Darlene noticed the couple as they entered. They looked to be in their mid to late 20s, the better part of ten years younger than she herself. What a perfect couple, she thought.
They looked like a perfect match. The guy was handsome, with a powerful build and gorgeous, muscular face. Must lift weights, she figured.
The girl was stunning — fine brunette hair, exquisitely layered with a slight inward flip just at shoulder length, and attractive bangs that accentuated the beauty of her face. A perfect face and perfect body that made people think she must be some celebrity who’d come out of seclusion. Covering this body was a strapless yellow body-wrap top, matching tight yellow shorts, and black stiletto heels. Wish I was a perfect doll like that, thought Darlene.
Even though there were only three other customers in the diner, the young pair preferred a booth in the most remote section of the diner that they could find … shadowed from the morning light that poured through the front windows. The pastel turquoise seat cushions matched the pastel turquoise laminate of the table top.
The guy sat straight, his arms folded. The girl leaned forward, onto her arms crossed on the smooth pastel table. Her head was bowed, as if in regret or shame. Uh oh, thought Darlene … they’ve got a disagreement.
She came over to their booth carrying two glasses of cold water. She liked the way the guy surveyed her as she approached. His eyes had that flicker that could smolder into something. “Hi, hon” she said, leaning on their table, revealing the cleavage under her blue spaghetti-strap top. “What can I getcha?”
Vic’s eyes dwelled momentarily on the waitress’s rough, mature beauty. “Just coffee” he said.
Darlene smiled, turned to the girl, who was also looking her over. She likes women, Darlene figured. “What’s for you, hon?” she asked the girl.
“I’ll have a cup of tea” said Susan.
“Right up” said Darlene with a smile and a nod, then whisked herself back over to the counter.
Vic cast a lingering glance at Darlene’s dark brunette ponytail and the derriere of her tight jeans as she retreated, then focused back on Susan. “So you’re really going through with this” he muttered, trying to replace his scowl with a hurt, caring expression.
“Vic … you know I love you” pleaded Susan. “You know I love Becky. But you’ll both be all right.” She raised her moist, clear brown eyes to meet his. “You know I’ll come back.”
“Why do I know that?” It was more a statement than a question.
“Because you know me. You know my heart.” Susan paused to wipe a tear from her eye. “You know I’ll be back with you…”
“Yeah … you’ll be back, probably bringing us all a little brown present from Maurice …”
“Don’t be mean. You know I wouldn’t do anything like that without … without talking with you …”
“What’s mean? I’m just being realistic. You keep saying how you’d love to have a … a baby that’s half African …”
Darlene brought their coffee and tea and put them on the table. “Cream?” she asked.
“No, thanks” said Vic.
“Not for now.”
Darlene smiled and left them alone. She could sense trouble.
Vic put his face in his hands, leaning into his elbows on the table. Then he crossed his arms and looked up, into his girl’s eyes. “Susan … Becky needs you, here. She needs her mom … here. How can you …”
Susan dabbed her eyes with a tissue. “Vic … we’ve been over and over this. I gotta do what I gotta do. You know I’m trying … I’ve been trying to find myself …”
“I just wish you could find yourself here. With me … and Becky. Instead of finding kinky sex with people that chain you up and whip you like a prisoner …”
“Vic, I’ve told you over and over … it’s just role-playing …”
“Well … you told me you needed to play these games to get yourself … to fire up your sex appetite. It was all to help our sex life. But this sounds to me like you’re … you’re replacing your real life with a … a life of playing games …”
“Vic, you know it’s way more than that. You know I have a … a close and loving relationship with … with Fiona … and Maurice. A beautiful relationship. I wish you could see that …”
“I’ll tell you what I see. What I see is two women chasing after a stud that has sex with them, then ties ’em up and whips their asses in appreciation… That’s what I see.”
“Well, you’ve never understood. It’s nothing like that…”
A burly older guy came in the diner and sat at the counter.
“Hey, Frank …” Darlene greeted him. “Whattaya up for this morning? Cup o’ coffee?”
“Sure” said Frank.
Darlene poured his coffee. “What else can I getcha?” she asked.
“What I want,” he said, focusing on her intently, “I’m looking at. But I dunno how much of it’s on the menu …”
Darlene giggled, softly, flattered at the flirtation. “You’d hafta negotiate something with my hubby,” she said, “and I dunno if he’s in any mood to negotiate on that …” She also gave a quick glance around the diner, including in Vic’s direction. Vic had seen her looking at him.
He peered back into Susan’s eyes. “What I understand” he said, “is that you wanna run off with them and leave me and Becky and your home and your job …”
“It’s only for a while …”
“Where is it they’re moving to?”
“Wyoming … Maurice has a job in Cheyenne. And I can be certified as a teacher in Wyoming.”
“Have you figured out where you’re gonna live?”
“Maurice and Fiona bought a big trailer … We plan to live in the trailer.”
“I’m sure it’s well-equipped … with all the handcuffs, and the ball gags, and whips, and dog collars … And don’t forget your little enema kit …”
“You’re just being snide.”
“Have you thought this through? Two white women living with a black guy. In Wyoming. In a trailer full of sex toys and bondage hardware …”
“We’ll be careful …”
Vic looked at her, now pleadingly. “You were never into this kinky lesbian crap when I met you. You didn’t know what bondage was. You weren’t into enemas, either …” Anger flashed in his eyes. “I oughta go over and beat the shit out of them. Both of them …”
“Don’t say that. They didn’t do anything to me. I’m meeting my own needs. They’re my friends. More than friends … we have a bond … a spiritual bond …”
“I thought you had a spiritual bond with me … and Becky. You know … your daughter? Your four-year-old?”
“I still do. I’ll come back to you, you know I will …”
“Vic, some women have needs. Like men have needs. You oughta know. You had your own needs, and you got your own satisfaction … with Diane.”
Vic’s face flushed. “So that’s what it’s all about — revenge? Diane is history … I thought we’d moved past that …”
“We did move past it. And this is not about revenge. It’s about fulfilling myself … fulfilling my needs. I’ve found needs I didn’t know I had.”
Susan took a deep breath. “You’ve had your adventures. I need to have mine. I need to be allowed to explore myself.”
“This is not the way it’s supposed to be” pleaded Vic. “This isn’t the way things are supposed to happen …”
“I know … I know it’s not the way society says things are supposed to happen” said Susan. “But what society says, and the way people are, can be two different things.”
Something snapped in Vic’s consciousness, like a switch. It was as if the air pressure in the diner had changed.
“All right” he said, suddenly agreeable, smiling weakly. “Go have your adventure. Your mom will help me take care of Becky.”
Susan saw a strange new look in his eyes. “You really mean it?”
“I mean it. You can tell me all about it when you come back to me. When you come back home …”
“I’m sure …”
Susan’s eyes brightened. She got up, went around to his side of the table, leaned over and kissed him. It was a long, hot, lingering kiss. Vic wondered how many adventures those gorgeous lips, that delightful tongue would have. Before she’d come back to him, if she ever would …
He watched her leave, pushing the door open, turning heads as she walked out and disappeared down the street. Sadness started to close in on him.
Darlene came over, coffee pot in hand. “More coffee?”
“Yeah, guess so…”
She refilled his cup. “You OK?”
“Not really …”
“Kinda … I guess you could call it that … kinda complicated …” He looked up at her. “What’s your name?”
“What time you get off?”
“Listen, I’m married. I got two kids…”
“I just got free. And I got a four-year-old. How does Happy Hour sound?”
Darlene smiled. “Four-thirty” she said.