Someone knew her better than she knew herself.
March 5, 2014
A VG Serial: ToxiCity
After a few margaritas at Italian Gardens, Georgia dimly heard Ed tell her to call it a night. Right, buddy. No way she was going home to an empty apartment. She shuffled to her car and revved the engine. A moment later she was speeding down the Kennedy. Exiting on Fullerton, she headed north to Diversey and parked a few doors from the Bullet Lounge. She checked her watch. Ten.
Waves of heat, perfume, and beer hit her as she pulled open the door. Georgia made her way to the bar and ordered a glass of wine.
By her second glass, she had her plan. First she’d shoot the woman with Matt, whoever that was. Then Matt. Then herself. She ordered another glass. She spotted a woman at the other end of the bar making eyes at her. She slid off her seat, thinking she’d play a few tunes on the jukebox, but gravity was against her, and she bumped into the woman on the next stool. She picked herself up, ready to apologize, but checked herself when she saw the woman locked in an embrace with another woman.
The two women were oblivious to the crowd, the noise, and the music. Georgia was curious. What would another woman’s lips feel like? As soft as Matt’s? And a female body—would it feel the way Matt’s did, his sinewy limbs weighing her down, making her feel wanton but protected?
Stumbling over to the jukebox, she scanned cuts from kdlang, Melissa Etheridge, Cher. There was also a decent selection of Blues. She settled on a Muddy Waters track and threw in some coins. When she turned around, Clark Addison was in front of her. Dark hair, jeans, thick sweater, work boots.
“I thought it was you. I saw you come in.”
Georgia looked up. She’d forgotten how tall Clark was.
“What brings you down this way, sweet Georgia?”
“I came—I came to find you.” Georgia whispered, realizing with a drunk’s clarity why she’d driven downtown.
Clark raised her eyebrows. “Is that right?”
“What did you have in mind?”
“You tell me.” Georgia smiled suggestively.
Clark took in a deep breath. “Oh, sweet Georgia. If you only knew…”
Georgia stole a glance at the couple she’d jostled, still wrapped in each other’s arms. She turned back to Clark.
Clark sized her up slowly, then shook her head. “Not tonight.”
Georgia could feel heat on her face. “Whassa matter?”
“You’re as drunk as a skunk.”
Georgia started to giggle, but when she saw Clark’s face, the giggle died in her throat.
“When I make love to you, Georgia,” she said, I want you to remember everything. No excuses.”
Georgia felt the room shift around her. Her eyes fixed on a wall sconce that seemed to be revolving in circles. She almost lost her balance, but Clark broke her fall. “But I will buy you a cup of coffee.” She started to guide Georgia back to the bar.
“Take your arm off me.”
“Sorry. I wish it were different.”
Clark looked Georgia up and down again. Georgia saw a wavy image in front of her. Clark sighed, then spread her palms. “Okay, sweet Georgia. You win.”
Hazy, sensual images floated through Georgia’s mind; half-remembered impressions of lips, tongue, and fingers playing her body up and down, in and out. Sweet sensations. Someone knew her better than she knew herself. She was just sinking back into a haze of pleasure when the blast of a car horn startled her. She rolled over. Green neon numbers announced it was one-fourteen. Damn. That always happened when she drank too much. She’d pass out for a couple of hours, then be up all night.
She was about to turn on the light when she realized she wasn’t at Matt’s, and it wasn’t his body curled next to hers. She came awake with a jolt, bands of pain squeezing her temples. As she heard steady breathing beside her, the events of last night flooded back. Speeding down the Kennedy. The Bullet. Clark Addison. Her hand flew to her mouth. Jesus. What had she done?
She got out of bed and felt around for her clothes. Despite the darkness, she found them on the floor. Gathering them up, she crawled on her hands and knees to the other room. As she reached the doorway, Clark stirred. Georgia held her breath until she was sure Clark wouldn’t wake up. Dressing, she found her purse on the couch. She fled through the door.
She spotted her car halfway down the block. Thank God. She sprinted to it and dove inside. She keyed the engine and pulled out fast, her tires screaming.
Well, at least she didn’t have to wonder anymore. Except she’d been loaded; maybe it didn’t count. Right, lady. And you didn’t like it either. She braked at a light. It didn’t matter. Bottom line? Clark didn’t give a shit about her any more than Matt did. They were both just after a piece of ass. Hers. And she had rolled over. Made it easy for them. What did that make her?
Speeding south on the Drive, Georgia switched on her Springsteen CD and blasted “Born to Run.” She remembered Stone telling her how he’d heard Springsteen twenty-five years ago in Asbury Park. He’d always known the guy would make it big. Georgia hadn’t believed him, but Matt said Stone would never bullshit about the Boss. Who knew Stone knew his way around rock music
“Strap your hands cross my engines…”
At North Avenue, Georgia headed down LaSalle Street. The street was empty. She floored it.
“Trash like us, baby we were born to run”. Her Toyota was a plane. If she could just get enough groundspeed, she could throttle back and lift off. Climb up through the clouds. Away from everything.
“A suicide rap, a death trap.”
Seconds later, she was barreling down Halsted towards Greek town. Soon she’d be passing the restaurant where Stone and Deanna had their wedding dinner. This stretch of road, flanked by concrete abutments on both sides of the street, extended under a viaduct. She couldn’t remember which street crossed above. She checked the clock on the dash. Almost one-thirty. Maybe she should slow down. Turn around. Go home.
She hit the brakes, intending to make a U-turn before she went under the viaduct. But her speed was deceptive. She was doing over sixty. The Toyota fishtailed, swerved out of control, and smashed into the concrete barrier.
Episodes in the novel will be published on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Please click the following title,ToxiCity, to read more about Libby Fischer Hellman’s books on Amazon.