The Last Date

Reads: 429  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
A divorced woman finds happiness in an odd coincidence.

Submitted: April 23, 2009

A A A | A A A

Submitted: April 23, 2009

A A A

A A A


The Last Date, A Sudden Love Story by Devon Pitlor, MA econ
I. "$39 a month and this crap is all I get"
Danielle had answered every last stupid question about herself honestly in the profile, including the famous "ideal first date." A park, she wrote, just in a park in the springtime. Later it turned out to be in a dark, smoky brasserie, but the reasons are unclear for the switch and really don't matter. Danielle was sick of online dating. Her photo showed her exactly as she was, still a young 38 and still fairly smooth and lineless in the face. Guys checked in with tons of big, fancy stories...where they would take her...what kind of cars and incomes they had...where they hung out with their buds, as if Danielle cared. She wanted something akin to romance again. She wanted the bottomless feeling of falling deeper and deeeper for someone special. At work and in the supermarket, guys of all sorts approached her. They bored her silly. They all claimed to love children. Danielle had two, but she never felt the impulse to introduce them to any new man. She even briefly considered a dual posting in the Woman-seeking-Woman section, but discarded the idea because she knew she could never actually be attracted to another woman. She liked men, but her middle-class upbringing caused her to automatically do a triage according to benchmarks like reliability, honesty and, yes, income. If that hard-wired matrix had not been in place, she would have fucked the pizza boy long ago because, frankly, he was the cutest guy she had seen since her divorce with Gary .
II. Why Danielle hated Gary
Danielle loathed her ex-husband. Gary had cheated on her once and had come home drunk, confessed it and expected her to forgive him on the spot because of his unabashed honesty. Things didn't work that way. Cheat once, cheat all the time. She could never trust Gary again. He had been a luke-warm father too. He never took much interest in Radison and Berk until they were potty trained and up and running around, talking in decent sentences and able to return a thrown ball. Gary was, in effect, a prick. Danielle had trashed every memento of their twelve year marriage. How many women had Gary slept with before he told her about this last one? Danielle shuddered to think. She too, in blind fidelity, had had many opportunities as well. She should have taken some of them, but her breeding once again had kicked into gear, and she turned blind eyes to midday trysts with delivery men and garage mechanics. She rued that decision now. Some were nice-looking, and if that bastard Gary was cheating, she should have been too. Missed chances. Bitterness. Often Danielle entertained fantasies of finding and killing Gary.
III. Danielle decides not to submit a photo.
The $39 a month online dating site kept asking her for her photo and reminding her that it quadrupled her chances of getting hits. She had taken that route on the previous sites, and at length had decided that she was "too pretty." She wanted a guy who would read her personal statements instead of just look at her photo. So she refused to post a picture, and just like the dating site said, she got very few hits. Nobody was reading about her brains, talents and other sundry virtues. They wanted a pretty face. Danielle decided they wouldn't get hers. Her face was her own business.. as was her name.
IV. A previous date worth mentioning
A few months before enrolling in the new and more aggressive dating site, Danielle had met a man from another site who had been slightly different than the rest. They met, naturally, in a park. Edwin had arrived in a pick-up truck and quickly revealed himself to be the owner of a successful dog grooming business on the south side. He was handsome and had a full head of hair, two requirements Danielle insisted on. Edwin strolled with Danielle to a park bench, and as soon as they sat down, he opened the conversation with “I saw a UFO once.” Then he proceeded, rather conventionally, to describe a fairly typical glowing disk. Danielle asked a few polite questions but was instead thinking about the topaz opaqueness of his eyes, which by the end of his UFO monologue, she decided were beautiful.
A few minutes of silence prevailed between them, and Danielle continued to examine Edwin’s eyes. She was about to comment on them when Edwin exclaimed: “Ever since the UFO, I have been a better lover. I am good in bed.”
This was far too abrupt for Danielle on a first date, and the comment chilled whatever sensual feelings were coursing through her body before the comment gushed forth. She decided that Edwin was just another nutcase and started mentally searching for ways to shorten the date. On cue, her cellphone rang, and it was the lady from the alibi service calling her right on time. Danielle knew how long a date with a loser should last. She had set the time well. The alibi lady guided her through some remarks like “Oh my god” and “I’ll get there as soon as I can.” The service was worth the pittance she paid for it.
She made follow-up excuses to Edwin and was leading him out of the park toward their cars, when he paused by a tree. Oblivious to her pressing "necessity," he looked down and pointed out some white mushrooms to her.
“Deadly,” he mumbled. “They can kill you in mere minutes. The Indians used to dry them into powder and use them…”
“To poison their enemies,” finished Danielle.
“Correct. I am an amateur mycologist, a mushroom specialist. Would you like to know their scientific name?”
“No,” replied Danielle abruptly. “I’m in a hurry now. I’m sorry.”
“They kill you and don’t leave a trace, not even in an autopsy,” he whispered almost in a dazed trance. “Not a trace.”
“Well, I’m not going to eat any,”said Danielle, and those became her parting words. She drove off, glad to be away from another dementoid.
But the next day found her morning jog interrupted to pick a bouquet of white mushrooms, which found their way to the sunniest windowsill in the bonus room of her house.
She never saw Edwin again.
V. Author’s intervention
To complete this story, I need to briefly describe Danielle’s ex-husband, the cheater Gary. But when I tell you the first and most prominent feature of Gary’s face, you the intelligent reader, will jump across twenty squares and conclude at once that the ending of this story is contrived, even though it is not.
Okay, here goes. Since his divorce, Gary, a normally staid investment banker, had gotten into a fight with a man carrying a knife and had a foot long scar across his face stretching from his chin to his forehead behind his right eye.
Do you see, intelligent reader, where the story is going? But don’t give up, there may be more surprises than you’re counting on.
VI. Gary
Gary was truly a bastard during the time he had been married to Danielle. He had indeed cheated many times, and after the divorce, he had schemed to kidnap his children and flee to Mexico, a plan that only a last minute intervention from a concerned family member had offset. But Gary had a certain charm that attracted women and a kind of unknowable complexity that made people want to explore him in depth. One of the contradictory aspects of his personality was the ambivalence he felt toward his scar. The legal settlement from the injury had assured him the complete services of a competent plastic surgeon who could have nearly eradicated all traces of the jagged knife wound, but Gary refused this, feeling that his scar gave his otherwise prosaic life a certain dangerous edge which he liked and which new female acquaintances seemed to like as well. For some, he had been a war hero; for others, a mercenary soldier in Africa; for others, a fire-rescue guy. It depended on the company he was with. The scar could start a million conversations and launch a million tall tales. That was its beauty. The fact that it came from a drunken street bum with a knife was never brought out.
But, then again, it never got attached to another five pages of lies that Gary had duly confected for a certain $39 a month web dating site. He didn’t think it looked good in a photo and wanted to spring it on new acquaintances by humble surprise.
VII. The inevitable
Of course, you the intelligent reader were right. So let’s just summarize. It wasn’t the usual park. It was Danny’s Dockside Bar and Grill. He was waiting for “Valerie,” and she was looking for “Russ.” In the darkness of an inside booth, Valerie had a nice silhouette and shape until she sat down and with the clearing of the darkness became Danielle. And in the initial gloomth, Russ looked pretty trim and fit too, until he stuck his scarred face under the dim light and couldn’t help but become his usual Gary self again---this despite the scar.
The dialogue, missing here, had the usual elements of shock, disgust and disappointment. You don’t want to hear all that.
What you want to hear is that Gary was quite friendly and was about to explain his scar when Danielle suddenly remembered she “forgot” something she had been carrying recently in the glove compartment of her car. Briskly, she jumped up, promising to return. And for some reason she did. The reason was clenched in her right hand, and Gary could not see---and did not care---what it was.
Gary proposed a drink and a laugh. They had been foiled by fate on the internet. It was some kind of bizarre but humorous irony. Disgust welled up through Danielle’s chest, but she agreed. It was kind of funny, all told. They ordered a pitcher of beer. Danielle drank fast which made Gary drink fast. Then they ordered another pitcher. Both of them needed to pee, but Danielle held hers the longest on purpose. Gary excused himself and went to the bathroom. When he returned, he saw that Danielle had poured them two full glasses from the second pitcher.
VIII. Conclusion
Who knows what went through Danielle’s mind? The long years of cheating, mental abuse, the attempted kidnapping of the children. The scar. What about the scar?
“Drunk attacked me outside the office,” said Gary with an openness he had not exercised in years. “No big deal.”
“They can fix things like that,” said Danielle.
“I know. But for some reason I like it.”
Then they just looked at one another. It was a long look, long enough for all the bad things in their shattered marriage to parade through their minds leaving room for another parade of tender and loving minutes and then another parade of passionate moments and then a final parade of lustful intervals. One memory parade succeeded the next until, at length, their minds were relieved of several years of post-divorce stress and anger. Danielle had the feeling that a cascade of little knife blades had fallen out of her ear and disappeared into the smoky barroom air.
Danielle could think of very little to say.
“I always liked the sound of your voice,”she whispered abstractly, her anger attenuated by the beer and rush of better memories.
“I always liked your fingers,” replied Gary, entwining his into hers across the table.
A small joking rush of “I always liked-s” volleyed back and forth over the bar table until they were at last laughing and blushing at one another.
“We’re acting silly,” giggled Danielle
“We always did,” snickered Gary, who was preparing to take a sip of beer.
Suddenly from deep within her body, Danielle emitted a horrid scream. “Don’t drink that!!!,” she cried from a cavity heretofore unknown in her innermost person.
Gary set down the beer glass in surprise. Danielle knocked it off the table to the floor and screamed for a waiter. Then, without comment, she got up and changed sides in the booth and sat very close to Gary . They brushed a kiss lightly across each other’s lips and snuggled closer. Something was spontaneously reignited.
“Valerie is a cool name,” said Gary. “Maybe we could start over as Russ and Valerie.”
“Maybe we could,” agreed Danielle.
But before anything further took place on this “first” date, Danielle needed to go to the bathroom. She gaped at herself in the mirror, dazed and shocked as she listened to the toilet sucking the remainder of her Purex bag of dried mushroom powder down the drain.
________________________________
Devon Pitlor, January, 2009
 


© Copyright 2020 Devon Pitlor. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

More Romance Short Stories