The Party’s Over

It all happened so fast.

It’s funny, but athletes and spectators of tragedies will often report how time slows down in the midst of magnificence.  Details pop and movement becomes unreal.  Senses are heightened to the levels of our cave dwelling ancestors.  The mind records and processes and reacts simultaneously.  Whatever it is that causes that – I wish you could choose when it’s enabled.

Walking in on Ryan and Ashleigh those many months ago, catching them in the throes of betrayal.  I’ve mentioned Ryan’s half brother to my best friend, but have I made it known he was also my teacher?  But that’s neither now nor then.  What I want to say is that moment lasted too long.  I remember too much without trying.

Then flashback to that moment on Valentine’s Day when she showed up with him.  I felt like a car battery was strapped to my nuts, and my hands were covered in cardboard cuts getting dunked in pickle juice.  For whatever reason, Ryan wanted to make amends with Hank.  And I needed to bring closure with Ashleigh.  So I followed her into the ladies restroom at Marlin’s Inn.

I burst through the door without a knock.  “What are you doing here?”

And there she sat, on the faux leather couch, crying.  I’ve made a mistake.

I sat beside her to console her.  The wreckage and melted steel pacified the bomb.  And she planted her nuclear lips on mine.  The remainder of my weakened frame collapsed and folded upon her.  Yada yada.  As I mentioned before… we did it.

She reassembled herself much quickly than I ever could have, and she slipped out of the bathroom.  Like I said at the start, it all happened so fast.

As I remained on the burgundy travesty from the late 60’s, maybe early 70’s, one half of the Lovebirds entered.  You can guess which half.

Don’t mind me, the Princess blurted, not minding me as she hurried into a stall.  I held my head in my hands – and get your mind out of the gutter – while she unabashedly relieved her bladder.  You know you’re the talk of the Inn, right?

The level of “uncomfortable” was rising within me, and I decided to stand and leave without making a sound.

You can’t stay while I tinkle and expect a free pass to leave when I’m done.  Hold on.

“I’m sorry, but I didn’t mean to stay.”

The roller squeaked and the toilet flushed and the Princess emerged and approached the sink, smiling at me all the while.  You two…?  And she whistled her insinuation.  I didn’t answer.  I had a feeling.  She grabbed a healthy dose of paper towels and dried her hands.

I must have seemed like an idiot to her, hiding in the ladies restroom, hiding from Ashleigh, from Ryan, and the gang.  I was even trying to hide from this woman before me.

Hey listen, she demanded, and I looked at her.  Whereas the first time I met her, I thought she might have been five to ten years older than me.  But at this second glance… two years tops.  You’re not going to get a lot of women’s opinions if you hang out in a place like this, but let me fill you in on a secret.  We’re just as confused as you.

I finally was able to stand and face the Princess.  I don’t know why I said this: “You wear too much makeup.”

She laughed and tilted her head signalling beyond the confines of the water closet.  He likes it.  And so do I for now.

“But you’re getting married.”

She grinned one last time before leaving.  You don’t listen very well.

I lingered another moment or so, letting the food digest before diving back in the water with the marlins.  By the time I returned to my place at the bar, the party had ended.  No more Ellis and his date.  The Lovebirds flew the coop.

I joined Hank back at the bar, where Kilgore and H.L. also sat in wait.

So… the usually silent Santiago began… did you fall in?