The man standing in front of me at the register is buying cheap cologne and a small flat-screen television. Under his slouchy clothes, I can tell that his body is wiry and strong.
His eyes are kind when he sneaks a glance back at me.
There is a restaurant at the very top of this city. The view from its south-facing windows tonight was extraordinary–a slithering, flickering web woven under a heaving winter sky. The man I was with moves unimaginable wealth with his Blackberry. His Windsor knots are flawless, and his nails clean. His taste in vodka is impeccable.
I left there twenty minutes ago. Alone.
His hands were warm on my forearms. He liked to trace the pale blue vein which travels from my left wrist to the crease of my left elbow. My blood moves close to the surface of my skin on its return trip to my heart. He liked to trace that vein a little too much, and my skin crawled.
I left him at the prearranged end of our evening together, craving ginger beer and Haribo gummy bears. And a long, hot shower.
And so I am here in the strange all-night store three blocks from my building, with French candy and Bartlett’s Ginger Beer in my basket, standing behind a young man who doesn’t know what he wants from his life.
I want to step up close behind him and whisper in his ear to leave the cologne. I want to let my breath, scented with cucumber gin, tell him what the words do not say explicitly; that the smell of lavender on my sheets and the hint of his clean sweat would fill my nose while I eased him into my body, let him roll me underneath him.
I want to pour him a finger of port in a tumbler, stretch out naked alongside him and explain that the cheap cologne would distract from the umami of my desire on his tongue.
I want to tell him to put the television back on the shelf, to spend the money on books and music and tickets to art museums, to spend his money on airfares and foreign currency exchange fees in Prague and Budapest.
I want to mold him into what he is not, which is a fatal flaw in this profession.