A Sinatra Night


Art by John Turck at http://johnturck.tumblr.com/

Sullivan poured a drink. Bourbon neat. No plans yet, but plenty to do.

He changed his mind on the unlit cigarette already between his lips, and pulled out a cigar. It was ten pm, but he wasn’t going anywhere until midnight. “Take your time,” he said out loud while he watched the zippo flame curl around and bury itself into the far end of his stogie. Let’s put a little noise on.

He sat down in front of his laptop, letting the hardest working window air conditioner in the city do it’s magic on his sweat soaked undershirt, and cued up Sinatra.

Come fly with me.

The horns blared through tiny speakers and filled the apartment. Sully pulled the phone out of his pocket and tried Igor.

What doin? Thinkin of hitting the town.

Sullivan surveyed the bachelor pad in need of maintenance. A drink in his hand and cigar in his mouth, he made the bed and pushed around a broom. Couldn’t bring a beautiful baby back to any of this. He moved with the rhythm of the music, shedding away the reality of his day to day, and in no time at all he’d given the place a new identity.

Sorry bro. Nother time.

That’s life.

Sullivan nodded at his computer, swirled his glass, and sipped a little longer. The licorice notes cleansed his palate after a puff on the cigar. He snapped his fingers and dreamt about the beautiful women in the city looking for a man. The burning fumes of bourbon exploded through his chest like internal combustion. He topped off his glass, and scrubbed the dishes, occasionally swinging his hips, and pictured a girl hanging onto his hand. What was her hair. Blonde? Brunette? Red?

Didn’t matter. Wouldn’t matter until he had her up here. And then it’d be all that mattered.

Bim bam baby.

He pulled his phone out, and cued up Clyde.

What doin? Thinkin of hitting the town.

Another puff. Another sip. Sullivan caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. He’d filled out since college. Bit more over the belt, but his arms were fat with muscle. He pictured himself as an old Chevelle in a world full of hybrids.

He opened another window on the laptop and saw a few pictures of Annie and her boyfriend. They’d gone to Greece, or some other place with blue skies and white buildings. It didn’t matter. He’d left her, and she’d only found a poor woman’s version of himself. A schlub with a similar look in his eyes, but somebody who was skinny as a waif, and looked like he was already going bald.

Annie looked good. Better than she had in years. Looks were never her problem anyway.

You make me feel so young.

Afraid I’ve gotta rain check. Next time.

Sullivan took another puff. Took another sip. He poured himself another drink. Night like this Annie might have asked him how many he’d had already.

Two, baby. Always two. He’d never counted drinks, and that wasn’t changing tonight. Just slowly watching the surface line drop lower into the bottle.

He pulled out his phone and dialed Timmy.

What doin? Thinkin of hitting the town.

He took a look at his dress shirts, hanging in the closet. The soft fabric felt beautiful through his fingertips. Muscles relaxed, and his arm dipped just a little, until a finger of bourbon spilled out of his glass and splashed against his foot.

His phone buzzed. He didn’t have to see the whole message from Timmy.

Sorry bro. I got an…

He shook his head and ran his fingers through the sleeves of his silk shirts. And with horror he looked down and noticed the still burning cigar in his hand had bore a hole through the cream colored shirt that Annie had always loved.

He bit onto the cigar and tried in vain to beat the hole out of the shirt.

Something stupid.

Sullivan picked up the phone. He thought about the bar scene and fighting through the crowd to talk to a girl, hoping he wouldn’t get shut out. Thinking about just how hard it was to look natural when you’re by yourself on a stool, sipping a drink, and waiting for the moment to break the ice.

He looked up Shannon, the girl he’d rebounded with after Annie. He’d treated her badly, but what was the night for if not second chances.

He sang along while he typed out the words. “Before saying something stupid like I love you.”

U up?

The phone fell out of his hand and landed on the hardwood floor. Annie would have told him that he was drunk and done for the night, but Sully knew his body. He puffed on the dwindling nub of tobacco and felt his arms.

He could move worlds.

Sully cleared a space on the floor and lowered himself for a set of pushups. Something to get the blood flowing.

He squeezed his chest and rose off the floor, thinking about the girls, and the friends who had let him down by being busy with something else. He wondered what he was missing, but already knew. The nights were all the same.

Rise and fall.

He thought about Shannon in his arms. Milky skin. The girlish way she kissed, and the way she’d always looked like she was being hurt. How she wasn’t anything like Annie, which was exactly what he wanted, right up until he decided it was what he hated.

And he knew a reunion wouldn’t happen. He hadn’t seen her in months, and hadn’t ever said goodbye. He had no business bothering her now.

The phone buzzed.

Yeah. U wanna come over?

He rolled onto his back and looked up at the ceiling, with the cigar butt in his mouth. He closed his eyes, and drifted away on the hardwood floor.

“And did it my way.”

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