“A Blonde, a Body, and (Milton)” by Jon Gibson

Claire sat cross-legged on the stool in the corner of Jimmy Dean's theme bar. She was bored, had been for hours. The ice in her Screwdriver had liquefied so she avoided drinking it. The man at the table next to her kept making hollow threats if she did not go back to his apartment and commit to him for a night.

But she ignored all this, stirring her watered drink with a palm-tree-plastic toothpick as she watched the man at the black-marble bar in the black suit (nice) and the turquoise dress shirt that jumped out at the rim, overlapping the collar of the jacket.

The suit fit him, as did the drink next to him bleeding water through the glass walls it was in. Everything surrounding him seemed to complement his skin-tone-tan and beach-sand-hair, short and gelled.

"Why does he have to be so bad?" she thought, her eyes still content with his image under a yellow party light, shining less than last night.

As a waitress walks to her she losses focus, "Did you want me to get you another?"

"What?" (The "what" came out with an extended "w" and a strong "t"). Claire was confused for the moment.

"Do you want another drink?"

"No. No thank you," she was thirsty but she didn't care anymore. As the waitress turns with the watered-down Screwdriver on her tray Claire reaches out to her. "Bu-bu-but you--," pointing at the waitress in an almost threatening manner.

"Are you drunk?"

"No. I just wanted to ask you something but you were walking away. I seem drunk don't I?" Now she was upright and serious, her hands on the small, round table in front of her. Leaning over to the waitress she asked, "Is that man over there, that man in the black suit, with the black shoes, the black Rolex sun-dial watch and the black briefcase who I think it is?"

The waitress checks for cars (both ways) and glances at her watch. "You know Miss, I'm sorry but the bar is closed," smiling but her kindness seemed to be passing Claire.

Claire checks her Rolex and corrects the waitress, "It's only eleven. The bar closes at three."

"I told you the bar is closed. Mitch!" signaling to the bartender.

"I just want to talk to him. I have a pass," Claire says diving into her purse and pulling out the New York Journal Press Pass.

"Absolutely not. You must leav--," the bartender arrives. "Mitch, this lady, this re-por-ter won't leave."

"Is there a problem?" He says, gripping a broken bottle behind his back, not hinting at it but Claire saw him pick it up.

"I - No. Sorry. I'll leave."

With winged-grace she slides off the stool, turns around, disappointed but determined, puts on her feather collared coat, buttons it and walks towards the door framed by pink neons.

As she walks away the man in the black suit, the black shoes, with the black Rolex sun-dial watch and the black briefcase swivels around in his stool and raises his hand, "Wait. Luc, bring her over here. I've been waiting for her."

The bartender, Luc, looks confused but follows the man's orders. He shows Claire to a stool next to his and she sits down. Luc asks her what her pleasure is and she answers, "the same as him," pointing to the black suit man.

"So you are a reporter?" he asks, already knowing the answer.


"So you help people with problems?"

"Mostly, but sometimes I cause them. It's not an easy job," she says softly while digging in her purse for a miniature spiral notepad. "You, for example, have been coming to this bar for about three weeks or maybe more, but that's all I know about. Do you know why?"

"Should I ask or are you just going to tell me?"

Claire smiles, continuing, "I've been sitting on the stool in the far corner for three weeks from nine-to-three every night, watching you drink a martini 'till dawn and look in your briefcase, your glowing briefcase, every few hours to pull out gold coins to pay for your drinks, waiting for my chance for this interview."

"Who said this was an interview?"

"You did," she says with a broad smile. "You did when you called me over to sit next to you."

"You know, I must admit I don't usually like reporters. Most of them are men, ugly men that don't even dress professionally nor look it. The only good, profound persons in the business of news seem to be women. More specifically a woman like you."

Claire listens to his compliments, (pathetic) and nice, as she sips her glass of alcohol.

"You're pretty, smart, intelligent, audacious. I would be willing to gamble that the man that you report to, your boss, has tried to sleep with you on numerous occasions. But your face, your face is innocent and pure. You wouldn't do something like that. Not giving in to people like that is winning to you. You have a certain radiance to you. You almost seem to glow. You remind me of an angel I once knew."


"Oh, when I was young I used to read and write a lot. Angels. Demons. Heaven. Hell. I liked the topic of the afterlife. The end of all pain and the beginning of suffering or glee. You could say I am an expert."

"What's in this drink, anyway?" she says curiously while writing vigorously.


She looks at him in confusion.

"The nectar of the Gods. It's expensive. I import it from Columbia."

"What is your name anyway?"

"Oh, I've got many names. Just call me John."

"Well John, you're very good with women. If I am not mistaken, you are trying to seduce me."

He looks into her for a moment, then smiling he says, "You're right. Your smile, your grace, your body, your world. I want to be in it. I want it. It's almost like fate is knocking on my door."

"Oh, it's not fate."

"I think it is. You know, I've been watching you for the past three weeks. I could see you the whole time through the security mirror. Every time you crossed your legs, every time you took a sip of your numerous Screwdrivers and every time you would put on fresh, cherry-red lipstick by looking at your reflection on the little, pink pocket-mirror. You have been the main focus of my attention for the past three weeks, which almost seem like a eternity. The first night you walked into Jimmy Dean's you were wearing a red cocktail dress and had your hair in curls. Your blonde hair shimmered like tinsel on a Christmas tree. Your shoes were a light red like a died egg on Easter Sunday. And your skin, your skin had a certain gentle glow, a gentle radiance like a smile on a good day. If skin could smile it would be yours. You personified everything I've ever dreamed about, everything I've ever desired and wanted the moment you stepped through that door. You are my God."

As Claire listened she scribed. She was writing a story, not a new story, more important. But as she wrote her pen slipped and fell to the cold floor carpeted by marble tile like a diner from the 50's. John noticed the pen drop and went down to retrieve it, still talking, rambling. While he was picking it up, for the few seconds it took him to find it stuck under the edge of the bar, Claire was preparing. She grabbed a vile filled with green liquid, poison, quickly shook it a few times, opened it and poured it all into John's Ambrosia.

When John lifted his head and handed Claire her pen it was as nothing was different. She was smiling and he was too, green with mean envy, his seductive smile in waiting for her. But this is were the interview ends.

"Sorry, but I have to leave," she says sincerely.

"Well, at least let us finish our Ambrosia."

"Sure," agreeing. So she lifted her glass and he did the same so they both drank. Neither of them lay the glass on the table until the Ambrosia was gone. Claire finished first and John last. Although he really never did finish his imported liquor. Before he even had the chance to remove the glass from between his lips he had perished like a bird. He seemingly lost his wings of desire and fell to the black and white tile of Jimmy Dean's tavern. The impact caused the glass to slide out of his mouth and shatter on the ground. A little stream a blood even seemed to form, flowing from his forehead and across through the middle of the dining area.

And as all this happened, Claire was packing her belongings into her purse, preparing her leave. She even watched as the waitress and the bartender rushed to his aid, petting his head and talking to him as if he was a dog.

Claire smiled.

She smiled as she lit the six matches that were left in the book she had, as they seemingly fell in motion as slow as the turtle and as the fire joined with the alcohol on the floor. It was visually pleasing like Kafka and Gilliam. The three bodies burned like they were demons, howling and screeching almost as if they were enjoying it.

Claire smiled as she walked out of Jimmy Dean's and flew away amidst the flame, smoke, and ash.