He stares at the blank television while I stare at his profile. He has a nice face, a kind face. I wonder what his name is, but I don’t ask. I contemplate him and puzzle over it. He’s from New York, so it’s not some country name. They might call him Buddy down here in Tennessee, but his given name is something different, I decide. Something serious. Henry, maybe. Or Luke. Maxwell or Nathan, possibly.
I realize suddenly that he’s watching me watch him. He smiles again, softly. Tiredly. There is a scar at the corner of his lip, only about half an inch long, but wide enough that it looks taut and silvery against his tan. It must have hurt, whatever cut deep enough to leave a scar like that. I want to lean over and kiss that flaw on an otherwise perfect mouth.
There’s nothing stopping me. Nothing but a few inches of bed and a glass of whiskey that’s almost gone already.
He sees me coming and meets me halfway. Then he stops.
“This is one of those moments,” he says, staring at my mouth. “Those in between moments.”
I think he must be drunk already. “What are you talking about?”
“You know, the time after one thing, but before another.”
I consider what he means. “Like, for me, after I left San Diego, but before I arrive in New York.”
He smiles big, nodding. His hair flops down over his forehead, making him look rakish. “Yeah. You get it. We’re here in between two things.”
“I guess.” I might have understood what he meant, but that didn’t mean I understood where he was going with it.
“This is a powerful moment,” he says. “It’s like the moment before your tire went flat. One minute you thought you knew your path, the next minute—“ He waved his hand in the air as if clearing smoke. “Your whole path was changed.”
“And if I kiss you?” I ask, because I really want to understand. “Does that put me on a new path?”'
He contemplates my question, then nods. “Yeah, though you may not think so here in between before the kiss and after.”
I laugh. “You act like it’s a given I’m going to kiss you.”
His smile fades and he looks at me, his dark eyes heavy-lidded. It could be sleep or lust. Lust, I think. Or maybe that’s my own conceit talking.
“It is,” he says. “It was a given the minute your tire when flat. That in between moment led to this one. This one will lead to the next one.
"Et cetera," I say. Or try to say. All I manage is "Et" before his lips are on mine.
Man, I ain't changed, but I know I ain't the same
But somewhere here in between the city walls of dyin' dreams
I think her death it must be killin' me
Nothing is forever
There's got to be something better than
In the middle
But me & Cinderella
We put it all together
We can drive it home
With one headlight