A month after you left me, I’m sitting in Tamerlan’s favorite bar, with Tam, the tour guide, and Peter, this teacher from Manchester who I want to fuck since I can’t have you.
The bartender slides a bottle of Glasnost vodka and four chilled glasses as slender as two fingers onto the table, sits down next to Tam. His gold front teeth glint. Tam sloppily fills glasses to the brim.
The sleeves of Peter’s button-down shirt are rolled up tight around his biceps, expose a tattoo of a Maori mask. My arm presses against his; he shifts his weight. Is he gay or just British?
The bartender passes a four-inch stack of som across the scarred table; Tam passes him three hundred dollar bills.
I lean toward Peter. The headboard of my bed has this intercom-radio thing, I’m sure the KGB listens through it. Peter says, A bug wouldn’t be that obvious. He clicks his vodka glass against mine, and the ring of glass against glass is tinny and cheap. The vodka is cheap also. Peter watches a Russian girl sway vertiginous in stilettos; her metallic skirt barely covers her ass.
The bartender returns to the bar; a band sings Livin’ on a Prayer in Russian. Tam pours another round. Peter says, Women my age have this thing for Colin Firth, you know, that scene in Pride and Prejudice, and waits for me to say something. Peter resembles Colin Firth around the eyes.
When I tell him that he laughs. No one’s told me that before. He knocks back a shot of vodka. I ask, Tell me about your tattoo. I stroke the bold lines; I want to bite them like black licorice. His hand curves around my thigh, his breath hot on my ear as he whispers, over the Bon Jovi cover band, A youthful indiscretion. He tells me the story, and it’s not a story I’d ever tell you.
Peter touches the ring I still wear. Tell me about this.
I remember your hands on me. It’s the oldest story in the world.
Tam watches the bartender. I’ve got some business to handle. Peter and I climb into the taxi Tam hails. What would Peter do if I straddle him on the ripped pleather upholstery, kiss him between the eyes where the chicken pox scar divots his skin? But I don’t.
I want to tell you that I invite him into my room. I want to tell you that I point to the intercom on the headboard, say, They’re listening to us now. I want to tell you that Peter’s tongue traces from my breastbone to my navel, his fingers tug open the zipper of my jeans. I want to tell you that his lips mutter into my skin, Let them listen.
But he doesn’t.
I want to tell you that over breakfast of instant coffee and fresh wheels of flatbread, Peter says, I should’ve stayed.
But he doesn’t do that either.
Lori Sambol Brody lives in the mountains of Southern California. Her short fiction has been published in Tin House Flash Fridays, New Orleans Review, The Rumpus, Little Fiction, Necessary Fiction, and elsewhere. Her stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and chosen for the Longform fiction pick-of-the-week. She can be found on Twitter at @LoriSambolBrody and her website is lorisambolbrody.wordpress.com.