“Oh my goodniss girl, what’s with ya friend?” Karen’s eyes were sparkling in the room light. She was leaning in real close and I could smell her skin: men’s pine body wash and a woman’s perfume that I could not name.
“It’s nothing, I don’t know. Maybe we should just go for a swim…”
“Alright ‘den.” She stood up and pulled the cotton tank top over her head, then unpeeled the jeans from her legs; I stood and watched, completely transfixed. She wore boxers and a bra. She was thin and beautiful.
I then began to disrobe and she watched me, finally everything was off except for my bra and lacy black panties. We walked outside into the cool air and rushed to dip our toes into the aquamarine water. Christina was sitting by the bar, looking surly. “Coming in?” I yelled over to her.
“No. I just wanted you guys to come out here. I don’t want to swim, just tell me where the beer is.”
“In the fridge inside, you ‘ken go in iff ya want.” Karen told Christina, unaffected by her gruffness.
When Christina disappeared into the kitchen for libation, Karen took my hand into hers and led me down the steps of the pool. The water was subzero.
Suddenly, she let go of my hand and broke away then submerged herself completely into the water and came up like a graceful mermaid, “Come on! Get in here!” she teased.
“Nope. Too cold.”
“I’mma give ya a piggy back ride! Can’t do dat if ya all the way over there!” she exclaimed before disappearing beneath the water again. I tentatively immersed myself, a wave of water covered over my golden brown skin.
“UGH! KAREN!!! IT’S FREEZING IN HERE!”
She was back up and ogling me as she bobbed above the water.
“Come ‘ere den.”
I silently doggy paddled closer to her and she took me into her arms; she wrapped them around me and at once we were facing each other.
“Well this is nice” Karen chuckled to herself.
Our skin was slick against one another. Two seals in the moonlight.
“So you live here in this big house by yourself? Pfft. Lucky. I wish I could live on my own.” I explained.
Her mood seemed to darken; a veil of secrecy went over her blue eyes.
“Iss nothin’. I don’t live here alone. Well, I kinda do, but I didn’t always. Dat’s not what the lease says.” She looked troubled but managed to eke out a small, unconvincing laugh.
“Then who lives here?” A surge of fear raced through me and stabbed at my heart; my mind immediately filled with visions of murderous step-sons or reclusive uncles that thirsted for blood, especially if it came from young women.
“YOU’RE WIFE?” My stomach felt like it was trying to come out of my ass, “YOU’RE MARRIED!!?!”
“HAW HAW HAW calm down, youngin’. I’m married. I’m married. Been married a long time but I mean do you really wanna sit here and talk about my wife right now? I got you here, you got me here, das all dat matters right now.”
I continued on despite myself, “What!!?! Where is she?”
“You kind of failed to mention this back at the bar.” I scoffed and rolled my eyes so hard I thought I would black out from the sheer act of it. We were still clinging to each other in a tight embrace as we bobbed along in the water. I could faintly hear TV programs changing in rapid succession: I had failed to see Christina come back outside and reposition herself at the bar. She was on her 80th Marlboro of the night and was calmly flicking through channels while I was busy playing mistress to a 47 year old woman.
“Oh my goodness. Does she know…like…that I’m here?” I did not know what I wanted to know. The situation was pretty obvious but I felt she needed to explain it nonetheless.
“Naw…she…she don’t know. Why do ya care anyway? I told ja, don’t worry ‘bout it.”
“Uh, I told you that I don’t want to be murdered tonight. What’s she going to say when she comes out here and finds us in the pool together, half naked and drunk?”
“HAW HAW HAW HAW”
Apparently my concern was comical. A thrill of irritation surged through me.
With a forceful shimmy, she knew to let me out of her embrace. I floated freely on my back before propping myself up on my feet, “I’m cold. I’m going to get out.”
I mounted the stair case of the pool with full intent to grab my belongings and run for the mountains. When I turned back to look at her, I saw she was doing laps. I pulled a towel around myself and walked up to Christina, “Dude. She’s married. Let’s go.”
“Shesss swat?” Slurred my best friend.
“MARRIED!!! AND you’re drunk! We have to go” I exclaimed in an urgent whisper.
“Nott chett…I can’t drive…”
Her eyes were glassy and she took another sip from the Bud Light can in her left hand. I wanted to slap it out of her grip and then punch her in the face. “I can’t believe this. You were supposed to drive us away from this mess if it turned out to be shady! I cannot drive stick, Christina! FUCK!”
“I will. I will. Raelene. Lemme finisshh this beer and have sssum cigarettesss ‘n I’ll…I’ll drive…”
I knew I was too intoxicated to drive away from Karen the Married Woman; and even if I were not, manual transmission was just as foreign to me as the reason why I went home with a stranger from the gay bar in the first place.