The Fuse

 

black and white

So there I was,at this joint on the south side of town.  It was a hot, sticky night and all I wanted was a break from the heat… and to be left alone.  The bartender just looked at me, so I said, “Give me a whiskey and coke, hold the coke, make it a double and keep em coming.”  I had a lot of thinking to do and this wasn’t the time to do it.  The bartender grunted, turned around, and poured some whiskey into a glass and set it in front of me.  There is an art to ordering a drink and if I don’t get anything else right in this life, at least I got that.

That’s when she walked in.  Dark hair, dark eyes and dark skin, with long legs and nails.  To be honest, she was beautiful.  I was hooked and there was no turning back.  But I didn’t let on.  I kept my hands and eyes on my drink.  I held my breath even though her sweet, sultry scent filled my nostrils and swirled around my brain.

The bar was empty but she took the seat right next to mine.  She fumbled around in her purse, clumsily pulled out a cigarette and put it between her lips.  She leaned over and touched my arm.  Electricity pulsed through my body and lit a fire in my gut.  I turned to find her staring into my eyes, “What’s a girl gotta do to get a light in this place,” she asked. Without taking my eyes off of her, I pulled out my lighter and flicked it alive. But I hesitated. . .  Because sometimes you’re lighting a cigarette, and sometimes you’re lighting a fuse.

Bad Decisions – The Fuse pt 2

22814363_10154881989521120_8711625590523971908_n. . . . I’m all about bad decisions tonight. After a life time of making the right ones, I realize now that the right decisions are bad decisions and, consequently, bad decisions are why I’m here now. Sometimes a bad decision is the only way out of a bad place. Well, probably not, but, when in Rome. . .

It didn’t start out this way. I was just sitting at a bar, minding my own business. I only wanted a drink. . and then another. . and then another. I wanted to be left alone. I didn’t want to help out some woman in distress and I definitely didn’t want to pay the price for it.
When she walked in though. . .It was all over. She sat down next to me and when I tried to ignore her she asked me for a light. After hesitating for just a moment, I lit up her cigarette. . or her fuse. . whatever.  It was all over at that point.
I’ve known a lot of women in my time; and I’ve screwed it up with every single one. Every Single One.  At least that’s what they think. Who knows. You meet a woman with a story. She wants to get away from some bad guy that’s giving her grief. You do what you can to help. You get beat up a few times. You do what needs to be done and, a month later, she’s right back with the guy giving her grief and, for your troubles, you end up being the bad guy. It’s a racket. But, hey, they pay well and you gotta eat, right?
This one told me her story. I won’t go into detail, but it was typical. We stepped outside for privacy and she shoved me against a wall and kissed me deep. It was a reckless, impulsive, crazy kiss. I thought we’d be there forever…  But she was just making sure she had me hooked. Good job babe. . .dont forget the line and sinker.
So I got her out of her jam, at considerable cost to my sanity and reputation. For my troubles, she just turned around and went right back… And she had the nerve to call me a year later and ask for help getting out again. Like I’m that stupid.

Anyway, I’m meeting her at that old joint on the South Side of town again. Wish me luck. I’ve got some bad decisions to make.

The Number

Based on a True Story:
There was a boy at a university. He was shy, awkward, lonely. All his friends had girlfriends, but he just hadn’t met anyone. Semesters went by, and he had a few dates here and there, but he still longed to meet that one girl that would be his college sweetheart. That’s all he really wanted. Not one-night stands, or nights of drunken, crazy sex; but just that one girl who would change everything.

Then he met her. He had a long break between classes. He saw her sitting alone in the Café in the Student Center. She was pretty, in a “plain Jane” kind of way, which is what he liked the most. She wore a pair of jeans, a blue sweat shirt and black framed glasses. Her long brown hair framed her face as she looked down at the book she was reading. She was curvy, maybe a little more so than the other girls, but she was perfect to him. He got up his nerve, walked over, and introduced himself.
“Hi. . .my name is. . .uh. . Steve. . May I join you?” he asked.
“Hello. . uh Steve. . .” she said, “I would love that. My name is Amy.”
She smiled and invited him to sit down. They had coffee together. He was thrilled at the attention this beautiful girl was giving him. She was smart. She had a beautiful smile and she used it often. She blushed at times, which was cute. They both talked and talked and talked. They both felt like they had known each other forever. They both said that they wanted to get to know each other more.
They went for a walk together. They held hands. The talked about anything and everything. They giggled. They sat on a bench outside of Building C and cuddled. His heart pounded almost out of his chest as she got close. His breathing sped up and he probably turned red. She didn’t seem to mind his awkwardness. In fact, she seemed thrilled by it. Then they kissed. Neither of them knows who kissed who first, maybe it was a tie. It didn’t matter. It was one of the most passionate and beautiful and awkward kisses in the history of the University. To this day the old timers still talk of this kiss. The perfect kiss between two lovers that would kick off a lifetime of perfect kisses. So perfect and raw. So innocent and awkward. So deep. He felt like something changed in him after he kissed her. In that moment after their first kiss he felt like he was finally complete. In his mind, he kept fast forwarding to many years later, when they would talk about this kiss to their kids and grandkids; when they would talk about the magic of love at first sight and of the first time they met. How she would slap him on the leg, laugh, and tell the kids how shy and awkward he was and how she had seen him so many times and just wished he would get up the nerve to talk to her in the University Café; and of the excitement she had to contain when he finally did. He entertained every corny romantic notion that a boy at University entertains when he meets the girl of his dreams. But not during the kiss. During the kiss, he was in a state of perfect zen. He felt every motion, every sensation, every breath. He felt the give and take as their mouths groped for each other. He felt the the softness of her lips, wetness of her tongue, and the coffee on her breath. He could remember the smell of her skin and the feel of her face against his. All of this he felt, and he could recall it in detail every day for the rest of his life.
She was late for class and had to go.  He pulled out a piece of paper and a pen. He wrote his name and telephone number on one side of the paper and she wrote her name and telephone number on the other side. He tore the paper in half and, while they kissed one more time, he placed one half of the paper in her soft hand. As she kissed him again, she stuffed her half of the paper in her purse, smiled, walked away and ran back and kissed him once more, and then ran to class. He stared at her running to class as he stuffed his half of the paper in his pocket.
“Call me tonight!” she yelled as she excitedly ran away.

He saw his friends later that afternoon. He told them all about Amy. His friends, who were usually encouraging him to find a girl to sleep with and nothing more, were different. They all encouraged him to call her that night, and were glad he found someone and that this seemed like the real thing. They told him to go slow, not to rush her into anything and to focus on having a relationship. For all their usual foolhardy playboy tendencies, they knew their friend was different. He was the serious type who deserved to have that special girlfriend. They never thought that much of themselves but they did of him, and they were all happy for him.
That night, after he got home from class, he ran straight for his phone. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the paper. He unfolded it as he picked up the receiver and got ready to dial. His heart pounded at the excitement of calling her and planning their first date. A million thoughts flooded his mind at once. He almost put the phone down because he was so overwhelmed with emotion, but he persevered and put the phone to his ear, holding it with his shoulder, as he got ready to dial. He unfolded the paper and just stared at it for a what seemed like eternity. . .
Then he put the phone down, crushed with disappointment.
He never saw Amy again.

Many many years later, one failed marriage and too many martinis to count he found himself sitting at some bar somewhere contemplating his next move in life. Things kept going from bad to worse, then from worse to worse, and yet again he ended up alone. He had gone to visit his family recently and found an old box from college. Among all the old artifacts and pictures and awards was this small slip of paper, folded in half. He kept the paper. Now, sitting at that bar, wounded by what his life had become and struggling with yet another bout of depression, he pulled out the paper and stared at it again, just like he did when he was a boy at Univeristy. On the paper was written:

“Steve 867-5309”

The End

The Umbrella

Based on a true story. . .

I walked out of my office, umbrella and satchel in hand as she walked by. I set the satchel back down and I held the umbrella out in front of her as if it were a baton in a relay race at a track meet.
“What’s this?” She asked, as she stopped in front of my office (she always stops in front of my office on the way out).
“Uhh. . .an umbrella?” I said sarcastically.
“I know that, why are you handing it to me?”
“It’s raining really hard, you’re about to go outside, and you don’t have one.”
“yea.. Thanks! Great observation but don’t you need it?”
“Not today, I’m good. I’ll be here a while getting some paper work done.”
“How many umbrella’s have I lost, broke or accidentally given away that were yours?”
“Too many to count. Now take the umbrella so you don’t get wet. I’m not using it so you might as well. Maybe you’ll remember to bring it back this time.”
She laughed, a laugh mixed with a sigh, and took the umbrella. “Alright. Thanks! You’re so sweet, always looking out for me. I’ll bring this one back, I promise.”
“Sure you will,” I said as I pretended to roll my eyes, “be careful out there, that weather is nasty.” I knew she would bring it back this time. She keeps her promises.
“Thanks. .I will. You sure you don’t need this?” she said, holding the umbrella out.
“Nah, the rain shouldn’t last long. It will pass by the time I’m finished. Take it and be careful in this weather.”
“Okay. .thanks! See you tomorrow,” she said as she left.
I waited a few minutes for her to leave and then checked the window to see that her car was out of the parking lot. I grabbed the satchel, locked my office door behind me, went outside, and sprinted through the rain to my car. Drenched, I used my key to open the door and threw myself inside, closing the door behind me. I caught my breath, started the car and turned on the heat. It didn’t bother me to get wet from the rain, because that’s how it is sometimes.

Sometimes in life, you’re just gonna get wet…
On the radio was this song from a band called The Police. It was called “Everything She Does is Magic.”

“I have to tell a story of a thousand rainy days since we first met. . .It’s a big enough umbrella but it’s always me that ends up getting wet. . .” – The Police (Everything She Does is Magic).

 

Allen and the Single Mom

“ Hey. . .I thought I would call and ask a qu. . yea I know you’re busy but its about your kids. . . No.. . they’re fine. . really, they’re fine. . Well, the little one had an allergic reaction last night and we had to go to the ER. . .no, I’m not asking you to pay. . . I haven’t even gotten the bill. . . would you listen. . . I can’t call tonight. . We have dance at 6:00pm, then one of the boys has a ga. . I’m not ASKING you to come to the damn game. . .I know you’re busy. . . ok. . ok. . . I covered that. . . It was hard but I made it happen. . . I always make it happen you know that. Btw. . nice motorcycle. . . when did you get that? The credit union? Wow. . I’m surprised they gave you a loan. . .No I’m not being a bi.. . But you ARE behind on child support. Yes Allen. . I know you work hard. We all do. . So do. . . I know. . .I know. . I know. . Ok. . I’m very busy can I get to why I called? Anyway, I have a question. . . Whe. . Yes Allen, your son plays football. I told you this. He plays free safety. . He was third string last year but he worked out hard all summer with the weights and the running. His favorite team is the Cowboys and Byron Jones is his hero. Not just because of football but because he was also an academic all American. Your son makes straight A’s Allen. He’s smart and determined. You’re surprised? Why are you surprised. .You should be proud, not surprised. . .I’m telling you this because you DON’T KNOW YOUR KIDS! Your daughter wants to be a dancer. She’s clumsy but she tries so hard. You should come see her perform. I’m not PRESSURING you Allen, I’m just telling you. You should also come to your son’s game. It would mean so much to him if you were there for once. . yes . .yes. .ok. .I’m sorry for the for once but you should co. . .I know you’re busy. New wife, step kids, promotion. . I get it Allen. Yes. . you’ve moved on and we are all so fucking proud of how you’ve moved on.. .Maybe I should do the same? Are you fucking kidding me? I’m raising our kids Allen. While you were out partying and getting laid I was going to Little League and Dance and helping them with homework and talking to teachers. .and NO. .you will not interrupt me again Allen. I’ve been crying with them and encouraging them. I’ve been punishing them when they deserve it and rewarding them when they achieve. I’m the one who worries all night about whether or not I’m a good enough parent. I’m the one who tries to teach them to have values. I’m the one at every game cheering them on while trying not to take over. I’m the one letting them make their own mistakes and feeling the heartbreak every time I can’t just fix everything. I’m the one who is shaping the lives and minds and hearts and souls of these little people that we created while you are getting on with your life. THIS IS MY LIFE ALLEN!!! This is what I do. Sure, you show up about once every two months, you know. . when you have time, and go do something fun. They get all excited to see you. They are happy for any scrap of attention you can give them while I’m over here doing the work. But that’s ok. . I’ll give you a break on the visitation. . I’ll even give you a break on the child support (even though you bought a fucking motorcycle). . . Just come to freaking game for once and give your son some encouragement, watch your daughter dance in the recital. . . and let me tell you about them so you will know what they are talking about when you see them. Now. . I have a question.
Can I ask my fucking question now?
What’s your mom’s phone number? They want to see their grandmother this weekend. They are really great kids.. .
Ok. .thanks. . sorry for the rant.
Oh. .and Allen. . .Pay your fucking child support.

It Happens in Your Sleep

“It happens in your sleep, Steven” – What I was dismissively told when I first became curious about love and sex.
This will never work out. We’re not compatible.
We’re too different:
If I hold her she will sleep.
But if I don’t hold her, I will sleep.
She can’t go to sleep unless I am holding her.
I can’t sleep when I am touching another person.
She suggested I hold her until she falls asleep.
Then let her go, so I can sleep. Once she is asleep, she will not know I am not holding her she says.
She’s a very practical woman. A problem solver.
But she has nightmares. I hear her. Her breathing speeds up.
She startles. She tries to cry out. But she has no memory of these in the morning.
So I held her one night when she was having the nightmares and the nightmares stopped.
The nightmares she doesn’t remember.
If I don’t sleep, I’ll be okay. I’ll know that she didn’t have the nightmares. This will sustain me.
So I start holding her and I don’t let go.
Late at night, when I’m awake holding her, her hands grasp my hands and our fingers are interlocked.
Her legs are intertwined with mine. She holds my legs tight with hers.
We wake like this, but she has no recollection of how it happened. I dismissively told her that
It happened in our sleep, “who knows? it’s just one of those things,” I said .
“Hmmm. . .” she said, and then she gets up and takes a shower.
At night, when she subconsciously grasps my hand. When our fingers are interlocked
And our legs are wrapped around each other
It’s like her soul is breaking through her subconscious mind.. begging me. .saying
“Don’t let go baby. . .never let go.”
And my soul answers, saying
“Baby. . I won’t let go. I will never let go.”
Now, something strange has happened. When I hold her and don’t let go
I sleep. . .. . . .. . . . .
Sometimes it does happen in your sleep.