The gentleman nodded at the bartender, who took up Curly’s drink. When Curly sat up to tell them where to go, the older gentleman blew at his chest as if he were a candle’s flame. Curly looked down to see if the man had spit on him or something. His eyes must’ve screwed up because he tumbled out of the saddle and spilled onto the floor. If he’d hit his head, he didn’t feel it. The older gentleman held out his hand to help him stand, as if they were going to be friends after that.
“I’ll do it my damn self,” Curly said.
The older gentleman crossed his arms, silver mustache a stiff line, immovable, a dare.
Curly climbed the leather stirrups. He pulled at the horn of the saddle, found his feet.
The older gentleman gave three slow claps. Curly wanted to hit him.
Behind the man, the family huddled in their corner. The stragglers, just shadows, shuffled near the door. The bartender disappeared calmly in back. No one was on Curly’s side, except the bear. The dumb beast leered behind the glass.
Then she slipped out of the condo’s front door, softly pawing down the steps into the tepid darkness, where she again became a woman, crunching across the crisp ice of a lover’s parking lot at five o’clock in the morning, feeling somewhat silly, yet nevertheless as if she might never die but instead return to youth again and again, only with hands more withered each time. Her walk to the curb took a brief nineteen seconds, by the end of which she had decided, no, she would not see Reynold again because he would fall in love with her.