“Yeah,” Lisa said into the receiver, the phone pressed to her ear, as she exited the kitchen. She had changed out of her slinky black dress, but had still felt in the mood for dark colours, and was wearing a black sleeveless top and a long skirt, covered in red blooms over a black background. “Delivery,” she added, closing the door behind her. “555-4828. Half Canadian bacon with pineapple, half artichoke with pesto and light on the cheese. Thanks.” She ended the call with a beep and put the phone back down on the table.
The doorbell rang.
“Who is it?” Lisa called out.
“Denny,” came the voice on the other side of the door.
With a smile, Lisa opened the door to let him in. “Hey, Denny,” she greeted him. “How are you doing?”
“I’m fine,” Denny blushed. “What’s new with you?”
“Actually, I’m really busy. Do you want something to drink?” Lisa offered.
“No, thanks,” Denny declined. “I just want to talk to Johnny.” He blinked, cocking his head to the side as if he was just noticing Lisa at that second. “You look beautiful today,” he observed with a growing smile. He ducked his head down, trying to look endearing and emphasize his naiveté. “Can I kiss you?” he entreated.
Lisa gave a little gasp of faux scandalisation. “You are such a little brat!” she told Denny, trying not to laugh.
“I’m just kidding,” Denny whined, backpedaling. “I love you and Johnny.”
“Okay, okay,” Lisa reassured him, accepting the apology. “Johnny’s going to be here any minute. You can wait if you want,” she proposed.
“Hmm,” Denny thought, considering his options. “I gotta go. You’ll tell him I stopped by?”
“Of course I will,” Lisa promised, Denny absorbing her words with a grin.
Denny disappeared as quickly as he had come, closing the door behind him.
A few minutes later, Johnny’s small, boxy white car was pulling into the driveway of the townhouse. As a passing bus thundered by, Johnny opened the door. His hand held behind his back, hiding the bouquet of roses he had just bought, he quickly spotted Lisa, who threw him a stunning smile and put her book down as she rose to meet him.
“Hi, babe,” he greeted her. He swung the bouquet out from behind his back, conjuring a spray of roses and baby’s breath. “These are for you.”
Lisa took the bouquet happily, beaming at the blossoms. “Thanks honey,” she enthused, “They’re beautiful.” She leaned in and planted a warm kiss on Johnny’s cheek. “Did you get the promotion?”
“Nah,” Johnny said, rolling his eyes as his shoulders slumped, defeated. He trudged away, sinking down onto the couch.
For a moment, Lisa watched him, clutching the bouquet of roses to herself, hugging them to her chest. Finally she sighed, putting the roses in a glass vase she’d been carrying and placing them on the coffee table and then sitting across from Johnny. “You didn’t get it,” she criticized, “Did you?”
“That son of a bitch told me I would get it within three months!” Johnny exclaimed, the rage exploding out of him. “I saved them bundles! They’re crazy! I don’t think I will ever get it,” he continued as Lisa busied her hands arranging and rearranging the roses. “They betrayed me, they didn’t keep their promise, they tricked me, and I don’t care anymore.”
Giving up her quest for the perfect flower arrangement, Lisa slumped back in her chair. “Did you tell them how much you save them?” she asked.
“Of course,” Johnny ranted, “What do you think? They already put my ideas into practice.” He stopped and sighed before adding, as summary, “The bank saves money, and they are using me, and I am the fool.”
“I still love you,” Lisa offered, a sweet smile plastered across her lips.
“You’re the only one who does,” Johnny mused.
Lisa’s smile faltered, her back stiffened. “At least you have friends,” she pointed out, “I didn’t get any calls today. You’re right.” As she nodded, Lisa looked back at Johnny’s gift of flowers. “The computer business is too competitive.” An impish look on her face, Lisa’s eyes rose to meet Johnny’s. “You want me to order a pizza?”
“Whatever,” Johnny groaned, “I don’t care.”
“I already ordered a pizza,” Lisa grinned.
Johnny favoured this with a chuckle. “You think about everything.” The moment of levity passed, and Johnny lapsed into silence, staring at the bowl of fruit on the coffee table in front of him, brooding.
Her eyes full of concern, Lisa tilted her head. “What’s the matter?” she asked. “Are you all right? It’s just a lousy promotion,” she consoled Johnny. “You know what you need?”
Johnny looked up, intrigued.
“You need a drink.”
“I don’t drink,” Johnny chuckled. “You know that!”
Lisa pursed her lips. A few minutes later, after the pizza had arrived and sat open, inviting, on the coffee table, she slipped away, only to come back with two tumblers made of cut crystal, half filled with red wine. Johnny watched her progress with amusement. A bottle of vodka was tucked under one arm, and, as she set the glasses down, she righted the bottle and unscrewed the cap. She shot Johnny a triumphant look as the vodka opened before filling the two glasses with the clear, potent liquid.
The smell of pesto, garlic, tomato and bread filled the room, a cornucopia of pleasures. Johnny breathed it in as Lisa passed him one of the glasses, holding the other one. “Don’t worry about it,” she told him as he looked down uncertainly at the light red liquid he held. “It’s good for you.”
As if to prove it, Lisa brought her glass to her lips and easily drank a long sip of the mixture. In response, Johnny put his glass back on the table with an audible clatter. “You must be crazy,” he motioned at the wine and vodka, “I can’t drink this.”
Lisa placed her drink on the coffee table before putting Johnny’s drink back in his hand. “If you love me, you’ll drink it,” she giggled, her hand resting on Johnny’s. She guided the concoction back to his mouth, tipping the glass and giving him a gulp large enough that Johnny began to sputter.
The drink moved away from Johnny’s face with Lisa’s hand, but Johnny focused on the glass with a newfound appreciation. “You’re right,” he nodded. “It tastes good.” He let out a short chuckle.
“I know,” Lisa said with a haughty raise of her chin, raising her glass as she spoke. “I am right.” She took another sip of the wine and vodka. “Don’t worry about those fuckers. You’re a good man.” Overcome by giddiness, she giggled, “Drink and let’s have some fun.”
The two crystal glasses clinked together in a quick toast before Johnny shrugged and joined Lisa, drinking deeply. The wine and vodkas were quickly drained, keeping pace with the emptying pizza box. As Johnny and Lisa enjoyed their dinner, guzzling their drinks, they refilled their glasses from the half-full bottle of vodka, still sitting on the coffee table. The night wore on, the strong, clear liquid disappearing.
Johnny and Lisa took no notice, lost in the moment and each others’ eyes. Playfully, Lisa had removed her future husband’s already loosened and lopsided tie and placed it on her head, wearing it like a headband. Johnny chuckled at his future wife’s head wear.
Finally, Lisa inverted the bottle of vodka, letting the final drops drip into her glass. She rose to stand next to Johnny, where they had been dancing moments ago, and put the drink to her lips. Johnny did the same, and they both raced to finish the several full mouthfuls of pure, unadulterated vodka in both their glasses. As Lisa finished hers, Johnny tried to catch up, a stream of alcohol dribbling down his chin, trickling over his neck and spreading across the front of his shirt. Seeing this, Lisa collapsed onto the couch, helplessly dissolving into giggles.
Finishing the glass, Johnny cast it aside, shattering it on the ground. Pushing his long black hair back, tucking it behind his ears, he studied Lisa from his position above her. “You have nice legs, Lisa,” he observed.
Guffawing, Lisa pointed up at Johnny. “And you have nice pecs,” she laughed.
Johnny chuckled in response. “I’m tired, I’m wasted,” he rattled off, “I love you, darling!”
Still fighting back giggles, Lisa smiled invitingly. “Come on,” she beckoned, “Make love to me.”
Wobbling where he stood, Johnny groaned, clutching his stomach.
“Come on,” Lisa pleaded, insistent. “You own me one.” Reaching out, Lisa grabbed Johnny’s hand, pulling him down to sit next to her on the couch. Johnny wrapped his arm around Lisa’s shoulders, settling in to nestle next to her.
“I love you, Lisa,” he told her.
Lisa smiled. “I love you,” she replied, beginning to unbutton Johnny’s shirt, still damp with vodka, “Johnny.” Suddenly, she dug her fingers into the fabric, balling it in her hands, before ripping the garment open and revealing Johnny’s bare chest. Buttons scattered, sounds of them clattering against the ground coming from all over the living room.
The fabric still clutched in Lisa’s fists, she yanked her future husband towards her, beaming. She kept him pressed as close to her as she could as they kissed. For a long time, they simply stayed in that position, feeling each others’ warmth. Eventually though, they stumbled upstairs. Unknowingly, and without a second glance, Johnny passed over the spot on the stairs where his best friend had, that day, entwined so intimately with his future wife, the same way Johnny intended to.
Like the night before, Lisa lit candles and put on music, preparing their bedroom. She smiled seductively at Johnny as she slowly removed her skirt and top, and Johnny cast aside his shirt, now missing most of its buttons. Both their heads swimming, they tumbled into the bed together, their closeness chasing away the rest of the day, the trials they had faced when they had been apart. For minutes or for hours or for days or for years they embraced, enraptured in each others’ forms, until they both fell asleep.