A Short Story by Dan McClenaghan

Note: K-B is on vacation.



The White Guy



By Dan McClenaghan

I'm the only white guy in the bar, on the prowl with a fresh scar on my heart. The women here, with their hard, dark eyes, don't mind free drinks, and I'm trying to work that angle to land some tail. I sit down with three black-haired beauties — Carmen, Lupe and Raquel.

I offer to buy a round. They smile their assent and upgrade from draft beer to grande margaritas, shots of tequila on the side, and I tell them straight up — a belly full of malt liquor talking — that I like the way they've packaged their breasts.

“What the hell kinda talk is that?” says Raquel.

Lupe rolls her eyes heavenward and says she's going out for a smoke. Carmen knocks back her shot and calls me a pendejo, then nods to Raquel, a private signal, it seems, for the pair to hit the dance floor. Alone out there, they move their bodies like something out of my best dirty dream, while the vatos in their dark glasses, shirts buttoned up to their Adam's apples, watch with me.

Chuy, the guy who brought me here, slips away from his bartender, sidles over and says, “Somethin' tells me you ain't goin' about this too smooth, carnal.”

“Don't worry about it, man. I got 'em right where I want ’em.”

He checks out the dance floor and recommends I shift my attentions elsewhere. The girls stay out there for another tune, and when Lupe returns, smelling of nicotine and fresh perfume, I ignore Chuy's advice.

“You're beautiful,” I say.

“You're a lame ass,” she replies.

“So, your friends are gay?” I nod at Carmen and Raquel, who bump hips with the beat.

“Maybe. Or maybe they just got tired of waitin' for one of these no-huevos wonders to make a move.” She gestures at the sunglasses guys.

I nod, knowingly. “So, Lupe,” I say. “You wanna dance?”

By night's end, Carmen and Raquel, holding hands in the parking lot, are looking at me like I'm a piece of shit, but Lupe's hanging on my arm, her fragrant mane resting on my shoulder. I pat her hand, say, “I'll be right back,” and trot over to Chuy's truck. He's just pulled out of the parking space, his bartender riding shotgun. I tell him I've worked my magic, and won't need a ride home. He says, “Be careful, ese, these dudes, they don't like you hornin' in on their women.”

I wink. “Not a problem,” I say, then walk back to Lupe's Ford Escort, it's old engine grumbling like a cornered wolverine. Behind the tinted glass, three Cheshire cat grins give off sparks. I reach for the door handle under the scrutiny of a dozen black lenses flashing in the lot lights like the eyes of wild beasts. Lupe guns her engine. The wolverine roars and fishtails away, backfiring, spewing an acrid black fart, its spinning tires peppering me with a shotgun blast of loose gravel before they catch traction, taking my girls bouncing out onto the boulevard.

Little bits of rock drop from my clothes, as that heart scar from a similar, if more sophisticated, money-draining situation, opens and gushes blood, and those guys in the sunglasses — they move in on me with a mission.

©2009 Dan McClenaghan

About the author: McClenaghan is an award winning fiction writer. His short stories have been published by PearlWormwood ReviewThe BridgeNew York QuarterlyTidepools and Turbula.net.

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