By Patrick Alcatraz
GALVESTON, Texas - She would laugh when I'd tell her stories about me being on the wrong planet, about me soon to be lifted off Earth for transport to my rightful world, always somewhere better and cleaner, and then she would reach for my belt buckle and work on removing my pants. That Winter, Kletha let me know she wanted to have sex with me, even as I befriended her cartoonist husband, Claude, a nice guy. We danced around the issue as if around a tree-sized mulberry bush, me wanting and not wanting to, Kletha telling me Claude would be okay with it. I didn't know much about her and I would pay for that in the end.
But for a few short and cold months, she and I playfully toyed with the idea of her, I thought, dreams. She'd meet me at the lounge of the Galvez Hotel, where Claude drew caricatures of tourists in the lobby. And he'd come in to have a drink with us, call us kids (he was much older than she was), and then say he had to get back to his drawings. We danced to songs like Billy Ocean's Caribbean Queen and Denis deYoung's Desert Moon, and then we'd walk out to the nearby beach to go for a late-night walk. It was during those times that she would get silly and ask me if I didn't have the hots for her and all that. I told her I did, and then I'd mention Claude being my friend, and she'd remind me that he'd given his okay. It perplexed me, cause he hadn't said a thing to me. But I played along with her, taking her by the hand or throwing my arm around her as we trolled for shells.
One day, a Saturday morning, she asked to me meet her at an eatery we both liked in the Strand Historical District, a joint by the name of Donna's Diner, where she loved the macadamia pancakes. We did that and then stepped out to the neighboring shops, where she bought me a Hawaiian shirt on sale and I got her a nifty blouse. Her apartment was nearby, so we booked it over there. She wanted me to see how she looked in the blouse. I walked into her bedroom and watched her lose her shirt and could see through her bra, could see a pair of good-sized nipples in full alarm. "What do you think?" she asked and I went ahead with the game. "Bra," I said and she slipped out of it with grace. The new blouse fell to the floor as we fell on the bed and I began kissing her. She was a petite woman with short, goldish hair, not an ounce more than her body could carry, and the sort of energy that built pyramids. She fit nicely, in other words.
We would make love most of the rest of that winter and she would come see me in Houston after The Houston Post assigned me to the State Desk. We'd buy take-out and hit the sack on most nights, me forever asking her to turn on her tummy so that I could enjoy her nice, round ass. From time to time, we'd go to the Caribana, a reggae club near Houston Baptist University, where we danced ten-minute songs and laughed like kids.
Then I took a job with The Boston Globe and left town. I'd stay there awhile before moving onto New York, where I wiote for the Post. Contact was lost entirely. I didn't hear about her until a few years later, when my Houston Post colleague Steve Olafson sent me a newspaper clipping telling of her death from cancer. She couldn't have been more than 33 years old at the time, damned young. Also in the mix was something or another about Kletha wanting to have a baby at the time she was seeing me. That would have been wild news for me. I know we never used a condom, but I also know that she never said anything about being pregnant. Who knows? I'm sure she could have contacted me if she'd wanted to do that. All I know is that she had a thirst for life, that whenever she was with me, she was upbeat and flighty and cute and dressed in short skirts that forever showed me the beginnings of her devilish thighs. All dolled up and everywhere to go, absolutely.
I have no way of saying this for sure, but Kletha is the only lover I've had who is no longer alive. I think. And I hope...
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