Groper Rob

“That’s a fine timepiece.”

“Thank you.” Andrew Simons looked down at his wrist. He looked up at the man leaning against the side of the building. He was a scraggly guy. It wasn’t clear if he was homeless or a surfer. He was only wearing shorts. His blonde hair was an unkempt mess. He was a short, wiry guy. He wore knock-off Blue Blocker sunglasses. He gave off a strange vibe. He laughed at Andrew, revealing broken front teeth.

The doors opened, emitting the air conditioning as he walked through the doors. The lobby was fairly conservative. To his left was a small reception desk. The elevator was straight ahead.

“I hope you’re having a good morning, Mr. Simons.”

“Morning, Billy. How are you?”

“I’m good, sir.”

“Billy, please stop calling me sir.” Andrew said as he walked to the elevator. Billy O’Connor was a balding middle aged man. He was the concierge and building manager. He had been steadfastly working that counter the whole time Andrew had owned his place.

He pressed the ‘up’ button. The doors opened moments later. Andrew hit the third floor and the doors closed. He stepped out and turned left. The first door on the right was his.

It was a beachfront condo. He had bought it back in college. He had scraped together some roommates from the dorms and moved in. It seemed crazy at the time for a 20 year old to buy a beach condo instead of renting an apartment, but now he was happy that he did. Almost a decade later, he no longer lived there. He used it primarily for his office.

Andrew dropped his briefcase on the couch. He walked into the master bedroom to hang his suit jacket up in the closet.

He went into the kitchen to make coffee. He had a morning routine. Andrew woke up at 6:00. He wore a suit and tie and never had coffee until he arrived here. He always drank his coffee black. His grandfather had once told him that, “If God had wanted cream in coffee, He would have put it there.” That was one of those nuggets of wisdom Andrew lived by.

Andrew was a writer. He took it seriously. He didn’t want to mix his home life with his business life. This condo let him escape those domestic hours. He could focus on his work without being worried about household chores or the phone ringing.

Phones weren’t allowed in the office. He left his iPhone in the car. The internet was no longer hooked up in the place. He didn’t want to be distracted by the outside world. The only way he was going to succeed in writing something meaningful was to sit his ass in that chair and write. There was no shortcut to writing. There was no app for that. You could either write or you couldn’t.

He emerged from the kitchen with his coffee mug. Andrew had a desk in the center of the room, facing out to the patio. He sat his coffee on the coaster sitting to the right of the keyboard. It was the only thing allowed on the desk, besides the computer.

Andrew walked past the desk and opened up the French doors. The smell of the ocean filled the room. He had always loved the ocean. It helped to calm his mind and let him get down to real writing.

He didn’t linger too long at the doors. He walked to the bookshelf and turned on the sound system. The iPod had a mix on it filled with his favorite songs; Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, The Grateful Dead with assorted other classic rock and blues. He didn’t have to worry about what to listen or skipping tracks. He just pressed shuffle and it would play all day long.

He finally sat down at the computer and opened the current piece his was writing. Andrew reread the last pages to remind himself of where he left off. He closed his eyes for a few seconds before typing. Sometimes the words wouldn’t come to mind and he sat there looking at the screen without seeing anything. He let his mind go slack. He pulled at his tie to give him another inch to breathe. He massaged his neck, trying to get some words to fall onto the pages.

The grandfather clock in the foyer rang out the hour. That was his cue to get up and walk around. He never liked to get stagnant. Sometimes he stretched, other times he just refilled his coffee. He would keep drinking coffee all day long.

The hours passed with this cycle of writing, pacing and drinking coffee. The clock chimed five times, which meant it was quitting time. Andrew finished the paragraph he was working on and saved the document. He always shut the computer down before he left for the evening. There was no point in wasting the energy.

Before He left for the day, he always straightened the place up, closing the French doors again. He washed his coffee mug and wiped down the counters. A little effort in the evening always made the mornings easier to deal with. He enjoyed walking into a clean office. It eliminated stress. Andrew retrieved his suit jacket. He straightened his tie in the bathroom mirror.

Andrew grabbed his briefcase, making his way downstairs. He felt good. He had put in a solid effort. He had written for the majority of the time he was at the office. Distractions came, but were dealt with promptly.

“Good evening, Mr. Simons.”

“Hey, George, it’s good to see you.” George McDermott manned the desk in the evenings. He wasn’t as polished as Billy, but he was the right man for the job for that time of day. He looked like a mob henchman from Central Casting. He was intimidating, but a sweet guy to the residents.

Andrew walked out the front door of the lobby into the late afternoon. The sun was working its way to the horizon. He could feel the summer getting away from him. The temperature was already down to a comfortable level.

“Hey man, you got the time?”

“It’s 5:17.” Andrew said, before realizing it was the same guy that commented on his watch in the morning. The guy smiled a goofy, toothy smile. It was difficult to look at him with that orthodontic nightmare going on.

Andrew did his best to keep walking. He used the key fob to unlock his car doors. Before he could get to the door handle, a baby blue convertible Bug stopped behind his car.

“Andrew!” He turned to see it was Holly. Sweet, beautiful Holly Lang was a girl he had liked for a long time. She was one of the perkiest blondes he had ever known.

“Hey there! What are you up to?”

“I was just in the neighborhood. I’ve been at the beach with the girls.”

“Sounds like a rough life.”

“You should have been there. It was fun.”

“I’m sure it was. Beautiful women on a beautiful beach. What’s not fun about that?”

“Don’t forget the scantily clad, beautiful women part!” Holly raised her eyebrows flirtatiously.

“Oh, I’ll never forget that. Trust me.”

“Wanna get a drink with me?”

“Of course I will.” Andrew popped his trunk and tossed his briefcase in before walking around to the passenger side of her car.

“You always look so good.”

“Thank you, Holly.”

“Why do you always wear a suit?”

“I just want to feel like a professional. Sometimes I don’t feel like an adult yet, you know?”

“Yeah, I get that.”

“I think if I look good, I’ll feel good.”

“Why aren’t all guys like you?”

“Because there’s only one Andrew Simons!” He said smiling broadly. She smiled and leaned in to kiss him briefly.

“I’ve always liked you, Andy.” The tender moment was interrupted by a voice coming from the building.

“Hey Suit! Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do with Miss Sweet Tits!” The homeless/surfer guy chortled to himself like he was the funniest guy in the world.

“Ugh, I hate that guy!” She put her arm out across Andrew’s waist. “Please don’t do anything. He isn’t worth getting arrested over.”

“Do you know him? He was here this morning.” They both looked back at the man. Andrew’s fists were balled up.

“That’s Groper Rob. He is always bothering all the girls on the beach. He thinks he’s smooth and funny. He’s just a creeper.” Andrew stared at her, then looked back at the guy. He was still chuckling to himself and for anyone around him.

“Why do you guys call him that?”

“Because if you get too close, he’ll cop a feel. One time he flashed us. It was gross. He has such a tiny dick.”

“That’s not right. Why don’t the cops do anything?”

“They always remove him, but he keeps coming back.”

“I’ll talk to Billy about keeping him away.”

“At least that’ll keep this beach safe. Thank you.”

“It’s no problem. We need to keep the beautiful women of the world safe!”

“Don’t you mean, we need to keep all the women of the world safe?”

“Why yes, Holly, that’s exactly what I meant to say.” Andrew deepened his voice for dramatic effect.

“What are you talking about?” Holly said as she laughed.

“Nothing, I’m just being silly.”

“You’re a strange guy, Andy Simons. But for being such a gentleman, let me buy you a drink!”

“You do realize that a gentleman wouldn’t let a lady buy a drink, right?”

“Well, we’ll work something out.” Holly said with a wink.

Shifting

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The more he thought, the tighter he gripped the wheel. His anger was getting the better of him. He knew he was right to leave. There was no way to win in that situation. He was seething with fury. This was no way to live. There had to be a way to not get this upset. He had to learn to control himself.

“Fat Bottomed Girls” by Queen blared from speakers as he shifted his anger. His knuckles were turning white. The driving made him feel better. There was fresh air and endless opportunities ahead of him. The music surged through him, sending the speedometer needle around the dial.

He was over-accelerating by the time he reached the top of the bridge. The tires got squirrelly, but he held tight. Traction was regained through his tight grip. It was a smooth, downward curve out and away. His speed was getting out of his control. He made a conscious decision to slow down. There was no reason to end up dead before anything was resolved. He downshifted to third. The car shuddered as it slowed.

There was a red light at the bottom of the bridge. He was glad he had decided to slow down before then. He sat at the light, waiting for it to turn green. He could feel his heartbeat starting to slow down. The deep breaths were visible in the cold night’s air. He zipped his sweater up to the neck, sticking his face under the turned up collar.

We all have choices, he thought. I don’t want to live my life angry. The light finally turned green, but he didn’t move. The car just sat there with his hand on the knob. There were no other cars out on the street at this hour. The lamps were spaced too far apart and did little to light the boulevard.

He slammed his foot downward on the pedal, jerking the wheel violently to the left. He made the U-turn and kept his foot on the floor, shifting up through the gears to fifth. He was going back. There was no point in running. That wasn’t going to solve anything. He hoped she would still be there. He hoped she would listen.

It didn’t take him long to get back up and over the series of bridges crossing the rivers. His speed was once again out of control, though anger was no longer motivating him. The need to return and talk things out were at the forefront of his mind.

He pulled the car into the circular, gravel drive in front of her place. He rushed out and ran through the front door, glad she had still left it unlocked. He found her sitting on the floor, right in front of the fire he had build for their quiet night.

“I’m sorry.”

“I am, too.” Her tears were fresh. She didn’t look up at him.

“I’m sorry I got so mad.”

“You left me.”

“Yes, I didn’t want to argue any longer.”

“You left.” She repeated. His heart sank.

“Yes.” He wondered what was the wisest choice for his next words. He decided there were no right words. He just sat down beside her and reached out to hold her. She recoiled at first. He allowed a hand to just linger on her shoulder. “I’m sorry.” He paused before leaning in to wrap her fully.

Red Lights

 “Prepare to darken ship. Let no white light shine topside.” The loud speakers called out the same thing every afternoon before the sun went below the horizon. Life on a Navy ship is most remarkably characterized by the glowing red lights within the ship at night. Red light doesn’t travel as far to other ships, which would give away its position.

 Corey Simmons always grew more anxious walking around the ship at night. He always over thought things at night. The red lights made it worse. The dulling of his senses walking through the pitch black into the red areas creeped him out. It put him on edge.

 He was walking the passageway from his shop to his berthing. The red lights are spaced out every twenty feet or so. That allows for darkness to be spaced out every twenty feet as well. the red and black rippled down the ship’s interior. In one of the black areas, Corey hit his shoulder on a large electrical box. “Shit.” He rubbed his shoulder as he kept walking. Corey came to the end of the passageway. There was only a locked hatch. “Fuck man.” He looked around. He missed a turn or a ladder well. Turning around, he went back the way he came. He didn’t recognize where he was. Corey went down the first ladder well he came to. The aluminum ladder shook violently with each step. It made much more noise than you’d expect on a steel ship. Then again, steel toed boots aren’t the lightest of footwear. He still didn’t know where he was. That wasn’t so uncommon on a ship this size. He cursed himself for not remembering the frame and hatch numbering system. He should be able to use it to find his way anywhere on the ship. He walked for two or three minutes more, taking various turns and trying to find a familiar hatch or landmark within the ship. Most of the water-tight hatches were ‘dogged down’ to prevent water intrusion in case of flooding. That was rare these days, but precautions were always taken. 

 Corey could feel himself getting frustrated. He started to sweat more the longer he was lost. When was the last time he even saw someone else? Even though it was the middle of the night, someone else should be walking through these passageways. His anxiety was beginning to rise. Corey began to overthink the situation. His breath became short. Then he became light headed. He knelt down and put his head on the cold metal floor. 

 Dark thoughts began to enter his head. He thought about all the negative aspects of his life, about how he always felt inferior. There was a lot of bravado in his daily life. He overcompensated for having a low self-esteem. He began to think of past sins and indiscretions. He thought of that summer in college when he swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills to try to kill the pain. With self-loathing, Corey kept drudging up the past. He knew God. He knew he believed in God. He believed that he was forgiven of his past. Corey just couldn’t find a way to forgive himself.

 In a moment of clarity, Corey remembered being young, maybe six or seven. The neighbor kid, Nathan something or other. He thought it might have started with an ‘A’. Corey remembered Nathan touching him and making Corey touch him in return. Nathan must have been thirteen or maybe a little older. Nathan made him go into a closet in the garage. It was dark in there. Corey was scared, so he did as he was told. 

 Corey didn’t know why he was remembering this now. He wished he hadn’t remembered. He wished he could forget it. He could feel tears roll down his cheeks. He cried until he passed out.

 What must have been hours later…

 “Dude!” Corey felt someone kick his shoes. “You can’t sleep here. Simmons, get the fuck up.” He felt another kick. Corey opened his eyes to see white lights all round him. They were bright. They hurt his eyes.

 “Sorry.” he said. Corey looked down at his watch. He was late for morning quarters.

Taco Tuesday 

 

 

Tuesday afternoon came around. We had planned on meeting up for lunch at Rosita’s. They have the best tacos on the island. The place was beat up. It looked like it was constructed entirely of driftwood and old metal signs. I ordered the Key West Amber. The barkeep wore peach shorts and a denim shirt buttoned low over a nice, tight tank.

“I’ll have a water, no lemon please.” The sound of her voice broke the love spell.

“Sorry, I was…uh…”

“It’s okay. I understand.”

“How are you?”

“I’m good. It has been a rough start to the week, but it’s early and we’ll rebound.”

“I love that about you.”

“What’s that?”

“How you always find hope in the situation.”

“What’s the alternative?”

“No, I get it. I just don’t naturally see it.”

“Are you guys ready?” The barkeep asked.

“I’m going to have the taco plate.” Alice’s voice was overly cheery, bordering on patronizing.

“Make that two, please.” I resisted looking at the barkeep, instead keeping my eyes on the menu. I folded it, handing it to her without ever looking up. I’m sure it was awkward for everyone.

“What’s your name, dear?” Alice asked the barkeep.

“It’s Summer.”

“Oh, of course it is. ”

 

*previously published

New Year’s Noir

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He parked down the street, facing away from the house. He sat there all night, parked against the curb. He flicked the lid of the Zippo back and forth the entire time. He gave up smoking years ago, but he didn’t give up carrying the lighter. He never stopped playing with that lighter. In years past, the sound would have driven a partner crazy. He gave up on partners, too.

The night was a moonless disaster. He sat in that car, knowing that he couldn’t see anything. He kept his eyes focused and ready on the off chance he was right. He didn’t know anymore. The Captain seemed to have more faith in him than he had confidence in himself. He did as he was told. That bit of trust between the men kept them both alive far longer than either were expected to live.

It was getting close to midnight and he began to feel a bit restless. He checked his mirrors and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. The usual trouble makers were out setting off fireworks. There was nothing crazy, merely stuff on the line of bottle rockets and black cats. He knew he could have flashed his badge to scare them off, but he liked the idea of the distraction.

The house was dimly lit on the inside. There were no external lights. He carefully checked the side gate. It was unlocked. He smiled to himself. This might be easier than he thought. He made sure that his position was never given away in the light of the fireworks.

The lights were off and the shades drawn in the windows on the side of the house. He didn’t linger as he went around to the back of the house. The curtains were pulled back, allowing him to see into the living room and kitchen areas. There were no lights on, besides the glow of the TV. He paused, fading into the blackness of the night.

The only sounds continued to be the fireworks.

He walked up to the side of the sliding glass door, trying to keep most of his body out of view. The door was inexplicably unlocked. He was unsure of his good luck. He waited a few seconds after he cracked the door. He heard no alarms or beeps to be worried about.

There was only a few minutes now. Of course there was the possibility of a silent alarm. He knew he had to make things quick once he entered the house. He didn’t see any movement inside. The slight audible sound of the TV was heard as soon as he stuck his head in. He wore an all black outfit. It was a cliche for a reason. His movements were slow and easy. He didn’t need any joints to pop or his shoes to squeak.

There was no evidence of anyone home. He made it to the hallway without hearing anything or seeing anything. His heart began to beat a little faster. He looked both ways and decided to go down the left hand side. That’s when he heard her for the first time.

“I thought you’d be coming for me.”

He froze. Blood left his face. Instinctively, he reached down to his sidearm.

“Don’t.”

“Okay.” He breathed deeply. “I’m not going to.” He raised his hands up to shoulder level with his fingers spread out wide.

“I’m guessing you thought all that noise would let you do this without attracting attention.” He didn’t betray any thoughts. His face remained trained on hers. “Well, I’m counting on the same thing.” He never heard the shot and neither did the neighbors.

*previously published

Just Keep Pouring Me The Coffee

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Just keep pouring me the coffee. I’ll need it to keep warm. The air conditioning is over the top. I can’t handle it. The nights are long and they keep getting longer. I don’t feel the loneliness as much as I used to. But then again, I don’t feel much anymore. I’ve closed myself off from everyone and everything. You cannot save my soul, so please stop trying. I know I’m broken. I’ll probably never get over it. But that’s just the way life is going to be. People swarm around me, but I can’t feel anything towards them. I want to feel something again. I see those young ladies walking around in those short skirts. Yes, I’d like to do dirty things with them, but my tainted soul is no longer for sale.

Deck The Halls

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She made sure the house was cleaner than it had been all year. She scrubbed and cleaned deep into the home’s old wood. A little elbow grease made that place shine like it hadn’t in too long. Bleach and Pine-Sol made sure her effort didn’t go unnoticed. Her old sweat pants and stained t-shirt looked like Cinderella’s rags. She was a mess, inside and out.

She sat back and looked over the house, admiring the place which had been neglected. Work and caring for others had taken priority. She wandered into the kitchen and uncorked a bottle of Pinot Grigio. It had been a rough week and she felt a little relaxation would be nice.

Soon afterward, she retired to her bedroom and scrubbed herself of the grime and sediment of the past. There needed to be nothing left to remind her of disappointment and heartache. She needed to feel fresh and clean for the coming New Year.

The winter season had always made her feel special as a child. The recent past dulled any happiness she might have found. She was determined to change all that. This year she was going to be happy and joyous. She was going to take back her life.

She emerged wearing her favorite holiday cocktail dress. It was a classic blue taffeta. She loved how it fit her. It flattered her figure without being ostentatious. This dress quietly announced her. The perfect heels and pearls completed the ensemble. She felt graceful and beautiful.

She wasn’t going to allow not having a place to wear it this year to keep her from the pleasure of feeling this good. This dress changed her whole outlook. There hadn’t been many moments where she felt good about herself. She made a mental note to change that.

The fire had been carefully built and lit, as well as all the candles in the house. A fresh pine garland was woven along the mantle. She made sure the oversized red bow was tied perfectly upon the front door. Each decoration raised her spirit a little more.

She sat down on a barstool at the end of the counter. The second glass went down smooth. Her spirits began to rise. Spinning the stem in her hand, she thought about her life.

Something stirred inside her, telling her that she had a good life. She was tougher than this and was tired of feeling this way. She wasn’t a victim and she was tired of being treated like one. She knew that she was an intelligent woman. She held a good job. There were men who found her attractive and behaved nervously around her. The thought made her giggle softly.

She poured herself another glass and walked over to her phone on the bookcase. With a few touches, she queued up a waltz. The magic of technology had music playing from speakers throughout the house. She smiled broadly and returned to her decorating. She began to dance around the room as she filled her home with the Christmas spirit.

Once completed, she turned off all the interior lights, allowing the fireplace, candles and Christmas tree to illuminate the room. The coffee table had been removed for the winter to fit the tree. This offered plenty of room for dancing and merriment.

Her soul was glowing. This pure joy had been missing for so long. She knew that she would be okay as long as she could remind herself of the simple joys in life. She could be happy as long as she kept dancing. While she drank her wine and celebrated life all evening, her heels could be heard click-clacking on that hardwood floor.

 

*I forgot to post this earlier in the season. I hope you enjoy.

**previously posted on former blog

The Parlor

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I never knew the real story. I walked in on her in the parlor. It was one of those old homes, where the room could be completely closed off by panel doors. This part of Savannah was full of places like this.

I could tell that she had been crying for some time now. Our eyes locked instantly. I was the first to look away. Her eyes held a hatred that I could not begin to fathom. Her make-up was ruined and streaked all down her face. I had never seen her so flustered. She was always the model of composure. She was proper, almost defiantly so. I never saw her without her pearls on. She said that they were a heirloom, going back generations of buttoned-up ladies. Those weren’t her exact words.

It was a warmer day. I don’t know why she was wearing a coat. I was warm as it was. I loosened my tie. I looked back up at her. I could tell something wasn’t right.

“Are you okay, Charlotte?”

“Why yes, of course they are.” I paused. What was off?

“You don’t look well. Has something happened?”

“Nothing of any consequence. I will be okay.”

That wasn’t what I asked. There was something definitely off. I knew I needed to approach her politely and with caution.

“Hey, do you want to talk?”

“What about?” She had a blank, spaced out look on her face.

“You seem upset.”

“That’s sweet of you.”

I knew I wasn’t going to get anywhere with her at this point. I needed to step away and give her time to sort out her feelings.

“You have my number. Please call if you feel like talking.”

“Sure, I’ll do that.”

“Okay, good day, Charlotte.”

“Good bye. Thanks for stopping through.”

She walked me to the door during that final exchange. It wasn’t until I heard the locks behind me that I realized I caught the faint smell of gunpowder.

 

*previously posted

Special Ability

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“I have a little known, special gift. I have the ability to see what is beautiful about almost any woman. They are amazing creatures. They inspire the greatest myths and legends.”
“So you objectify all women?”
“No, it isn’t just sexual. I want their hearts and souls, too. When you get all three to align, you find true beauty.”
“You are just using up these women and leaving them broken and alone.”
“Man, you can really suck the passion out of anything. Please don’t be so negative. Listen to what I’m actually saying. I love women. I truly love them for being feminine. They are amazing. I can be that mirror for them to see their beauty from their souls. They don’t want me to be their forever. They use me to gain the confidence to go and lead a happy life. I am merely happy to be of service.”
“I guess I just don’t understand.”
“I guess not.”
“We’ll have to agree to disagree.”
“Apparently.”
*previously published