Four Days of Valentine

Late afternoon. Garth Brooks comes on the jukebox.
"Please sing!" The woman coos to her husband. "Please?"
Charlie puts his Coors Light down on the bar and takes a deep breath.

Evening. Duncan stops his truck in front of a locked gate, puts it in park, and opens his driver's-side door. The light inside the truck comes on and he looks at me. "I can tell you're intelligent because you have dark, twinkly eyes," he says. "Intelligent people always have dark, twinkly eyes. My aunt told me that, because I have 'em too." He closes the door and walks smiling over to the gate with his keys.

My eyes are in fact pale: green and blue with gold flecks. The color of water polluted with gasoline.

The weekend. Sitting at a table in a VFW hall watching senior citizens dance to a blues band. The old cling to each other for dear life, holding each other up. I am in awe. Nothing compares to the intimacy of an ancient couple dancing in a deep embrace, keeping time with the music, ensuring the other doesn't disappear. Fred pulls me from the trance. "This is like 'Night of the Living Dead' meets 'Blues Brothers!'" he whispers loudly. I nod and write this down so I can remember it later.

Morning. I move closer to the man sleeping next to me and put my head on his chest. "I love you," I say. He doesn't answer. The back of my throat burns.

Charlie is still singing. "I could have missed the pain," he belts out in a magnificent baritone, "but I would have missed the chance." The other patrons have fallen silent, staring into their beers.