Drop 171: Good

horns‘I saw Sally yesterday,’ Joe said.

‘Oh yeah?’ Hal said. ‘I also bumped into her last week, at the gym, after almost a year.’

‘She just joined. First time you saw her since you guys broke up?’

‘Pretty much. We only talked for like ten seconds.’

‘Yeah. She mentioned she saw you. She said you looked good.’

‘Really?’

‘Yeah. So she didn’t tell you about her sister?’

‘Who, Maddy? No.’

‘Car crash. Was in intensive care for three months. She’s out now but she’ll never walk properly again, and she’s got major scarring on her face and neck.’

‘Bummer.’

‘Yeah,’ Joe said, ‘and I guess she didn’t tell you about her parents either?’

‘Her parents?’

‘Mom asked for a divorce—’

‘After 30 years?’

‘Yeah, and just a few weeks before her dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.’

‘Shit!’

‘He won’t last long. Maybe he’s already gone.’

‘Wow.’

‘Yeah. Sally said her mother started drinking a lot after, neat vodka mainly, and is pretty much addicted to painkillers now.’

‘Shit!’

‘And she lost her job too, you know.’

‘Sally’s mom?’

‘No. Sally.’

‘But she was there ten years!’ Hal said. ‘She ran that place!’

‘So I heard. But she’s unemployed now.’

‘Wow.’

‘I know’

‘Jesus!’

‘Yeah’

‘So,’ Hal said, ‘she said I looked good hey?’

 By EM Vireo

Drop #148: Happy Ending

on the roadAn hour from the hotel she said she had left her mobile there and we had to turn back.

‘Did you check everywhere?’

‘Yes. Everywhere.’

‘You sure?’

‘Positive.’

We were already late and this meant a two-hour round trip delay, at least. We’d just finished a lengthy stretch on a mountain road so terrible it felt like it had been laid right out of Satan’s anus. Getting off it onto tarmac was such bliss, like taking your shoes off when they’ve been killing your feet for hours. Now we’d have to do it again, twice.

The road back had further unexpected delays: in a gruesome accident, a sheet of sheet metal had skidded off a truck and beheaded a man on a moped. Ambulance. Indifferent cops. Blood stained sheet.

Shortly after, we got a flat. I changed the tire in the rain, which had just started.

We arrived to find the front desk deserted. They hadn’t picked up the phone on five attempts either. We were already so behind schedule to reach Sam and Trudy’s wedding, still hundreds of miles away, so, when no one answered our shouts, I went behind the desk to see if the mobile was there. A quick rummage found nothing so I opened the door to the little room behind the desk and went in, hoping to find it in there, or at least find some incompetent sleeping person I could put on the case. Nobody home, but as I was snooping around, I heard a man’s voice: ‘Hey! What the hell are you doing?’

‘Oh, just looking for my wife’s phone. Did you guys find a phone?’

‘Never mind that. You can’t be trespassing in there.’

‘Oh, sorry,’ I stepped out of the room and moved to join my wife, but the clerk—a large man we had never seen while staying there–grabbed my arm saying he had to call it in.

‘Get off me,’ I said, trying to shake him off, and he got angry, grabbing me harder and pushing me against the wall.

‘Get off him,’ Sarah echoed, but the guy only got rougher, pinning my arm aggressively behind my back. ‘You’re hurting him!’ she said, stepping towards us.

‘You just stay right there, missy,’ the ogre threatened, pulling out his phone.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: that the irony is that she’d had her mobile all along, having overlooked it in her bag, or that it was on the car floor. That we had gone back and suffered all those delays, setbacks and conflicts for nothing.

No. I wish.

It was gone, perhaps stolen, with all the photos and videos from the birthday party the night before: Grandpa Smith’s 100th and maybe his last. Turns out we were also the only ones who’d fully filmed his epic speech—probably also his last. Sam and Trudy are pretty much our best friends but we never did make it to their wedding since I was arrested and held overnight. I have a court date in a month—oh, and it turns out the guy fractured my wrist so I’m in a cast. Not ideal for an illustrator with crazy deadlines. So no, no irony here. Just life doing it’s best to be a pile of shit.

🙂 By EM Vireo 🙂

Drop #21: Broken

Jen and I were waiting to cross at the cross walk. We’d just had dinner. A grown man in a shiny silver jumpsuit and flashing bunny ears waited on a child’s bike on the other side. I was still trying to decide whether he was at all interesting, or just an utter idiot when I said: ‘What an idiot.’

‘Didn’t we just talk about being less judgmental?’ Jen said, without turning to face me.

‘Yeah.’

‘You know: you say all this stuff and you never do it and it makes me wonder about you sometimes. It makes me wonder about us.’

I wondered about us too, often. Every dinner out lately had been so unpleasant, so silently tense, and we ate out all the time. And I knew I said a lot I didn’t do, but maybe, I thought, I never really planned to do any of these things. Maybe I was just patching up the visible cracks with these statements, smoothing over the many, if unimportant conflicts between us.

In our two years together we’d stockpiled simple bothers, but there had been no dense ugly thing to deal with; no injury or sickness, or financial collapse; nothing keen enough to pound on fractures and break structures down.

But what if a real problem arose? How much of that ‘us’ would be exposed?

The light changed urging everything to proceed. I took a step out into the cross walk before Jen followed. Ahead of the pedestrians, the fool on the bike had started peddling out too, wobbling into balance. I watched as a car ran the light and hit him. He looked broken when he landed, his shiny silver jumpsuit blotched with blood.

By E.M. Vireo