She teased me, that first time, in the parking lot of Taco Bell—the one on Moana by the airport. We’d been in the Shop-n-go next door for Pall Malls, and then she said buy me a burrito and I did a little dance in the car. I’m a great dancer, I told her, which was a funny thing to say. She thought it was funny too. She wanted to see me dance,
standing, so I did under the lit bell and she rubbed her hand on my hip when I danced. She laughed then, all teeth.
I was a God awful dancer. You should have gone to dance camp, she said to me. Dance camp? What the fuck is dance camp? I went every summer in grade school, she said. My Mom made me. She had hazel eyes and lips that I couldn’t get off mine. When she would turn her head and let me.
That was the year that she won twenty-eight hundred bucks at the Silver Vein, on Main Street. It was so hot in Reno that year, your clothes would sweat right off you. I don’t know about her though. I was at dance lessons. What I would do for those hazel eyes. I stole $97 out of the register at the Wal-mart on second, the one next to the prison. I got fired of course, but they couldn’t see it on the video cameras so they didn’t call the cops. I told them I didn’t do it. That somebody’s math was wrong. I spent about half of it on Conroy’s flowers, chocolates, and a bottle of Korbel. She loves champagne. The dance place was that Arthur Miller place next to the gun store, which was just a couple blocks from that Taco Bell where I first danced. There was a
special for six lessons for fifty bucks. What I didn’t expect was the dance teacher to be as hot as it was that summer. She had these hips that went every direction. It was November and cold as tits when she told me that Korbel wasn’t champagne and that champagne only comes from France and that anybody who knew anything about anything at all would know that. I didn’t know anything about that. She threw hot sauce packets at me from wadded up little fists that were shaking. But she never raised her voice. I mean, fuck, we had fights. But she never raised her voice or hit me. I’m not the one who bruised easily. So she said a lot of stuff and never touched her burrito and I guess it was funny that we were at that same Taco Bell where it all started.
Listen, I could’ve walked her mom across a hundred terminals in a hundred airports and not a single person dragging a suitcase would’ve known she was forty four. I just knew that I was twenty-one and she looked like a bag of perfectly ripe peaches and she had these hips. And taught me to dance.
Daniel Mickelsen is the father of three, is at times required to work with cadaver parts, and is possessed of a MFA from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. He has published extensively in the non-fiction world on subjects from travel to industry to fatherhood. He also enjoys made up writing. Daniel lives in Newport Beach, California, and the nearest Taco Bell is a 56 minute walk according to Maps, though he knows he can do it in less.