Reposting this for Meg & our shared love of Gaelic/Celtic culture…
“C’mon man, let’s go.”
“Hold on, I need to finish this.” He sat with his face a few inches from the computer screen.
“What are you reading?”
“This blog I really enjoy.”
“A blog? Aren’t you the one always preaching about the dumbing down of society?”
“Yes, what’s your point?”
“It’s a blog! Anyone can write one of those. There’s no standard of review. Hell, there’s no editing.”
“That doesn’t mean anything.”
“C’mon, let’s go. You can read this later.”
“It’ll just be a minute. It’ll be faster if you shut up and let me read.”
“You don’t even know this person.”
“I do, too. She writes great stuff.”
“She? Hold on, now. She?”
“I know you. You’re probably in love with this fictional chick.”
“I really like her, yeah.”
“She’s not real! It’s the internet!”
“She’s real. When you write like this, you have to be real.”
“She’s probably a he. An old, bald pervert who gets off on tricking schmucks like you.”
“Why do you have to be so hateful?”
“Let’s go! We are going to be late!”
“I don’t care.”
“Just leave me alone. Let me finish this.”
“I’m getting upset.”
“I don’t give a shit.” He went back to his reading.
I picked up the Shillelagh he had leaning in the corner. I started trying to twirl it. “I should join the circus.”
“Put that down before you break something.”
“Why do you have this?”
“I like it.”
“Are you going to be like this all night?”
“Will you, for the love of God, shut the FUCK up?!”
“I’m going to break your computer.”
“I will kill you.”
“You’re a douche. No, you won’t.”
“Put it down, now.”
“Not until you put the computer away. Let’s go.”
“Seriously, stop spinning it.”
“This is me saying no.”
He got up and reached for the Shillelagh. I was mid-spin when his hand entered the arc. I lost control of it. It went end over end up into the air. I watched in horror as it went straight for the laptop. I tried to reach out and grab it. Everything felt like it was in slow motion. I could see his eyes expand as we both tried to nab it before it landed. We failed. The Shillelagh came down on the keyboard.
“Shit!” I grabbed my head as the little plastic keys went flying. “I’m so sorry.”
He didn’t even look at me. He just stared down at his computer.
“Dude, we can get it fixed.”
“It’ll be okay.”
“Let’s not do this tonight. Just go.”
I turned and left without saying another word. I felt bad for messing up his computer, but his calmness was unnerving. I wish he would have yelled and punched me. That would have at least made me feel better. I walked back to my car and thought about it. I was frustrated at myself for my actions, but I was also frustrated with his inaction. It was a bad night all around. We’d be okay after a while, but it might take some time. He loved that computer. It wasn’t the best or the newest, but he loved it.
Now I was faced with a moral dilemma. Should I still go to the bar?
“I don’t know how to write down what I’m thinking. I don’t know how to breathe properly. I feel suffocated and I’m anxious. I feel my lungs collapsing in on me. I just don’t know what to do about it. I cannot come up the proper words to express what I’m thinking or feeling. Does any of this make sense?”
He took a few beats to catch his breath.
“I feel like I’m losing my mind. I can’t sleep. There is an endless reel just repeating and repeating. It is driving me crazy,” he said softer at the end. He hopped down from his barstool and started pacing. He ran his fingers through his hair, leaving it disheveled.
She poured him another glass of Scotch.
“It’s okay, Babe. Just come to bed. We’ll figure it out.” She placed it before him on a crystal coaster. She stepped from behind the bar, placing a kiss on his neck. She let her bright red lips linger on his flesh, inhaling his manly scent. He felt her fingers reach his throat and loosen his tie.
She proceeded to slowly walk towards their bedroom door. Before she disappeared, she let her dress slip off her shoulders and fall to the ground. She looked over her shoulder to see if he noticed her standing in only her heels and his favorite pearls.
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.
“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. It’s becoming a tradition to post this every year.
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.
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 Shiraz. 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 through 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.
*Previously posted in another life. But I like this one & hope you do, too.
I woke up early to get out there We met at the scenic overlook, just north of Bodega. It was a little more than a wide spot on Highway 1. It was a cool morning. The fog wasn’t really there. This was more of a mist. I was hoping it would all burn off by noon. I had only thrown a Mexican poncho over my swimsuit. The verdict was still out on whether that was a wise decision.
I was sitting on the hood of my old, beat up Volkswagen. She had seen better days, but we took care of each other. I loved being out here. A lot has been written about the ocean, but I have never read anything that comes close to what I experience. Life slowed to a manageable pace out here. It was peaceful and rejuvenating.
“You look cold.”
“I’ll be okay. The sun will come out eventually.” I adjusted my sunglasses atop my head, keeping my hair out of my face.
“Here, have some of this.” She handed me a capful of coffee from her thermos.
“Thanks.” It felt good going down my insides, warming me a bit.
“You’re welcome. Thanks for meeting me.”
“How did you ever become the wise one?”
“I don’t know.” I blushed, fiddling with my keychain.
“I never would have guessed this growing up.”
We sat there talking about our current lives and the complications in them. We shared coffee. When we left, both of our souls felt right with the world. The sun did come out that day. It always does.
“I don’t know what to tell you.” He walked naked away from the bed. He had to carefully make his way around her heels and panties from the night before. They had been irreverently strewn about the room in the lovers’ haste. Her dress didn’t make it very far into the room. It was lying by the door. His suit had been thrown onto the chair across from the bed. “Perhaps I’m not the guy you’ve been looking for all these years.”
She hid under the sheets and pulled a pillow over her face when he pulled the curtains over. The sunlight broke into the room. She cursed him from under all that material. She then threw a pillow at him.
“Maybe you’re right. Maybe you’re not man enough for me.”
“You didn’t think that way last night when I was…”
“I get it. No need to rehash all that.”
“I’d love to rehash that.” He gave her a head nod. She just rolled her eyes at him.
“Oh yes. Definitely.”
“No, I know you want to have sex again. I was saying ‘really’ to your corny line.”
“Whatever it takes to get you in the mood.”
“Right now, I just want sleep.”
“Not now, babe. I have plans for us. Well, non-sexual ones at the moment.”
“You’ll have to get that sweet ass up and find out.”
“Can you at least bring me coffee?”
“You know, every time you smile at me, my entire life brightens.”
“You’re such a cheeseball.” She said, shaking her head.
“I’m serious. I don’t want any of this is overshadow how I feel about you. I am going to love you with reckless abandon.”
“You’re never going to get me out of bed like this.”
“Okay, I’ll get you some coffee. You want one of those fancy vanilla things?”
“No, just cream and sugar, please.”
“You better get into the shower.” He checked his watch. “We have about an hour to be downstairs.”
“Why are we on a schedule? What did you plan?”
“You’ll see. Now get on up!”
He walked out of the hotel room. The lobby was a giant room with rooms on four sides looking down on it. Each room had a small balcony for the guests to walk out on. It was a nice departure from the usual hotel with windows bolted shut. There were fountains and ponds wrapped around and in between a couple small open air bars and seating areas. It was a simply designed central room, but it was atheistically pleasing.
There was a Starbucks next to the gift shop. It was filled with customers by the time he got in line. He was the third person standing out the door, which doubled as the walkway for the hotel. It was awkward to have to keep avoiding the hotel guests with their luggage. The pace was slow, but he worked his way into the actual store. The baristas were working madly to get through the line of sleepy customers. His frustration softened when he realized the efforts they were putting. This was just a five dollar coffee to him. This was their daily life. He made sure to tip them a little extra than usual.
With Coffee in hand, he made his way back up to the room. He nodded silently and smiled wide to the cleaning ladies. He tried his best to keep the coffee from spilling in from of them.
Getting a key out of your pocket when you have two hands full of coffee is an amazing feat. It involves the use of your chin, shoulder and arm while trying to not give yourself third degree burns.
He could hear the shower going once he opened the door. The smile immediately crested his face. Walking into the bathroom, he set the coffees down on the counter. He had a tough decision to make. There was a naked woman on the other side of a very thin piece of plastic. He had already told her to hurry up and get ready for the day. She was a phenomenal beauty. His willpower was limited whenever she was feeling devious.
“Do you need any help in there?”
“Will you hand me my coffee?” She slung open the shower curtain without a hint of modesty or embarrassment. “I just can’t seem to get moving today.” He handed her the disposable cup, without looking her in the eye.
“I really want to join you, but then we’ll never get out of here.”
“It’s a real shame you made plans for the day. You never know what could have happened.”
He smiled at her.
“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.
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 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.