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previously...


"Request denied," Sean told me as he slid off the stool at the International Bar.

I appealed his ruling. "Why?"

"Because, as is the case every morning," he explained, "I must report to my place of employment."

"So?"

"The hour at which I must do this is rapidly approaching."

"Again, so?"

He sighed. "Excluding you, and perhaps some chemically enhanced rock musicians, the mammalian biology requires a number of hours to rest and reset its physiology. A more economical way of describing this function is..." He pantomimed quotation marks, probably because he knew how much I hated that. "... 'sleep.'"

I wasn't sure how this applied to him. Given the way he interacted with people in general, as well as the fact that his fashion was as robotic as his vocabulary, I'd always suspected he was not a mammal at all, but rather a really badly disguised alien that didn't actually need to sleep. Regardless, I chose to play along with his subterfuge; I was desperate. "Call in sick to work," I said. "Spend a few extra hours in bed."

"The flaw in your logic is that I would find myself wracked with boredom upon awakening."

"Watch some TV."

"I derive the same amount of pleasure from television as you."

I derived the same amount of pleasure from television as someone getting beaten in the face with a sanitation worker's shovel, so that was out. "Don't you have any hobbies you've been meaning to get to?"

"Excelling at my family's business is the closest approximation I have to a hobby," he replied, "inasmuch as it is the only pastime for which I've shown any talent."

"I don't know what to say to that."

"Then say nothing." He gave me a moment before sitting back down and asking, "What is it you seek to avoid at home by further socializing?"

I sighed and signaled Dan the Bartender. "I think I need another beer."

There was one in front of me almost instantly. "You really look like you do," Dan replied.

I poured it down my throat and said, "I think I need another beer."

Dan handed me another bottle.

I turned back to Sean. "Where was I?"

"Your fear."

"Right." I sighed, "Every time I go home, I run into my neighbor, and she calls me Dude. And that word cuts into me like a..." Okay, so where the hell did my wit go just now? "Like a sharp thing that hurts a lot."

"What qualifies this as more dire than other verbal indignities you tend to endure on a regular basis?"

"Because," I tried to reply. "Because... To be honest..." I said before turning back to Dan the Bartender. "I think I need another beer." Upon my order being delivered, I spat out, "Because it makes me feel awkward."

"Why, pray tell, would it be awkward?" he asked. "You have, after all, seen her in the nude and have performed unspeakable acts upon her body..."

"Enthusiastically, I'll have you know."

"You have performed unspeakable acts upon her body with great vigor..."

"Vigor's a good word for it," I sighed.

Undeterred, Sean continued, "and you fled from her without so much as a simple telephone call, and now you're hiding in the closet--figuratively, of course--only to discover that your most recent sexual conquest..."

"Not my most recent," I mumbled.

"I'd forgotten you were a slut."

"I'm not sorry."

"Be that as it may," he continued, "one of your more recent sexual conquests sleeps in a bed not more than four feet away from yours, and you have yet to learn her surname."

"When you put it that way," I said, "it sounds kind of filthy."

Sean laughed. "I find it astounding that I'm sitting next to the most preposterous thing ever to grace this bar. And, if you'll recall, it had been recently patronized by a man in a gorilla suit."

Dan the bartender shook his head and chuckled, "Silly gorilla-suit guy."

Inspiration struck me. "This is a message from the heavens!"

"The gorilla?"

"No," I replied, "Sex. I quit having it."

"I doubt your conviction."

"I believe me, and that's all that matters."

"This is the most ill-conceived idea I've been party to in quite some time," he told me.

"It makes perfect sense," I said. "I am tired of being led around by my penis. When I think about it, I've made so many bad decisions in pursuit of sex, and what do I get out of it?"

"Orgasms," he replied.

"Well, it's not worth it," I declared.

"There is little doubt in my mind that you'll find yourself fornicating at some point in the near future. As a matter of fact," he told me, "I'm willing to entertain a wager in regard to your poorly thought-out declaration."

"Really."

"I'm prepared to stake one dollar on this."

"That's not exactly a fair bet," I said. "You'll only have pay up if I die before you."

He sighed. "Very well. If, by this time next year, you haven't engaged in sexual congress of any sort, I will pay out the dollar you will have earned."

"That's not a lot of money."

"My father would say, 'It's the principle of the thing.'"

I shook his hand. "Better make sure you have enough money in that bank account in a year." I added, "And can we keep congress out of this? They just fuck everything up."

He ignored me. "Double if your partner in said acts is your neighbor."

"Hell, I'll go triple on that."

"Double is sufficient."

"Sucker," I mumbled.

"Sucker," he mumbled.



to be continued...

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previously...


"Whoa!" I shouted to the hairy, naked ass and to the girl whose legs were wrapped around it. "Jesus! What the hell? There is a lock! Right there! To keep this kind of thing from happening! Jesus!"

After recoiling and slamming the door, I stole a quick glance of the bar where she sat, tucking her hair back into a clip with one hand and sipping from a beer with the other.

Forty hours ago, my world was gone. The woman I loved had dumped me with the help of the US Postal service, I had a few days left to vacate my apartment without anywhere to vacate to, and, because these things happen in threes, somebody put a gun to my head and took away my money. Alone and unsure, I'd resigned myself to spending the rest of my life without smiling again.

And now, there she was, catching my gaze and flashing me a raised eyebrow, a smirk, and a shrug so slight that only I would see it. She showed me how to get back to my feet and keep doing what I did best--much the same as I did to her from the moment we first met. She was beautiful, wild, sexy, and totally not my type. She was the most important friend I've ever had. She was my angel.

And it was that look in her eye that inspired me to open the door again and say to the couple, who had by now resumed fornicating, "How do you guys even dothat? Yoga? There's not even enough room in here for a sink!" I wish I was kidding, but it could actually be found around the corner. That reminded me: "And don't forget to wash up. Seriously."

"Get!" the woman yelled in the voice of a bear. "The fuck! Out!"

"Lock. Right here," I replied and slammed the door.

Forty hours ago, I never would have imagined me laughing, but here I was.

Lisa Green shot me an expression and gesture that said, "What the hell is going on over there?"

With my own expression and gesture, I replied, "I'll fill you in later," before stepping over to enter the second restroom.

"Occupied," snarled the unshaven redneck sitting on the toilet.

"I can see that!" I snarled back. "There is a motherfucking lock!"

I returned to the stool beside Lisa, sipped my beer, and told her, "Occupied."

"There's two restrooms, you know," offered Dan the bartender.

"Also occupied," I said. "By three people."

Lisa squinted at me. "Each?"

"Total," I replied.

Dan the bartender asked, "How can anybody even do that? Yoga?"

"And some lube, I'm sure." To Lisa I explained, "They're kind of small."

"Figured that's why the sink's on the outside."

"Do me a favor?" I asked. "Keep an eye out over my shoulder and let me know when someone finished up?"

"That might be sooner than you think," she told me.

"I don't know what that means."

"Was one of the guys a hick with a chin-beard and a trucker hat?"

"He's right behind me," I sighed, "isn't he?"

She nodded.

"Pissed?"

She nodded again.

Facing the man, I told him, "I said I was sorry."

"No you didn't."

"Well, I'm saying it now: I'm sorry I interrupted you defecating. Please forgive me." And with that, I returned my attention to Lisa.

"He's still here," she said.

"Still pissed?"

She nodded.

The man asked, "Anybody ever teach you to el knocko?"

I turned back around. "I see what you did there: You transformed an English phrase into a mockery of Spanish by adding an O and the article el to the..."

The next thing that happened was unclear, but I noticed that all of my air had been forcibly, the world burst into a bright shade of pink, and I groped the bar for anything to hold onto. As I sank to my knees, I managed to gasp, "Green, I'm going down."

The environment rushed back in, filling my lungs, and populating the space around me with an audience asking if I was okay. In my opinion, this was a dumb question. I panted for a bit and scanned the room for cute faces. "Any of you ladies a nurse?"

Just about every one of those cute faces frowned.

"Any of you ladies want to learn?"

That's when the crowd parted, and from my vantage point, I watched a pair of scuffed work boots stagger backward. The dungaree-clad knees attached to them buckled, and shortly thereafter, the rest of the redneck crashed to the floor.

Lisa's hand appeared in front of me, and I took it so she could drag me to my feet. "You had that coming."

"It's true," I replied.

It was then that we realized that everyone, including Dan the bartender, was aghast.

"What?" I asked them.



to be continued...

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previously...


"Stand clear of the closing doors, please!"

The night I just had at work, everyone in New York needed to leave me the fuck alone. This wasn't helped by the crowds shoving their way through me, trying to dislodge me from the pole I clung to. Nor was it helped by the taunting, passive-aggressive cheer of the MTA.

"The next stop is ... Fifty-ninth Street; Columbus Circle!"

I seethed for quite a while, but when the buzz of my cell phone cracked open my shell of grouchiness, my eyes shot open.

"You get reception down here?" a random passenger gasped.

I replied, "I get reception down here?" To the phone, I said, "Yeah?"

Sean's voice asked, "Do you have any intention of gracing the International Bar with your presence this evening?"

The International Bar perched between a pair of single-digit street numbers on First Avenue, so the amount of trouble it would take to get there outweighed even the certainty that Sean, who was rich, would buy all of the rounds that night. I told him, "No."

"I recommend it."

"I'm northbound, approaching Seventy-second Street," I told him, "and nothing is getting between me and my mattress."

"I urge you to reverse course."

"I urge you to hang up."

"There is a man in a gorilla suit situated near me."

I considered this and replied, "No, there isn't."

"I assure you there is."

"Your assurances mean nothing."

"I swear to you on my mother's grave," he told me, "that I am gazing upon a man in a gorilla suit."

"I'll be right there."

I hopped off at the next stop, took a series of trains downtown, strolled the multitude of blocks from the station to the bar, sat beside Sean, ordered a beer, and took a sip. "You know," I said, "when you told me there was a guy wearing a gorilla suit sitting in the International Bar, you meant there was a guy wearing a gorilla suit sitting in the International Bar."

Dan the bartender shook his head and chuckled, "Silly gorilla-suit guy."

Sean replied, "I find it a little disconcerting that you believe for even one moment that I would dishonor my mother's spirit in such a way."

"I'm sorry."

"I'm Japanese, for god's sake!" The volume of his voice had crept up to uncomfortable levels.

"I said I was sorry!"

His tirade ground to a sudden, skidding halt, as if someone had engaged his emergency brake. "Upon reflection," he muttered, "the presence of a man wearing a gorilla suit is a tad farfetched."

I took the mood-shift in stride and squinted over to the corner, where the costumed man sat with a pint glass full of stout. "Is he drinking beer out of a straw?" I asked.

"Alcohol hasn't passed my lips in years," he replied, "and even I understand that idea is ill conceived."

"Even more ill conceived than wearing a gorilla suit to a bar?" I clarified.

Dan the bartender shook his head and chuckled, "Silly gorilla-suit guy."

I shrugged. "It is the Village."

Sean shrugged right back. After a moment, he cleared his throat. "Simian-attired individual aside," he said cautiously, "I had coincidentally planned on inviting you here this evening to discuss a proposition."

My attention still in the corner, I said, "Shoot."

"I am curious as to your opinion on the Knights."

"I like the nights," I replied. "Way more than the days. It's tough to justify drinking when the sun's up."

He huffed. "I am, of course, referring to the New York Knights."

"I don't put a lot of thought into baseball," I told him. "Why do you ask?"

"My mother and I share season tickets."

I frowned. "Didn't you tell me your mother was dead?"

He froze. "No," he stated after the long moments it took him to think of a response.

"Yes, you did! Just now! You swore on your mother's grave that there was a guy in a gorilla suit in this bar!"

Dan the bartender shook his head and chuckled, "Silly gorilla-suit guy."

"Merely a hypothetical," Sean insisted. "I'd been imploring you to put your faith in the facts I'd been communicating to you, utilizing as collateral the reverence I feel for the burial plot that my mother will occupy at some point--preferably a distant point--in the future."

"There's no trust in this relationship," I replied.

"There is a man in a gorilla suit," he reminded me.

I nodded reluctantly and took a swig of beer.

"Resuming our discussion of the New York Knights," he continued, "there's a home game Friday, and it's a bit of an event on account of the competition being against Pittsburgh."

"Why's that a big deal?"

"Because, after the Yankees and the Red Sox, this is widely considered to be the most contentious baseball rivalry in the country."

"New York has a lot of rivalries," I observed.

"New Yorkers are, by in large, assholes."

He had a point.

"Also," he added, "my father lives in Philadelphia."

"So you're making the entire state of Pennsylvania pay for his sins?"

"Mother is."

The animosity there eluded me, but that was because my parents were still together, and as far as I knew, still very much in love.

He continued, "Mother has to be out of town for a deposition, the details of which bore me. The end result is that I am in possession of two tickets, and I have no intention of going alone."

"You're inviting me?"

"I am."

I frowned. "Don't you have friends who care more about baseball than I do?"

"Absolutely," he replied, "but I'd rather spend a Friday evening in the ballpark in your company."

I blinked. That had to be the kindest thing anybody's said to me in months. I wanted to bask in the moment as long as I could.

It didn't turn out to be very long at all, because he immediately began to stammer, "Oh, god, that was inappropriate, wasn't it? I apologize; I my intention wasn't to come across as creepy, but ..."

I grabbed hold of his bicep and squeezed until he shut up. "It would mean a lot to me to go watch the game with you."

"And that didn't strike you at all as creepy?"

"No," I replied, "it makes me feel good to know that there's someone who actually enjoys my company in a non-professional ..."

"Max," he interrupted, "as you are doubtlessly aware, my attitude toward gender identity leans toward laissez faire, but the innate homophobia installed in me by Western culture finds this particular portion of this exchange threatening to my heterosexuality."

"Understood."

"Perhaps this awkward moment will pass if we focus our attention on the man in the corner wearing the gorilla suit."

Dan the bartender shook his head and chuckled, "Silly gorilla-suit guy."



to be continued...

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Jeremiah

January 2013

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