Dreams, a short story

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Review Chain

A college guy tries to win the heart of a girl his best friend says is out of his league.

 

“Dreams”

 

Spring 1975

She wasn’t the most beautiful girl he’d ever known, not even close. Still, he couldn’t take his eyes off of her. Betsy had something that captivated him. An aura from a time passed. A recent time, but a time that had faded. She reminded him of a photo he saw of a girl at Woodstock. Hippy-ish. Tall. Thin. No tits. Long, straight brown hair parted down the middle. And those eyes. Mesmerizing. Ten years ago she’d have fit perfectly at a sit-in in front of a government building. Today she’d fit perfectly in his bed, having sex with Fleetwood Mac playing in the background. Josh knew that was Betsy’s favorite band.

“Josh. Joshua...Mister Morales!!” Josh’s neck snapped so violently that he thought he’d broken it.

“Yes, sir. Sorry, sir. Did you ask a question?”

“No, I just like saying your name.”

“Right. What was the question?”

“What was the theme of the poem?”

The sound of notebooks closing and students leaving their desks filled the room.

“Ooh, saved by the bell. If we had one, that is. But, don’t worry, I’ll answer it next class, okay?” Josh replied with a wide grin.

Mister Menke shook his head, a slight smile cracked his otherwise serious countenance. Josh dawdled at his desk hoping to walk out with Betsy, but it seemed like she was going to be taking with that asshole of a professor for a while. Plus, all of the other students had left and he felt stupid standing there like a lighthouse on a deserted point. He decided to pack up and wait in the hall.

“You’re an idiot.” Lou’s voice startled Josh. She grabbed his arm and led him towards the stairs. Josh resisted at first but relaxed after a few steps.

“Why?” he asked.

“Aside from her being so wrong for you, you looked like a loser standing there waiting for her.”

“So, what should I do?”

“I knew it!”

“What?”

“No plan,” said Lou. “No wonder you’re alone.”

“I like to fly plan-free. More exciting.”

“And you end up lost.”

They exited the building. Josh turned to go to his apartment.

“Find a common interest,” Lou said over her shoulder as she walked in the opposite direction. “Besides sex.”

Average White Band blared on the stereo. Josh thought they sounded like a black group until Lou told him they were Scottish. That’s what best friends were for. He still thought they had one or two black members. Maybe Jamaicans from London. Josh often did this. Made up shit to fit what he believed. Not this time, though. He and Betsy were hand-in-glove. He just needed to find the right pair.

Now that Josh seemed serious in his quest to nab Betsy, Lou pondered her first move. Should she help that misguided soul or mislead him so she could snag him for herself? Lou hadn’t been in a relationship since her senior year. Her ex- begged her to stay in their small hick town and get hitched. No fucking way. She’d only been back for a few days at Christmas each of the last three years and that was too long and often. “I’m twenty-one,” she said out loud to no one. “No one at my age should suffer without sex for that long. I swear my puss is starting to shrivel.” Josh was a prize, she thought. Not Richard Gere gorgeous, but plenty good enough and he had an athlete’s body. Mostly, though, he’s a great guy. Funny, loyal, honest. Too good for Betsy. Too good for anyone but her.

Josh’s favorite food, a pepperoni and black olive pizza lay uneaten on the large wooden, wire spool in front of him. He still couldn’t get over how easy it was to steal it from the student union. He and a group of his floormates had watched a basketball game and downed several pitchers of beer when Josh decided that the spool would look great in his dorm room. So, he and two friends carted it right out of the building, across Wisconsin Avenue and in the front door of their dorm. It served mostly as a card table the rest of that school year and followed him to his current apartment.

Josh’s appetite had disappeared because his mind had been obsessed with thinking of a plan to snare Betsy. For most of the past three hours that obsessed mind has been filled with various situations he would like to be in with her. Most of them sexual. All but one, actually. In that one they were playing tennis. Josh had heard she was a top player in high school. So was he. He’d love to play a match with her. Then have sex. While singing along to Pick Up the Pieces, his favorite song on the album, an idea popped into his mind. It was pure genius. He immediately called Lou.

The intercom buzzed. Josh walked to the door. “Lou?”

“Yeah.” He pressed the buzzer and left the door ajar. As Lou entered Josh presented her with a bottle of Miller beer. She accepted it with a big grin and proceeded to chug half of the bottle.

“Take it easy. That’s my last one.”

“So unprepared. Thankfully, I’m not.” Lou replied.

Lou always wore her backpack as a frontpack. She said it deterred guys from staring at her breasts. Such a pity because they were a pair of aces. Josh once told her she should show the girls off, you know, to bring some joy to the world. Leave the bra at home. She slapped him and called him a pig. They laughed. Lou unzipped the bag and pulled out a six-pack of Heineken.

“Nice.”

Josh relieved her of it and after pulling one for himself, put the rest in the fridge. He joined Lou on the third- or fourth-hand couch. It looked ratty as hell but for comfort, there wasn’t a bed in the crib that could beat it. They sat at opposite ends with their backs against the armrests. Their feet met in the middle to brace each other. Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors played on the stereo.

“Fifty years from now people will still be singing these songs,” stated Lou.

“Will be in the Top 50 for the century, for sure. The album.” Josh replied.

Lou drank some beer. “So, what’s your can’t miss plan?”

“You’re listening to it.”

“You can’t buy it for her. She probably bought the first one in the city. Maybe the country.”

“That’s not it.”

“What then?”

“I’m going to serenade her.”

“Oh, lord. You’re joking, right?”

“No.”

“You can’t carry a tune from here to...the spool.”

Josh jumped up from the couch and scurried into his room, returning seconds later with a black velvet outfit and a ruffly white shirt.

“I rented a troubadour costume from the Rep. Crazy, right?”

“I’ll agree with that.”

“Sure, it’s kooky and centuries out of style, but that’s what makes it so cool. The only drag is that Betsy lives on the first floor. Not ideal, but who cares? I’m going to sing “You Make Loving Fun.”

“You’ve got some balls, I’ll give you that.”

“Thanks, I guess? I just need to confirm a night she’ll be home for sure,” said Josh.

“Are you sure you want to go through with this?”

“Why shouldn’t I?”

“Because--oh, what the hell. Who cares what I think? Get me another brew, would you?”

Josh returned with two cans. He handed one to Lou.

“Let me hear you.”

“Now?”

“Why not?”

“I haven’t had much time to practice.”

“Until you die wouldn’t be enough.” With a smile on his face Josh flipped Lou the bird. He began singing at the top of his lungs.

“Sweet wonderful you

 You make me happy with the things you do

 Oh, can it be so

 This feeling follows me wherever I go”

Josh took a flourishing bow which was immediately followed by a knock on the door. Josh walked to answer it. Only Josh’s voice could be heard.

“Everything’s ok. I’m fine. Thanks for asking.” He returned to the living room. Lou gave him an enquiring look.

“Joy from across the hall. She thought I was being attacked.”

Lou giggled, but eventually gave in and laughed heartily. “I told you,” she said in between catching her breath and choking. “Maybe the universe is trying to tell you something.”

While Lou watched Josh pace across the living room which in itself was kinda hilarious because he could only take two steps before he had to turn around, she pondered. (My roomie Amy confirmed what I thought about Betsy, so should I tell him? Maybe Josh needs to experience some real life. I’m always protecting his ass.)

“I got it,” Josh bellowed, snapping his fingers. “I’ll cook for her.”

“Setting aside that your culinary skills only slightly surpass your singing, how do you propose pulling this off?”

“The plan is coming together as we speak. I cook here. You drive me and the food to a block from her building. I’ll be wearing a tux--gotta look high-class for a chick like Betsy--and present myself at her door.” Josh took another flourishing bow.

“What are you cooking?”

“Lasagne. Everybody likes lasagne.”

“Wow, what a plan! Maybe you should rent the tux for two weeks in case the night leads to a proposal.”

“That’s good thinking, Lou.”

“I was fucking with you.”

“And I was being sarcastic.”

Later that evening Lou learned from her roommate Amy that any night would be good except Wednesday. Lou asked why and Amy said she didn’t know, but it must be something special if Betsy wouldn’t say. She called Josh to say that the best night would be Wednesday.

Josh covered the pan with aluminum foil and laid it in a cardboard box he pilfered from the campus grocery store. He was also able to fit in a serving tray to make his arrival more professional looking. Lou entered the kitchen with his tuxedo jacket.

“I was able to take most of the stain out, whatever it was.”

“You’re a savior,” Josh replied as he put on the jacket and gave Lou a kiss on the cheek. She craved to know what his lips would taste like.

Betsy lived on the far side of campus. That’s why Lou had to drive Josh. She pulled over a block from the building and Josh took his tray and pan of lasagne. It didn’t look as classy as he had hoped but it looked better than him just carrying the pan.

Josh stood in front of Betsy’s door and set the tray on the ground. He ran his fingers through his hair and cupped his hands in front of his mouth to check his breath. All good. He glanced back at Lou leaning on the hood of her car and gave her a thumbs up. She was going to leave once he was in the apartment.

He knocked on the door. After counting to twenty he knocked again, a little harder this time. Another light came on in the foyer. The door opened slightly. Betsy stood behind it with only her head visible. Her hair was disheveled, her eyes red and the inside reeked of the smell of marijuana.

“Josh? What--”

“Hey Betsy,” Josh said as he bent down to pick up the tray.

“I made some lasagne. I thought we could have dinner and visit for a while, listen to some Fleetwood Mac.”

“It’s really not a good time.”

“Oh, but I was told that--”

Josh was cut off by a familiar voice entering the living room.  

“Who is it, Betsy? I’m still horny.” said a totally naked Amy carrying a small water pipe.

Josh calmly set the tray down, turned and walked towards Lou’s car. He saw that Lou was crying. He wondered why.


Submitted: January 23, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Michael Licwinko. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Serge Wlodarski

Any time I hear a song from Rumours it reminds me of the thin walls in my college apartment, my next door neighbor played it constantly. That was almost fifty years ago, we're still listening. Good story.

Sun, January 24th, 2021 10:57am

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