A little pulp fiction, of the lesbian variety…
Under a glowing sign that reads ‘Arrivals’, the automatic doors slide open with a whoosh. A blast of warm air greets Dana, welcome after the blinding snowstorm she drove through to get here — an unexpected snowstorm for which she is less than adequately dressed.
She’s carefully put together in new jeans — but not too new, broken in just enough to look loved — white button down shirt, soft denim jacket, and brown Blundstones, old and soft as butter. In her ears, she wears silver hoops that are neither too big nor too small, and that match the premature silver streaked through recently cut, auburn hair — hair that shimmers with carefully applied, precisely measured pomade.
Her cheeks are a little too pink and her eyes a little too bright as she wipes sweaty palms against her thighs. She glances around the terminal, unsure of where she needs to be. Curious, she moves to stand behind a small crowd staring blankly at a monitor suspended from the ceiling. Without being aware of it, her face takes on the uncomprehending, slack-jawed look of those around her. She holds her breath, unable to grasp what she’s seeing.
Finally, her already pink cheeks start to burn and her breath escapes her lungs in a rush. “Shit,” she mutters, as the red word flashing repeatedly on the screen takes on meaning. ‘Delayed’, it says, over and over, for flight after flight.
Even though everything was on time when she’d checked online at home, she should have known as soon as those first flakes started falling, quickly filling the beams of her headlights and turning the highway’s grey pavement white. She runs a careless hand roughly through her hair and looks around the room.
On the far side of the ‘Arrivals’ hall, a wild looking, young-ish woman stares at a similar monitor and experiences a similar reaction. Only she doesn’t mutter ‘shit,’ she yells it, throwing her over-sized pink handbag to the floor for emphasis.
Her hair is purple, a spiky purple mess that clashes noisily with her hot pink cardigan, which, in turn, clashes with her lime green, leopard print mini skirt. The black fishnet stockings and army boots are the only parts of the outfit that come close to making any kind of sense.
As Dana watches, she buries an unthinking hand in purple hair. A second hand joins the first and both grab fistfuls for a minute, as if they might try to pull it out by the roots. She jerks her head around as though in search of someone or something, then extends her eyes and arms to the heavens in jubilation when she apparently finds it. Picking up her pink bag, she struts away.
Dana scans the far end of the room, curious about Purple Hair’s destination. She smiles when she sees the flashing neon sign: High Flyerz Lounge Open.
‘Thank Christ’, she thinks. A beer would help kill time, might calm her nerves. And Purple Hair’s company might provide a welcome distraction.
She hesitates just inside the entrance, allowing her eyes to adjust from harsh fluorescents to dated track lighting, augmented by a few flickering candles. Purple Hair isn’t hard to find; even in the dimly lit bar, that hair glows. Dana spots her slouched on a stool, cheek resting on her right fist while her left hand absently flips a credit card against the top of the bar.
“Mind if I join you?” Dana slides into the empty stool beside her before Purple Hair has time to do anything more than form an ‘O’ with her pink mouth. She slips out of the denim jacket, tosses it over the back of her stool, and turns with a smile to the wild looking woman beside her.
“Looks like I don’t have much of a choice,” Purple Hair says with a shrug. The bartender places what looks like straight scotch in front of her and takes the credit card. “Keep it open,” she tells him. “I’m not going anywhere in this shit.”
He pauses expectantly in front of Dana. She orders an overpriced IPA, reaching into the back pocket of her jeans for her wallet. Glancing at Purple Hair as she pulls out some cash, she asks, “You waiting for a flight out or someone coming in?”
Purple Hair leans back in her stool and awkwardly crosses fishnet covered legs, heavy boots banging loudly against the front of the bar. After a gulp of whisky, she says, “I’m waiting for my bloody mother and her blue-haired, trailer park, bingo cronies. They’re coming in from fucking Reno — Reno, for chrissakes.”
She scrunches up her face and her voice takes on a croaky, mocking tone. “‘Make sure you bring the van, Zoe dear, for the bags of cash I’ll be packing home. And don’t be late!’” She pauses and polishes off the rest of her scotch, signaling the barkeep for another. “Late, my ass. I could’ve waited until tomorrow morning and still made it on time.”
Dana laughs politely and nods, handing the bartender a twenty as he puts her beer in front of her. So Purple Hair has a name. “You’re Zoe, then?”
“Yeah.” She rummages in the depths of that massive, pink bag and pulls out a pack of cinnamon Dentyne. “Ex-smoker,” she says, rolling her eyes and popping three pieces into her mouth at once. “What about you?”
“No.” Dana lifts a shoulder in a half shrug. “Never bothered to quit.”
Zoe chuckles, shaking her head. “That’s not what I meant. Your name?”
“Oh, sorry. Dana. Nice to meet you.” She extends a hand in mock formality.
Zoe looks at it a moment, hesitates, then gives it a quick, limp shake. “You, too,” she says unconvincingly, reaching for the glass the bartender has just deposited in front of her. She swirls the amber liquid absently, then heaves a sigh. “And where are you supposed to be going tonight?”
“Me?” Dana says. “Oh, no. I’m waiting for someone, too.” She takes a long pull on her beer.
Zoe looks at her expectantly, a carefully plucked eyebrow cocked, waiting for her to go on.
Dana traces a drip of condensation down the side of the bottle with the tip of her finger. The thought of actually saying it out loud starts her palms sweating all over again and brings the heat back to her cheeks. She glances at Zoe and takes a deep breath.
“Actually,” she finally says with a small smile, “I’m waiting for someone I’ve never met.”
“Huh?” Zoe asks. “How so?
“Well, I’m kind of embarrassed to admit it but I’m sort of waiting for a blind date. Someone I met online.”
“You’re kidding?” Suddenly riveted, Zoe leans so far forward the stool almost topples out from under her and she has to grab Dana’s shoulder to stop the fall. In a tangle of fish net and army boots, she clumsily regains her seat and frantically waves her hands in front of her face, as though about to faint. “Oh… my … god,” she says breathlessly. “Like on an app, you mean? Like Tinder or something? “
Dana smirks ruefully, taking Zoe’s measure with a familiar caution that she promptly throws to the wind. “This town’s too small for Tinder. Every woman on there is either an ex or the ex of an ex.” Watching Zoe’s face, she sees the penny drop and wonders if shock will follow. But none registers.
More pleasantly surprised than relieved, Dana continues. “I needed to expand the dating pool a bit so I went old school. Plenty of Fish.”
“You’re a braver dyke than I am,” Zoe says, sipping scotch and shaking her head. “The whole online dating thing scares the shit out of me.”
Dana notices the ‘than I am’ part. As good as they can sometimes be, her instincts hadn’t twigged to that and she hopes her own shock doesn’t show on her face. Just in case it does, she turns away and chugs the last of her beer, raising her hand to the bartender.
Turning back to face Zoe, Dana feels suddenly tongue-tied, suddenly hyper-aware of the short skirt and those fishnet covered legs. And she’s suddenly very warm. She unbuttons her cuffs and rolls up her sleeves.
Apparently oblivious, Zoe stares into her glass, unconsciously tugging an earlobe. “This is just too fucking cool,” she says, swiveling toward Dana in her seat. “Someone you met online is flying into town, in the middle of a freaking snowstorm, just to meet you?”
Keeping her eyes forward, Dana takes a casual sip of her beer. “Yup,” she says flatly, finding it difficult to muster any enthusiasm for the stranger on a plane, the stranger stuck somewhere on the other side of the storm.
Leaning in, Zoe abruptly grabs Dana’s forearm and says, in a rush of words, “Oh, come on. You must be going nuts. Who is she? Where’s she coming from? Don’t leave me hanging like this — you have to tell me all about it.”
Dana smells cinnamon Dentyne and scotch, and some kind of musky perfume. She looks down at Zoe’s hand, white skin, fingernails painted black, stark against her freckled arm. There’s strength in that grip, and a contagious excitement.
Lifting her head, Dana looks into Zoe’s eager face, noticing startling green eyes for the first time. “Alright,” she says with what she hopes will pass for a resigned sigh. “Where should I start?”
“At the beginning, of course,” Zoe breathes. “And don’t leave anything out. Not a single fucking detail.”
Dana slowly nods and settles more comfortably into her stool. She wonders if she’ll be able to remember every fucking detail and decides it doesn’t matter. It’s enough just to be here, sat next to this wild looking woman with spiky, purple hair.
Hoping the storm will rage on for a very long time, she begins.
To be continued…