I’ve got to stop here and tell you something about the mayor’s wife. It’s not that she plays any significant part in this story, but…well, maybe she does. Tom was sure enamored with her, though. Tina indicated that this lady dressed in red was a regular in that fine establishment of which I found myself one hot day in the middle of a typical California summer. I happened to be in the quaint little town of Rio Vista,…but you already know all that.
If I recall correctly Tambourine Tom had made mentioned of the fact that the mayor’s wife’s name is Iris. I’ll have to confirm that with Tina someday. Remind me to ask her the next time I take a notion to walk into that bar.
Now the mayor’s wife was a stately looking woman of a certain age, if you know what I mean. Let me clarify that. The lady could have been 40, or she might have been 50, but not yet 60. I’m not any good at guessing age, so I’m going to guess 45. No, wait 48. That sounds about right. A safe guess.
Anyway, Iris stood about five foot ten. So, you can imagine the sight when that little man dressed in green and white walked through the back door of that bar with that tall lady decked out in red. The mayor’s wife had on four inch stilettos, and she moved like she was born in the things. It wasn’t slowing Tom down, though. He was moving faster than her long legs could keep up with, all the while talking a mile a minute.
I’m trying to describe this woman so that you might have a well imprinted picture in your mind when I finally get around to telling you what I started out to tell you. Iris had skin the color of alabaster. You could almost see through it. Atop her head was a pile of blond hair. Definitely dyed. My daddy would have referred to her as a peroxide blonde. My momma had other names for women that looked like that.
I believe it was her lipstick. It matched the color of her dress. It would have appeared much more innocent, the short walk out back for Tom and Iris, if Iris’s lipstick had remained within the boundaries of her pouty lips. Or, maybe if Tom had not been displaying a large smear of that bright red grease across his mouth and left cheek.
I think there was some hanky-panky going on out there in that alley. But, who am I to talk. No one else in the bar gave the couple much of a glance. Why should I?
“Ask him how he captured her heart. Bet the first words out his mouth is sex stone.”
I turned on my stool and eyed the gentleman sitting at the table behind me. “I beg your pardon.” I had noticed him when I walked in, but didn’t give him much thought at the time. He looked to me like most of the other men I’d seen sitting in a dark bar in the middle of a bright day. But, I had been thirsty when I walked through the door, and had only one thought occupying my mind—cold beer.
“Well stranger. Ready for some liar’s dice? I got old Harry and Rod talked into it and I’m pretty sure everyone else would want to get in on this.” That little guy got around faster than anyone I have ever met. I didn’t know he was there until he spoke. “What about you, mayor? You want to get in on this?”
The man at the table stood up. “Don’t mind if I do. Better scrub your face, Tommy, old boy. You got a little Iris on you.”
Tom grabbed a cocktail napkin and wiped at the blotch of red on his face. “Did I get it all?”
I was thinking about the mayor and his wife. Was I missing something? “What? What did you say?”
“Did I get it all?” Tom thrust his face up towards mine so that I might examine it more closely for evidence that he and Iris might have been doing the tongue tango while out back.
“Excuse me, but would you like another beer? I know he does.” Tina was pointing at Tom and talking to me.
“Sure. What’s liar’s dice?”
“Oh, it’s just a dice game where you lie to win. Watch him. He’ll cheat. I’ll be right back with your beer.”
I didn’t know if she meant Tom, or the mayor. I turned to where I had last seen Tambourine Tom.
“He’s gone. But, he’ll be back directly.” The mayor sat back down.
I turned on my stool and glanced towards the other end of the bar. Tom was right up next to Iris. She was leaning down so she might whisper in his ear. Tom was staring straight into parts of Iris’s anatomy that appeared to be trying to make their escape from that red dress she was poured into.
Tina arrived with a cold beer for me. “Mayor, is there something I can get you?”
“Not right now, dear.” If anything, the man was polite.
“Tina, the mayor mentioned something about Tom and his sex stone. Do you know what he’s talking about.”
“Oh, that’s something you’ll have to ask Tom.” She turned and sashayed her way over to Rod and Harry, pulling two beers out of the ice along the way. She grabbed the opener she kept in her left rear pocket and deftly popped the caps off both bottles, sitting them in front of the two men.
I took my eyes from the lovely young lady that tended the bar, and just caught the back door clicking shut. Tom and the mayor’s wife were gone again.
I may never get answers to the questions piling up in my brain: how’d he get the name Tambourine Tom, and what is this sex stone thing Tina and the mayor seem to know about, but aren’t talking about?