I have decided to write a series of short stories. I have no idea what will follow or what I’ll create. I hope my friends will forgive me for my creative process and that they ‘might’ become sort of like literary characters. (Maybe) Also, I took off the self imposed expletive filter and I’ll let my thoughts roam free without reservation.
This one is about a miscommunication between an older man and a younger woman. The dynamic is classic. Think about it, have you ever liked someone even though they throw a lot of bullshit back at you? Or, someone makes a mistake misperceived by its intent? It‘s real life imagined.
I think you earn wisdom. So, this is my first of many soon to be created short stories. I titled this one, A Conversation.
“I have missed your presence, my dear,” Bobby said. He stared down at the Guinness glass, frothing with pale brown turbulence. The St Petersburg, Florida evening spirit calm and resplendent. “Remember the night we ended up down here on Beach Drive at four in the morning?”
Tess tapped her long forefinger on the square table covered with a white tablecloth. The table observed a proper social distance from the other nearby tables. She sat back on the wooden chair, crossed her thin legs as an older couple holding hands strolled behind her along the wide sidewalk. The modern condominium structures gleamed with reflective sunlight.
“It hurts to think about how much wine we drank,” Tess said. She blinked her eyes playfully. “But I still think you’re an asshole. Wait, yes, I know you’re an asshole.”
Bobby nodded back over at Tess in agreement. He sipped the now dark red Guinness. It was a start, Bobby thought.
“It’s true, it’s true,” Bobby said. He grinned sheepishly back over at Tess. “You’re not exactly the quiet and shy type either. I’m not proud of my ass-holy ness. As always, you’re right and I’m wrong. Sorry. I feel like I’m talking to my ex-wife.”
Tess watched the nearby slow moving street traffic. A fancy sports car driven by a balding old man with a ballonish sized head. The after market shiny chrome exhaust pipes spat out loudly as it rolled by them toward a salmon-colored hotel.
“He’s compensating,” Tess said. She pointed over at the German-made car. “I would never do that to that car, it’s smacks of desperation. It’s what under the hood that matters. I like the speed, driving fast makes me feel alive. That’s all for show, I don’t get it.”
“I remember I was barefoot, I walked like I was one of those fire walker-ish dudes,” Bobby said. He stared up toward the darkening blue sky and back over at a massive banyan tree. “What was her name?”
Tess looked back over at Bobby. Her angry eyes calculating Bobby’s next move. She had missed Bobby’s boyish charm, but then there was that darker side to him. The darker side a complete mystery to her.
“Oh, Jennifer, or something like that,” Tess said. She held the red wineglass by the fragile stem. “She kept saying oh ‘my god, oh my god’, cute thing, tiny, she was fun that night. We had big-fun that night.”
“Yeah we did, that’s it, from Michigan, sounded like she popped out of Central Casting,” Bobby said. He chuckled. “That tiny girl could drink. After she drank all my wine, at three-thirty in the morning she popped up off the couch, decided she needed to find her car. I could barely keep up with you two. We walked with her. I was so drunk I forgot to put on my flip-flops. I think you stopped her and got her an Uber?”
“I did, you were rather wobbly,” Tess said. She picked up her smartphone and appeared to examine the screen for news from within the worldwide portal. She did not look back over at Bobby. “I bet we amused the police watching us stumble back to your apartment. Strange to realize cameras are all over town.”
Bobby studied the restaurant menu. He heard forks and knives being used and the normal hum from human activity during a busy Florida winter season.
“At least I’m not boring,” Bobby said. He thought it best to get all her venom out. He earned her poison. He used a Muhammad Ali rope-a-dope boxing strategy. “If I may, you look lovely this evening.”
Tess shrugged. She pursed her lips.
“Oh, I see, nice try, no sir,” Tess said. She whispered over toward Bobby. “You’re not just an asshole, let me think, dickhead, yeah, you’re a dickhead. I could say worse, but I don’t want to insult the people sitting behind you. And unlike you, I have some dignity and class.”
“I can be a funny dickhead,” Bobby said, ruefully. He looked down at his flip-flops. “Too.”
The former friends remained quiet for several minutes. A young waiter wearing a black mask attended to their table. They ordered another round of adult beverages with humus with naan bread. Bobby wished he had had the power for reverse time travel and could eliminate his tempest storms. But if he were truthful to himself, his middle-aged mind understood Tess had gotten passed his emotional guard gate and that scared him. He preferred to keep the world, and her, at arm’s length. They were not former lovers or any real dating match. She was tall and thin; he was a lot older with graying hair. But they had enjoyed hanging out, and they could talk with each other.
“I’ll give you credit,” Tess said. “You are fun to go out drinking with, I think you collect peculiar people for sport.”
“Perhaps that’s why we understand each other,” Bobby said. He winked over at Tess. “You have the same skill set if I remember correctly.”
Tess stared forward and observed every thing but Bobby’s face.
“I like to have fun,” Tess said, matter-of-factly. “As the saying, life’s short, play hard.”
“I agree,” Bobby said. He nodded. “Remember the time we started talking to that couple from down south, he kept telling us how rich he was.”
“Of course,” Tess said. She almost smiled, but quickly caught herself. “She told me they had met in rehab, and yet, they were out drinking with us. They fascinated me. Met in rehab? I wonder what else those two had experimented with?”
“I know,” Bobby said. He smirked at Tess. “Remember the cool lesbian chick we met over on Central?”
Tess crossed her arms. She suspiciously stared over at Bobby.
“Trying to get me to remember our good times?” Tess said. She leaned forward. “But should I remind you about your dickhead moments?”
Bobby was quite aware Tess’ brain microscopically processed faster than his. He ignored her comment and kept jabbing and weaving.
“We ended up at that gay bar,” Bobby said. He smiled. He sipped the Guinness and set it back down on the table. “You started dancing with the fossilized dude who liked to wear gold, gold rings, chains, I can only wonder wear else he had gilded himself.”
“You left me there that night,” Tess said. She looked blankly at Bobby. “Remember?”
Bobby thought Tess’ gaze at him her best counter punch for the evening. Her pretty face had molted into pure disappointment with him. A hurt between friends indescribable via the English language. And Bobby understood genuine pain from divorcing his best friend and an ugly childhood.
“I was rather inebriated. Besides, that’s not my crowd,” Bobby said. He coughed because he sensed the real question. “I know you can manage yourself, you’re a big girl and I knew those boys would protect you.”
Tess huffed through her lips. She wiped away any potential tears.
“You know what I’m saying,” Tess said. Her voice low and measured. She fumbled her thumb and forefinger along her shirt cuff. “Why do friends hurt me the most?”
Bobby’s lips trembled. He clenched his teeth to keep his emotions from spilling all over the concrete.
“It was an honest misunderstanding,” Bobby said. “Of all people, I’m not that guy.”
Tess gripped her hands and fingers together.
“I want to believe you,” Tess said. “Trust is everything.”
Bobby leaned over toward Tess. He whispered.
“You know my childhood, I don’t hide it,” Bobby said. “I’ve been betrayed. I trust no one. You know this?”
Tess squinted. She nodded. Bobby moved closer toward Tess.
“All I can say is this, and I mean it,” Bobby said. His eyes open, his body vulnerable. “I’d protect you with my life. That’s all I have to offer you.”
Tess sat back and stared forward. Darkness returned as the street and car lights lit up her eyes. She looked back over at Bobby and closely examined his face. Her shoulders released all her built up tension. She breathed.
“You’re still an asshole,” Tess said. She smacked down on Bobby’s left forearm. “But, you’re honest. I think. And your a funny asshole. I guess I’ll keep you around, for now.”
Bobby picked up the Guinness glass and clinked Tess’ wine glass.
“Cheers. Let’s always be brutally honest with each other,” Bobby said. “If you can accept my imperfections, see my worst and still care about me? And the same with you? I think then, we can be genuine lifelong friends.”
Coming Soon: I’m Kind Of A Big Deal