“Who’s the chubby girl?” Gabe asked. Everybody in the club seemed to know the woman, softly rounded and quite abashed about it, greeting her affectionately as she sauntered up to the bar and picked up a margarita that was waiting for her. She was wearing a soft blue dress that hugged her breasts and gave ample room for her hips and billowed gracefully down to ankle level. She wasn’t very tall but she still stood out in the crowded club.
Nick smiled; he’d forgotten that he’d never brought Gabe to the club before. “That’s Amanda. She’s very cool.”
Gabe watched as Amanda sipped at her drink while swaying with the music. Her hair was black and long and her eyes were brown and bemused. She wasn’t frowning but she was not quite smiling. “What’s her story?”
“Nobody really knows. She comes here three or four nights a week. Dances a little…chats a little…drinks a little…and then she leaves.”
“She ever leave with anybody?” Gabe asked, a bit more hopefully than he had wanted.
Nick chuckled knowingly. “Nope. She gets asked all the time but she doesn’t do that,” he said just ruefully enough to let Gabe know that he had taken a chance on her himself.
Gabe usually liked his women blonde, willowy, and pliable. Amanda was none of these things and, for some reason, it inflamed him. He watched her move…casually and surely into the beat…while chatting with a thin redhead and a bald guy who looked like he spent every other waking moment lifting weights.
“She’s not your type,” Nick said. “But you want her anyway, don’t you? Happens all the time.” He paused and then said. “Leave it be, Gabe…she’s not looking to get laid…she’s not looking for love…she’s just looking to dance a little…to chat a little…to drink a little. She may dance with you if she’s in the right mood but nothing more.“
Gabe nodded as if he understood what Nick had said but he’d already decided that the chubby girl…that Amanda…would succumb to his charms. He moved closer as the redhead and the bodybuilder melted into the crowd.
There was a space around Amanda that people came into fleetingly. Gabe moved closer and smiled. “Hi, would you like to dance?”
Amanda looked at him with those dark eyes and nodded. “Sure.” She put her margarita on the bar and then took his hand and led him towards the small dance floor.
Gabe was amazed at how warm and soft Amanda’s hand was…how gracefully and sensuously she danced…how she seemed to flow into the music and to draw him into it until they were moving as though their bodies knew exactly the right moves to counterpoint and enhance each other.
And then the song stopped. Amanda looked up at Gabe and said, “Thank you.”
Gabe drew on his courage. “Would you like to go out sometime?”
“No,” Amanda said. “Thank you, but no.” Her tone was firm but not at all unkind. She wasn’t frowning and she wasn’t quite smiling. “Have a good night,” she said drifting back to the bar where her margarita and an old black man in a three-piece suit were waiting.
Gabe watched as Amanda and the old man chatted, bending close to each other to hear over the music, and then chuckled like school children sharing a secret joke. He kept watching as he moved back towards Nick. Amanda and the old man hugged and the old man kissed Amanda’s cheek with chaste gallantry. Amanda finished her margarita and swayed, still feeling the music, towards the door. She exchanged fleeting words and fleeting hugs with some of the people in the club…including the redhead and the bodybuilder…before she disappeared out of the door. Gabe felt a twinge of something dark as he realized that she hadn’t even glanced in his direction. He had an impulse to rush to the door and follow her.
“Leave her be, Gabe,” Nick said, knowing the impulse all too well. “I got you another drink.”
Gabe nodded and picked up the drink.
Gabe frequented the club often after that night. And sometimes Amanda was there. And sometimes she would dance with him…drink with him and chat with him…but she would never leave with him. And in time he understood without completely understanding and he stopped asking her out. And one night she hugged him…as plush and warm and wonderful a hug as he’d ever experienced…as she was on her way out of the club and he luxuriated in that sublime gesture as he watched her disappear into the night.
“Who’s the chubby girl?” a newcomer to the club asked him one night.
Gabe smiled. “That’s Amanda. She’s very cool.”
- for MS, who was (and hopefully still is) very cool -
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