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As of 28 February 2016, due to decline in my health and chronic illness

Saturday, January 5, 2013

January 5, 2013: Short Story Challenge


January 5, 2013 Writing Prompt:

"After one too many margaritas, you vow to your two best friends that you'll ask out the next guy who walks by."

I promised myself I would never write in this particular sub-sub-genre, but given a prompt that is so foreign to my personal experience, I seem to have no choice.

“Watch What You Wish For, Lest It Come True”

       May giggled into her drink as out of the corner of her eye she watched the table of randy businessmen across the room. As if they hadn’t noticed a giggly, curly-haired blonde in a tight gold 1920’s style dress, with a white cloche hat no less. Males always noticed May; and the few that could see past her watched my other best friend, Allison, whose olive complexion and waist-length naturally straight black hair complemented her athleticism. Me? I was content to be the outsider, the third wheel, the observer of social interaction via the active lives of the two women who had been my persistently best friends since we met in 7th grade.
       We had been here for several hours; Allison and I worked in the same PR firm, she as an account agent and me as personal assistant to the V-P, and our firm closed at 4 PM. May showed up at 5, and the drinking began.  May was flirtatious, alcoholic, giggly, and fun-filled; no wonder people loved her. The five businessmen had showed about 6 PM, which was early for a Thursday night; usually workaholics wouldn’t appear until 10 or 11 PM. But here they were, all five of them looking like college football stars wrapped up in business suits, and May was having a blast. Allison pretended she wasn’t looking, but I thought she had her eye on the black-haired one on the far side of the table, in the expensive suit, who also was carefully not glancing our way.
       I pushed back my chair; “I’ve had enough, ladies, time for a little girls’ break. Coming with me?”
       Another giggle from May:  five vodka spritzers clearly had interfered with her tact. “No, Amy, I’m fine right here.” “Right” pronounced “rott heah.” I wasn’t sure if she was going for British, Boston, or just what accent, but I needed to get moving.
       “Allison?”
       “Sure, I’ll come along. May-don’t get into trouble.”
       More giggles, another swig of the vodka. May was a good chick, but she almost always had her head in the clouds. Neither did alcohol agree with her, so why did we decide to meet at a fern bar? I glanced at Allison and mouthed, “20 says she won’t be here when we get back.” She smiled and nodded, and we crossed toward the restrooms, which unfortunately were located down a hall whose door was only a few feet from the table of the business guys. The eye contact between the black-haired business suit on the far side of the table, against the wall, and Allison on my right, seared through me like a laser sighting. Okay, guess I might be leaving alone—all alone—again. How would that be different than any other get-together with my friends? Sometimes I even had to leave alone from lunches!
       Our trip into the restroom was uneventful, once we’d passed into the hall and the intervening door had shut behind us, so that no eye contact was now possible. I went into a stall while Alison stood at the sink and freshened her makeup. I was getting ready to exit when I heard a noise from the front of the bar; it sounded like a door slamming. “Allison? What was that?”
       Duh, Amy! She’s in here with you, how would she know? Well, we’d find out in a minute. I opened the stall door and stepped to the sinks: no Allison, just a stray long black hair, clearly identifiable as hers, edging off the front of one sink. Odd, because Allison was always very fastidious. Normally she would wipe up all trace of herself, even cleaning the sink handles and faucets with a paper towel. Well, maybe she’d rushed out to check the source of that noise. When I stepped back into the hall, I could hear male laughter and mumbles from the other restroom, down at the end of the hall opposite the office. Apparently the business guys had quaffed sufficiently too. They were sure a lot louder than they had been while still at their table.
       Sure enough, the table of five was now a table of two—a rather quiet broadly-built blond man, and a voluble red-head with tightly curled locks and a florid complexion. The black-haired one was missing, along with two others. I couldn’t remember what they looked like, but I guessed all three were in the restroom. The blond nodded at me and the redhead whistled low. I gave the blond a little wave, and ignored the fool. As I crossed to our table, I saw May amazingly still seated, but Allison was missing; and some man sat in the fourth seat, next to my chair. I was almost at the table when I heard the businessmen returning, and glancing over my shoulder,  I saw only two of them, and neither was the black-haired man who’d been doing the mutual admiration thing with my friend Allison. So where was he? And more importantly, where was she?
       May was sitting quietly; she wasn’t giggling. Oh oh, now I know something is wrong. Head down, she kept fingering her glass. Second wrong: not drinking. I walked up to her, and bent down, “May, what is it? Where’d Allison go?” Then whispering, “and who is this?”
       She looked up at me then, and I would have sworn the girl was stone cold sober.
       “Allison and that guy are gone. He offered to take her to Club Zebra for the dancing. I told her to go on. That was while his two buddies were down the hall. Then right after they left, these other people came in.”
       She glanced over her shoulder, back toward the bar stools. Sure enough, six or eight of the stools were occupied, all men except one woman, every one of them unmoving, despite the glasses or bottles set before them. The barkeep’s expression looked as if he’d swallowed a rotten persimmon, and I noticed now that he was backed up all the way to the back wall, arms crossed defensively. What in the world was going on here? Made me glad Allison was out of it, and maybe May and I should get that way too.
       “Come on, girlfriend, let’s us split then too. We can go someplace else, or maybe go home. Let’s go.”
       “Not yet.”
       “What?”
       Her upturned gaze suddenly riveted me. Clear-eyed, definitely sober, and even more determinedly regretful.
       “Amy-remember last week at the Friday night hoedown at the country bar?”
       “um-yeah. What about it?”
       “Remember how you and Jose Cuervo got better acquainted—and after you’d had five or six, you said, “I’m tired of being the wallpaper. Next guy that comes around, I’m asking out.”
       “Okay-maybe I said that.”
       “Yeah, you did; but then you passed out on the table, and we had to get that cute, hunky, bouncer to carry you out and put you on the back seat of Allison’s Mercedes so we could drive you home. Remember?”
       “Not exactly, but so what?”
       “Well, this here is the next guy that came around. This is your new date.”
       “What???!!”
       I spun around and looked this guy full in the face. Sure enough, he was staring at me, if staring was the appropriate word. Both eyes resembled white boiled eggs I wouldn’t ever have eaten, plus the left eye had bloodshot streaks. His skin was dark, and I don’t mean African-American, I mean dark gray. By the straightness and length of his black hair, he might have been Indigenous American at one time—but now he was Zombified American.
       “Oh no you don’t, Marsha May, no you don’t!” and I grabbed her wrist and spun her out of there. I’d come back in the morning, if there was a morning, and pay for my drinks. For now, it was “goodnight, all, and don’t follow us out of here,” and we rushed out the front door and away.

3 comments:

  1. I love how you threw that curve ball in there at the end. :) Great writing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lori: 10,000 thanks for this encouragement:)

      Delete
  2. Hiya

    i also love the curve ball. I was so not expecting it. A great piece. Well done.

    Angel

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