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Dirty Promise

By:Penny Wylder

Dirty Promise
Penny Wylder

 1





A month after my best friend died, I received a box from her in the  mail. I was shocked, to say the least. Attached to the box was a note  dated a week before she passed away. I'm not sure exactly what I was  expecting; maybe a sweet goodbye letter, or one of those scavenger hunts  she loved to send me on to find my birthday gifts. Instead I got  instructions for her bucket list.

After the initial shock wears off, I pour myself a glass of wine and  take the note, the box, and the rest of the bottle outside to the porch  because I have a feeling this is going to be a full bottle of pinot kind  of evening.

It's beautiful out, a mild spring day. The sun slowly settles behind the  mountains, turning the sky lavender and the clouds bright orange. I  place the box on the patio table and dust my chair off before I sit. I  haven't sat out here since Kia and I  …

I let the thought trail off. It's still difficult to think about the  good times with Kia when the bad times are still at the forefront of my  mind.

Inside the box is a stack of envelopes, each with a number on the front.  At the bottom of the note are instructions. I read those carefully to  make sure I don't miss anything because my mind is still spinning from  getting a package from beyond the grave. It's difficult to keep focused  after something like that.

Each envelope is an item on the bucket list. The rules are to complete  one challenge-I'm not sure what else to call them since I have no idea  what's waiting for me-before I'm allowed to open the next. At the end of  the list of instructions, she asks if I could please do her bidding in a  timely manner. I can't help but smile. Kia was always a bossy bitch and  I loved her dearly for it.

Tears fall without warning and I have to take several calming breaths to  keep from exploding into rage and ugly crying, blaming the universe for  taking her too early, for taking someone so good at all. I mean, there  are so many horrible people in this world; why take her?

Okay, stop.

I shake my head and wipe away my tears. Focus.

I re-read the instructions. "What do you have up your sleeve?" I ask the  wind, hoping that Kia is out there in the cosmos, the  heavens-anywhere-listening.

I pour myself another glass of wine and take a drink before opening the  first envelope. In simple, Times New Roman text, it says:



Dear Fiona,



When's the last time you got laid? You don't remember, do you? Same  here. Being sick will really put a damper on your love life, if you know  what I mean. I really miss having fun with a hot guy. I'm sure you do  too, right? Well, it's about time to get back on the saddle. Don't  worry, I'm not asking you to go on Tinder or Craigslist or anything like  that. I already have someone picked out for you. Remember that hot guy  who works at the tattoo shop across from the bar? Yeah, that guy. I'm  not asking you to fall in love with him, but get laid for fuck's sake.

Next to it is a smiley face emoji.

Have fun and be safe!



Love always,

Kia



I choke on the wine still in my mouth and beat on my chest, trying to  cough the liquid from my lungs before I drown. My neighbor is in her  front yard in her mu-mu and floppy sun hat picking the weeds from her  garden. She looks up at me and I wave to let her know I'm all right.

"What the hell, Kia?" I say.

Not long before Kia's heart condition got worse, we'd been at a bar,  tipsy and laughing at everything. I'd never been to that particular bar  before, but it had a great vibe and played good music. We were sitting  in a booth, talking about work, when Kia noticed the guy in the tattoo  shop across the street. He was hunched over a client, laser-focused on  the tattoo he was creating. Even from across the street it was easy to  see how beautiful he was. Muscular arms covered in bright ink that  flexed when he moved his hand, a jawline you could cut a steak with.  When he sat up and smiled, that's when he really shined. It was like  looking through the glass at a zoo at some rare animal, all sleek lines  and powerfully built, a little dangerous, maybe.

Kia started tugging on my arm and pointing at him. "Oh my God, Fiona, look at that."

"Trust me, I am," I said.

Oh, the things we talked about doing to that poor guy. Kia called dibs,  but it never went further than that. We saw him several times after when  we'd go to that bar with our other friends. We always talked about  going across the street and introducing ourselves, but he was always  with clients and neither Kia nor I were brave enough to cut in and risk  embarrassing ourselves in front of him.         

     



 

After Kia got sick I forgot all about him. I forgot about everything.

I guess I can't forget about him anymore, can I? Not now that she wants  me to sleep with him. How exactly would I even go about doing that? It's  been a few years since I was in the dating pool as Kia so eloquently  pointed out in her letter. For the past few months when I wasn't working  I was with Kia, helping her parents take care of her. It was a fulltime  job. My life and my heart were consumed. There was no room left for  anyone else. No time either. Dating had been the last thing on my mind.

"Please tell me this is a cruel joke," I say and flip over the letter.

I try to picture exactly how to ask this guy that I've never even met to  have sex with me. Do I just go up to him and say, "Hey, wanna hook up  for the night?" What if he has a girlfriend? I couldn't be that girl who  steals men, even for just a night. Kia would never ask me to do  something like that  …  which means she probably did her homework. I can't  help but find it disturbing that she wants me to sleep with a guy she  called dibs on. Feels like I'm cheating, or going behind her back in a  way.

I re-read the letter in the first envelope just as I did with the  instructions. It's the same. The words haven't changed, and I didn't  make them up in my head. Kia wants me to sleep with the hot tattoo guy  whose name I don't even know and who I haven't thought about in a long  time.

What choice do I have? Those envelopes are my best friend's last  wishes-even though it's completely insane and I question her mental  clarity when she wrote them. I mean, she was on a lot of medication at  the time. Still, even if she asked me to streak across a high school  football game naked as the day I was born, I would do it because she's  not able to. God, I hope she doesn't ask me to do that.

I'm not going to let her down. I have to figure out a way to sleep with this guy  …  I can't believe I'm doing this.





2





I get dressed and take a taxi to one of the oldest parts of town.  Everything around here was built in the 1800s. Most of these buildings  used to be boarded up and falling apart. A few years ago, the city paid  to have the entire block restored and eventually trendy shops moved in.  One of those shops is Savage Tattoos. There's a vinyl sign in the shape  of a dragon covering most of the front window, leaving just enough  window space to see the hot tattooed guy working at his station inside.

My heart is racing. I have no idea what to do or say when I get in  there. I stand on the sidewalk outside the building like some stalker,  staring at the window, trying to figure out what to do. I swear to God I  should get all the best friend points for agreeing to complete Kia's  bucket list. There should be medals, and a ceremony …

I take a deep breath. Okay, let's do this.

I go inside.

What the hell am I doing? That seems to be a reoccurring thought in my  head, like a needle stuck on a record. My stomach is in knots. I want to  leave and I almost convince myself to do just that. I love you Kia, but  I can't do this. How could she ask me for this favor? She knows how  timid I am around hot men. To ask this of me is to take me so far out of  my comfort zone that I might as well be on another planet.

Inside the lights are bright. Several artists are at different stations  with clients, having conversations and listening to death metal at low  volumes. The art on the walls is extraordinary. When I think of tattoo  shops, the first thing that comes to mind are skulls and depictions of  death. There are plenty of those, of course, but it's not what I was  expecting. It's not all dark and miserable. There is so much color and  technique. The whole place has a vibrant, lively feel to it. And though  I'm definitely out of my element in this place with all these tattooed  people, I'm not as uncomfortable as I thought I would be.

I've never really thought about getting a tattoo before. I was never the  rebellious type. But seeing how beautiful the art is, I start to wonder  if maybe I'm missing out.

Walking further into the building, I spot him, the guy in the window  that Kia and I had giggled about on those drunken nights. He's even  better looking up close while I'm sober. He has a close fade haircut  that's longer on top, a razor-sharp jawline, just enough scruff on his  face to give him a sexy, rugged look, and colorful tattoos on his neck  and arms-and probably other places, but I can't see those  …  yet. If all  goes according to plan, I will be seeing them soon. If a hotter guy  exists on this planet, I've never seen him before.         

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