She knew he was different since the day he looked at her.
She remembers that day, not as lucid as she would have liked, but she remembered, and that was all that counted.
Red? Was it red? No, the bow in her hair was most likely blue, a tad soiled from drops of spilt beer; she had been young at that time, wholly naïve, a bit too believing in the shit of a world that had spit her onto the ground penniless without a mother. Recalling the rest of what went by was impossible—but she was a country girl through and through, with that dogged streak that had never left her side, even after a false exchange of intimacy.
Maybe, if she closed her eyes and thought hard enough, she could make out that dusty old saloon at the opposite end of the sheriff's place—yes, and the tiny little corner she had awkwardly stood in, her makeup smeared, barely clutching onto that mess of rags she had called a dress. She had been desperate that night, eagerly waiting for a man, any man, to walk towards her and hand her another five dollar bill, the sign to go upstairs into a secluded room.
And then, when everything seemed imperfectly ideal, he had come.
The funny thing was, though it was not funny at that time, he looked as lost as she was, with his scrawny build and a voice that cracked every now and then. She remembers this scene clearly, however: Twenty steps, a stretch of silence, her eyes wider than the bottle of moonshine, feet that came before her. Through the raucous of drunkards and the piano, she had somehow made out the rapid beat of his heart as he looked at her in nothingness.
His eyes had been as dead as hers.
He took her for thirty-five dollars, not five but thirty-five U.S. dollars, the amount that could only be understood by that faint crinkling noise of bills and trembling hands. She had cast her gaze down and expected to follow his lead, but he merely pushed her forward with his glance for what she had wanted; so she took him outside, her breaths labored, wishing she could say anything that resembled nothing as she stripped off her clothes. And her hand had reached forward for the buttons of his shirt …
Afterwards, he leaves, and she remembers the strange feeling of an established connection as he dresses himself—the thirty-five dollars in the bodice of her attire was foreign, something she could not touch without remembering the lips that were against hers, right after she experienced pleasure for the first time. Her body had quivered, and damn, those thirty-five dollars!
She knew he was different since the day she looked at him.
He remembers that day all too well.