Drop #172: Why?

at your disposal‘Why does this keep happening to me?’ Jane asked, following Sarah outside to bum a smoke. She wanted more drinks too but was broke and too proud to ask Sarah to buy her another. ‘Am I just a loser? Do I suck? Am I ugly? A dork? Why does every guy cheat on me or break up with me? Am I a psycho? Too selfish? Too needy? Do I smother them? Do I talk too much? Why do they all dump me? Why, Sarah? Why? Am I delusional? An idiot? Am I annoying? Too fat? Help me understand. Am I gross and stupid and useless and boring? Tell me, Sarah? Am I? Hey? Am I?’

‘Well, actually, yes. Yes you are. All those things, in fact.’ Sarah tipped ash and watched it paraglide down to the pavement. ‘A guy would have to be bat shit crazy not to run once he gets more than a glimpse.’

By EM Vireo

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 170: Decision

‘Oh, God,’ Beth thought, stubbing out another cigarette, ‘it’s so difficult. I love them both in their own way. There’s so much history with Larry – years of warmth and love and caring, but John is new and exciting. Sex with him is just incredible and he makes me feel so fantastic – so young and attractive and full of hope.’

She didn’t know why, but over the past week the burden of secrecy had grown too heavy and she felt she had to choose. Her emotions, forever easy-going and forgiving, had suddenly swelled to demand action right away. There was no fighting it. She knew what she had to do.

She lit another cigarette as she made the call. He was on a business trip. After years of comfortable silence, she couldn’t wait another minute.

‘Hello, darling,’ he said. ‘Everything OK?’

‘Hello, Gunther,’ she said. ‘I want a divorce.’

By EM Vireo

Drop 167: AKA

wine shadowShe’s in the bathroom, halfway through the date. She really likes this guy. He’s handsome, with a great smile and seems smart and nice too. It’s definitely going well. The conversation is flowing and there’s plenty of flirtation going on. She’s only just met the guy and is surprised to be into him, but it’s exciting.

Back at the table, he’s waiting for her with a smile. He’s topped up her water and her wine. The dessert menu has also arrived.

‘So, any plans for tomorrow?’ she asks, sitting and looking it over.

‘I have an acappella battle.’

‘What?’

‘Yeah. I’ve been practicing all week, and tomorrow’s the big day.’

‘You sing acappella?’

‘Every weekend.’

‘Really?’

‘Yeah. Acappella is my life!’

She gets up, drinks down her wine, drops a few twenties on the table. ‘Don’t call me,’ she says as she walks away.

By E.M. Vireo

Drop #166: Date

This post is not suitable for children – you have been warned

icecream bearThey stepped out of the movie theater into the warm night, hand in hand. It was only a first date but it seemed to be going well, and he hoped it would progress to something delicious quite soon.

‘So, what do you want to do now?’ he asked.

‘What do I want to do? I want to fuck – that’s what I want to do. I want to fuck you. I want you to fuck me. I want to suck your dick. I want it between my tits and in my ass. I want to lie you down on the floor and destroy your face with my meticulously waxed pussy. I want to do it for hours on the couch and the bed and the kitchen table, rest for half an hour while we drink champagne and do lines, then go again even longer. That’s what I want to do now – right now. I want it bad.’

‘Yeah, that sounds good. Also – and I’m just throwing this out ­there – there’s this new ice cream place that opened just up around the corner I’ve been meaning to try. It’s an organic creamery with like 56 flavors, all made in-house, and a million toppings to choose from, and they mix it all together on frozen marble slabs right in front of you. Anyway, that’s another option – I’m easy, either way.’

By EM Vireo

Drop #160: Love

burrata and heirloom tomatoJen had a dinner meeting so Hal decided to treat himself to his favorite meal at Tony’s. He was the first customer and the staff greeted him warmly. ‘No missus today? It’s OK. We feed you good.’

Though eating alone, he ordered a full meal, starting with the burrata over heirloom tomatoes, and following with the wild boar ragu pappardelle. It was what they always ordered. He drank two glasses of Chianti as he finished every last morsel with gusto, sopping up all the sauce with bread, and even had space for panna cotta. Most satisfied, he asked for the check just as his phone rang.

‘Hi, honey,’ Jen said. ‘Good news: my meeting was cancelled so I’m all yours tonight.’

‘Great!’

‘Listen, I’m starving and I can’t think of anything better in this life than meeting you at Tony’s for wild boar pappardelle right now.’

‘Oh yeah? Right now?’

‘Yeah. I’m so in the mood. Let’s get a bottle of that delicious Chianti and have a really nice big meal together. I already left. Think you can be there in twenty?’

‘Pretty sure I can.’

‘You didn’t eat yet, did you?’

‘What? No. No.’

‘Great, I’m excited. Can’t wait to see you. You make me so happy.’

‘Well, that makes me happy too.’

By E.M. Vireo

Drop 157: Camping

IMG_0755They arrive late and hurry to put the tent up before dark. He steps on her foot in the rush. Large man in boots. Slight woman in sandals. Full weight.

She sucks it up. There is work to do.

Fly nets, poles, guy lines and pegs. Pull it over. Push it through.

Anxious to finish, he shoves a pole through to far, poking her curtly in the ribs, and again in the left breast. It hurts and the scratch is clear under her top. He doesn’t apologize. Maybe he didn’t notice. It’s getting dark.

Tighten it up. Hammer it in. Headlights needed now to get it done.

Then inside to set up the sleeping quarters. He yanks a sleeping bag from the backpack with force, elbowing her in the ribs. ‘Here unroll that,’ is all he says.

She does, and the other, and blows up the first thin air mattress. The head is where the feet should be, so she turns it around in the tight space, grazing his shoulder ever so slightly with the corner as she does.

He jumps back as if electrocuted, and squeals. ‘Ow, Jesus! Watch out! Damn, that hurts,’ he says, rubbing his muscular deltoid, pulling his sweatshirt out to look for blood. ‘Be careful, for Christ’s sake. You could have blinded me!’

By EM Vireo

Drop #156: Robot

kitchen robot‘No need to weigh it separately,’ the woman in the apron says, pouring sugar rocks. ‘The bowl already acts as a scale—see.’

I’m standing next to the only man in the room. He’s handsome.

‘Once you reach the needed weight just press the home button again and read the next step on the panel here.’

One man, ten women, excluding the presenter.

‘One blade does it all. Whipping, mixing, and in this case grinding. This might be a little noisy.’ She pushes a button and though she warned us, the grating noise startles me. But it only lasts five seconds.

Dee-doo-dee: the machine let’s us know it is done. It sounds like the chimes before an airport announcement.

Almost half the women ooh as we are shown how the rocks have been ground effortlessly into fine powder. Almost half the others aah.

‘Your wife couldn’t make it?’ I ask the man softly, taking advantage of the pause in the presentation.

‘Excuse me? Oh, no, she’s busy.’

‘Nice of you to come in her place, use your Saturday and all.’

‘Now all we have to do is add the washed and halved lemons,’ the presenter carries on. ‘No need to peel them.’

‘You do any cooking too?’ I ask.

‘Sure,’ the man tells me.

‘Lucky wife you have. I’m the only cook in the family.’

At the touch of a button the machine jumps abruptly into action again, but with a softer sound, and for about ten seconds this time. The chimes again tells us it is done. Though identical, they now sound more like that off-key, somewhat disturbing arrangement from times past, when people still had land lines: Doo-da–dee: We’re sorry, there appears to be a receiver off the hook.

‘Lucky woman,’ I push on. ‘Are you going to buy her one?’

‘A kitchen robot? I don’t think so.’

The presenter pours lemonade into paper cups for us women and my male friend to try. ‘Of course this machine also cooks entire meals. It practically replaces your kitchen!’ She laughs, and I wonder if she always laughs that same way at this exact point in the script. ‘I’ll soon show you how to cook a main course, sauce and all, but let’s move straight to the best part: ice cream!’ Two-thirds of the women mumble in acknowledgement.

‘Bet she’d love it!’ I tell the man, after finishing my lemonade. ‘Make her life a whole lot easier.’

‘Wouldn’t in the slightest.’

‘Really? Machine like this? Haven’t you been watching? It prepares and cooks anything you can think of. Bakes bread and even makes cocktails. It’s incredible.’

‘Maybe, but I don’t like it. I was curious but it’s too impersonal. It removes the connection with food, it—’

The machine starts up again, zapping frozen fruit into a pulp. Dee-doo-daa.

‘It takes the fun out of cooking,’ he finishes. ‘I’d never put a soulless thing like that in the kitchen.’

‘But maybe she’d want one. Buy it for her.’

‘I couldn’t.’

‘Of course you could.’

‘No, I literally couldn’t. I have no income. I mean, since I’m entirely in charge of the cooking, I could ask her to buy it for me, but as I said, I prefer my knives, pots and pans. In fact, I think I’ve seen enough. I should get going if I’m to prepare a proper dinner before she gets back from her business trip. Soufflés don’t make themselves, you know, and a proper Bourguignon takes several hours on a low heat.’

By EM Vireo

Drop 151: Infidelity

A‘He kept saying how sorry he was, but what does that help now, after the fact?’

‘Does no good at all, honey.’

‘Said he just couldn’t help himself,’

‘Typical!’

‘That I was always at work and it was just too tempting!’

‘Bastard!’

‘Not just one, hey, but five. Five!’

‘I’m so sorry, sweetie. You must feel awful.’

‘I feel so, so, cheated. What he did, it’s just wrong.’

‘I know, love. I’d hate if my Bernie did something like that to me.’

‘And the lying! He only came clean last night.’

‘It’s just terrible.’

‘He took our thing—our special thing, and ruined it—and for what? Greed. Selfishness. Instant gratification.’

‘Just terrible.’

‘Unforgivable, is what it is.’

‘What a rat.’

‘I know.’

‘And Sense8 is such a good show, so gripping. I can’t believe he watched all five final episodes of season one without you.’

‘I know. I’m devastated!’

*please feel free to exchange Sense8 with Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Orphan Black, Ray Donovan, or whatever floats your insatiable boat, or reach back and go with Lost, Six Feet Under, or Deadwood.

By E.M. Vireo

Drop 147: Invitation

lovers‘Want to come up? No one’s home.’

‘You want me to?

‘I asked, didn’t I?’

I pause, tapping a sneaker against the curb. ‘Don’t think I will.’

Her disappointment is at once recognizable and foreign, like a childhood home revisited as an adult. She is wearing one of the many similar simple dresses that suit her so well, and those olive-green knee-highs that remind of all I must have missed in the sixties. She is playing, as she often does, with the tiny gold seahorse hanging from her neck, and she is beautiful–a little too alluring to have to deal with, really. Too much expression in her face, too much roundness in those cheeks. No one wears glasses better, and that practiced naïveté she flaunts only belies a sensual cleverness, a roguish greed.

‘So, that’s a hard no?’ she asks, sliding hand under cloth to gently scratch collarbone.

I look at her as a quiet man might watch the winter sea from a deserted beach. ‘I can’t,’ I say. ‘I won’t.’

We kissed earlier—kissed in a way that stole something back from time: some magic, some truth. We kissed for several minutes, naturally, comfortably, as if we had always been in love.

‘Really?’ She leans against the door frame and smiles, mocking my attempt to postpone the inevitable.

I have already, over the course of the afternoon, imagined her a hundred kinds of naked, met so much of that nakedness with fingers, mouth, and face, been shattered over and again by the thought of her tightly around me. How gorgeous it must be in there. How perfect.

‘Is it your wife?’ she asks, ‘or my husband?’

After three weeks of close, almost daily interaction, the project is finished; we won’t be working together any more. Nothing happened in all that time, until today, but it was instantly flirty and easy between us—and almost immediately I had also imagined this moment, this invitation. The possibility has lived with us since, like terrible, lovely, exciting disease that is never discussed, but will not just go away.

‘I guess,’ I say, watching her stare at me, unblinking, ‘but that’s not the whole of it.’

She looks down coyly, and I resent already missing her eyes. I know it spells madness, but it’s a deep relief when she looks back up.

‘I fear if I touch you again today, I won’t be able to let go.’

‘Hm. Fear.’

‘Look at us together. Look at what we already are. This could never be a passing thing. Of course I want to come up—the thought is beating me to a pulp, but I if did it would be too good, and prove what I already know: that I like you too much. We’d definitely do it again, start a proper affair and be really into each other. I might even leave Sarah for you, and you might leave Will. We’d move in together, and it would undoubtedly be wonderful, maybe even for years, but who’s to say it won’t lose that drive and wonder?–it would already have to carry the weight of all we have given up: everything we have hurt, and risked, and betrayed. We might fight, and get frustrated, and start new affairs and only end up back where we are now. Why set all that up when we could just absorb this perfect moment, this perfect day between two recent strangers and move off into the night?’

‘Wow. Someone’s a fucking downer.’

‘Sorry.’

She shrugs but I can tell she feels this same tectonic force, but for some reason is was willing to act, as I might be willing to do on another day, or maybe still am. I have always been careful, though: too careful to throw something great away for something else that is sure to be incredible.

‘No, that was a good speech. Articulate and charismatic.’

I know this sarcasm is used in defense, maybe as a stalling technique too. Even now the invitation remains draped on her face, and I still haven’t formally refused it. Minds are seldom made up with the words they sell to mouths. Half of mine has already climbed the stairs to her bedroom, or is it more than half, or less? Sex itself is not so dangerous but there’s no room here for love. Not today, in this falling dusk. Not for love the destroyer, love the callous cunt. Souls are impatient; we tend to appease the offhand passions they peddle, riding them on into the new and the immediate. But not every time, on every watch.

The hug goodbye is brutal, so heavy with the sadness of sense.

By EM Vireo