She led me down a dark dirt path off the pavement. I’d met her fifteen minutes into the Fantasy Party, we talked for maybe ten minutes, and she said let’s blow this popsicle stand, and I, always ready to follow a redhead, agreed. Our only light was the flash from her iPhone and we ended up at an old barn. “This is what I wanted to show you,” she said, sliding the barn door open and heading towards a far corner. This is the path to a nest of spiders. She began to undress and said, “Nothing turns me on more than making love in the straw knowing there are spiders only inches away.”
I will only follow a redhead so far. I said adios and found my way back to the party where I re-introduced myself to the bartender and chugged a double bourbon with one cube to settle me down. I saw the redhead again and watched her lead someone else out towards the path.
“If I had a drink like you just did, I’d feel like my soul’s on fire,” said a more safe and hopefully sane brunette. “Don’t much like spiders?” she asked.
“Not much,” I said feeling the bourbon mellow and massage my insides.
She said, “Let’s grab another drink and go down by the swings—I’ve never gotten over my love of playground swings. I love Bill’s parties, don’t you?” I told her I’d never been to one before and she said, wrong answer, and then I remembered the invite rules: make everything up including your name, occupation and phone number. This is my First Annual Fantasy Party, the invitation read.
It was a pleasant evening and truth be told it was fun swinging and sipping my drink. “Want me to push you?” I asked and she said, “Maybe after we get to know each other better and by the way, what’s your name?”
“Arnold,” I said.
“That’s the name of my accountant, gynecologist and former divorce lawyer and also the name the Indian man uses when he calls to sell me solar panels. My name’s Henrietta and after the spider episode what gave you the courage to follow me outside?”
“Cleavage,” I said and she said, “You realize you said that aloud, don’t you?”
“The bourbon is the key that unlocks the filter between my brain and mouth,” I said and she found that charming. Then she said, “Okay you can push me now,” and I stopped my swing and pulled back the ropes on hers and pushed her forward.
She kept saying higher, higher, which my brain heard as harder harder so I pulled back and let it rip and pushed her harder and higher and when she was above the top of the swing she let go of the ropes and spread her arms and flew off to parts unknown. I walked back to the party thinking perhaps I wasn’t cut out for Fantasy Parties and went to the bar where the bartender was ready with my double bourbon and one cube, looked around and saw the spider lady and the swing lady entwined on the couch and walked out, glass in hand, looking for a cab.
Paul Beckman was one of the winners in the Queen’s Ferry 2016 Best of the Small Fictions. His stories are widely published in print and online in the following magazines amongst others: Connecticut Review, Raleigh Review, Litro, Playboy, Pank, Blue Fifth Review, Flash Frontier, Matter Press, Metazen, Pure Slush, Jellyfish Review, Thrice Fiction and Literary Orphans. His latest collection, “Peek”, weighed in at 65 stories and 120 pages. His published story website is www.paulbeckmanstories.com and blog is www.pincusb.com
Read an interview with Paul here.