Johnny closed his eyes and did nothing but listen to June talk. He was tempted to confess his attention wasn’t completely focused on her story but it was on her voice and that was sometimes the most critical thing.
She wouldn’t appreciate hearing that, it was the type of thing that would get him in trouble. But he knew that she would get it. He knew that she would appreciate that he was lost in his world but that he wasn’t so far gone as to not be concerned with hers.
That was because he had always been good at figuring out her mood from her voice. He understood her in ways that no one else ever had.
For a long time she had rolled her eyes any time he had mentioned it. That was because she knew that men would say things that they thought women liked to hear. She had figured it was just some ridiculous line he used because he thought it would make her amenable to his advances.
But when she tested him he proved he was right.
Of course she never told him that she was doing it. It was one thing to be honest and another thing to let him know something that he would never let her live down. He would tease her incessantly and for the rest of her life she would have to listen to it.
Johnny smiled again.
That moment could have been the story from a million years ago. That could have been from the days when June and he talked about what to name their children and laughed about how the other couples would hate them. Not because they were bad people but because they knew 20, 30, 50 years into their marriage they would be as in love as in the beginning. They would be the senior citizens who didn’t understand the sexless marriage because it never happened to them.
It would be something they couldn’t quite understand and yet one day they would.
They would figure it out because it would happen to them except with other people. It would come after the monstrous fights that destroyed things between them. It would come after they thought they had lost it all and had gone their separate ways.
Except something had happened. After things had fallen apart and they had gone their separate ways and had learned that it could happen to them, well somehow they had reconnected. After they had looked at the ashes of marriages to others they had started talking.
Unsought and unseen it had snuck up on them…again.
An accidental meeting at a party and a short conversation had led to an agreement to meet for coffee.
It felt comfortable from the start but they had restrained themselves, cautious about running in too soon, no rebounding with or for each other.
June had told him she didn’t have it in her to be more than friends. She had said she wanted a simple life, told him that she wasn’t playing hard to get. It wasn’t a game, it was what she wanted.
He said ok and then she told him again that if she had to fight him off it would make her angry. He smiled and told her she was beautiful and said that he wanted to sleep with her but wouldn’t. Then he laughed, said he knew that threw her off guard.
“Don’t play games with me Johnny, I don’t like it.”
“I am not playing a game. You won’t admit most of what you really think or want here. You are living in a closet with a curtain pulled tightly across your eyes.”
She narrowed her eyes and the playful tone left her voice.
“What the hell does that mean.”
Johnny smiled again, “you hate when I do that.”
“Then why would you intentionally do it.”
“Because I am the best got damn lover you have ever had. I am your best friend and you trust me more deeply and intimately than any other man and you are scared. So I can take you any time I want. I can have you when I want. All I have to do is give you time to open your eyes or pin you against the refrigerator like good old Uncle Zelig once did.”
And then before she could answer he laughed and started talking again.
“See. I just made it harder for me too. I just pissed you off a little bit so that you would take a step back. Maybe you aren’t the only who is scared, or maybe you are. Fact is there is no rush. Sometimes I believe in meant to be and I am convinced this is one of those things. It will work or it won’t and if it is meant to be it doesn’t matter what I say now does it.”
“I don’t know if you are a fool or an arrogant asshole but I can promise you that you won’t see me naked any time soon. Sometimes the smart thing to do is to keep your mouth shut.”
“Yeah, you are right but that is not how I operate. It is not very romantic, but I think you are fucking beautiful and that when you take your head out of your ass you’ll realize that not everyone gets this. I don’t know what it is, but it is special and it brought back a smile I had lost. Whatever happens or doesn’t happen, I crossed back from the darkness into light.”