I’m in a jazz bar on a Tinder date. He’s shorter than he said; nice, but short. After two Cosmopolitans I buy him a drink. It’s polite and necessary as this will be our last date. The tall black man sits down in front with his friend. I don’t see his eyes but like his profile.
After the gig he turns round and whispers, ‘stay longer.’
My date doesn’t hear when I say yes.
I say goodbye to my date and wander back to the bar. He’s there waiting with a bottle of Prosecco. ‘You came back?’
He smiles. ‘I need to tell you something … I’m married.’
‘Oh,’ I drink some Prosecco.
He walks me home. It’s not far. I’m lucky to live near a jazz bar.
‘Can I come up?’
I hesitate but say yes. I walk in front, his feet behind me heavy on the stairs. He plonks himself down on the sofa and leafs through my Terry Richardson book.
‘I’m a photographer too. I’ll take some pictures of you soon.’
‘You’re married though.’ I give him my number anyway.
I make excuses when he calls. Not free Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday either.
‘How about Thursday? … Thursday it is then.’
I spot his afro before I see his face – crazy and full of life. My heart jumps. We eat, drink. I forget he’s married.
He says he’ll spend the weekend.
‘She’s away, with the kid, Jack. 12 years old and a whizz on the drums. They’re back Sunday so we have till then.’
Seventy two whole hours.
We do coke in the evening, then drink whiskey. Then more coke. He’s chopping it up vigorously and with his long, bony fingers ordering it into lines. ‘I love you,’ he says as he’s chopping. I’m not sure I hear him right, but as the drug swims along my nasal passages and moves freestyle through my brain, I hear him.
He’s working late so I prepare dinner for afterwards. Moroccan chicken with mint couscous; a recipe I picked up in Marrakech. I pour the wine, Argentine Malbec. Not sure it goes but I like it. I wait, then have a sip. He doesn’t come. I finish the bottle. At midnight the bell rings. I peer down from my window; see his crazy hair but don’t answer. He rings and rings, then shouts something and leaves.
After a few days I call him. He doesn’t answer. I call and call, then text something I don’t mean. He doesn’t reply.
Eventually I email. We meet for coffee but have wine.
‘I don’t love my wife you know.’
So if not, then why not me? But he doesn’t answer as I don’t ask this and instead we sit in silence until he says, ‘I have to go.’
When he’s gone, I drink another glass and make it last until the sun goes down.
Mary Thompson lives in South London, where she works as a tutor and freelance teacher. Her short stories and flash fiction have been long-listed and shortlisted in several publications and competitions including Flash 500, Fish Short Memoir Competition, Writing Magazine and Reflex Fiction. Follow her @MaryRuth69 and maryruthblog.com
Image: Renden Yoder