Raleigh sat casually at the bar and waited until the bartender noticed her.
"I don't know how you got in, but I'm going to need to see some ID," he said, scowling at her while he poured beer for some other customers. Raleigh turned around as if surprised.
"Oh I'm not here to buy alcohol, I just wanted to talk. A cute guy like you probably has a girlfriend, so I'm sure you know how to talk to the ladies."
The man, who was about thirty, seemed surprised at first but all at once his demeanor seemed to change. He started to relax, and a slight smile began to form on his face. I began to notice that all of this time she had not broken eye contact from her target, and was now looking at him as if stargazing. Her girlish frame was held upright with the elegant intensity of a lioness and her legs were crossed in such a way that gave her a gentle air of sexuality.
"Yeah, if you can call her a lady."
Raleigh laughed and smiled sweetly. She read his facial expression and pressed her advantage.
"This girl sounds like a real bitch. She probably doesn't deserve you."
After only a few sentences of conversation, the man was hooked. He stopped taking peoples orders consciously and had to be interrupted several times to do so. For the next couple minutes, his eyes never left Raleigh's and his back and shoulders shrugged off their tension, taking on a relaxed pose as he leaned against the bar.
"A strong man like you needs a girl he can really love... a girl he can love... intimately."
Gradually, she began speaking softer and softer. Entranced, he instinctively leaned in to hear her, and she did likewise. Eventually, her voice dropped to a level that I couldn't hear, and she began whispering sweetly in his ear as her fingers wove through his hair. Raleigh finished beautifully with a sensual kiss, before rapidly changing tactics.
"I'm so sorry," she said, looking shamefully at the ground and leaning away.
"What? What is it?" the bartender asked worriedly
"I'm just... I'm so into you it didn't even occur to me that you'll get in trouble if you get caught with me while you're supposed to be working."
"Well, I mean, not really. I could-" he stammered frantically.
"No," Raleigh interrupted, putting a finger to his lips, "It's selfish of me to do this. I'm not going to have you lose your job because of me. Tell you what, last call is in three or four hours, I'll hang around until then, and we can meet in a back room somewhere."
The man let out a breath he had been holding and calmed down. "Ok, that sounds good. I can't wait."
"In the meantime," she added slyly, "could you do me a huge favor?"
Raleigh walked back to me, triumphantly holding two full beer mugs.
"Idealistic my ass," she said as she handed me one, "that man would have abandoned any ideals I asked him to, and all it took was a minute or two of batting my eyelashes. Idiot."
I took a sip and decided that free beer was infinitely better than anything money could buy. "Alright, I'll admit, you're pretty good," I said, savoring the taste of Raleigh's victory.
"Damn right I am. I'm a pro at this game."
"Where did you learn to do this?" I asked, carefully studying her face. She sat up and looked startled, and then immediately collected herself.
"I- I mean, it's not something you learn, it's something you're born with."
I narrowed my eyes. "Come on, we both know that's a lie."
She bit her lip and looked away.
"Where did you come from Raleigh? How does someone come to be able to do what you just did?"
Raleigh took a long drink of beer, presumably to hide her expression. She put the mug down on the table and stared pensively into space for a moment before answering. "If you grow up in the right place... with the right people... you have to be able to do this."
I didn't respond. She looked lost, and hadn't looked me in the eyes the entire time she spoke. I wondered as I examined her blank confused countenance, if I was seeing the real Raleigh. Finally, after almost thirty seconds of listening to the ambient noise of the bar, I spoke up.
"Who are you really? Under all of these disguises and lies you put up, who are you?"
She pulled a lock of dark blonde hair out of her eyes and stared into mine, before grinning.
"I'm a real bitch."
When the night ended, I felt relaxed and free, and the corners of my mouth hurt from laughing. On my request, Raleigh had succeeding in getting away with more stunts than most college kids pull off in their entire lives. Several phone batteries mysteriously left their owner's phones, and more still found themselves in other people's pockets, causing two brief fights and one minor scuffle. The bartender was persuaded to give everyone a free round of drinks, and several other men actually gave Raleigh the entire contents of their wallets in order to pay for her dying brother's spleen surgery. Time after time, I gave her a challenge, and she would pull off a feat I had previously deemed impossible. I had never been tremendously fond of being drunk, but the high of getting away with crimes and other assorted mischief was breathtaking.
Raleigh and I laughed and joked with each other as we left the bar we had just carved a swath of destruction through. The frigid air brought me back to reality and gradually sobered me. Raleigh sighed contentedly as we stopped reveling in our victory and listened to the gentle sounds of cars and busses passing by on the adjacent road. As we reached the bus stop, she looked at me and broke the silence, her breath dancing visibly from her mouth as she spoke.
"This was really fun. I can't say I expected to meet anyone while pick pocketing, but I'm glad I did."
I laughed softly, and stopped walking. Her eyes seemed to glow in the moonlight, my dark copper hair reflecting clearly against crystalline irises.
"Well getting robbed isn't usually how I make friends, but yeah, this was fun."
She looked at the ground and thought for a couple seconds, before pulling out a piece of paper and a pen.
"This is my cell number," she said as she wrote, "we should do this again sometime."
I entered her number into my contacts and immediately called it. She looked surprised and little bit offended as it rang, but laughed anyway. "You don't trust me?"
She laughed again as her bus pulled up.
The next few days moved slowly and quietly as if I had exceeded my allotted time for excitement. I spent my weekend studying, watching television, or hanging out with friends as I usually did, broken from my routine only be a text from Roderick. True to his word, he had managed to crack the password of my ex girlfriend's Gmail account with a program he wrote himself, and could now send any email he wanted from it. I spent several hours, giddy with excitement, contemplating what to write, before I finally decided on the following message, addressed to one of her friends:
Do you know any cute single guys who I might like? I've been dating that idiot Eric Johnson because he pays for my dinners, but he's about as attractive as a pug and he's terrible in bed. I've only managed to get any satisfaction by cheating on him with that guy from our statistics class, but even that is getting kind of boring. Thanks,
I stretched out on my couch and sent a copy to Roderick, instructing him to make it look like she accidentally hit reply all, and unwittingly sent Eric a copy. I later confirmed from Eric that my E-mail had in fact been delivered, and had done its job splendidly. When I casually mentioning Kristen's name in conversation, Eric proceeded to call her "a cheating bitch". He further explained they had broken up after she had accidentally sent him an insulting E-mail, and didn't even have the courtesy to own it, claiming that her E-mail account had been hacked. I could barely contain my laughter.
Several days later, my glorious illusion of victory was abruptly shattered. Returning to my apartment one night after a causal party, I made a horrifying revelation. I first began to notice something was off as I entered the hallway outside of my room. The unmistakable smell of skunk spray wafted faintly around the corridor, infecting the air. I didn't have time to finish wondering how a skunk could have gotten on to the fourth floor of the building before I arrived at my door. That is, what was left of it. Someone had taken some sort of blade or saw to the wood around the doorknob, removing it entirely and leaving it on the floor in a pile of shredded wood. With no doorknob keeping it closed the door hung slightly ajar, and as I opened it further the ambient skunk stench increased tenfold. I doubled over momentarily, my eyes watering. When I righted myself, the scene I saw was a nightmarish wasteland. Almost nothing I owned was intact.
"Oh no. Oh God no, this isn't happening!" I shouted in frustration, gripping locks of my chestnut colored hair in anguish. I forced myself to examine the spectacle again, hoping fervently that the damage was not as bad as it looked. Unfortunately, it was worse. My two and a half thousand dollar macbook pro had been obliterated, its pieces scattered in disorderly piles on the floor. They were almost indistinguishable from the shattered pieces of my iPod, which I recognized only by the cut up headphones still partially attached to its frame.
"God damn it!" I screamed, dropping to my knees. The carpet felt unusually damp, and a new wave of horror washed over me as I realized that the carpet had been soaked in skunk spray. The damage seemed to be hitting me from all angles. My mind raced frantically in fear and confusion as I rushed around the room trying to find one thing that was still usable. I was only met with further dismay as I explored new sections of my room. My clothes were shredded, my two thousand dollars of spare cash was gone, and all the books I needed for that semester of grad school were destroyed. Even my mattress was cut up leaving only the twisted heap of metal springs and wood that used to make up my bed. Whoever did this was thorough.
The misery of the loss shot through me as deeply as the skunk stench did, and I began to cry. Bitter furious tears ran down my blood red face, and the whole ruined room became blurry in my eyes. Everything began to spin, and I tripped on my way to the door, staining my only intact clothing with skunk scent. As I got up I noticed a post it note on the wall. It read: She knows. Now it's personal. Ω0Ψ.
Omega Omicron Psi. The local fraternity. I bit my lip until the taste of blood became stronger than the smell of skunk spray. The ball's in my court, I thought, it's time for revenge.