I used to date this woman. She owned and operated a dress boutique in Brooklyn. One night stumbling home from the bars. I caught her at the cash register closing out for the day. I smoked a lot then. Light Newport menthol-I supposed I wanted light cancer. I stopped in front of her shop to spark one up.
The first ash burnt me in the eye. I jerked my face back, shut my eyes tight to remove the burn. When I opened them, there she was, intently peeling away money from one hand to the next. Whatsoever told her to look up I don’t know, but through the glass there were no reflections, just me and her. That moon, with part of it covered by a lens, filmed the moment. The wind knew what was going on. The sidewalk felt it. The sidewalk pushed against gravity. I stepped.
“What are you doing? You can’t smoke in here.”
“Oh shit. Sorry.”
The wind shook the trees heads. “Smooth bro. Real smooth.”
The sidewalk exhausted, pushed again.
“I’m sorry about that. I really should quit.” I said.
“Filthy habit! Do you want something? I’m closing.”
“Um, Yeah, sure.”
The store was small. Felt even smaller with the maroon walls inhaling. A miracle in itself–The walls could take other breaths without losing air. Though the room got smaller, she got no closer. I moved through a couple racks of vintage shirts, touched some of the pinup girl dresses, and watched the shelves on the wall prepare to spill over acid wash jeans onto me.
“Oh, you want me to guess?” She brushed away some strands of hair from her face. Tucked them behind her ear to reveal her portrait even more. She was beautiful. Pale with freckles, like she was sneezed on, by God. She rubbed an invisible goatee on her chin and said, “I got just the thing.”
She resurfaced from behind the glass counter that held the register. Her red hair surfacing like the sun from the ocean. Her smile came out the reflection in the glass, “This is it.”
She laid out a pair of panties on the glass. On the front of the underwear was a picture of vampire teeth with blood dripping off them.
“What?” I let out a laugh that I never heard come out of me before. It was a laugh of pure joy.
She joined me. “I thought you would like that. My best sellers.”
“I see why. It’s hilarious.”I said.
“Hi, I am Alexis. Alex.” Her hand floated in the air.
I caught it. “Hi, I am Eldridge. Ridge.”