lover, and fun to be around. The only problem Jennifer had was that he was simply never around; he was always working. So while he was away offshore, she began going to bars in search of companionship.
At first, when Jennifer went out, she would hang with girlfriends, dance with some of the guys who hit on her, and let them buy her drinks, but she never went home with any of them. There she drew a clear line, though many did try. Their favorite tactic was to get her as drunk as they could then try to convince her that she’d better let them take her home and at first, she resisted these maneuvers. However, one night, a friend of her husbands came into the bar and as the night turned into morning, the two found that they had quite a bit in common. Finding a certain connection with this man and having been neglected for so long a time, she found herself lusting for him even before the alcohol made its impact on her mind. Both rather drunk and stupefied, they decided to take each other home.
That night, in the bed that she and Bo had bought together, Jennifer fucked only the second man she had ever. She climbed onto him as if he were a Harley and revved his engine until he was throwing a rod. She stoked the gas until both were flooded, wet and smelly with exhaust. All night long, she matched him move for move like two motor-cross racers battling over the hills of the track. She took the lead for a long time, then it was his turn, and before long, she was steering again. Bouncing and banging, they even managed to break the sturdy oak wood legs supporting the bed from their activity topside. When the front legs gave way and the bed plummeted to the floor below, they didn’t even pause to acknowledge it, but kept right on riding, pushing the limits to reach the finish line. In fact, that night, they reached the finish line together, neck in neck, several times. Finally, when neither could go on any longer lest their hearts implode from the lack of blood pumped from it to maintain their genitals greedy appetites, they collapsed and slept.
In the morning, Jennifer didn’t even hear the phone ring when the call came in that Bo had been injured and was in Memorial Hospital. When she awoke and heard the message on the machine, she felt an overwhelming sense of guilt and shame. In her strict religious upbringing, she had been taught that everything happens for a reason and that people reap what they sow. As a result, she instantly blamed herself for her husband’s accident. She believed that it was a direct result of her adultery and that now there was going to be a heavy price to pay for the indiscretion. She was right.
When she arrived at the hospital, Bo was already in surgery. The doctors, unable to reach her decided that it was necessary to proceed without any of the typical red tape. When the surgery was over and he was back in his room, Jennifer, guilt and shame weighing on her like an anchor, could scarcely look at him. He, sensing a problem, insisted she tell him why she was in such a peculiar state. After much coaxing, she finally did and he, being unable to bear the thought of her and anyone, especially his best friend, demanded that she leave his room, their home, and his life, forever. He didn’t really know then how much his rash decision would haunt him later.
Bo left the hospital and returned home to find a broken bed, an empty fridge, and a life without the one person that had ever mattered to him. After months of physical rehabilitation, he was told never to get on any vehicle that would cause vibrations to his spine or he could count on never walking again. So he retrained in another field and began seeking a way to feel whole again.
One night, out of the blue, he began going to bars simply to be around other people, for his house had become too quiet for his own comfort. A short time thereafter, he stumbled into one where he saw his pretty Jennifer again. But she did not recognize him when he passed directly in front of her or if she did, she pretended not to. So he ordered a beer and sat within earshot just so he could look upon her pleasant shape and hear her wind chime voice. All night, he watched and listened, waiting for her to acknowledge him, but she never did. So he kept going back, just to be near her and hoping that perhaps she might someday recognize him.
He would listen to her, night after night, as she told her tale to strangers and friends alike. He heard, not just the words, but also the hollow sound of sorrow and regret. He heard her heart spinning its tale and saw how she would leave with any man who would show the right mix of compassion, sympathy, and flattery. He wanted so many times to say hello, but his past arrogance and present deception prevented such an act. Besides, what could he say to her after all these years? How could he make up for how he had hurt her? If he did reveal himself, there was the very real possibility that she would intentionally avoid him in the future and he might never again hear her voice or see her face. This was a possibility he was not willing to accept. So he sat, just to the right of her, where she would not notice him and nursed his beer all night long.