He kissed her where he could. He was having trouble with his breathing. He wondered what she thought. She was silent, but her eyes looked at Dempsey with confidence and care, like she knew that she was the bearer of gifts here.
Dempsey didn’t want to disabuse her of that notion. After all, she was young and powerful. He was afraid her decision to be kind with her youth and power deserved more than he could offer. But he would do what he could. He wrapped her up in his arms and pressed her close. He slid his hand down her back and pulled her pelvis into his torso and held her body there. She released herself and began to unbutton his shirt. He wanted to stay, to accept her gifts and be thankful like a generous person would be. But as she kissed the hair of his chest, he could feel himself pulling from his body and going up and out in the other direction, heading for the door even as he helped her take off his shirt. He tried to stay. Maybe a moment of her skin on his skin was all he needed.
Her hands slid down onto Dempsey’s hips and she undid his belt. He was crying inside with the need to be there. Why can’t I stay? He begged God to let him, please. He could feel the tears starting inside his closed eyes as he tried to cling to her, but he was slipping away faster than she was removing his clothes and he knew his flight wouldn’t end here.
By the time she had his pants down, he was already out the door and in the street, naked and running north toward Sunset. The night air was cool against his unsheltered body. The breeze went through his pores. He felt light and free again. Who needed anything else but this? He was jogging at first and then he picked up the pace until he was sprinting, moving with speed and ease. Nobody could touch him. He was a blur as he neared Sunset, running out of street. By the time her lips were down and around him, he was up in the air, flying over the rooftops of the Kinko’s and Astro Burgers and 7-Elevens and tattoo parlors, up and over the Hollywood sign and across the Valley with its lights burning like embers of a dying fire. Up and over the San Gabriel Mountains, so dark they looked like lakes on a desert floor.
Flying, flying away from where he was now and back to where he’d been before, her ministrations left far behind. All the way across deserts and mountains, back to the house on that narrow street near the park where the girl he left behind once lived. Back to the big window in front of the small garden where he could see her there at the desk with the lamp shining down on the notebook she was writing in while she sipped on some tea. She liked to write in a notebook and sip tea. Dempsey stood there naked in the garden on the other side of the window, waving his arms at her, but she never looked up. He was wishing he knew what she was writing down on that paper, wondering if it was something about how now that she was no longer burdened by the world or him she was free to be whoever she wanted to be. He waved and waved, but she never looked up.