The View

The claim of a view from Catalina to downtown was bullshit. Maybe it was possible at sometime, but the smog usually made it so there was no way o see that far. Though right now it didn’t matter. It was night and the city spread out in front of him, a blanket of shimmering lights. It had take years to get used to this dump, let alone climb up the hill. But now he was up here and for the first time in over a decade, alone.

A drop of condensation fell from his glass onto his bare foot. Absently he looked down and was reminded how seldom he wore shoes or dressed in much other than shorts and a short sleeved shirt. Perhaps the view was largely a myth, but one thing for certain was that the weather… the goddamned weather was almost always exactly the same. As he fixed a fresh drink he thought about how ridiculous it was that people moved to Los Angeles for that, the weather. Of all the silly fucking things.

When he moved down he had come with nothing, just like most people. Unlike most people, however, he didn’t have a plan or aspirations. He came down for love and vaguely for a change of scenery. There were years cramped in that little apartment with a tight budget; the arguments bouncing off the walls, the noise from the street, the salad days. Funny how it seemed so hopeless back then and now at middle age there is plenty of space and money but no soul. No, now things were static just like the weather.

Going back to the window he wondered when the girl would show up. Doubtless late. They all showed up late and demanded too much and left a bigger hole than before they got there. That was the beauty of marriage, which he had to admit he still missed: the comfort of partnership. A partnership he dissolved as soon as he found his mortality in a few grey hairs. As simply and as stupidly as that, it was over and once the dust settled there was nothing more to be done about it. Now here he was, thinking about what it might be like to entertain a girl in her twenties for the first time in twenty years.

As if on cue the doorbell rang. He took a solid pull to brace himself and answered it. She stood there all perfume and make-up in an absurdly short dress and spiked heels. There was an almost costume quality to her outfit, but shit, that’s what they do nowadays. Oversexed children with something incomprehensible going on in their minds.

Right on time, come in! He said.

She brushed past him with confidence that only girls that look like that possess. An easy indifference in the absolute knowledge that they can have or do anything they want. Money couldn’t buy that confidence, though clearly it fed it.

Where can I put my clutch?

Wherever is fine. Can I get you a drink?

You have SkinnyGirl?

No.

I guess white wine then and a straw if you have that.

She sat down on the couch and faced the city. Wow, this is really nice, the view. Bet you never get sick of it.

Yes, it’s nice. He handed her the glass of wine with a straw sticking absurdly out at a precarious angle.

You have some ice?

It was a ninety dollar bottle of sauvignon blanc and she wants a fucking straw and ice. He turned to fetch the ice, asking you have a hard time finding the place?

Not too bad. I used to see this guy had a place up here, but he didn’t have the view you have. It’s a really nice one.

He brought a small bowl with ice and having refreshed his drink for a fourth time sat down boldly close to her on the couch. For all his accomplishments, he’d never been able to shake off the crippling lack of confidence around women. He was that awkward teen again, just waiting to be rejected. The fact that it was his house and his couch and his booze and his view didn’t matter. This child still somehow held control. So how long you been in L.A.? he asked.

About two years I guess.

Like it?

It’s okay. I like the vibe and all but I dunno, I might check out Miami or maybe New York in another year or so. I haven’t decided.

Those are also expensive cities.

She looked at him quizzically, obvious that that aspect had never crossed her mind. Yeah, I guess so she said.

How’s the wine?

Good. I like it. Just had my teeth whitened and most people don’t know that white wine can stain teeth too. It’s cool the stuff you don’t know.

He took a pull of his drink and asked her what she wanted to do.

I don’t care, I was thinking maybe just stay in or something. We could order food, maybe watch some TV.

That didn’t sound like a bad idea. He wasn’t really in the mood for getting dressed up and calling a car to go down the hill. He didn’t want to run into anyone – not that this particular age discrepancy was anything out of the ordinary – he just didn’t want to make small talk. He glanced down at his father’s Rolex. Well it’s already eight o’clock. You have anything you’re craving?

Huh? Oh, I’m not really hungry, I just meant more if you were. I’ll have some more of this though.

He took her glass to the bar and called back. If you’re not hungry I’m fine. I probably have popcorn or something if you do get snacky later.

Snacky? Jeez, my dad says that all the time.

Oh?

Yeah, it’s okay though.

You get along with your parents?

Yeah. I kinda miss being so far away, but it’s good I came out and they still help if I need it, y’know with money and stuff. I don’t want to talk about them though.

Tell me again why you moved out here? Naturally he already knew the answer, but the topic fascinated him.

I always wanted to be an actress.

I never understood that.

Well isn’t that why you came out? I mean that’s where you made your money, right?

Some of it, but I never was an actor.

Well, you know what I mean. What are you drinking?

An old fashioned.

You would drink an old fashioned! The wine was starting to loosen her up some. He thought back to the days when a glass or two of wine might have done something other than taste good.

I guess so, he said. Old fashioned guy drinking and old fashioned. Christ, had he just fucking said that? He felt his face flush hot, the teenage boy. Only she wasn’t looking at him.

You’re not that old. Of course, when you say stuff like that…

It sounded different in my head. I guess I’m still rusty with this kind of thing.

She turned back. What kind of thing?

This. Girls… dating, all of it.

She considered this and sipped her wine through its straw. She was beautiful. She had this fresh look to her that was supposed to make him feel young, but really just made him feel impossibly old.

You have a busy day tomorrow? She asked.

He shrugged. Every day is exactly the same. Busy enough. Can’t complain.

I should say not. She turned back out to the view, clearly lost in her own thoughts. He wondered what she was thinking about. I should say not. That sounded strange coming from her. Maybe she was smarter than he’d given her credit for. Maybe there was something else going on that he’d written off. Looking at her neck, her slender fingers and the curve of her breasts he wondered about this girl and what might be.

Then she said actually I have to meet some friends later, but first I wanted to show you something.

She put her glass down and stood up taking his hand. He took a final slug and set his glass down. Her hands were soft and the perfume was light but he felt drunker for it. She smiled and pecked him on the cheek and nibbled his earlobe.

So it’s like that, is it?

It’s like that, she responded.

She led him along the windows to the bedroom and pushed him back onto his ridiculously large bed. Everything was white, he thought. As the girl began a little striptease he wondered why every rich asshole in the hills has everything in white and he wondered when exactly he became one of them. Here he was, the exact thing he’d hoped he’d never become. All the way down to the girl.

You like what you see?

Uh huh, he answered thickly, his mouth dry. She wriggled out of her dress, her perfectly tan body lithe and firm. Heels on or off? She asked. He gestured that it didn’t matter. She lifted a heeled foot up between his legs and smiled as he leered at her waxed nakedness. She smiled, on then. Moving her leg back to the floor, she dropped to her knees and unzipped him as he leaned back and stared at the ceiling.

After they were done she rolled over and faced the window again. He couldn’t tell how much time had passed, maybe hours, but likely closer to one. She had been marvelous in a vaguely dreamlike pornographic way, the budding emotion he’d felt before now extinguished. One day I hope to have a place with a view like this, she said softly.

You sure you have to go? You can stay you know.

No, I have to get going. She rose from the bed and went to the bathroom. He heard the water running as she cleaned herself up and got back into her dress. A few minutes she came out as if nothing had happened. He hadn’t bothered to put on anything past shorts, his hands crossed self consciously over his little gut. You’re beautiful, you know that? He offered. She smiled slightly and crossed over to plant a peck on his forehead. Walk me out?

As he walked her to the front door he looked at her ass wiggling in the little dress and thought about how he could have never gotten any girls that looked like that before. Or maybe he could have had he tried. Better late than never, he supposed. She didn’t say anything until the foyer.

So how do you want to do this? Cash or PayPal?

I have cash. Old fashioned, remember? He took out his wallet and counted six hundred dollar bills and gave them to her.

You know, I like that you always have cash. That’s why you’re one of my favorites. Makes me feel rich. That and I could stare out that window forever. With that she gave his hand a little squeeze. See you again soon?

You bet. Have a good night. And be safe.

Jeez. There you go sounding like my dad again. Well, see you around. And then she was gone. As he walked back to the bar he could still smell her perfume in the air. Glancing down at the couch he could see little ripples in the leather where she had sat. He poured this one extra stiff and walked over to the window, alone again with his thoughts and the view.

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