By Patrick Alcatraz
McALLEN, Texas - This is the time of the year when I normally break out my black sweater, the one I love to wear with my faded blue jeans and weathered harness boots. It's September out west. I miss it like a sonofabitch, so much so that I am, well, melancholic these days - a frickin' rarity with me. I thought of Darlene the other night, my girlfriend that last gorgeous winter, when the temperature in Santa Fe would drop to the mid-teens and she'd bolt from the bed screaming something about me needing a better, warmer comforter. Darlene was Canadian (likely still is, ha ha) and when she said let's go get a thick blanket for the weekend, well, I went into town to get supplies while she headed to some store. When I got home, she'd laid-out this wine-colored comforter that absolutely saved the night that year.
Darlene still lives in New Mexico, working real estate or somesuch. I hadn't talked to her in years, but I could always see her lovely naked body sliding off my bed and then walking toward and into the bathroom, in a shiver, and then I at times hear her voice, a mapled thing of beauty that even when she was mad at me, well, it sounded like she wanted to make love all over again. I'm sure every guy has one of those kind of girfriends. They leave a certain memory along a special part of the brain. Most evenings, Darlene and I traipsed up and down Santa Fe's narrow streets in the cold rain and the wet snow. We'd leave the house and walk to the truck, then drive into town, where we headed either for the bar at Evangelo's or over to the fireplaced-warmed bar inside the La Fonda Hotel. I'd throw on a cowboy hat atop my moptop hair and she'd say take that thing off, adding something about how my hair was not suited for hats. She'd drink and I'd drink and then we'd bid farewell to our pals and the waitress and the bartender and then we'd make it back to the truck, both of us saying the other should drive.
I drove most of the time, mainly because I have this thing about liking a woman angled in toward me as I shift gears and dream of flying to the moon. Overland truckers know the feeling well, as did cowboys of the Old West forced to steer a wagon or stagecoach. Anyway, when we talked the other day Darlene asked about my whereabouts. I told her I was in Texas and she asked why. No reason, I threw back, and she laughed before saying, "You haven't changed..."
I haven't changed, no. I still enjoy new winters with new women, not that I am thinking I'll find that sort of cold weather wheelhouse romance this year. There is no cold weather here, and that blows it for tasting the best kind of love - loving late into the night, chasing the stars across the sky with every single stroke, enjoying the feeling that is making love, recording the soft moanings and pasting scenes of a woman's head bobbing there below full-out on the archived brain. Darlene was a spitfire. She could make love all night long, and often demanded it. A guy could turn to afternoon naps while waiting for a woman like Darlene to come over. Resting, yeah. I loved her so much. Think so anyway.
But then it ended. Nothing spectacular, no emotional fireworks. No parking lot anger. No other woman or man, as far as I knew. It just seemed the time for the ending, that's all.
Darlene cried too much when offering her deepest feelings, and I never did get that frickin' caring gene. Still, even the tiniest drop in temperature around here makes me wonder about winter elsewhere...
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