Unhappily Happy

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


A short story of a writer with writer’s block that unexpectedly runs into lost love during his search for clarity

Submitted: August 20, 2018

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Submitted: August 20, 2018

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Unhappily Happy

Part I

A short story

Written by Kyle Williamson

 

There’s nothing like a brand new pair of socks. Good socks, comfy socks. Socks that make not only your feet feel good, but your entire body and mood feel good. Ah yes, there’s nothing like a good pair of socks. Not the cheap kind, no. I’m talking pure quality, full proof with a soothing relief. People take quality for granted. As well as many other things. The thing about quality is you don’t know it until you’ve had something lesser. You get what you pay for... Most of the time. Just like you’re going to get what you put in... Most of the time. Still, the only guarantee in life is nothing’s guaranteed in life. And that’s the part people fail to accept.

I learned this after a long night, which started off at a bar just around the corner from my house. I had spent the entire day writing and drinking and thinking. I needed to get out of the house. I needed to debrief from the chaotic clutter cutting cookie like circles in my cognitive creativity. I needed to breathe. There’s nothing like fresh air on a warm evening. I got up from my sunken bean bag chair, put on a pair of coke white Vans, tied them, and left. I walked down the street two blocks, admiring how white my shoes were the entire time. They were clean, immaculate in every way.

Living in the inner city made getting around convenient. If I wanted I could walk in any direction and in less than five minutes I could find a bar or a store or a whore. Just kidding about the whore part. Well, sorta...

Anyway, two blocks from my house was a fairly decent bar. Pool tables, wooden dining tables, and video poker congested the lobby. I walked to the front, sat on a stool, and waited for the bartender. His grumpy face gave a grumpy glare as I handed him my I.D. Either he didn’t like me or he was having a bad day. Shit, it was probably both. 

“Henny on the rocks, please.”

He scooped a few ice cubes into a glass then poured the Henny. 

“Thanks.” 

“$7,” he replied.

I gave him a crispy ten. “Keep the change.”

Suddenly, his grumpy face didn’t seem as grumpy as before. A thin smile slithered across his chubby red cheeks.

I sipped on my drink and observed the bar around me. Nothing was happening. A group of Hispanic men were playing pool, laughing, and sipping Coronas. To the left were three woman in their mid 40s. They too, were laughing and instead sipping martinis. Neither group of people interested me. The bartender with his greasy pony tail and greasy grumpy face didn’t interest me. The greasy bar itself didn’t even interest me. The only thing that interested me was the Hennessy I was drinking and that was soon to be gone. 

In front of the bar hung a large flat screen television. The NBA playoffs were on. Again the Blazers were on the verge of being swept and knocked out in the first round. Same shit every year it seems. Disappointed, I guzzled the rest of my drink and walked out. 

The debriefing wasn’t going the way I hoped for it to go. I felt the same as before, maybe even worse. I walked aimlessly for another couple of blocks. Where to go? Who to see? What to do? Who would have known such questions could be so complicated, so difficult.

Fifteen minutes later I found myself walking across near Portland’s waterfront. The final moments of sunshine were shimmering a sharp shine onto the water. Night was approaching and I still didn’t have any answers to any of my questions. The quest for clarity continued.

To my surprise, without realizing it, I had two missed calls from Brian. I called him back. “Aye, what’s good bruh?” he asked.

“Just walking, you called?”

“Yeah. Berenice, Yasmin, and I are headed to the Church Bar, you wanna join?”

“Yeah, I’m down.”

“You need a ride?”

“Sure. I’m by the waterfront.”

“That works because so are we.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, we’re on the south end.”

“I’m on the north.”

“That’s fine. We’ll drive up.”

“Sounds good.”

Three minutes later, an all black, 2018 Jeep Wrangler pulled up next to me. Brian was driving, his wife Berenice, sat in the passenger seat, and Yasmin, our longtime friend, was in the back. I got in.

“Nice new whip,” I said. “You just need to raise it up a tinge and get some bigger tires.”

“No, it’s already big enough,” answered Berenice.

“Yeah, Yasmin had a hard enough trying to climb in.”

“Whatever floats your boat, I suppose.”

“What’s new with you?” Brian asked me. It had been three weeks since I’d seen Brian. We had both came a long way since we had first met at our first job, McDonald’s. He now worked a lot of hours for the state, traveling one spot for a week or two at a time. To be honest, I didn’t know how he did it.

“Same shit with me, just trying to get this novel published and write a few quality short stories in the meantime.” 

“Just keep grinding and it’ll happen.”

“That’s what I’m hoping.”

“Kyle,” Yasmin said with her high pitched, child like voice, “you smell like Hennessy.”

“Thank you.”

“That wasn’t a compliment.”

“Oh, well I could smell a lot worse.”

“Nothing like a little pre game,” blurted Brian from the front. 

“When’s the wedding, Yasmin?” I asked.

“Next year.”

“Be sure to have plenty of Hennessy.”

“Mexican weddings don’t have Hennessy,” stated Berenice.

“Why not?”

“Because they prefer tequila and beer.”

“I see. Maybe you should consider marrying a black guy like Berenice did, Yasmin.”

“Why? Just so there’s Henny for you to drink?”

“Exactly.” 

With that said we drove in silence until we arrived to the spot, Church Bar. Brian found a convenient place to park and we made our way to the back of the line. It was smaller than the place I was at before, but much larger in capacitation. Luckily, the line to get in moved fast. They let Yasmin and Berenice in first, then Brian and I went in two minutes later.

We settled in toward the front, right next to the bar. We were all ready to order. Music played, people danced, we waited and watched, and watched while we waited. Seconds after receiving my drink, a smaller man bumped me just enough so some of my Henny overflowed onto my hand. I gave him a mean glance,  intimating and direct, almost aggressive.

“I’m sorry,” he said, “it’s so crowded in here.”

Genuineness flooded from his small slanted eyes. He was Asian and much smaller than me. I let it go. “It’s all good,” I said. 

“Later on I’ll buy you and your buddy a drink, sound good?”

“Sure,” I said, then turned around to rejoin my crew. Brian and Berenice were dancing. It was only right since they met at a bar one drunken night (on my birthday to be exact), fell in love under the moonlight, and then got married two years later. They had a good thing going, I admired it. Yasmin danced by herself as she sipped on her vodka lemonade. She had a man out of state in the military and remained loyal to him whenever she went out, I admired it. 

I finished my Henny and the music became louder, easier to understand. First my shoulders and arms swayed, then my legs followed the rhythm, and before I knew it, I too was dancing. It may not have looked stunning or impressive, but I was dancing. I was moving and grooving and doing what I considered to be a smooth boogie.

Well, at the very least, it definitely was one way of debriefing. My thoughts didn’t feel so congested anymore. I felt better, with a teasing tinge of transparency. I looked around in search of the small Asian guy who promised me a drink. I was ready for another. Although, I couldn’t see him anywhere. Perhaps he left to another bar just to avoid me, just to escape his own promise. If he did leave, I couldn’t blame him. Suddenly, I felt a tug on my arm.

“KYLE!” a loud voice screamed. A familiar voice of a familiar woman. I turned around, instantly in awe by the pleasant surprise. 

“Hello Marie,” I said with a jaw dropped smile. 

“What’s up? How have you been?” 

“I’ve... I’ve been good. How about yourself?” I tried to focus on her question, but my eyes strolled up and down her body, her magnificent frame flourished in a black skin tight dress. I tried not to stare, but I couldn’t help it. I couldn’t control it. Her beauty captured me, resurrecting a craving to see more, to have more, to feel, to embrace, to taste. Lust loves to linger.  

“I’m good, I’m just in town for the weekend.”

“Oh, really?”

“Yeah, for a funeral.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay. It was my great aunt, she was nearly 100.”

“I see... Can I buy you a drink?”

“Sure.”

My eyes followed her as she followed me to the bar. Again her beauty encumbered me. Oh, how I could have had it once upon a time. Only if I wasn’t so young and dumb. Only if I had known better. Only if I could have known what I know now. Only if I had known what quality was... Then my life would be different, and so would hers.

“Henny and Coke for me,” I said before looking toward Marie. “And I’ll have a vodka cranberry,” she announced.

We got our drinks then went outside to the patio part of the bar. It was quieter outside, far less crowded.

“How’s life been in Chicago?”

“Busy. I’m too busy for my own good.”

“With work?”

“Yeah, I don’t have time for much.”

“Ever consider moving back?”

“No, not right now at least.”

“Oh.”

She gave me a skeptical stare. She knew me well, almost too well. She knew what I was getting at. The thought of reconnecting treaded through the muddy waters of our minds. If only time could be on our side, just for once. 

“How have you been?”

“Good,” I answer, firm and immediate. “I’m going to get published soon, Marie. I can feel it. I can feel the universe conspiring for me.”

“Wow! That’s awesome! When will you know for sure?’

“I don’t know, but sooner than later. I just know.”

“I always knew you’d make it.”

I looked at her for a long moment, still speechless from her beauty. I wanted her more than ever and I hadn’t even seen her in close to three years. Her big brown eyes hypnotized me. Her lips tantalized my mind. I needed to say something. I couldn’t let her go, not again. “Marie, move back to Portland. Be with me. Be my girl. Quit your job, I’ll take care of you. I’ll be a big time writer, you won’t have to worry. Not one bit.”

She gave me a blank stare with no emotion. Nothing, not a trace of excitement or distaste. Nothing. I needed to say more and so I did.

“I know you still think about it. About what we could have been. About the potential we had. Be with me, Marie. I know there’s still hope for us.”

“How much Henny have you drank?” she asked. 

“Only three drinks, I think.”

“You think? I don’t think you’d be saying all of this if you were sober, Kyle. I think you’re just saying this because of the alcohol.”

“No, I’m hardly buzzed,” I lied. “I’m just speaking from my heart. Don’t exploit my truest and dearest thoughts, Marie.”

Her red lips sipped her red drink with a steady slowness. Her mocha colored eyes mocked my heart with a mystic admiration. Funny how somethings never change. She was thinking about what I said. A careful consideration constrained her thoughts. She wanted to say yes. I could see it on her face, clear as a mid summer sky. The transparency I had been searching for the entire day was on her face. She wanted to take the leap of faith. She did, I know she did. The problem was she didn’t have the courage to. There’s quality in courage.  

“I can’t just quit everything I’m doing. I have obligations.”

“Let them go. Life is too short not to be free.”

She again paused, teased me with another slow sip, and looked at me directly in the eyes. “I’m sorry, but I can’t just give up everything I’m doing for you. Maybe some day the universe will conspire for us, but today isn’t that day.”

“When do you leave town?” I asked.

“Monday morning.”

“I can give you a ride to the airport.”

“I’ll be fine, I know you’re a busy writer.”

“Not too busy for you.”

She smiled at my words. Perhaps if given another opportunity I could change her mind; convince her that things could be how we had always wanted them to be when we were younger and hopeful.

“I’ll let you know Sunday evening,” she said, sparking a surge of hope. 

“Okay, I have the same number still.”

“I should get back to my friends, they’re probably worried about me,” she declared. We both got up, hugged, and lingered before she left. As I watched her walk back inside, I could feel the gravity trying to pull me toward her, to chase her, to capture her the way her beauty had captured me. 

I neglected gravity, remained outside, and finished my drink. I wanted her, but I couldn’t beg her. I had dignity to sustain... 

Five minutes later I rejoined Brian, Berenice, and Yasmin inside. They were still dancing and drinking. “Kyle! Where’d you go?” asked Berenice.

“I was outside... I ran into someone.”

“Who’d you run into?” asked Yasmin.

“An old friend, her name is Marie.”

“Marie, the one you were head over heels for back in the day?” asked Brian.

“Yes, her...”

“Damn, how’d it go?”

“Good, but it could have gone better.” 

“You still love her don’t yah?” asked Berenice, who was already the drunkest of the four of us. 

“To be honest, I’m not sure right now.”

“I wouldn’t wait,” said Yasmin.

“Yeah, just shoot your shot,” added Berenice.

I rolled my eyes and redirected myself toward the bar. Time for another drink. Brian followed me while the girls remained on the dance floor. “You good, bruh?” he asked.

“Yeah, I’m good,” I answered. “I just find it all weird. Why did we run into each other and the most random of times? It’s weird.”

“That’s life, shit happens like that all the time.”

“Yeah, I know... It doesn’t mean it’s not a trip though.”

“That’s true, but-”

“AYEEE! What’s up man? I thought you left!”

“I thought you left!”

It was the Asian cat that owed us a drink. What perfect timing. He was much drunker than before, much louder. He yelled at the bartender in an obnoxiously drunk tone, “THREE SHOTS OF HENNY!”

“Cheers!”

“Cheers!”

“CHEERS!”

We downed our shots and gave dap. “Thanks man, I thought you bailed on us,” I admitted.

“Me? Bail? No, never. I thought you had left.”

“Nah, I was outside on the patio.”

“It’s nice out there, we should go.”

I looked at Brian, he gave a shrug, and we headed outside. At that point, I had lost track of time. I was drunker than I wanted to be, but not as loud and obnoxious as our new companion. All I could think about was Marie, and if she had left yet. I needed one more chance to show her my sincerity... My growth. I’m older now- improved, wiser, better... She needed to know.

When we got outside, I looked around for Marie. I didn’t see her. She wasn’t inside either. Maybe she went to the bathroom? Perhaps, perhaps not. It was worth the trip back inside. “I’ll be right back guys, I gotta go to the bathroom.” Brian nodded, and remained outside with the Asian guy, who we never got the name of. 

I maneuvered through the crowds with a misunderstood urgency. I looked like a drunk mess. I was a drunk mess. I stumbled a couple of times, scuffing my all white Vans. Note to self: never wear white shoes while drinking.

The line to the bathroom curved around the side wall of the bar. I looked down the line. Nope, no Marie. I waited for the next person to exit the bathroom. To my misfortune it was a large black man. 

I turned around and ran into Yasmin and Berenice on my way back outside. “Where’s Brian?” asked Berenice.

“Outside, follow me.”

They did so, and on our way outside I hear a loud crash of breaking glass. Berenice had fell. She had drank too much and had caused a table to fall over, along with two drinks. What a mess. 

“Are you okay?” I asked as Yasmin helped her up.

“Yes! I’m fine, I’m fine!”

“You’re covered in alcohol. We should get Brian and get out of here.”

Before we could make our way to get Brian, a large bald headed bouncer stopped us. “Time to leave,” he said, pointing at Berenice.

“She tripped, that’s all,” I explained.

“She’s too drunk, get her out of here.”

“Yasmin, take her out front. I’ll get Brian.”

“Okay, but hurry up.”

I went outside to find Brian bored out of his mind. The Asian cat had been talking his ear off. There’s nothing worse than a drunk person talking your ear off, because you know half of everything they’re saying is bullshit and irrelevant. 

“Brian, we gotta leave,” I announced. “Berenice got kicked out.”

“What was it this time?”

“She fell.”

“Is she okay?”

“Yeah, she’s fine.”

“That’s a relief... At least she didn’t throw her shoes at the someone this time.”

“Yeah, thank God.”

“Never marry a Latina, bruh. They’re crazy as shit.”

We both laughed, said bye to the Asian, went back inside, and out the front door. Upon my exit, a marvelous figure in a black dress caught my eye. It was her!  It was Marie. She was walking down the street toward her friend’s car. I ran down the street, passed Berenice and Yasmin, and almost fell into some side bushes. My shoes were far from white now. “Marie!” I yelled, “Marie, wait!”

She turned around with a puzzled look written across her face. I caught up to her. She looked at me, unhappily happy.

 

 

 


© Copyright 2018 Kyle Williamson. All rights reserved.

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