James Valvis, A Kind of Daring

A Kind of Daring

I’m more audacious than you, he said,
teasing, playfully cocksure and smiling.
We sat in a bar, drinking. He wore a dress and heels.
I had on a pair of jeans and a tee shirt.
He drank a ten-dollar mixed cocktail
with a purple umbrella he twirled
between his long fingers. I had a beer,
Coors Light from the tap, no head.
Why do you think that? I said,
playing along. He made a flourish
with his purple umbrella as if pointing
to his whole get-up; the act, lipstick,
eyeliner, pocketbook. He said, I guess
I’m willing to do more things than you.
He picked up the pineapple in his drink
and sucked at it slowly, provocatively.
I nodded. There are things I wouldn’t do
that he would. I sipped at my beer,
studied his neck tattoos and piercings.
We’d been friends a long time. I liked him.
True, I said. But I’m more daring than you.
I’m willing to be the one thing you’re not.
He looked over his fancy drink, bemused.
He doubted it; he thought he’d try anything.
And, darling, whatever might that be?

Well, I said, I don’t suppose you’d
ever be boring, just another guy walking
the street. A man with an average wife and kid
and scrub job. A face in a crowd of billions.
Nobody to look at you, fuss over you,
an ordinary man among ordinary men.
It was deeper than your average bar talk,
deeper than any of our previous conversations.
He gave my words some thought, frowning,
then dropped his umbrella into his exotic drink.
Touché, he said. You sexy son of a bitch.

James Valvis has placed poems or stories in Ploughshares, River Styx, Hubbub, Southern Indiana Review, Louisville Review, Barrow Street, The Sun, and hundreds of other journals. His poetry was selected for Best American Poetry 2017. His fiction was chosen for Sundress Best of the Net and won 2nd Place in Folio’s Editor’s Prize. His work has also come in 2nd for the Asimov’s Readers’ Award. A former US Army soldier, he lives near Seattle.

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