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Kiss In the Dark

His name's Matt, and he's a drama student. I'm working in the on campus bookstore to help finance my postgraduate work, and he's a senior. He comes in every now and then, but I'd never had the chance to serve him. *Serve him--what a lovely phrase.* I knew his name because he paid by check once, and I just happened to look at it. I don't know why I torment myself like this. He's always been with two or three classmates--female classmates.

I work with one of them--Sharon. Yesterday she told me that Matt had played a dirty prank on her and several other girls. He'd somehow found out they were having a 'hen party', and had managed to get in. He brought a Kodak with him. She claims he got away, laughing like a loon, with at least half a roll of pictures of them in sloppy sweats, hair curlers, and green facial masques. She asked if I'd help them play a prank on him in retaliation.

I was going to say no. I mean, I've never even spoken to the guy, but I like him. He seems so cheerful and easy-going. Mischievous, too, if that story about the commando photography is true. But once she told me what they had planned, well... I figured that a good joke was a great introduction. It might have been wishful thinking, but I was desperate. It was obvious that I wasn't going to get the guts up to approach him on my own.

So there's a party tonight at a popular pub, just off campus. I got here about a half hour before he's expected, and met at the bar with Sharon and the six other girls who are going to help with the prank. The breaker box is located in a supply closet beside the bar. One of the girls works tables here, and she has the key. She's going to wait till Matt shows up and gets into position, in the middle of the crowded room, then she's going to pull the switches, wait a count of ten, and flip them on again. That's our signal to go into our routine.

Me and the five other girls get our drinks and positioned ourselves. I stand near the bar with two of them, sipping that sweet, milky stuff they've settled on, getting more nervous by the second. I'm contemplating backing out when he comes in, and it's too late.

The lights go out, the thumping music falls silent. The crowd freezes, and there are a few of those fake shrieks that always happen in a crowd when the lights go out. Or maybe they aren't so fake. Someone might have taken the chance to cop a feel. There's just enough light from the emergency exit signs for me to see someone move up to Matt and kiss him. They move away, and the lights come back on.

Matt is standing there with a bemused look on his face. He touches a fingertip to his mouth, licking his lips thoughtfully, tasting the flavor that has been deposited there. I feel my prick stir as the pink tip of his tongue travels over his bottom lip. Then Mary passes in front of him and pauses. She smiles at him, and hands him her glass of Irish Cream. He tastes, and gives her a questioning look. She smiles as she takes the glass back. He returns the smile, one finger barely moving toward her in a 'you?' gesture. I want to slap her.

Then Mary cuts her eyes to the side, and Matt follows her gaze. There's Linda, also holding a glass of Irish Cream. His eyebrows lower in puzzlement, but he keeps smiling. Linda moves her glass toward Jackie, who also gives him a significant look. He's really smiling now, almost laughing, catching the joke--or so he thinks. Then the three smiling girls look over toward us. I and the girl on either side of me lift our glasses. They smirk. I wink.

I feel a cold rock drop into the pit of my stomach when his expression freezes, stunned. Shit, a straight guy without a sense of humor--two strikes.

The girls close in on him, laughing and elbowing, and after a moment he smiles again. They lead him over and introduce us. I offer my hand. "No hard feelings?" He shrugs, and shakes hands. Crap. If there has ever been a chance, I've blown it. I sit what is left of the sugary drink down on the bar and excuse myself, claiming that I have some research to do. I head toward the door, figuring I can research a few gay porn sites to make up for that fragile hope that I've just willingly participated in crushing.

"Hey, wait up." Matt has followed me outside. "So, who was it who really kissed me?"

The reality is that I don't know. They'd decided that it would just be whoever was closest when the lights went out, and all I saw was a silhouette. "I can't tell you. They made me promise." I take pity on him and say, "But you didn't feel any stubble, did you?"

He says quietly, "I wish it'd been you."

I have to grab hold of the bike rack to stay steady while the dust from that little bombshell settles.

"I wouldn't mind feeling a little stubble now. Do you really have to go research?" I shake my head numbly. "Good." He grabs my hand and starts tugging me toward the back of the parking lot.

About halfway across the lot, reality tries to kick me in the ass. I just got through pulling a practical joke on this guy. What if he's taking immediate revenge? What if we get into the middle of something and it's, 'Ha, ha! Boy, did you fall for that!' Or perhaps worse, 'Jesus, I'm sorry! What was I thinking of? I'm sooo drunk.' That one would be worse because it would be transparent. I already know that the only alcohol he's had was that film left on his lips, and he KNOWS that I know.

I try to hang back. "Look, Matt, maybe you ought to think about this."

He keeps tugging. "I -have- thought about it." We've arrived at a big, older model car, and he's unlocking the back door. "Do you have any idea what sort of blackmail I had to use to get them to co-operate with me on this?"

"What?" I do bafflement very well.

He's gotten into the backseat, and now he grabs my belt and drags me in after him. "I had to threaten to post those hen party photos on the Internet before Sharon would agree."

"You mean you...? They didn't...?"

He reaches across me to shut the door. "All my idea." He starts opening my fly.

"But you were so surprised--and kinda pissed, I thought."

He laughs. "I'm an actor, remember?" He slips his hand into my pants. "Oo, nice."

I still can't believe this is happening. I just don't get this lucky. I decide to give him one more chance to back out. "But your upholstery could get ruined."

The light from a streetlamp is shining through the back window, and I can clearly see his smile. It is broad and knowing, and it reaches all the way to his eyes. The last thing I hear before he dives into my lap and he can't speak and I can't think in a straight line is, "Well, then, I'll just have to drink responsibly."