I pushed her left leg gently aside. She breathed deeply in her sleep. At least it seemed like sleep, though it may have been more of an alcoholic coma. She'd had enough vodka to induce one.
She was well on her way when I entered the bar. I had assumed that she was with friends since there were three other people at the table. As things developed, however, it became clear that she had simply invited herself to their little party. During the next half hour the three finished their drinks, I drank half a beer, and Dina drank three vodka shots with her wine.
That was when the relationships -- or lack thereof -- were made clear. The three friends made their exit and Dina was left alone at the table. She moved to the bar and took a stool three away from where I sat. In her slurred speech she asked for another shot and a new glass of wine.
"Lady, I shouldn't even serve you the wine, but I will." The bartender seemed disgusted with her. "But there'll be no more vodka for you -- at least not here. They could have my license for it." He placed a fresh glass of wine before her and moved away.
She stared down into the pink liquid sadly. I noticed her deep sigh followed by a tear that dropped into the wine. I was observing her in the mirror behind the bar, so when she looked my way she didn't know I was watching. She returned her gaze to her glass before tossing it back in a single gulp. It was incredible that she hadn't recognized me. Three years had obviously changed me. They hadn't been too kind to her, either. Still she was pretty hot.
She slid off the stool and I feared for her balance. Yet she caught herself before she toppled. She poked at her hair as she studied her reflection in the mirror, though I can't say she made any improvements. A stray tress fell back over her forehead and she blew at it ineffectually.
Without a word she wheeled around and made her way out into the night. I waited long enough to divorce my departure from hers in the minds of the other patrons. I left a five dollar bill on the bar and slipped out the door. I looked left and right. There was no sign which way she'd gone. The corner of the block was nearer the left so I made a guess and went that way. Even if it was wrong, it would take less time to discover that going that way.
As it turned out I was correct. She was staggering down the sidewalk about thirty feet away. She paused and leaned against a fence that surrounded some sort of construction project. I heard her sob then. I almost felt sorry for her but I pushed the feeling away. She had put me where I'd been for the last three years and she was going to pay for it.
All the time I was upstate I planned for this night. Her stupidity and vanity (and my love for her) had sent me up for robbery, and here she was just partying away her life. She pulled herself away from the fence and, keeping a hand against it, continued to make her way toward the house where she lived.
She had moved while I was inside. It was an easy job to find her. She still worked at the bank. All I had to do was watch for her to leave. When she went home I simply followed her. After that it was just a matter of waiting. I knew she liked to drink and I explored the neighborhood. She didn't have a car and rode the bus to work. I figured she'd do her heavy drinking somewhere close to home.
She reached the end of the fence and launched off on her own. I prayed she would make it home instead of passing out on the street. It was lucky there was no traffic because she just walked out into the street when she reached the corner. Across the street she turned left. I waited until an oncoming car passed, my face turned to the shadows, and then I followed.
I hid behind trees to avoid two more vehicles. She finally reached her house and entered. I slipped along the sidewalk and dashed toward the back of the house. I had gone down her alley when I knew she was at work that day, clipboard in hand, and dressed like a meter reader. At the side of her house that was sheltered from prying eyes I peeped her windows. Through the second one I saw a bedroom. The mattress was bare and there were boxes of clothing stacked against the wall. Obviously, it was a spare. I used the glass cutter and a kid's dart with a suction cup to extract an almost perfect circle near the top of a window frame. (It's amazing the things a stretch in the state pen will teach you.) I reached a finger inside, unlocked the window and slipped inside.
I carefully left no trace of my presence as I explored her house. I found her bedroom, as messy as I had expected it to be. Clothes were scattered about and the laundry was overflowing the basket on the floor next to the closet. I felt a stab when I saw the three letters I'd sent her from jail. She hadn't even opened them! I wondered why she'd even bothered to keep them. Even knowing it had been her fault I'd been convicted I was still in love with her at first.
The sight of my unopened letters confirmed my intentions. I pocketed the dusty letters. It wouldn't do for them to be discovered in the next few days. As I turned to leave the room my eye fell on a pair of her panties next to the laundry basket. I couldn't resist -- I didn't even try -- picking them up and bringing them to my nose. Her musky scent awakened so many memories of her.
We had been lovers, of course. She had begun talking about marriage, a subject I continued to shy away from. I didn't feel she was ready and the events that followed confirmed it. She wanted a bracelet from a jewelry store downtown. We looked at it in the window several times. "Ooh!" she would squeal, "Look at that, Charlie! Buy it for me, please?" She pulled my hand between her generous breasts when she asked, as if, by connecting the feeling of her breasts with the desire for the bracelet she would trigger a generous response from me.
I told her I might get it for her one day. I had no intention of doing so, however. I could barely afford my living expenses as it was. Though I kept the knowledge of my financial affairs from Dina, I think she knew I wasn't that well off. Our dates were small affairs. Small meals in inexpensive restaurants, Saturday matinees (when the tickets were least expensive), and Sundays in the park were about the extent of what I could afford. Oh, well, of course I bought her vodka, too. Instead of spending the money in bars we drank at my apartment or at hers.
She kept at me about that bracelet, though. So persistently it nearly drove me insane. I guess I should say that it DID drive me over the edge. I finally did something I had never even considered doing before. In the end it was surprising how easily it was accomplished. People don't really look at other people most of the time. I could have gotten away with it if she'd kept her mouth shut.
I robbed the jewelry store. Along with the bracelet I got away with several diamond and emerald rings. There was some other stuff too, but I didn't exactly catalog it. The newspapers said it was over $15,000 worth. I couldn't say because I stuck it in a coffee can with a bunch of rocks and tossed it into the river -- all except the bracelet. I wasn't a criminal. I wouldn't know how to get rid of it if I'd wanted to.
To say that Dina was happy about the bracelet would be an understatement. For the next week she couldn't do enough to please me. She would drop to her knees and suck me off without even being asked. The bracelet was all she would wear when we were alone together. It all came clear to me one night. I had her bent over the coffee table, my slippery fingers sliding up her ass in preparation for our first anal sex. I used the lubricant on my erection and capped the tube. I dropped it to the floor and moved behind her.
She grunted when I slipped into her. As I picked up speed she moaned. Then she sighed. I didn't pause in pumping into her but my eyes went to her head. She was holding her arm out in front of her face. She was studying the damned bracelet! She would turn her wrist so the light sparkled off the gems and sigh again. Suddenly it was as if I wasn't even there! My erection went soft. I slipped out of her and went to take a shower.
I washed her shit off my dick and felt disgust for both of us. I hated her! I loved her. I hated myself for caving in to her materialistic soul. I had endangered my life and my future for a stupid bitch who only wanted me for what I could give her. Why did my heart still hurt when I thought about leaving her?
As I dried off I determined to get rid of the bracelet. I knew she'd miss it if I just took it. I finally came up with a plan. The clasp on the bracelet wasn't all that secure. As we stood in line for the movie the next Saturday I was holding her hand. I opened the first clip of the clasp so that it was almost falling off her wrist. She didn't notice it.
In the lobby of the theater we were standing next to a bunch of other people who all wanted popcorn. I kept hold of her hand and used my free hand to detach the clasp. The bracelet fell into my hand. Just at that second I pulled her a little sideways and slipped the jewelry into the pocket of a man standing next to us. Then I held my breath, hoping she'd fail to notice the loss until we were in our seats at least.