Sunday, May 2, 2010

Bad Attitude

I woke up hungover and alone. After three weeks of no drinking because of the concussion, a few drinks hit me times ten. Maybe that explains it. The dinner wine worked me into another black-out. Almost. Because, I remember Emma screaming. And then later, when Charlie had disappeared, her saying, “You didn’t beat him up for my sake, Scott. None of us is that dumb.”

Everybody was always telling her, even back in Chicago, how I treat women like brunch and dinner. That bogus bad-attitude  haunts me now, causing no end of trouble with Emma. Every time, which is all the time, people laugh about my penchant for women, I’ve got to prove to her that if I acted cavalier in the past, it’s a testament to how much she means to me. All those other women were nothing; Emma’s everything. True as life gets. But let me tell you—a hell of a lot to prove.

’Course Charlie knew how it would play. “Later, Emma? Let me tell ya ’bout later.” He’s caustic like that, snorting drugs and way out of bounds. But drunk, stupid, or desperate while punching him out, I was hardly contemplating: whose honor’s at stake here, mine or hers?

(click here to read the first episode and here  for the previous one)

Charlie pushed me and kept pushing till I got angry. He asked for it. And he knows as well as anyone that unless Emma believes I’m serious—I might as well go drown myself.

On the bathroom mirror, a magnet covered by a red ceramic ladybug is holding a deckle-edged note card—where does Emma get this stuff? Is there a fancy stationery store in the jungle I don’t know about? She’s at the yoga pavilion taking a class and afterwards, she’s planning on saying good-bye to her friends during lunch. She and I—and Charlie—go to Chicago tomorrow. And this really is so obvious it can go unsaid: if I don’t make up with Charlie, Emma will stay here and teach yoga.

I splash water on my face, brush my teeth, and hurry through the paths to the huge tree supporting Logan’s three tiers: lounge first, second for massage, and the third tier is his bedroom.

“Logan! All right if I come up there?” He needs to throw a rope ladder down. But says sorry, he’s giving Lacey a massage. And thanks a lot for interrupting because now he has to all start over. I’m not leaving, though. So after a minute, I smell marijuana and hear murmuring. The platform heaves, the ladder groans, and clouds of smoke puff out. Charlie’s down the rope ladder fast for a guy who brags about how his proud Buddha belly has grown prouder just since he got here.

“You better be sorry, Scott.”

 “I am sorry, Charlie. I shouldn’t have to tell you that. But I’m so fucking sorry that I need to say it out loud.”

Charlie’s lip is split and it looks like I gave him twin shiners. “What if you’re just saying you’re sorry because Emma won’t go home with you unless we’re friends?”

“Life’s a risk. I’m sorry. What more do you want?”

“I want you and Emma to go on stage with me in Chicago.”

“Christ.” I stare at my feet. “Fine. If I’m impatient that’s my problem.”

We’re back to being brothers, walking to the pavilion. Charlie dusts off his shirt and yanks up his trunks. “Logan lives like an animal.”

(click here for the next episode)


Dan Leo said...

Heh heh, nothing like a good punch-out to get a friendship back on track.

Dudes -- who can figure 'em?

rhoda said...

happy to see things are going so smoothly ... maybe everything will turn out all right after all

Unknown said...

Two, maybe three more episodes. For awhile when I was working on it here, I imagined it would make a decent short story if I cut enough. But as I reach the end I'm less inclined. Thanks for letting me play with it here.