The Cinderella Slap
A young man named Sidney awoke late one morning, squinting and groaning—the after effects of a hard night of drinking and dancing at the local tavern, the Rusty Spur. He lay in bed for several minutes, attempting to clear his head of the incessant buzzing and his mouth of its cottony residue. Finally, he collected himself enough to shuffle to the bathroom for what he hoped would be an invigorating shower.
He turned on the water with a practiced twist. As he disrobed, he caught sight of an anomaly on his right buttocks in the mirror. Something red and blotchy had taken up residence on his right lower cheek. Upon closer inspection, Sidney determined that the shape upon his gluteus maximus was indeed the imprint of a human hand. Four red fingers pointed down at the floor, and a thumb extended off to the right, all joined by a rather large palm imprint. This puzzled him, since surely someone would have had to spank him rather hard to leave such an impression through his clubbing pants and silk boxers from The Gap. He remembered no such incident having occurred, however, and completed his morning ablutions lost in thought.
Later that morning, while cleaning a giant mixer at his job at the cement plant, Sidney couldn't help reflecting on the previous evening's events. That he had missed a glorious opportunity with one of the ladies of the village was obvious. He cursed himself again for his inability to cope with large amounts of strong drink while thoughtfully letting his right hand alight on his jeans, under which the angelic imprint of a hand now resided, safely ensconced in a worn pair of cotton BVDs.
The rest of the day was a blur to Sidney. Unable to complete his appointed tasks in a manner befitting a standing member of Cement Mixers Local #676, he left work early and returned home. He sat down upon his well-weathered futon and closed his eyes, thoughts returning again and again to the previous evening, when destiny had been within his grasp. He struggled vainly to recreate each moment of his night: ordering two Miller High Lifes, scanning the crowded and smoke-filled bar for a familiar face, downing one longneck and wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. He remembered ordering more beers, feeding the juke box with a dollar, selecting two old country standards and a chart-topper by that hot new singer, and wandering out to the dance floor for a brief twirl. After that his recollections hit a brick wall, turning cloudy in his mind's eye. He must have hit the dance floor again, for he had worked up a mean blister on the outside of his left pinky toe, but as to the source of the mysterious handprint on his buttock, he could still only speculate. Dejected but resolute, Sidney determined to return that evening to the scene of the crime and put this business paid, for good or ill.
* * *
Upon entering the Rusty Spur, Sidney's saunter was brought up short as he spied a flyer taped to the wall: "Tuesday Nights: Ladies Nite! Half-price beers and $2 well drinks all night for our fairer-sexed patrons." Today was Wednesday, which meant—his gears churned furiously as his brain performed the mental calendar gymnastics—last night! Last night was Ladies Night! His mind quailed at the thought of all the women who must surely have packed the Spur yester-eve. And any one of those gentle nymphs might have been the one whose handprint Sidney now wore, once again concealed tenderly beneath his clubbing boxers. Then slowly an idea took root deep within his head, an idea that could lead him once and for all to the identity of the tender maiden who had marked Sidney as her own as surely as a rancher's brand marks each of his head of cattle.
With renewed spirits, Sidney crossed the crowded room and sat down at the bar. Clemmy, the barkeep, took note and leaned across the lacquered wood top, brushing a few errant peanut shells to the floor. "I need you to help me with something, Clem. How soon till next Ladies Night?" Sidney asked, his voice softer than normal.
Clem looked at Sidney with a raised eyebrow. "Well, given that yesterday were the Ladies Night, I'd reckon next one will come around again, hmm, let's see, oh, right about next Tuesday." He chuckled. "You'll be drinkin' water tonight, I 'pect?"
"Next Tuesday, eh? That leaves, what?" Sidney ticked off the days with his fingers. "Six days till next Tuesday, right? And gimme a High Life. You know I don't trust your water."
Clem looked at Sidney with a mixture of humor and disdain. He reached into the cooler and produced a High Life. Sidney downed half the longneck in a pull and smacked his lips in satisfaction. "Somepin happened to me last night, Clem, and I can't rightly say I understand it," Sidney admitted, not quite meeting Clem's eyes.
"Somepin like what?" Clem inquired. Sidney's voice was more reserved then Clem could remember. He was intrigued.
"Well," Sidney began, and then faltered. He took another swig to muster up the courage to meet Clem's gaze and continued. "Well, I think I been touched, but I don't remember how and I don't remember who."
"Touched what, like by an angel or some such?" he snickered somewhat nervously. This was getting weird, and Clem took a moment to serve another patron before returning to Sidney.
"It might've been an angel, I don't know, and that's the quack of it. I don't know who done the touchin' or when they did the touchin'. Alls I know is that when I woke up this mornin', I had a mark that weren't on me before I came into the Spur last night."
Sidney proceeded to tell Clem of the mysterious mark on his posterior. As he came to the last, he stood up on the barstool and twisted, as if he meant to show Clem the proof of the matter. Clem coughed loudly and pushed Sidney back into his stool.
"I don't needs to see it, you fool, 'specially not in front of all my paying customers!" Clem nearly shouted, causing more than a few heads to be turned in their direction. Clem shrugged and then lowered his head conspiratorially. Sidney gave a little abashed wave at the other patrons and lowered his head as well.
"That you been touched, I have no doubt," Clem said in a low voice. "I ain't never heard you talk like you been doin' tonight, and that's proof enough for me. But geez, how'm I supposed to help? This business is between you and the lady." Unbidden, Clem set another High Life in front of Sidney. Sidney tilted the longneck to Clem in a toast, took a long pull, and sighed.
"I agree, the business is between me and the lady," Sidney replied. "But, problem is, I don't know who the lady is. I can't remember who gave me her mark." Sighing disconsolately, he wiped some sweat from his brow, took another swig, and sat for a few moments in silent contemplation.
"I gotta find her, Clem. I gotta. It's my destiny. And I'm gonna need your help," Sidney pleaded. Clem watched with quizzical concern, unsure of what role Sidney desired that he play in this quest.
"Well, now, I'll do what I can, but what—?" Clem began. Sidney silenced him with a hand slapped on the bar top. Shell fragments flew.
"Ladies Night is when it happened, and Ladies Night is when I'll have the truth of it!" Sidney exclaimed. "Now what I need from you, if'n you'll concur, is..." Sidney and Clem spent the better part of the next hour conversing in harsh whispers, heads bent low over the bar as Sidney expounded upon his plans to divine the identity of his angel on Ladies Night next.
* * *
The next five days passed slow as molasses for old Sidney. Each day upon awakening, he rushed to the bathroom to inspect the fading remnants of the angelic handprint. The fact that the print was still visible after nearly a week bore witness to the certain divinity of the mark (not to mention the brute force with which it must have been delivered). On this special Tuesday morning, his mind raced with thoughts of the evening to come as he administered the various creams and salves to his cement-dried skin. As he had for the last six days, he paid extra attention to his right buttock, kneading and caressing the ointments into his flesh with physician-like care. Tonight, all shall be revealed, he thought. Tonight my angel is made flesh!
Following another day of tedious labor at the cement plant, he rushed home to make preparations for his big night. The silk boxers were donned, the starched and perfectly creased clubbing pants pulled on and cinched with his trademark leather belt with the shiny buckle reading "Gunslinger," and the hair gelled and parted just so. Having set everything as right as it could be, Sidney departed for the Rusty Spur and his date with destiny.
As promised, Clemmy had everything ready to go for Sidney on this Ladies Night. In the middle of the dance floor sat a single folding chair under the bright gleam of a spotlight. A nearby disco ball cast thousands of shards of revolving light onto the chair and the dark and stained wood of the dance floor below. The bar was packed with a throng of curious ladies and even more curious menfolk, wondering what this single chair in the middle of the empty dance floor portended.
As Sidney entered the Spur, his eyes surveyed the room, taking in the preparations and the mood of the folk in one glance. Satisfied, he hustled over to the bar. Clem had a High Life waiting for him. Sidney smiled and took a long pull. "Tonight's the night, eh, Clem?" He smiled widely, his spirits in full flight.
"To be sure, Sidney, to be sure," he replied, his answering smile just a bit subdued. "Lotta questions, though. Hope the ladies all understand what this is about."
"Oh, they will, ol' Clemmy. I know you got a great speech in there for 'em!" Sidney's eyes flicked once again around the room, noticing a great many eyes looking in his direction. He quickly took another sip. "You know whatcher gonna say to 'em, right?"
Clem looked hard at Sidney for a moment. "Well, I think so. There's always a right sure way to their hearts, that there is." He tossed his rag under the bar and straightened his shirt. "Guess we may as well commence, eh?" He stepped out from behind the bar and proceeded to the dance floor, Sidney following nervously.
Clem hit his mark under the spotlight and cleared his throat. The patrons of the Rusty Spur looked on, some muttering to their fellows. One lady piped up, "Got some new specials to tell us about tonight, Clemmy?" A smattering of laughter was heard.
"Oh, you might say that, Linda, but not specials such as you'd think. Tonight we have a very special event to bring you here at the Spur, one's I'm sure you'll remember for quite some time. Tonight, my ladies and gents, I am proud to welcome you to the Cinderella Ball, one night only!"
The amassed folk began muttering amongst themselves again; such frivolity as a ball had never been seen around these parts. Several country ladies began a hue and cry about not being properly frocked for the event. Clem quieted the throng with two sharp hand claps.
"This, my good and true friends, is not a ball proper, you see, but one like to as you may remember from the fairy tale about young Cinderella," Clem began. "After the dancing and carrying-on of the ball proper, Cinderella had to rush away afore midnight, and she left behind a single glass slipper." The crowd remained quiet, waiting on Clem to continue. Sidney gave him a thumbs up. Clem shook his head and continued. "Well, you'll remember that the sweet prince of the story took to searching high and low for the owner of yon slipper, trying it on the foot of every girl in the city. Well my friends, tonight we have a similar circumstance. Standing before me here is Sidney, a feller I'm sure many of you are acquainted with."
Sidney took a little bow. A smattering of "Huh?"s, "What?"s and "Him?"s was heard. Others simply stood silently, listening and drinking their spirits. Clem chuckled a bit and drew a deep breath. He seemed to be relishing his role in the spotlight; his oratorical skills were honed to a heretofore unknown level of razor sharpness on this night. "Last week on this here Ladies Night, friend Sidney was touched, touched by what he thinks was an angel. The mark of said angel lies still upon him, and he craves this night to divine whose mark it is. Will you here in attendance assist him in his quest?"
Silence broken only by a few lazy and derisive cheers greeted him. Clem considered and took a new tack. "Sidney got his ass slapped by a lady on the dance floor last week. He wants to know who dunnit. Will you help him?" This seemed to be the proper course for the patrons of the Spur: it was greeted by a loud chorus of cheers and applause. Shouts of "Why not?", "I guess it couldn't hurt", and "Sidney's an all right feller" were heard above the din. As the tumult began to die down, Clem continued. "Then let the Cinderella Ball begin!"
* * *
Sidney had never seen so much activity in his entire life. For the next hour or so, dozens of ladies paraded to the center of the dance floor, sat down in the spotlit chair, and placed their right hands on Sidney's exposed, yet curiously supple, right buttock. Clem stood there the entire time, watching and judging, but for each woman tested, he was forced to give a curt shake of his head, and lady after lady left the dance floor just a little disappointed. After all, who among them hadn't dreamed of themselves as being Cinderella at least once in their lives?
Finally, however, the queue of women was exhausted, and Sidney still had not found his angel. Not one woman in a hundred possessed the handprint to match the mark of destiny on his derriere. Disappointed and dejected, Sidney stood in the center of the dance floor alone, his right buttock still exposed, the imprint outlined starkly in the light of the spot above. Oblivious to the patrons of the Spur, he looked once more over his right shoulder upon the fading mark of his angel. A plaintive cry left his lips, and Clem felt his heart skip at the hurt his friend was enduring. As Sidney reached down to pull the right side of his clubbing pants up to cover what surely now must be his shame, his right hand began to trace the outline of the handprint, seemingly of its own accord. And suddenly, a flash of intuition struck him. He cried aloud again, this time in growing joy. He opened his hand fully and placed it tentatively over the angelic imprint. Could it be so? He dared not believe, but there it was, in plain view. The mark... his hand... a perfect fit! The angel was he himself! Crying tears of joy, he began to dance.
Copyright © 2007, Jeff Priskorn. All rights reserved.
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