She’s all yours, man.

Joey grinned, zipping up his jeans.

I didn’t move. I couldn’t. It was like my shoes were nailed to the floor.

Go on already, said Stevie. Whadya, scared?

Arianna was naked. She was draped across the bed. And yeah, I was scared. I was still…I never actually…I came close a couple of times. I like girls, don’t get me wrong, and they like me. But in a big brother type way.

I wanted to go home, to be alone, just me with my albums and books. With my walls and most of all, my Dark Eyes vodka.

I was twenty-one years old and I worked at a place called Casey’s. A restaurant, a steakhouse. My co-workers, Joey and Stevie, they were what I call “regular guys.”

I heard Arianna, snoring. She was draped across the bed. She was naked and Joey and Stevie were high-fiving each other.

Some Dark Eyes and some music. That’s all I wanted or needed. I’d been listening to The Dickies the night before, and their cover of “Tra-La-La”, the Banana Splits song, was stuck in my head.

One banana two bananas three bananas four

four bananas make a split and so do many more...

Tra-la-la, la la-la la,

Tra-la-la, la-la-la la...

“Tra-La-La” was also the name of a character in Last Exit to Brooklyn. A prostitute. She was hard. Tra-La-La was the kind of girl who opened a love letter to see if there was money inside.

Arianna was naked. Her hair was flaming red. Her toenails were painted pink and she looked warm, like through a gelled lens.

It didn’t seem right to see her that way. Soft and kittenish, I mean. Arianna was tall. Amazonian tall. She swore like my grandaddy did.

Sometimes after work we went to her place and Arianna would dance like a stripper. She’d go to the bedroom, come out half-dressed and turn the music on. Start bumping and grinding and singing along. Running her hand on our zippers.

Arianna was naked. She was pink, and she was red. I looked at my shoes. I shut the door.

I took a deep breath.

William James, the philosopher, said there are once-born people and there are twice-born people. And the twice-born people suffer what the once-born never will.

I went home and turned on The Dickies, had a shot or two of Dark Eyes. I wrote Arianna a love letter. And I put fifty dollars inside.

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