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Nifty Shades of K: The Tuscaloosa Chapter

Tuscaloosa, AL. 8:35 on Friday night. A buxom woman in a plunging red top sits nursing a 7-and-7 at a hotel bar. Amidst some bustle in the lobby, a youngish man in throwback surfer shades and a red V-neck to match her own slips through the crowd surreptitiously and meanders his way into the bar. He sits next to her.

“Mind if I have a seat?” he asks, arching his eyebrows.

“Not at all,” she answers eagerly. She eyes him up and down for the first time greedily. The bartender comes, and he orders a single malt Scotch. That’s so manly, she thinks.

After his first sip, he exhales audibly. “Rough day?” she asks, feeling like a foolish schoolgirl. I should have said something better than that, she thinks.

He looks at her kindly and says, “something like that. Travel, meetings, you name it. Just needed to get away for an hour or so before I go…finish some things up.” He takes a second sip of his drink. She scrutinizes him a little more closely…wait, she thinks…I know him. I’ve seen him on TV! The glasses, the shirt…it’shim!

One of his iPhones buzzes on the bar. She steals a glance and sees that it reads Maggie. “Do you need to take that?” she asks teasingly.

“No, it’s just…someone I work with,” he says mysteriously.

“You know, I know who you are,” she says playfully when the phone has quieted. He arches his brows above his shades as if to say OH? “Yes,” she continues. “I saw you last week. You gave that man one hell of a slap on the, uh, posterior."

“Well,” he says, finishing his drink, “it’s all part of the game.”

“Let me buy you another,” she says hurriedly before she knows what she’s saying. The drinks come. “You know…I like your style. Your V-necks are very…fetching.”

“Thank you,” he says gratefully. “Yours is quite nice as well,” he adds, running his eyes up and down her torso behind his darkly tinted sunglasses. She fidgets like a schoolgirl. “You know, I know who you are too,” he adds confidently. “I saw you on GameDay. I think your son is a fine quarterback, although the offense he plays in is not exactly my cup of tea."

“I—you—“ she flusters, “th-thank you, I think,” she says as she finally regains composure. “You really have a way with words.”

“Please remember…I used to coach Cougars for a living,” he says quietly, conspiratorially. She flushes a deep crimson as he finishes his second drink. “Well,” he says, “I must get back. I have some…film…to study before bed.”

“Good luck!” she gushes before she can stop herself.

“Thanks, ma’am. And good luck to you as well.”

And just like that, he disappeared back into the crowded hotel lobby. When she looked back down at the bar, there was a tiny, neatly folded napkin. Inside was a number. She hadn’t even seen him write it.