"Word around town is you go country dancing quite a bit." her Hispanic accent wafted gently into my ears.
She batted her big brown eyes as she handed my receipt and my debit across the counter.
"And some say you are an excellent dancer?" she smiled and propped herself on her elbows, a hint of cleavage flashing as bright as her eyes.
"Well, there's some truth to all of that." I grinned as I fumbled for the wallet stuffed in the back pocket of my Wranglers.
"Do you ever go to ladies' night on Tuesdays? I'm going tonight. You should come dance with me."
"Naw, I didn't know about ladies' night. You'd dance with me?" I eyed her with faux suspicion.
With a nod of her head accompanied by a big smile, I made up my mind that I'd just have to dance with this beautiful little filly on this very night.
I'd had my eye on this girl named Maria ever since she went to work at the Rocking Rooster Feed Store, not because I ever dreamed I ever had a chance of landing a dance with her, but because she was easy on a man's eyes...smoking hot, actually. As I stepped into the almost empty bar that Tuesday night, my eyes darted around the room in search of my Maria and within seconds I spied her rocking some daisy dukes, a plaid shirt tied in a knot above her belly button, and topped off with a straw hat. My heart fluttered at the thought of holding her in my arms out on the dance floor.
"Maria!" I smiled as I approached her.
She turned her attention away from some guy she was talking to and reciprocated with her own smile, though not as warm as those she had shared with me earlier that afternoon.
"Oh, Rusty...hi. This is Marcus. We went to high school together and have not seen each other in years!"
We exchanged handshakes and I proceeded to stand there totally unnoticed while the two of them became engrossed in catching up. After what seemed like an hour I wandered off to find a cold beer. I bet myself a beer that they'd be gone when I returned and I won that bet.
I sulked over to an empty table like a freshly neutered country mongrel. The longer I sat staring at an empty dance floor, the moodier I got. I had driven forty miles on a Tuesday night just to dance with the beautiful Maria and here I sat, all broken hearted with a lukewarm beer in my hand.
"If it seems to good to be true," I muttered, "Should've known better!"
I sighed and looked around at the two dozen or so women sitting with their girlfriends. None of them appeared to be looking for a man. I crooked my head over my shoulder and spied two women sitting directly behind me, engaged in conversation. I had wasted a half a tank of gas and three bucks on a hot Coors Light and I figured I might as well throw myself under a bus as well.
"Hey, ladies." I flashed a smile as I approached their table.
Both women paused in mid-conversation, their mouths open as I tipped my hat. They flashed side glances at each other and gave me their full attention.
"That dance floor looks mighty lonely and I was wondering if one of you would give me the pleasure of a dance?"
My eyes focused on a black-haired, green-eyed and extremely attractive woman.
She exposed the whitest teeth I had ever seen in a bar and extended her hand, "Hi! I am Deanne and this is my newfound friend, Claire. We met earlier at the Walmart and decided we should do something wild and crazy tonight. By the way, we noticed you sitting in front of us and frankly, that dance floor doesn't look nearly as lonely as you. Neither one of us know how to dance, but you're more than welcome to sit here with us."
I eagerly accepted her invitation, pulling up a chair and giving a wave to a waitress for another beer, cold preferably.
"So, you girls come here often?" I asked as I gave the waitress a five.
"Oh no! This is my first time in a bar and Claire says she hasn't been out in ten years. In fact, this beer sitting here is my very first ever! And it tastes nasty! I guess I have always lived a sheltered life. We're both about to go through a divorce. We're really just moms of college kids, spreading our wings, so to say."
I giggled at her glaringly obvious naiveness in worldly matters such as inviting some random strange man to sit with her in a bar, but I decided I liked the woman and she was attractive.
An hour or more of good conversation had passed when I decided it was an appropriate moment to pop the question.
"So, I don't mean to be nosey, but do you really think your marriage is unsalvagable?"
"Oh yes, definitely! You see, my husband was the pastor of the Petcock Pentecostal Church. You know where Petcock is? Fifty miles due west of here, ten miles from the New Mexico border. Anyway, he ran off with the church treasurer and all of the church's money...Colorado, I believe. So, no. After twenty-five years of marriage, we are done!"
Deanne waved her hands in disgust and shook her head.
I digested her statement with an uncomfortably long pause, then asked, "So, you're a preacher's wife?"
She nodded with a look of embarrassment on her face, "Yep, a preacher's wife...in a bar...drinking a beer and talking to some strange cowboy."
I don't know where I come from sometimes and I sure don't understand how my little mind works. Perhaps it is the unyielding sense of adventure, but without even a moment's hesitation, I reached out and touched her hand.
"A preacher's wife. So, what are you doing next Saturday night 'cause I'd like to take you to dinner."
I drove down a dark highway later that night with a smile on my face and a phone number in my pocket. But there was an inner turmoil deep inside of me. I sighed and tried to shrug it off. If a man's gonna sin, he may as well sin big, I reckoned. I waved my had and spoke out loud to no one in particular.
"If she wants to spread her wings then I'm just the man to teach her how to fly!"
(To be continued)