Nothing is Forever

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Nick Brennan is sitting at The Tuneup, enjoying a quiet night when he comes across a couple having a conversation. The conversation takes a serious turn, and Nick is put in the awkward position of counseling a man with a broken heart. Something Nick knows all to well.

Submitted: September 07, 2016

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Submitted: September 07, 2016

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Sometimes you just need to get out of the house. Just see something else and do something else. You might go for a walk around the neighborhood, go to the library or even the movie theater. For me, whenever I want to get out of the house I end up going to the place that will end up costing me more than money. 

I ended up at The Tuneup. It was Ridgeview's most popular bar. More of an old school honky tonk would be the best way to describe it. Iconclast western images were on the walls of the bar, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and many honky tonk singers that the bar owner liked. Willie and Waylon, Mickey Gilley and her all time favorites Joe Stampley and Moe Bandy. The bar was a contradiction of society. In a town of Yuppies and Suburbia, people frequent a bar that could be fairly more associated with Urban Cowboy. I usually got together with my friends Chris, Lucas, Casey and Jake. We've had our share of good times here.

As much as I loved spending time with my buddies here, I was sitting at the bar alone. Chris was in Tulsa working on a project for the railroad. Lucas was working the late night program at the radio station and Jake and Casey were performing a comedy set in Laramie Wyoming. Sometimes it was best to spend some time alone and decompress. 

I was sitting at the bar, nursing a White Russian while Joe Stampley was singing about his big mama rolling on. The bar was quiet, the two cowboys who usually stayed all day when they didn't have work on the ranch were nursing Keystone Lights and talking about cattle prices. From what I could gather, prices were not what they once were. Over to my left shoulder in a corner booth, A young couple in their late 20's were engaged in a tense conversation. I couldn't quite hear what they were saying but from their facial expressions, it was not a good conversation. 

Rhonda the bartender walked over towards me. She was in her 60's, built like a biker queen with blonde hair and leathery tan skin. Her voice sounded like it spent a lifetime soaked in Whiskey and Marlboro smoke. She had owned the Tuneup for 25 years and turned it into quite the success. She had a towel in her right hand and started to lightly wipe down the counter.

"Quiet night for you too, Nick?" Rhonda asked.

I nodded my head. "It is.The guys are busy with work and being on the road. I am for once, done and finished with work. So I'll follow Saint Haggard's advice. I think I will just stay here and drink." I said.

Rhonda smiled. "He was always one of the guys I listened to all the time in church. I think we might just have a Haggard night on the jukebox. Something about steel guitars hitting the right notes." Rhonda said.

"Normally I would know what you are talking about, but I'm wondering if we are talking about the same kind of instruments." I said.

"You nasty son of a bitch," Rhonda said. She started to laugh. "I was thinking both instruments, to be honest."

"That is what I thought," I said. "Can I have a Coors in a can?"

Rhonda walked back to the cooler and grabbed my can. As I started to open it I heard the girl in the corner scream "ITS OVER GARRETT!!" and storm out of the bar. Rhonda's attention turned to the booth, I'm sure it was cause she couldn't remember if the check was paid. Garrett was standing there in a moment best described as pure and utter defeat. Garrett was a good looking guy. Medium height with an athletic body. He was wearing a pearl snap shirt and jeans. His face had a permanent five o'clock shadow but you could see tears start to build up. 

Garrett walked over to the bar. He sat on the stool next to mine, with his bottle shaking wildly in his hand. I turned my attention to him.

"Worst thing in the world is to spill beer." I said. "Could bring a lot of bad luck."

"Mister there are a lot of things worse than spilled beer." Garrett said. 

"Means I have to clean it up, or I will make you clean it up." Rhonda said.

I reached for Rhonda's cleaning rag and cleaned up the mess myself. As I made my way back up to the bar, Rhonda had walked over to the end of the bar to talk to the cowboys. I guess cattle prices were on the rise and it needed to be shared. Garrett was still sitting, sullen and staring intensly at his bottle.

I sat down and took a sip of my beer. Coors has a unique taste. The cooler it is the better taste you will get. I took a sip and turned to look at Garrett.

"Goddamned song," I said. I hoped I could start a conversation, but it didn't work. "Seriously, Conway Twitty I don't care if she has never been that far before."

"She really needs to change this song," Garrett said. 

"I agree," I said. I motioned for Rhonda. She walked over towards me. 

"Can we play some Jazz? This isn't working." I said.

Rhonda walked over to the radio and changed it to a different station. Bruce Hornsby was singing about "Mandolin Rain". I shook my head and took a sip. My eyes were still focused on Garrett, the kid looked like he was dealing with the worst event in the history of his life. I had been there myself. It was feeling I didn't like seeing with anyone, much less myself. I didn't want to pry into a strangers affair, but I couldn't help myself.

"Hey, are you alright?" I asked.

"No, far from it," Garrett said. "My soon to be wife just left me. I'm not exactly sure why. It was our anniversary. We had been together since we were 18."

"Congrats on the big milestone," I said. "I'm sorry she walked out."

Garrett turned his head towards me. "Can I ask you something?" Garrett asked.

"My name is Nick," I said. 

"Garrett Edgerton." Garrett said.

"Pleasure to meet you." I said.

"Let me ask you this," Garrett said. "If you wake up one morning, knowing your gonna get married in two weeks, and find out that your soon to be wife is cheating on you, how would you handle it?"

I hesitated before answering, thinking that he was gonna continue his thought. 

"She says to me, Garrett I need to talk to you. I said sure, what is wrong? She motioned for me to sit down. I almost thought she was gonna tell me she was pregnant. If that was the case, we would be at home and I would be putting together a nursery. It would have been a hell of a lot better." Garrett said.

"Of course," I said. I motioned for him to continue. 

"She says, I have been seeing someone else. Cheating, she had been cheating on me. Me. Mr Dependable. Mr Rocksteady. She had been seeing someone else. So I did what anybody does in a situation like this. I asked who it was. My emotions were thrown into a blender and I wasn't sure what I was gonna do. But I had to know. I just had to find out. Low and behold, I never in a million years would have thought it would have been him." Garrett said.

"Who is him?" I asked.

Garrett took a deep breath. "My father," Garrett said.

I felt the urge to throw up right there on the counter. "Your father?" I asked. "Did she say why she was with your father?"

Garrett laughed. "It grosses you out too, right? I asked the same thing. Why him? What did he have that I didn't? She told me that they were drunk one night and just happened. Alcohol. Of course. Can't come up with anything better." Garrett said.

I shrugged. "Alcohol can make people do stupid things," I said. 

"But I wouldn't think that it would make my girlfriend sleep with my father, for crying out loud. It just makes me wanna puke and cry and punch my father. Why? Why me? Why them? Why before my wedding? What the hell?" Garrett said.

"There are a lot of things we can't explain. I sure as hell can't figure out why your father would sleep with your lady. You can chalk it up to kharma. Maybe you weren't meant to be together. There are a lot of women out there." I said.

Garrett started to speak, but stopped. He lost his train of thought. He took a sip and started to speak. 

"What do you do for a living?" Garrett asked.

"I'm a writer," I said. "How about you?"

"Carpenter," Garrett said. "Vanessa says that I am good with my hands but not my feelings," 

"It sounds a lot like what a woman would say," I said. 

"We met senior year in high school. She was in my math class. Dark black hair, green eyes. She wasn't a model, but had a body with all perfect curves. She was sitting right next to me. God it was just like yesterday. I could remember what kind of pen she was using to write the notes, the way her notebook sat on the desk as she wrote. Vanessa was it for me. I knew she was the one." Garrett said. 

"True love," I said.

"Have you ever been in love?" Garrett asked.

 I had been in love at one time. I thought Katherine Taylor was the one. But like the Freddie Mercury used to say "Who wants to live forever." I tended to use that quote when it came to love playing a role in our lives. Obiviously, just sitting here with Garrett I got the feeling that he dictated what his life was due to being in love. There was nothing wrong with that approach. But it could lead to a disasterous event. I wasn't sure if his situation was in fact the horrific event. I devoted a lot of time to my career and not as much as I really should have. Perhaps that was why Katherine left me. I could have sat there and went over it again in my mind but there is no use in dwelling on the past. Nothing is forever.

"Once, a long time ago," I said. "I think you know what you want to do. About Vanessa, I mean."

"What's that?" Garrett asked. He took a sip of his drink.

"You love her, right? I mean just talking to you for 10 minutes I can tell you don't want the relationship to end. I don't know why she left here just now and that really isnt't my business. I know that you can't give up unless you are sure that is what you want. If you do that, I can tell you from personal experience that the Tuneup is gonna become your second home. You will get familar with everything in here. Every drink you can think of, you will become well versed. All kinds of people you never thought you would associate with will become your new friends. Life as you knew it is on the back burner as you become something else. You don't want that, son. I promise you that fighting for your relationship is gonna be nasty. Mean and horrible. But, in the end love is worth it." I said.

Garrett got up and stood. He extended his hand and I returned the gesture. He reached into his back pocket and threw a $20 on the counter.

"Thanks Nick, I really needed that." Garrett said,

As Garrett turned to walk out the door, Vanessa was right behind him. She was a beauty. Black hair and green eyes. Wearing a t-shirt and jeans. She stood right there, attempting to speak to Garrett. Garrett picked her up and kissed her hard on the mouth. I watched in amazement, I felt pretty good about myself. I helped save a relationship. Maybe there was hope in the world. True love might be real after all. 

"Honey, I am sorry." Vanessa said.

"Don't worry," Garrett said. "Everything is gonna be fine. I was talking to the old drunk at the bar and now I know what I need to do."

They left the bar arm in arm. I sat there with a puzzeled look on my face. I just helped a guy and got insulted afterwards. I shook my head and motioned for Rhonda to bring me another drink.Just when you think you have all kinds of hope, it gets crushed. in an instant. Nothing is forever. Ain't that a shame.


© Copyright 2017 Robert Logan. All rights reserved.

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