Roman, Part 3
After sitting in the alleyway for an hour, Jamie and I worked our way through town. Memories of school come back to me, days I played hooky and thought better suited to listen to music. We slip into a quiet little corner of the park and run through the tracks I have on my gearbox—the overpriced player I spent more money on than my couch at home.
I give her a taste of some real music. The stuff that makes my blood boil.
“This is good shit, Roman.” Jamie closes her eyes, soaking in the beats from my oversized headphones. “And these ‘phones. They must be expensive.”
I never really had the appreciation of seeing a girl wearing nothing but one of my shirts. Something you see on movies and TV. But something just sparks inside me, knowing it’s my music touching her, through my headphones of choice.
“Nope.” I say, leaning back on the grass. “They’re junk. One of a kind though, I built them from a broken pair of DJs and pulled all the parts from scrap.”
She pulled one of the phones from her ear. “What?”
“Nothing,” I say. “They’re yours if you want em’. I can always build another pair.”
“Build? No shit, Roman? You made these?”
“These are studio gold. I wanna hear you play and see you make the next pair.” Jamie handed back the phones plopping them on the center of my chest. “I’ll take the next ones you build.”
Her shadow casts over me; the sun is low in the sky. Music thumps through the phones on my chest and my heart matches it. For the first time since the burger place I check her out.
Jamie’s a knock out. Leaning forward so I take in the small upturn of her nose and the way she puckers her lips when she thinks. She’s thinking now.
“Damn girl. You sure I’m not dreaming?” I say.
She pinches me, hard. The pain in my side proves it and she rubs and hand along my side. “You’re tubby.”
“What?” I sit up. “No I’m not. I know I’m not ripped or nothing, but—“
“It’s cool. Muscles are overrated. Not like you were wheezin’ when we ran from the cops.”
We’re starting eye to eye now and there’s a long moment of silence.
“You gonna kiss me, Roman?” she says.
I smile. “I’m gonna just stare at you for a moment. Cool? You’re nice to look at.”
“But I’m gonna bored soon. I punch people when I get bored.”
I frown. Yeah. There’s that. “Shit. What do we even do about that? You punched a dude—cause I pissed you off.”
“I punched the dude cause he was a dick. It wasn’t his business what we’re arguing about.” Jamie looked away. Annoyance sours her face. “Fuck man, you sure know how to kill a moment.”
I laugh. “You’re the one who threatened to punch me.”
“I never said I was bored, Roman. Not yet.” Jamie clicked her tongue and stood. “You got a cigarette?”
“Nah.” Fuck. She smokes?
Jamie smirks. “Think we’re cool to get to a store? I bet they haven’t put up wanted posters yet.”
“They even use wanted posters anymore?”
We leave the park, keeping our heads low. I tended to do that anyway. The little corner shop across the street smelled of smoke and stale beer. The smoking ‘ban’ was pretty liberal here. The red painted quotation marks surrounding the international sign for no smoking left the message loud and clear, right next to the cig hanging out of the attendant’s mouth.
“Hey Romeo.” The sleepy eyed twenty something said.
“Roman,” I say, narrowing my eyes.
Jamie paces to the back of the shop, right past the snacks.
“Whatcha need?” The guy slips the cigarette out of his mouth and taps it on an ashtray made from the bottom of a cup. “You’re staring like you need something.”
I jab a thumb back at her. “Just waiting on Jamie.”
She comes back up with a grin. “Pack of squares.”
“I don’t care. Just grab one.”
He flings a pack of Newport’s on the counter. “That it?”
Jamie dons a sly smile. “Oh. Rubbers. What size we need?”
I give her a sideways look. She’s fucking with me.
She holds up a ring finger, wags it. “That about right?”
I flip a middle finger, grinning. We share a laugh.
The guy throws down a pair of Trojan regulars.
Jamie responds by slamming a jug of anti-freeze on the counter.
Dafuq? I raise a brow at that.
“Someone’s got big plans.”
“You have a car?” I say to her, under my breath.
“Nope,” she says, keeping a smile.
I can hear the hamster wheel squeaking in the attendant’s head. Trying to wrap a thought around her actions. He shrugs a shoulder, scans the anti-freeze. “Twenty-twenty-five.”
She looks over at me, and bats her eyelashes. I shake my head and pull out a twenty and a quarter.
“I need ID for the squares.” The attendant says, flipping his gaze to the cops.
I pull out my wallet again and she swipes it from me, digs through and plucks out my Driver’s License. “Really? You’re name’s really Romeo?”
That draws a groan from me. “Yeah. But Roman? Much better. Don’t call me Romeo.”
“That’s funny cause—“
The door jingles and two cops stroll in. With practice, the attendant tucks the ashtray under the counter. Jamie steps close to me, and hands over my ID.
“We cool?” I say, keeping my eyes forward. One cop glances over the pastry rack while the other grabs bottled water.
The attendant eyes over my ID and swipes it. Jamie gives my arm a squeeze and I feel the side of her breast against my body. I swallow hard.
“Hey,” The cop at the pastry rack says.
I tense and Jamie moves to bolt.
“This looks like the crap from yesterday,” the cop says.
“Cause it is. The guy missed us, I just didn’t pitch it.” The attendant hands back my card. Freedom.
Jamie scoops up the goods and turns to leave but the other cop sporting a bottle of water eyes me and Jamie. “You two. Where you coming from?”
“Chill super cop,” his partner says. “It’s break time. They bought cigarettes, rubbers and some anti-freeze.”
“Yeah but these two. Remember the call they put out an hour ago?”
“Fuck it, man. We get calls from that place every week. We got better things to do than chase down crack-head pissing on the seats of burger places.”
“It was assault.” The cop blocked the door.
“He didn’t even have a shiner.” The partner came back with a mouthful of day-old donut. “I gedda fiscount fo dis righ?”
The attendant nodded.
My stomach sank and Jamie pushed closer to me. She wasn’t cowering. Instead she tensed like a snake ready to strike. I twirled her away from the counter and caught her by the shoulders. “No way. Just chill a sec.”
“There a problem? Sir?” Super cop said.
“She got anxiety issues. That’s all,” I say. “We better get rolling.”
“Anxious about what?” Super cop thumbs his pistol. I know his type. Always looking for something to get him a little higher on the food chain.
“Sex,” I say, straight faced. I look the dude right in the eyes. “She’s pushing for the next step, and I ain’t ready. She’s hot an all but—“
The cop raised a hand to quiet me. “Got it. On your way then.”
He bought it. I say going to kiss her on the forehead to make it genuine, she tilts her head back at the worst (or best) possible moment and it turns into a brief, but full on kiss. Her lips are banging: full, moist, and tasted like lunch.
Our eyes meet for a moment before we flee from the store. We skirt past the cop car and she pushes away from me, but keeps a hold on my hand. My mind races between cops and the kiss, and how badly I want another one.
“Smooth move, Romeo,” she says. This time it doesn’t bug me. “Was it true?”
“At some point, yeah,” I say, keeping my pace. We duck into an alley and she hands me the antifreeze and the cigarettes. She opens the box to the rubbers. “Just three? Damn. Stingy.”
“Just three? Usually you can make those last.”
“Nah, gonna use them all at once. We won’t need them anyway right?”
She flings the box in a dumpster and cracks one open and unrolls it. “Yuck. Lubricated. Alright Pour.”
“Pour?” I say. I eye the bottle of antifreeze and gather her meaning. “What the heck are you–”
“Pour,” she says. “I’ll make it worth your while. You want another one like in the store? Or do you want a real one?”
God. Yes. I do. I pop off the cap and pour the pungent clear liquid into the condom. It holds amazingly well, and Jamie ties it off after a few seconds. She does the same after a second and third, taking out about half the bottle. “So, what are we doing with this stuff?”
Jamie grinned. “You’ll see.”