Friday, April 14, 2006

here's to happy couples

here’s to happy couples
another story

Jessica had wrangled me away from the crowd and back into my bedroom on some premise. We were doing shots in the kitchen and then something about needing me to do something for her or something. That I don’t remember what it was is reasonable. She wasn’t the highlight of my evening. Plus I didn’t really pay attention to most of what she said. It was usually useless bullshit. Who the fuck cares about being in high school anymore? That was fucking years ago and shit.

I knew this moment had been coming since I began stringing this little bitch on after meeting her. She had wanted my sweet sweet shit from the get go. And there was something about her that drew me in. A certain naiveté that I couldn’t help but exploit. I figured it would come to no good. But when has a thought like that ever stopped me? I’m a bad man. A bad bad man.

She had been drinking more than I had. Not just the shots. And her tolerance was clearly much lower. Not everyone is a power drinker like me. She was one drink away from covering my bed in dinner and half of lunch. That only made her all the bolder. She mumbled something about ‘it’s just you and me now’ as she slammed the door closed; not realizing it bounced right back open. As if I needed more clues that she wasn’t all there tonight. As if that would have affected anything in the end anyway.

She took off her shirt in what I assume she meant to be a sexy strip tease. But it wasn’t. At all. People should really stick to what they know. I stopped her before she took off anything else. Before she got herself so far gone down the line that there would be no recovering any of her misplaced dignity. Then she tried to make out with me. Or I guess, she did make out with me. For a while. Because I was thinking of the best way to stop her/not thinking of anything at all. I wasn’t trying too hard. Even though she wasn’t that great of a kisser. The rhythm was off. We just didn’t mesh. One more reason, not that I really needed it. In the end.

“Jess. No.” I pushed her away. She almost fell over. This just wasn’t right. And not just because she was too drunk to stand.
“Your eyes say ‘no’ but your mouth says ‘yes.’” She tried to kiss me again. After all that I couldn’t even laugh at the stupidity. Clearly I needed to get out of this situation.
“No, my mouth says no.” She tried to fondle me; down there. That’s right. Tried.
“Widdle Isaac wants to come out and pway.”
“Just stop. You’re being ridiculous.” And annoying. How do I get rid of her? Why did I even let her back here? “Go to bed. Just go to the guest room and sleep it off.” So long as they aren’t still using it to blaze. Not that she would be able to tell the difference.
“I want you to be my first.” That she was so solemn when she said that, coming almost completely out of her drunken haze made me think she had been planning this shit for a while. That made me even more depressed. “I want you to have all of me.” She tried dancing again. The girl can’t handle it sober. The results while drunk were beyond pathetic.
“You’re drunk and deluded.
“I’m not drunk.” She fell over. Just straight up fell on her cute little ass.
“You don’t want me to be your first. Not me. Not like this. You’re the kind of girl who waits till her wedding night. Or at least until college. Not till she has had five beers and six shots of plastic bottle vodka.”
“But I luv ya.” Now I was offended. She can go ahead and tell me that all she wants when we’re all sober and joking around and I can laugh it off like its nothing. But not now. Not like this. This isn’t love. I can’t laugh at this. This isn’t pretend shit anymore.
“No, you don’t. You don’t even know what love is.” Love is caring about someone more than you care about yourself. Not getting drunk and trying to get laid. Kids these days. What the fuck is wrong with them?
“But I luv ya.” As if repeating herself would make a difference. She tried to kiss me again and I pushed her away. Again. She fell. Again. She barely even noticed. She was about to try again. And probably would have kept trying all night long. But Nicki came to the rescue. Sweet relief.

There she was standing in the doorway. Black hair cascading over her pale skin. Her perky tits barely covered by some spaghetti strap or another. It might have been blue. Or orange. My bottle of Corazon in one hand and two shots in the other.
“Love him or not, cutie, it ain’t happening tonight. So why don’t you just find your way back to the rest of the party. And leave us grownups to talk.” I had been more than clear and it hadn’t moved Jess in the slightest. Nicki shows up and Jess scurries out with her tail between her legs. The fuck are you gonna do? Though there was quite a pout going on as she stomped out into the living room. Nicki closed the door. And locked it.

“Not into the whole schoolgirl fetish?” That same impish smile. Does it for me every time.
“Bah. The schoolgirl fetish is more about knee socks and micro mini plaid skirts than age. And like every other fashion statement: if you look good, you’ll look good in anything. If not, you’re fucked.” Like you. You would look great as a schoolgirl. “Thanks for the help.”
“Not a problem, baby. So why? I mean, she looks good enough.”
“She’s fucking 16.”
“Which means she is legal in our fair state.”
“That doesn’t make it right.”
“That wouldn’t bother most of the guys at this party.
“Yeah, well, my friends are degenerates… I don’t know what it is. I don’t mind destroying the beautiful, but I guess I draw the line at perverting the innocent.”
“Hate to break it to you, Holden, but she probably won’t be so innocent tomorrow. With or without your help.” She held up Jess’ shirt that had been left behind.
“Probably not. Not going out into that group that drunk and that horny.”
“And that doesn’t bother you?” “Not really. What doesn’t happen to me or around me tends not to concern me.” I never said I was a nice guy. “But that’s not why you found your way over here.”
“You read me so well.” Ah, yes: the sarcasm. I love it when they can keep up with me. That warm and fucking fuzzy feeling. Just like that smile.

She handed me one of the shot glasses and poured them both.

“Here’s to hangovers.” This was the beginning of something.
“Why not?” Tonight was going to be a good night. Or at least it had potential.

We drank a few. It was a party. I don’t know what you do at a party. But we drink.
“Came alone again, I see.” I might as well get to the point. Coming to my house without her boyfriend and drinking is just asking for trouble.
“You are so perceptive.”
“I like to try.”
“We might be having a few problems on the home front.” That doesn’t mean anything. That one has backfired on me before.
“You know, I’m not so qualified for sympathy.” It’s not that I don’t try. It’s just that I’m not very good with emotions and all that.
“No shit. You’ve been trying to get with me for two months now. Do you really think I would come to you with a bottle of tequila if I was looking for sympathy?” Now what was that look all about? It was almost as charged as when I stare into her deep green eyes and then just … drift … away … and. No! Gotta stay in the moment.
“Here’s to happy couples.” We drank some more. It was a while before she said anything. She came to me, I waited for her.
“He is just so needy.” It was sort of out of the blue. But I wasn’t really surprised. “Do you realize that he calls me like 10 times a day. And does he have anything to tell me? No. Is that normal?” Not really normal. But isn’t that what girls want? I always thought they wanted guys to call them all the time to check in.
“Uhh.” I mean I could see that he was too needy. He wasn’t good enough for her. And they both knew it. And I knew it too. So did most everyone who knew them. None of us understood how that fucking relationship held together. But maybe she was asking a lot of him? Eh. I’m not going to feel sorry for the fucker.
“Would you do that?”
“Well, no.” That’s not how I roll. I hate phones and I am not a fan of relationship stupidity. Though Brian was kind of a douche. He was one step away from calling her ‘Shmoopie.’ We took another shot.
“That’s what I mean. Sometimes I wonder who is really wearing the pants in this relationship.” Fuck, Nicki. You should know by now that you will wear the pants in any relationship you ever get into. That’s just how you are. Another shot
“You know I know absolutely nothing about relationships… Ones that work anyway.” Fuck. Why did I have to bring up Amy now? There goes tonight. There goes months of solid work. There goes…
“Don’t worry, Isaac. She’ll come back to you. One of these days.” Another shot. “But in the mean time there is no reason why you should be lonely.” One last shot before…

There is something comforting about waking up next to someone you care about. Especially when she is naked. Also, no we would not make a good couple. We won’t start dating. And I don’t know how long it will be before she tells her boyfriend that I occasionally keep her company through the cold dark night.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Veronica (an edited text)


a very short story

It wasn’t love. I sort of knew that from the start. We really just aren’t the sort that falls in love. Not often, anyway. And I think I had already fucked up my chance.

I met her first while bartending at Disco Vegas. She was a fan of dirty martinis. Well, talked to her first at Disco Vegas. Got to know her first. But I had seen her before; when I was bouncing at DangerBar!. She came in with a group of girls. Bitches really; every one of them. Or at least they gave off that ‘I’m so much better than you so leave me alone’ vibe. The kind of shit that has always pissed me right the fuck off. So I mostly ignored them. As an attention whore myself, I knew what would bother them the most. That and the bored and slightly exasperated look I adopted when I let them jump the line. Eh.

She was different. Strayed a bit from the pack. There was something in her eyes. Something… honest. Or true. Innocent? Genuine. There was something genuine in her eyes. Just the thing to reel a degenerate like me right in. Of course I didn’t make a move. Not when she rolled with that crowd. For all my bluster and bravado, there are still some girls that I am afraid to approach.

I guess there might have been a few looks, a few smiles between us. But nothing special. She would come in with her bitch posse and she would leave with one guy or another. Or she wouldn’t. She might just get trashed with the girls. But that’s what we all did. That’s why people came to DangerBar!. That’s why we were the hottest fucking joint no one had ever really heard of. And when it started getting too popular, I got to move on.

Once DangerBar! became the “scene,” Yoshikawa decided that his first little underground venture was doing well enough that he could afford to open a second. We had become pretty good friends by that point. I wasn’t just another ex-pat bouncer. So he asked me to come along and run the bar. I moved on up. And I got my own three feet of felt covered absurdity that could only be called a bar in a nightclub in Roppongi. Disco Vegas, baby. Disco Vegas. Why the fuck not?

Veronica started coming to Disco Vegas a few weeks after we opened. It was better than DangerBar! because it was newer. And kitschier. And she was of the sort that followed those kinds of trends. Mostly because she could. She was just that type of girl. She had enough money and enough borrowed taste that she could afford to be on the cutting edge of cool. Not that I really minded. After all, she was beautiful. And what with me being the only bartender, the communication barrier was broken. Hell. Yes.

So after a while of her coming in and ordering martinis (with gin - you know, real martinis), we got to talking and she got to staying later and later. She started coming in on off nights. And without her uptight buzz kill friends. One thing led to another and that led to sex. Eventually we got to going home together. Her place. It was much nicer than mine. Even as a bartender in a reasonably trendy nightspot, I was hard pressed to find decent and affordable accommodations in Tokyo. Not that that was really the reason her place was better than mine. She didn’t fucking pay half what I did. Her place was like a fucking gift from one of the wealthy gentlemen that fell in love with her at her club. She was always getting nice stuff from her “benefactors.” I never asked too much about it. I never cared too much about it. What she did when I wasn’t around, just didn’t bother me. I guess that old maxim still rings true: if you are hot, blonde, and willing to take your clothes off, you’ll probably do ok.

Veronica was Australian. Like me she had studied Japanese in high school and like me, when she found that she didn’t really want to do anything after college, she had come to Tokyo. Sure all the fast money of the late 80s was nothing but myth and legend now, but somehow it seemed like we were doing better because we were so far away from home. She had come to Japan as a model. She had done a few magazine spots or whatever. Maybe a billboard or two. I didn’t really listen. But ultimately it hadn’t worked out. And so she did what any reasonable girl in her position would do: danced naked for old leering men. It’s not like she could go home. There was even less for her there. Sometimes you just can’t go home. I knew I couldn’t. Something was missing. And I just wasn’t ready. Things were broken back home. And even if they weren’t perfect here, at least they were good enough.

And so we sort of started dating. Really what it was is that I got to see her during the day. Afternoon really. We both worked and drank all night long, so it wasn’t like we were awake during the morning. Not a fucking chance of that. And that was great. She was great. And we were pretty fucking good together. Things just worked out. She was the piece that had been missing during my first year or in Tokyo. And we had fun. We had fun. That was enough. There were a few fights here and there. Sometimes I had to go back to my place at the end of the night instead of staying at hers. But mostly we didn’t take anything much too seriously. We just had fun together. And I left it at that.

Then it was August. I had been in Japan for two years of my young life. And I had been dating Veronica for the last eight months of them. And it had been a great 8 months. Or six and a half. We had been getting into more and more fights. Over stupid shit too. I couldn’t understand why she was always blowing up at me over the smallest fucking things. She just kept getting pissed that I didn’t care that other guys wanted to sleep with her. Of course they wanted to fuck her. She’s hot. Then I got it. And it fucking blew me away. She wanted more. More than I was probably able to give. More than I really wanted to give her. I think it was getting past time I got the fuck out of Dodge City.

I cashed in the return ticket that had been sitting on my dresser for two years. Things had been stagnant for far too long. Making the same damn stupid drinks for the same dumb fuck stoned bastards night after night just wasn’t doing it anymore. And now with Veronica starting to get that old familiar itch, things were exactly stable on the home front. My job wasn’t changing enough and my girl was changing too much. Life, man. It fucking gets you every time.

I didn’t tell her anything for the next 2 weeks. I just didn’t know how to bring it up. I was sure that if I told her she would make me stay. She wanted everything and all of me. There was no fucking chance she would let me leave. I knew that if she asked me to stay I would. And then I would die here. Slowly. Long after she had moved on to some other guy on a faster track to wealth, fame, or power, I would still be slinging booze for Yoshikawa at one his “hip night spot for upscale youths.” I couldn’t do that to myself. Or maybe we would stay together. And I could tell my mother that I was “in love with a stripper yo.” And I would still die here. Unfulfilled. Unfinished. And incomplete. Because no matter how much Veronica was in love with me, there was another girl. She was 5,000 miles and 5,000 years away and yet somehow whenever the subject of love came up, she was the only one that ever came to mind.

The last time I saw her was at the train station. She was going back to her place. And in a rare move I was going back to mine. I had packed up yesterday. Still unable to tell her anything. We had our last kiss. Nearly as passionate as our first. I was this close to going back to my place and unpacking, saying to hell with it all and staying. Just for her. Just for that. Just for one more. I watched her get onto her train. She waved as it pulled away. I waved back. It was raining. I just stood there on the empty platform staring at nothing for a long time. When I finally came out of my trance and looked at my watch I realized that I had missed my own train. I had to wait 40 minutes for the next connection.

And then I just left. I would like to think of it in terms of the Lone Ranger riding off into the sunset. But that wasn’t it. Maybe it was closer to chasing Bob Lind’s elusive butterfly. Or maybe I was just cutting and running. Leaving her before she left me. Or maybe I actually though I had a chance at fixing what I had broken years ago. Whatever it was, I still left. I couldn’t say goodbye. I don’t know how.

While I was in the airport, right up until take off, I kept thinking about how many times she would try calling. About what she would do when she finally went round that little shit box apartment I had called home for far too fucking long and found it emptier than usual. About how long it would take her to find someone new. And if she would really miss me at all. Knowing all the while that she was probably better for being rid of me. But once the cabin doors closed and the plane started to taxi, I realized that I didn’t care.

As we were taking off I thought about Amy for the first time in a long time. I wondered if she still felt the same was as she did when I left. I guess it was about time I called her. I guess it was about time I found out if I really could fix all the shit I fucked up. I hope so. I hope so.