Tuesday, January 18, 2011
The Woman with the Jet-Black Hair
Jamie was just about to set the plate in front of Moldoun when she stopped suddenly; just at that moment, getting off a motorcycle, there was the woman with jet-black hair. Jamie’s skin prickled all over.
“Sometimes I see things I want to see all the time,” Jamie blurted. She watched the woman take off her helmet and shake her long hair free. The entire restaurant grew hushed. Dishes stopped clinking; the hum of conversations drew far into the background. A deep excitement settled on Jamie as she watched the woman inspect her reflection in the side mirror of the motorcycle.
The young woman walked in with a slight sway to her hips and sat at the table by the door, Jamie could see hidden smiles and trailing looks. At that moment, Jamie wished she didn’t look and feel so tired and that her hair wasn’t in such disarray.
After taking a few other orders, Jamie walked over to the table where the black-haired beauty was sitting. She stacked the cup on top of the plate that had been left there by a previous patron, and wiped the surface of the table. The young woman’s hands rested on her lap, and Jamie watched them, with their thin, blue veins. On her left hand she wore a silver ring etched with an intricate design. Her nails were ragged and half-eaten, the skin around them uneven.
Jamie caught the young woman studying her. She became acutely aware that she was taking in her pink uniform, her army boots, and her black bandana wrapped around her left wrist. Jamie shifted uneasily in her confining uniform. She felt ridiculous.
The young woman spoke. “You’re new here, aren’t you?” Her voice was throaty. It came up from somewhere deep inside her chest. Jamie noticed that she was braless, and the gauzy fabric emphasized her nipples.
“Not that new. Ten days old,” said Jamie, smiling.
The young woman ran a small red tongue over her upper lip. “You’re tall.”
Jamie sent her a look from under her long bangs, which nearly covered her eyes.
“I like your bike,” Jamie said.
“You do? Really?”
“Really.” It pleased Jamie to see how eagerly she had sought her approval.
“It makes me feel powerful and free. You know, being out in the open with nothing between you and the air.”
Jamie wanted to hear her voice a little longer. “A car can do that too.”
“Not the same. I like the attention I get from riding it.”
“It’s a Suzuki TC 100, right?
The girl’s face lit up. “How do you know?”
“I know a good deal about motorcycles," Jamie said. "Had one when I lived in LA, a Kawasaki. It was a real beauty. I used to take long rides to Laguna Beach, sometimes all the way to San Francisco. Fact is, I’m thinking of buying another one.”
“Really? I know this guy, Jed, he rides a Kawasaki. It’s totally cool looking. Orange with lots of chrome.”
The girl threw a glance at Jamie. “I love my bike, but it runs bad when I put the carburetor cover back on.”
“Could be a restricted air flow to the carb.”