Roanne Smiled, by Robert Crisman

With some of these guys it was like propping a kid on a bike with the training wheels on it, then steering the kid down the street till he figured out what to do next.

Tricks would come into the bar. Roanne had a smile for all but the dregs. She drew a lot of those scared little guys whose demeanor seemed to shout that they’d come straight from mama’s to Wong’s.

A guy would come up to the bar, take a seat, throw one of those supplicant’s glances her way, then stutter out hi when he worked up the nerve.

She’d smile and say, “Hi.”

He’d say hi again, as if that’s all he’d brought with him. She’d say, “You new here? I haven’t see you before.”

He’d try to grin. “I, well, I’ve never been here. You know, it’s, this is my first time and…” He’d grin like a sheep, blush, and shrug.

Roanne laughed that soft, sexy laugh. “Well. Welcome to the party.”

He’d take a deep breath and get to it. “A friend of mine told me, you know, like, he knows you—you know, been with you, and he described you—“ He nodded at the hat that she wore, a shell of black feathers tipped forward, with a veil over one eye. “Your hat, it’s really—“ He blushed, grinned, and nodded his head in quick tics. “It makes you stand out…”

Roanne smiled her professional’s smile.

“And he said you were nice…”

Roanne laughed. The guy held his breath.

“Well, I am nice,” she said, and helped him along with the smile. In the soft semi-darkness it sparkled…

His blush almost glowed in that soft semi-darkness. “Well, yeah… He said that…”

Roanne laughed. “C’mon, you can tell me.”

“Well, you know, what you looked like, you know, you have, like, beautiful eyes…” The guy was deep red.

Where did these guys come from?

Roanne’s eyes were black pools that seemed to hold secrets. She smiled and said, “Tell me more.”

The guy blinked. “And then, he said, if I were, you know, to come here and see you…”

“Well, here I am. You see me.” Roanne the mischevious imp. Not a bad act. Underneath it all now, she began to get bored.

The guy looked nonplussed.

She leaned forward, put her hand on his arm. “You’d like to be together for awhile.”

“Well…yeah.”

“Well, I’d like that too. Where would you like to go?”

The guy sighed and they worked it on out. They got to the place and she had to show him what to do next. The guy’s whole life was a stutter. She wanted to scream.

She finally had to fast-forward the action:

Just hop on board, man, and let’s get this done…

He blew in six seconds.

It was either fuck him, she said later, laughing, or burp him and send him on home to his mom.

Next time at least, the guy’d know how to get on the bike.

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