chain


(C)Copyright 1999 by Ronald Rand
All Rights Reserved.

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Look at you. Look how pathetic you are.

I order another Long Island Iced Tea. The Waitress hands me my change, and I throw a buck her way. I'm thinking about what it would be like if this were my last day on Earth. Would I really just sit here? What a great story that would make, if someone came to me and asked me why I was sitting here like a bump on a log, I could say,

"Because it's my last day and I'm observing."

"Your last day in this bar?" she might ask.

"No."

"Your last day in this state, then?"

"No," I'd say, "it's my last day on Earth. I won't be here much longer, and I just wanted to see people having fun one last time before I leave."

"You have aids?" she'd ask.

"No," I'd say, and I'd leave it at that. Just let her wonder what was going to happen to me.

The mysterious one, she'd think. The pathetic one, she'd say.


God, can't you all see how much I don't belong? Usually, I'm at home, but it's lonely there. Only it's lonely here, too. But at least I'm not dying.

Or is he?

One more day home alone and I'm dead, trust me on that one.

Move around a little bit. You look like a stuffed shirt.

God, they really see me that way, don't they? The way I just sit here, staring at things, lifeless. I don't belong. I know I don't belong. But it's lonely at home. Only it's lonely here, too.

Smile a little, will you?

Okay, I'm smiling now. But now I look psychotic. Shit, look how pathetic I am. I'm alone and I'm smiling. It doesn't even look real. My smiles never look real because they aren't. I can't remember the last time I legitimately smiled. Look at that guy over there. He doesn't look like me. He's moving, has some place to go. Knows a lot of people, um-hmm. He's popular. Damn him, he's a scumbag. Can't keep his eyes still. Eyes on every woman. One eye on every tit. But they fawn over him like he's some hot shit. Why can't I be like that? I'm equally attractive. I'm such a loser. I order another drink. Take another drag off of my cigarette. Another drag, and then another, and another sip of my Long Island Iced Tea.
Look at me, will you? I'm too afraid to look at you, so goddam it, someone look at me, please! I'm dying over here. Dying to show you what I really look like underneath this battered shell. I'm not so bad once you get to know me.

Stop being so neurotic.

Every woman has a guy, and every guy has a beautiful girl on his arm. How the hell am I supposed to get anywhere in here? Everybody's taken and I open my mouth and bullshit just rolls out, it just comes rolling out. Don't bother talking to me, cuz' I'm all shitfaced. Watch me roll my eyes! Watch me fall over the counter.

(But I'm only faking. They won't think I'm so weird if they think I'm drunk!)

That's it! I'm drunk. Watch me fumble another cigarette into my mouth. I have Long Island Iced Tea all over my shirt, cuz' I'm a drunken sot.

What's this? Why is this girl sitting next to me? Damn, don't look at me. You're beautiful and I'm nothing. I'm coming out of my skin, now. God, she's looking at me and I don't have the balls to look back. Cuz' she'll just look away, the way they always do. Fuck me, fuck him, fuck that guy across the bar with all those women. He's got the gift of gab and I ain't got shit. All I know is, inside I'm coming apart at the seams, god I'm coming apart.

Be a man, make the first move...

Why? Haven't I had enough rejection for one lifetime? God, if the people I know won't even look at me, what makes me think a stranger at a bar will? I'm coming out of my skin, now, it's really shedding cuz' this girl is looking at me.
Shit, I remember that time at the bar in Royal Oak. I remember sitting there and a strange girl came up to me and started asking me my sign and shit. And we were talking, and I thought, someone can finally see right through me. Man, I'm so lucky to bump into her.
She talked to me for a little while. Even gave me her phone number. I didn't even ask, but damn, it was a wrong number! Fuck me, fuck her, fuck it all. Took me three hours the next day to get up the nerve to call her and it was a wrong goddam number. I didn't even ask for it! She offered it like I was worth a shit. But she showed me, didn't she, didn't they all? Showed me. Every woman I ever asked out, they all showed me. I bet I made them feel good, too, but look how I feel now. Was it worth it to you? I hope so. Was it worth it to me? God, no.

Look her way! She's looking at you.

Don't tell me that -- shit. That's all the pressure I need. I've had a few women in my time. But there was something wrong with all of them, there must have been! No woman in her right mind would give me the time of day. But this one here, she's different.

She's eyeballing my pack of smokes, man she must be Jonesing for one really bad to try to get one from me. Man, this girl is trippin'. She must be.

"Can I get a smoke from ya'?" she asks.
God, what a charming voice.

"Sure," I say and I hand her one, and even light it for her with my Zippo.
"Thanks!" she says, and gets up and leaves.

Go to her! She wants you to.

What, are you serious? You're serious. Okay, here I go. I'm standing now. Fumbling a little, but I'm standing. Tripping over my own feet, God I can't believe I'm doing this. Sit down. But no, I'm walking now. Following the trail of her skirt. Following her scent, how magnificent! She's gorgeous, too. Just my height, just my style. I'm after her in a heartbeat. Listening to her footsteps, quiet tender footsteps under the thumping of the bass. Her voice echoing, ringing in my head, so beautiful...
Damn, is that her boyfriend she's walking to? Don't tell me she's giving my cigarette to him, fuck me, fuck him. I'm turning, quickly, inconspicuously toward the bar now, ordering a Jack and Coke this time. I can slam a shot of Jack like water, but a Jack and Coke will keep me busy another couple minutes while I collect my thoughts.

Why am I here, God, why am I so alone?

The lights make me dizzy. The dance floor is packed, but you won't catch me stepping up there, no way, José! I'm not gonna' make an arse out of myself today. Not again. Got dragged onto the dance floor by some girls in a country bar once. Don't ask me what I was doing in a country bar. But they pulled me out of my chair and it toppled over behind me. Everyone was watching, everyone's eyes on me. Why didn't I have a sister who could teach me how to dance? Why didn't anyone ever tell me girls don't like to look at you when they dance with you? I took it as rejection, man, did I ever feel rejected. She wouldn't look at me when she danced with me, and I ran away. I ran far away. I couldn't run any faster, and man I must have looked pathetic.

I'll find you someone. Hold tight.

But no matter what I do, I look pathetic, don't I? If I sit here, I look pathetic. If I run I look pathetic. And there's no-one to talk to, but I'd look worse talking to myself! So I'll just stand here sipping my Jack and Coke. Pretending not to notice that girl over there kissing her boyfriend.
Just then, I caught her eye. And that doesn't seem to be her boyfriend after all, just some guy she put her arm around and kissed, but not her boyfriend because she's done with him and he's gone now. I look away from her. Don't want her to think I'm a stalker. But out of the corner of my eye I catch her walking towards me.

No, to the bar. She's walking to the bar.

Getting her boyfriend a drink? Gawd, I hope not.
I can smell her again and she's standing right next to me. I hope she doesn't notice me smelling her perfume, God I hope not. I'll feel like such a pervert, God, what the hell's the matter with me?

Say something.

Something, say anything.
"What?" she asked.
"Nothing," I say. Did I say that out loud? I can feel my skin crawling now. Beads of sweat are dripping down my forehead. My heart is p-p-pounding! Man, I'm so pathetic. My skin feels like meat. Or at least I can feel the meat beneath, but can she see that? Will she like me for this shyness or despise me for it?

Who are you fooling? You look like an Ass. Hahaha.

My skin is literally peeling off of my bones. She's reaching towards me now, and she's -- just grabbing a handful of napkins off of the counter in front of me.

Did you really think she was reaching for you? Loozer!

My skin is itching so bad, and underneath is just meat under there, God, it's all just meat. But behind that is where my heart is. Why won't you just look inside?

"You're not much for dancing, are you?"
"M-me? God, no. I don't dance."
"I can tell."

Pathetic. Just pathetic.

"Shut up!"
"Jesus Christ, fine," She starts to walk away.
"No, not you, please, talk all you want. I could listen to you all night." Pathetic.
"Hmm," she says, one eye half-cocked.
What kind of a Hmm was that? Was that a pitiable Hmm? A confused Hmm? She thought that was a come-on, god, she thought it was.
Outside myself, the bar is getting warmer. Inside, my meat is getting tender and ripe. The lights are dim, the way I like them, so no-one can see my face, but she's close, so close, she can see me falling apart.
"So, wanna buy me a drink?" she asks.

She's looking at you! She's looking at your Raggedy-Andy doll-face. How nice your cheeks look! What excellent bone structure you have. What a doll. If it weren't for those seams in your cheeks, you might actually pass for human!

Stop messing with my head!

Oh, don't get so worked up.
Aren't I keeping you in stitches?

I buy her a drink. Hell, I buy her two. Time passes, and still I haven't said a word. But she touches me, maybe just a nudge, or a random bump, but a touch just the same and it feels good.

"You don't talk much, do you?"
"Nuh-uh."

Next thing you know, she'll give me a fake number and be on her way, but God I want her so bad!

She places her hand around my waist. And I hold it there, savoring the moment. But now it's almost too late for me, because I'm really, really coming apart now at the seams. I hold her against me. I touch her face, and I smile into her eyes.

Show her!

I smile the most seductive smile I can possibly muster.

Show her, I said!

I reach up to my face, and my eyes grow wide. I press her to my hips and I look into her eyes. And I press my nails deeply into my face, and I cry out,

"I was trying to get close to you, but my skin was in the way!"

And then I showed her. :-)

See?

 


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