The cigarette burns down to the knuckles on his right hand. He holds it between the ring and middle fingers. The pointer is fucking gone. Just fucking gone. All the way up to where fingers normally start. Nothing there.
He sees her looking at him from across the bar, more precisely his hand, and smiles at her. His teeth aren’t what you’d expect with all the smoking he does. They’re perfectly white. Like movie star white and not one of them missing.
It’s not that he doesn’t like sweets. And he doesn’t brush his teeth at the drop of a hat.
It’s just one of those things.
His eyes are hidden by black sunglasses but he’s looking right at the woman that was staring at his hand and he likes what he sees.
And who could blame him?
She’s a beauty. Red hair, shoulder length, blue eyes. The lipstick she wears is pink and the strapless dress she wears is the same color. Not hot pink but just pink.
He imagines what that dress would look like on his motel room floor.
And then suddenly, literally suddenly, they are there and the dress is on his motel room floor. She doesn’t wear underwear, doesn’t believe in it. She’s in his arms and her silky smooth skin is pressed up against his.
He doesn’t know where to start.
In the morning, she’s there, asleep on the pillow next to him. He touches her forehead with his right hand, the one with the missing finger. He brushes her red hair back with his middle and ring fingers. He kisses the nape of her neck and she stirs, she sighs, she turns towards him and she screams.
The man that she sees is something completely different than what she saw last night.
She jumps up, taking the sheet with her, covering her nakedness.
“Get away from me,” she pleads.
He understands she sees him for what he really is and falls back into the bed.
She grabs her clothes, rushes to the bathroom, gets dressed and gets the hell out of the motel room, without looking at him again.
Somehow, he thought it might be different on this morning.
He should have known that it doesn’t work that way.
Tonight, he’ll do like he always does. He’ll get dressed, take another look in the mirror before he leaves the motel room and he’ll stare at himself. The only give away will be his eyes. Other than those eyes, he looks the same as any other man out there. He’ll grab his sunglasses, covering the telltale, and go out into the world, in search of a woman that will accept him for what he truly is.
It’s the morning, as always, that he fears.
BIO: Christopher Grant is a crime writer and the editor of A Twist Of Noir.