The Announcement

When it came to Ashleigh, only one question remained: was I over her?  Let’s just say I was at the top of the hill, sitting in my wagon.

We talked for awhile that night she came in.  And to be honest, it probably was the most we seriously talked in one sitting for all six of our years together.  After deliberating whether we had sex or not – denial is a powerful tool, but so are definitions – and me finally asking her whether she ever loved me or not, we got down to the grits of her issue – she thought the man she loved might be having an affair.

“What makes you think that?” I asked.

It’s the usual coming home late, explaining curiosities away, reeking of booze, not answering the phone.  She was slouched over the table, telling me this. 

“That’s all usual?”

This went on and on.  Occasionally, I’d bitterly revel in the irony of the situation.  The cheater, returning to the cheatee, to talk about her cheater.  And it was in those moments that I thought: I’m getting over her.

When out of nowhere, out of context, and out of breath, she said:

We were supposed to get married.

My angered and inflamed asshole response?  “You win some, you lose some.”  Salt in the wound.  Pepper up your nose.  Garlic in your eyes.

My wagon was moving forward.

I was about to roll down that hill.

Then she started crying:

Sometimes you lose some, twice.

Here’s where it gets tricky.  I thought she was talking about her and Ryan’s future, when in reality, she was really bringing up us. 

Wagon positioned firmly back at the top.

I felt compelled to hold her, and I followed that drive.  She clutched at my shirt and let her tears pour to the point I could feel my shoulder getting wet.  I had no idea what she was crying at more – him, them, me, us, or herself.

“Do you want me to follow him?”  Why did I say that?

Yes.  Why did she say that?

And why does my wagon feel like it’s rolling backwards again?

It was after after our agreement that Kilgore wandered into the pool room to tell me who was voted off the reality show we’d been watching.  I still don’t know if I was more upset that he ruined the episode or that the show didn’t end sooner.

You were right about Kiki’s going tonight.  He blurted, breaking up the entwined sobbing mess Ashleigh and I had become.  I don’t know if he was eavesdropping, but judging by what he said next, it’s possible.  I wonder who’s going to follow her?

Reality Spits

There were no big games on.  Not even any little ones.  And foreign sports never count.  

These facts were killing Hank.  The man loves to gamble more than Casanova loves women.  His favorite line when on the subject: We’re insatiable poke-her players.

Due to the glut of options on the tube, Santiago put on a reality show.  I’ll admit I avoid the drivel as much as the next guy, but any program that can distract me from thinking about Ashleigh is a welcome one. 

What is this fecal stew brewing on the view screen?  Can’t we put on some highlight reels?

Get up and change it.

Santiago called Hank’s bluff, so the group of us sat around watching some aged rocker trying to date loose women with looser screws on a bus.  It happened to be on a channel that I thought was known for playing music videos.  At least they did when Ashleigh and I would hang out in her bedroom, necking to some… dare I say?  I dare not say unless I’d like another reaming from Hank.

Picking up ladies like those is tantamount to an elephant picking up peanuts.  We all looked at Kilgore for his explanation.  It’s easy.

Did you know elephants purr?  That’s how they communicate.  H.L. began purring like an elephant, which sounded a lot like a cat.  He took a sip of his draught beverage and continued making noises. 

My sixth wife was an elephant, and I sure could make her purr.  Hank claims to have been married eight times, but I don’t believe him.

H.L. used the back of his hand to wipe the foam forming on his lips that came from purring with a mouth full of beer.  It completed the picture of a cat – far from an elephant.

Kilgore had an epiphany:

I’ve got a reality show for you.  Hank would even watch it.  The show’s producers would go around and abduct burly men.  Men outside doing manual labor.  Cutting down trees, digging graves, building garages.  A huge group of them, around a dozen… if that could be a huge group.  They’d get locked in a barn and be provided with unlimited amounts of whiskey.  Once a hierarchy was established after a few days, a pig would be unleashed upon them.  I mean, the hugest hog you’ve seen.  They could make horror stories about this swine.

We all waited once again for a punchline, but Kilgore went back to his brew.  I asked what would happen, and Kilgore shrugged and smiled like that was the answer.  Santiago had to get full-size towels because napkins weren’t enough to clean up H.L.’s mess.

Fish… you’re a fucking idiot.