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chapter 13

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Johnny Slipknot



Joined: 04 May 2005
Posts: 39
Location: The Burned City
chapter 13  Reply with quote  

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She was disappointed in the books on the shelves. First of all, he had some. A lot of them. Irving, Wolfe, Tolkien, Robbins, Steinbeck and DeLillo were readily at hand. All authors she read and recommended and more. There was even a Christopher Moore that she loved and liked to think of as part of her own private stock.

It was the same everywhere she looked. The walls were nearly bare, save one or two tasteful prints by a Puerto Rican artist, low-maintenance plants, furniture and lighting combinations (designed for reading), and old twelve-string guitar that was chipped and weathered. Nothing to displace the image of him she had carried in her mind for all these years. The nearest she could come were some computer games in a loose stack by the desk in a small sunroom. Driving over, she had silently hoped for piles of comic books, dead pizza boxes and pornography in abundance. Not this relatively sparse, tasteful apartment, devoid of a feminine touch. It gave her a feeling she couldn’t quite put her finger on.

As she had conducted her inspection, their voices had filtered through the bedroom door down the hall, muffled, angry. She had a pretty good idea of the nature of the discussion. The look on his face when he saw her had brightened her day...

... but now, standing in his living room, listening to them flog their ways out of the past, she felt like an intruder. More to the point, she felt mean. Seeing him standing there, naked and lost, she was transported back to that Mardi Gras. Then she had smoothed his brow and covered his body with hers. When she had gone to class the next morning, all she could think about had been the words they had said, and the places in one another they had filled. But then, the memory of coming…

She heard the door down the hall open. She set her face to ‘benign scorn’.
He rounded the corner and stopped in front of her. He now wore faded jeans and a black button-down. He had missed the middle two buttons.
Fucking hell.



Seth couldn’t get over how different she looked standing in his house rather than in the coffee shop. Her attitude was clearly no different, but the whole picture was …clearer? Familiar? More complete? Maybe the missing sounds of chattering voices and swishing steam cleared up his neural passageways, he thought.

At any rate, she seemed peeved to have to be there, wearing a gray business jacket over a black blouse, opened at the throat. Her dark hair was down (which it usually wasn’t) and slightly tousled. He had never notice her breasts before. It was hard to believe, now that they were in front of him. Bigger than Eileen’s, but well proportioned to her small frame. Her hips--

Wait...

this was the Troglodyte we were dealing with here.

Okay, so she was attractive, she was still the same pain in the ass that made him feel like a Nazi at a bar mitzvah five days a week. And she was standing in the middle of his living room like it was the queue at the DMV.

“So,” he held his arms out and said, “Welcome to my home and what the hell are you doing here?”

Jay pushed past them and went to the computer in the sunroom. “She’s a big fan of the show. Offer her some coffee.”

“You shut up.” He said, and turned back to her. “Well?”

“I don’t know, really.” Her voice still had that smoky tone he had heard at the coffee shop that day. He realized how much it sounded like Eileen’s had in the dream. “Your friend came by the Mean Bean looking for you when you didn’t show up at work. I think he wanted to piss you off.” She crossed her arms.


They stared defiantly at one another.

Something deep inside him was tugging at the back of his mind. Like the iron in his blood was being pulled by a magnet. He studied her and thought, this is the weirdest relationship I have ever had in my life. I have ex’s that I feel less belittled by. He wanted, badly, to ask her what in the Name of God he had done to make her loathe him so, but he also sensed that that was EXACTLY what she wanted. Well, fuck that! After all these months of playing emotional-chicken, he damn sure wasn’t going to blink now, sexy voice and breasts or not.


“So, I guess you know who I am. Coffee shop aside.”

She bit her lip for second, then said, “Yes.”

“Let me guess. You hate the “Ringer & Jay” show.”

“Only half of it.”

“She’s a lovely woman.” Jay called from the computer.

“You shut up.” Now, he needed coffee. He went to the kitchen. “I’m making coffee. You want some?”

“Yes. Black with two sugars, please.” Jay said
.
“You shut up.” He poured water in the well and filled the filter with Rainforest blend. “Besides in a Matisse mug, how do you take it…Sorry, didn’t catch your name.”

“Mahoney.” She waited, studying his face, looking for any reaction. None came. “Actually, I would like to get back to work. Fun as this has been, some of us have jobs in the real world.”

“You said you were taking the day off.” Jay called.

“You shut up.” She said.

“What do you do?” Seth asked over the chugging of the coffee maker.

“I’m an Interior Designer.”

“I had you pegged as an IRS auditor. What kinda design?”

“Restaurant interiors. Look…”

Jay leaned back in his chair and said, “Hey, did you do the Sushi place on Trinity? That place is sweet.”

She gave him a withered look. “No. Can we please leave?”

“In a second.” He said. “Seth, what was the name of that game Trip designed at a couple of years ago? The one he loved so much, but got passed over?”

“’Have Bong, Will Travel’. So what places have you done?” Seth was filling three mugs. The place smelled of cinnamon and dark-roast. She had to get out of there.

“I’ve…I do all the Daddy Mack Steakhouses. Okay? Now--”

Jay quit typing. “The one’s owned by the Texas guy? I love those. There’s one near the house. Susan and I go all the time. What’s he- Wait.” He typed something into the computer. “Nope. Not ‘steakhouse’.”

Seth handed her a mug. “Those places look great. You must be really good.”

“Thank you.” It didn’t come out as sarcastic as she had hoped.
He went on, “You walk in expecting horns on the walls and saddles and shit, but it’s really kinda classy. Comfortable, though. Like it’s okay to order barbecue sauce on your fries, or something.”

She took a breath. This was an ambush. He was standing there all sexy and interested in her work with his shirt miss-buttoned, like he wasn’t the shit-heel they both knew he was. She took a sip from the mug to buy time and regroup.

It was sweet and the color of chestnut. Bastard. He did know how she took her coffee.

“How’s your coffee?”

“A little too sweet,” she lied.

He sat on the back of a leather-bound chair and gestured to the couch. She held her ground.

“So what’s ‘Texas’ Thurmand like? We pulled up his web-site at work one time. He seems like a real pistol.”

“Didn’t we try to get him on the show once?” Jay asked over the beeping of the computer.

“Yeah.” Seth replied. “His spokesperson said he had been told the show was…what was it?”

Jay closed his eyes for a second. “Aaahhh…the show was…Oh Yeah. ‘the show was the mouthpiece for a couple of idiots with more bullshit than brains…”

“And music that would sicken the cows.” Seth finished. He and Jay broke into peals of laughter. Mahoney studied her coffee, trying not to make eye contact. “He must be something else. Maybe we can get him now that we have…” he closed his eyes, searching for her name. “I’m sorry. What did you say your…”

She put the cup on the counter. “Mahoney.” She walked over to Jay and poked him in the back. “Can we go? Now.”

Jay pushed back from the desk. “Yeah, all right. I’m getting nowhere, anyway.” Then to Seth, “Bull and I tried everything we could think of last night. See what you can come up with. I want that damn thing off my computer. Susan’s starting to think it’s an ex-girlfriend’s love letter or something. He’s killing me.”

Mahoney looked at the digital envelope with a yellow smiley face on it floating on the screen. “What is that?”

“It’s an e-mail from a friend of ours.” Seth answered, “He designs gaming software for a company in Louisiana.”

She ignored him and said to Jay, “Why can’t you open it?”

“He rigged it with a password that none of us can come up with. He’s always had too big a brain.” Jay said, taking out his car keys.

Mahoney said, “God, it could be anything.”

“No,” Seth replied, “He said it was something we could get. Something the four of us should know.”

“Yeah right. He loves making us look stupid, is all. ‘Right in front of our eyes’ my ass. ‘Just, role back and let it come to you, Jay-Bird.’ Prick.”

“We’re all very close.” Seth said to Mahoney.


Well, he thought to himself as she followed Jay to the door, I tried. I gave it a shot. Clearly, she had made up her mind that he was deplorable and it was beyond him to fix it or even know why. For a second there he thought he was making progress. He really did like Daddy Mack’s. He wasn’t being condescending or flippant. But just as it started to resemble a normal conversation, something in her head went ‘PING’ and it reverted back to Kramer vs. Kramer (without the first ten minutes that let you in on what the hell’s going on.)

Jay opened the door and raised his chin at him. “So what’s going to occur tomorrow?”
Seth looked at his feet. “You’ll see me coming in to work on time.”

“And that time is?”

“5:30 in the a.m.”

“And why?”

“Because you have two beautiful children and a wife.”

“Therefore?”

“I have two beautiful children and a wife.”

“But?”

“I am not allowed to have sex with my wife.”

“Thus?”

“I will be at work at 5:30 a.m. in the morning.”

“And therefo…”

“Jay don’t push it”

Jay’s broad, sarcastic smile receded to one of sincerity and kindness.

“I know you think you understand, and I love you for it. But someday, when you have kids of your own, you’ll really understand.”

Seth nodded and Jay took the walkway stairs, two at a time, calling over his shoulder, “Why don’t you and Wonder Girl get to work on that.”

Mahoney looked puzzled for a moment. “Wonder-?”

“It’s a girl I met.”

“Oh, that’s right. The Boob-Job.”

Seth felt blood rising to his face. “You don’t know her.”

“You’re right. But I’m sure you do.” She headed down the stairs.

“They aren’t fake.” He fired after her, knowing it was a lame thing to say.

“You should know. After all, you’re the expert on what’s real.”

“What?”

She was at the bottom of the stairs now. “Nothing, I’m sure you and Boob-job will be very happy.”

He grabbed the banister and yelled, “Hey! She has a name!”

The look in her eyes when she wheeled around froze him to the bone.

“Yes. I’m sure she does. We ALL do.”

She turned and walked to the car, leaving Seth feeling like had been accused of rape. When she opened the door, he held out his arms and yelled, “What the hell have I done to you?”

She slammed the car door, feeling the sting of tears and thought, You changed my life and then forgot my name.





JS



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