Randall T. opened the door almost as soon as I knocked. He walked me inside, to a wide room with stone floors and thick-piled brown rugs. A fireplace sat directly across from the front door, built into a wall of stone running along the back of the house. The room was a cavern.
“Come and sit down with me for a few minutes – before we have dinner, “ Randall T. said, motioning me along with him on into the room.
I’d been thinking and thinking about having it happen like this, with me sitting on his sofa, with me sitting in his house, and him right beside me, grinning big. We were both grinning big, me from the shock of finally finding myself sitting on his sofa, and him, I suppose, from the look on my face as I sat there, all content.
Randall T.’s sofa sat in the middle of his long living room, and, you know how you notice weird things when you’re nervous and excited? Well, I wasn’t nervous, but I was all excited, and in my heightened state, I could feel all the way through my jeans, the taut warmth and texture of the brown leather underneath me, with its deep polished sheen and its hard nubby pillows of red-brown-beige Indian prints propped up behind my back.
I felt something in my hand, and when I looked, I saw I still had my keys in my hand. I was worried about making any mark on Randall’s leather, so I got up and walked over to where I’d put my purse down, and I leaned over to put my keys inside it.
When I stood up and turned around, Randall T. was watching me. He looked a little strained as I explained this to him about my keys; he got a funny look on his face. I thought maybe he was mad, thinking about me making a mark on his good leather.
But then he said something about how nice it was to see me bend over; how women didn’t know how nice that was, seeing them bend over from behind. And then he got another funny look on his face. When I heard his bending over speech, I knew what the rest of his looks had been about.
He showed me to a round wooden table by one of the front living room windows, a nd he walked into the kitchen to carry in our dinner. When I asked him if he wanted any help; Randall T. said no, he wanted to do this all for me, just for me, and I should let him wait on me.
I tunred around in my chair and looked around the room again while Randall T. was gone. There were animal parts everywhere. There was a big deer over the fireplace, a buck with antlers. There were lamps on the end tables like none I’d ever seen before; their stands were made of animal legs. The hoofs were still on them, holidng up the lamps like they used to hold up the deer they used to be part of. There were snowshoes, or I guessed they were snowshoes, since I’d never seen one before, hanging on the fireplace wall, and they looked like they had animal tails hanging up there with them.
Randall T. walked in then, so I turned back around to the table. He brought me his meal of little dead birds on rice, and some green beans, and some wine. The dead birds, he said, were quail.He told me he’d baked them for me, just for me, because they were little, and he thought I’d like them, small like that. I said thank you.
Looking at my dead bird made me feel bad. I moved it around on my plate while Randall T. was talking to me and biting into his bird. The flesh came apart here and there while I forked it around, umtil it looked like I’d eaten some of it, and that was good. I ate the rice and the beans, and drank the red wine Randall T. poured me. I didn’t like it much.
He cleaned off the table pretty fast, and he asked me if I wanted to see his patio with him. We walked out the kitchen door to the side yard of his house. He switched on the patio lights as we walked outside. There were containers of pot everywhere, sitting alongside lounges, sitting on wooden tables. Everywhere.
“Aren’t you worried the cops are gonna find out about these, and you’ll get in trouble?” I said. “I mean, everyone I know hides theirs.”
Randall laughed. His laugh sounded filtered. He kept his lips almost together when he laughed, so his laugh made a kind of wet air sucking sound as it came and went in and out of him. It made him sound like he wasn’t worried about anything, ever, world without end, amen.
“Nah, Renae.” Randall T. laughed his little filtered laugh again. He motioned all around us with an arm and a hand, motioning out into the blue-black darkness, cut off like a wall from the reach of the patio lights. “Look around, honey. We’re out in the woods here. No one comes back here without a reason.”
He looked down at me. “Don’t worry. It’s safe. We can do whatever we wanna do out here, and nobody’ll ever be the wiser.”
Randall let out a breath like he was exhaling something better than only air. “Ready for some of the best weed you’ll ever have?” He had the funny look on his face again, the hard-jawed look men have when they’re waiting, when they’re waiting and they’re finished with the smiling. So I said yes.
I didn’t want Randall T. to know I couldn’t tell good weed from bad, that I didn’t even know how to roll a joint because Jeff and Tony rolled them for me, so as I enhaled and held and exhaled along with him, out there on his patio, sitting on the side of one of his big wooden lounge chairs together, I nodded and agreed when he told me this was some of the best shit anyone around here could ever get. Pretty soon, I was messed up in the good way of being messed up, when everything seems right and worth doing, when life isn’t just one long thick line of daily bore. That’s when we took our clothes off, and we walked inside and up his stairs.
He had a furry brown rug up in his bedroom, spread out over part of the gold carpet underneath it, a big rug of a dead bear’s fur, and the bear’s head on there, too, right in front of Randall T.’s bedroom fireplace. And we were laughing and he had his hands on me and I had mine on him, just where he wanted me to, just where he told me, and pretty soon I had my head leaning back of the back of that bear’s dead head, and Randall T. was inside of me.
After, we smoked another joint, and we laid out there on the rug in the dark, and we told each other stories. And he told me some things about himself that I should’ve hated, but I didn’t hate them in my altered state, in the altered place where lives the part of you that doesn’t have to play pretend. That he had done some bad things with women, but he was doing better now.
You wouldn’t think this was a secret, but there you go, turns out it is. It’s a secret you have to find out for yourself every time because no one believable will tell you out loud, that you can be good and bad and it can work out like that. Good and bad, and no one tells you being this way makes you clearer in the head than the just being only good can make you. Like me, fucking men sometimes just for the feeling of it and the look of the hairs on their bellies, or the line of their thighs, and how beautiful it is and how precisely alive, to look at and to see and to lean over and feel with your cheek and smell of as you’re feeling of it, the hairs and the belly skin and the place where they grow, right there at the bottom of their bellies.
And Randall T. said, as we settled down into the fur beneath us, as we settled down to rest, wouldn’t it great, wouldn’t it be something, he said, if he had a bunny spraddled over this brown bear’s big head, and I was that bunny.
“Man,” he said, “man, that would really be something.”