They were being ushered out, to the tune of "Happy Trails" and the glare of bright lights. No more last calls, and no more finishing up. "Let's go, everybody. It's time to go home," the bouncer urged.
Tom was still shooting the shit with a couple of buddies, as they put their darts up in their cases.
He saw her then, a beautiful woman. Long blonde hair, and immaculate face. Didn't think twice about her though, he just went about his business.
As the exiting crowd was funneled toward the front door and everybody got closer to each other, he locked eyes with her. He could see her now, clearly. "Janey," he thought. "It's Janey." Then they looked away uncomfortably.
They worked their way out to the wet sidewalk, greeted by the cold, dark night, still divided into the same groups.
"Can I tell you something?" Richard was asking Janey, obviously drunk off his ass and getting his face in hers, "I don't mean nothin' by it, and I'm not trying to pick you up or nothin', hell, I got my ol' lady waitin' for me back home, but you are a very beautiful woman."
She looked right through him, as if he wasn't there, searching for Tom's eyes again.
"Tom?" she asked gently, "is it you?"
"It's been awhile," he responded. "How're you doing?" embarrassed, Richard moved out of the way and joined his buddies.
"I'm good. Fine, actually," she said. "God, I can't believe it's you! What's it been, three, four years?"
"It's been awhile," Tom repeated. "How's your daughter? Sorry, I don't remember her name."
"Desiree's fine. She started school this year."
"Oh, is that right? She must be so big by now."
"Yes, she's growing up fast."
"What about you?" he asked. "What've you been up to?"
"I became a Jehovah's Witness. I gave up drugs and booze, and now I'm a lot closer to God."
"Well, that sounds great. I'm glad to hear you're doing well."
"I always wondered about you," she said, moving in closer. "I always wondered what happened to you."
Her girlfriend came up to us and asked, "You coming?" as she stole a glance at Tom.
Janey looked at Tom. "You need a ride?" he asked. "I can take you home."
She smiled, a million dollar smile. She hugged her friend good bye.
"My truck's over here," Tom said, showing her the way.
His head was flooding with memories of them, when he first got into town. She was gorgeous in her tiny miniskirt. Killer legs. His buddy said she was bad news. She didn't take good care of her kid. He thought she did speed too. Tom didn't care. She was hot.
He was without a job then, stuck in his buddy's house, living off his charity. She had a small efficiency, not far from there. Just her and her kid, living on welfare. They would spend the hours watching TV and talking. She wasn't too bright, the conversations weren't very interesting. But man, she was so beautiful!
They would make love on the couch, while the kid slept in the bedroom. It was a cheap date, and she was a good lay. Every inch of her tasted good.
"You got married, I see," she said, matter of factly, as they drove toward her place.
"Yes, I did. It's been a couple of years now."
"I never stopped thinking about you, wondering what happened, why you never came back."
"It was hard for me then," he said. "I had to watch out for myself, not get involved so quickly."
"And then you ran out and got married?"
"No, it wasn't like that. I got my life together and met someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with."
She changed the subject. "Are you working? What are you doing?"
"Yeah, I'm working. I got a job down at the mill."
"You like it?" she asked.
"It's alright. I'd like to get some money together and open up a little bodyshop. You know, where you fix cars and stuff?"
It had been only a couple of weeks after they met, when one day he came over with a couple of beer cans in his pockets. She was in a mood, bitching about everything, saying she was on her way out, she was going to some friends, and if he wanted he could come by tomorrow. His ego took a hit. He left and never went back.
There was no driveway where she lived, so he pulled the truck up to the curb. A quiet street, but not far off the main road.
"Thanks for the ride," she said, looking into his eyes.
"You're welcome. It was good to see you."
She went to open the door, then turned around in frustration, "Can I get a hug? Would that be alright?"
"Of course you can," he said without hesitation, putting his arms around her. "We can kiss good-bye too."
But the kiss happened on the lips, which parted and made things worse. He was lost in the smell of her, desperately kissing her from one side, then another, groping her breasts and feeling her legs.
She stroked him, through his jeans, arousing him until he thought he would burst. "Oh, I want you , I want you," she was whispering in his ear, then suddenly shaking her head, saying, "this is wrong, God, this is so wrong!"
He couldn't stop. He'd lost all sense of self control. There were no thoughts for anyone but the two of them in that truck, and consequences be damned, he wanted her.
She was panting on his cheek, driving him wild with desire. She would say, "No, we can't. You're a married man. This is wrong. Oh God, please forgive me!" but she never pulled away, never stopped kissing and stroking him.
She undid her bra and he unbuckled his belt.
A tap came on her window. They were both startled. It was a bearded guy, with a friendly demeanor.
His name was Paul. Tom knew him from the bars. He owned the house Janey was staying at.
"Sorry guys, but the cops have been coming around my house a lot," he said. "Why don't you guys bring it inside? We don't want anybody getting into any trouble out here."
Tom and Janey were busy trying to get themselves together. The presence of another person had brought Tom back down to earth hard. His only thought was all he stood to lose. He got out of the car and went around to Paul, to stretch his hand; to tell him he was just dropping her off, nothing more. No need to mention this to anybody, after all, nothing had happened, right? Just a harmless little hug between old friends. He'd be on his way now, and it would be like nothing ever happened. Right?
Janey stared at him, disbelieving. "Tom, you're leaving?"
He gave her a quick hug, "Good to see you. Gotta go. Bye!" and he climbed back in his truck. They were still standing there looking at him as he drove away.
They never saw each other again.