Impossible to forget the punch, slice, cut.
“What the fuck were you thinking?”
“You’re such a stupid idiot!”
Evil words spoken in evil tones.
Not even the fastest man in the world could outrun the sting.
“Wow, you really know how to handle a stick, huh?” Gary chortled.
He sat next to me in the passenger seat of my 2000 Plymouth Neon, which happened to have a manual transmission.
Gary was older than me—like 40 or something. He was the older brother of a guy I worked with. Actually, Gary worked there as well, but he was higher up than the rest of us minions so I never had much interaction with him. But I could always feel when he was nearby.
I wasn’t keen on the idea of driving Gary home from the department gathering at a bar that Friday night after work, but he was without a driver’s license—or car, for that matter. Plus I was the only one not drinking and I’d hate to have to live with knowing I could’ve prevented a drunk from getting behind the wheel.
I knew right away Gary was pretty smitten with the idea of me driving him home, and then when he saw I could drive stick…I had a feeling he’d be dreaming about me that night.
I always wished I could be the girl that could live life like an adventure. Sure I was married and loved my husband, but he was away so often. It was bad enough I wasn’t drinking that night, what was preventing me from adventuring with Gary? Me. I was stopping myself from having fun. I was being a good girl. A shy girl. A married girl whose husband called every night when he was on the road.
“Thanks,” Gary said as I pulled up to his house.
I could sense his hesitation with getting out of the car. I knew he wanted to ask me something.
Or tell me something.
Or do something.
Feeling his glare, I just sat there looking at the Neon’s headlights bounce off the dilapidated siding of his house. He was trying to make eye contact like always. Like when we were at work. Like when I walked to the bathroom just past his office and he watched. I know he watched me all the time. I could feel him watching. I could feel when he was nearby. Always.
I finally turned to look at Gary and give him the eye contact I know he wanted. I smiled and put my right hand on the stick shift and squeezed—all while keeping eye contact.
Game on, Gary, I thought to myself.
Gary returned the smile, licking his lips. “Wanna come in for a beer?”
I looked past his thick-lens glasses, over the redness, and into his brown eyes.
“I could go for a smoke,” I replied, turning the ignition key and pulling it out.
Gary fumbled around in his jacket pockets while moving to the front of the car. “I didn’t think you smoked,” he tossed over his shoulder to me.
“I usually don’t.” I walked past Gary, toward the front door of his house.
Wind chimes rattled behind me. It was Gary with his keys. I think the big guy was getting nervous. This was going to be more of an adventure than I had anticipated and I started wondering why the hell I took so long to unleash the bad girl in me.
Gary rushed past me to the front door and jammed the key in the lock while I jammed my hands in my jeans pocket so it could hold onto my rings.
My cousin and his wife Casey lived next door so I went for a visit one day but my cousin wasn’t home. Casey was though, so we hung for a bit before she asked if I wanted to visit with another neighbor.
Despite all of us living in the same neighborhood, only houses away from one another, it had been years since I’d last seen her neighbor Nick who was outside the back of his house when we got there. We crept through the garage to see him.
Nick looked just as I remembered: tall and lanky; dark hair; dark, expressionless eyes.
“You guys wanna play some softball?” Nick asked upon seeing us.
Talk about it being a long time since seeing or doing something… I was a kid the last time I played softball, but I loved the game so I was in.
First up to bat was Nick. He slammed the ball way out in the field so that his buddy, who looked super familiar, had to fetch it.
Next was Casey. She made contact with the ball but nothing like Nick had.
Then there was me. It had been 20 years or so since I’d even picked up a bat, but how hard could it be?
I had so little strength to grip the bat; my hands fumbled to get in position despite my brain knowing exactly what I needed to do.
Finally I mustered up enough power to lift the bat and Nick’s buddy pitched the ball. I swung and totally missed the ball, but the bat went flying from my hands just past Nick’s buddy’s head.
They all just looked at me.
“Lessgo shower,” Nick proclaimed.
Like robots, we all four headed toward the shower, which was a single standing box shower in the back of a huge pickup truck.
We all wore bathing suits and showered quickly. First was Nick, then his buddy, then Casey.
When it was my turn, I had a hard time not watching Nick’s buddy sitting in the front of the pickup truck, behind the steering wheel. While the water poured over my body, he just sat there looking ahead and smiled. I couldn’t stop watching him sit there and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I knew him from somewhere.
“You done?” Nick asked, popping his head in through the shower door.
With a towel wrapped around me and my hair dripping water down my back, we all started walking back into the house. All except for Nick’s buddy.
“Hey man, you comin or what?” Nick shouted toward the truck.
There was no answer, no movement.
“Hey!” Nick shouted again.
And again there was no response.
Nick, Casey, and I all looked at one another and then back toward the truck. In slow motion, we moved toward the truck. Nick opened the passenger side door.
“Yo!” Nick reached to shake his buddy by the shoulder. “Dude, you comin?”
Nick’s buddy, staring out the front window of the truck, hands on the steering wheel as if he were driving, smiled. Then he slowly turned his head to us. His bright blue eyes practically glowed, while the warmest smiled I’d ever seen in all my life said hello.
Nick’s buddy was Robin Williams. THE Robin Williams.
“Yeah man,” Robin said. “Lessgo.”
(This is a dream I had early this morning before my alarm sounded. Names, other than Robin Williams’, have been changed.)
It’s been a rough couple of days. For many of us.
The news on Robin Williams’ death shook a lot of us to the core. Depression is an evil motherfucker. Sometimes we think we may be doing well and then bam! something transforms us back into the depths of the dark hole.
Find the light, my friends. It’s shining so goddamn brightly, I promise.
You may not see it this very second, but keep looking and when you do see it, focus on it till it envelops you instead of that fucking black hole that you’re submerged in.
Goddamn is life hard. But it truly is a gift. Truly.
When we pulled up to the building, I was a bit scared. I’m not a fan of big black iron gates in front of a home. It’s not very welcoming. More than that, the little lawn tucked behind and in front of the gate wasn’t very green and desperately needed to be trimmed.
This place had zero curb appeal. What were we doing here?
Still, we got out of the car to take a closer look.
Taye carried Lovie, then 7 months old, in her infant car seat carrier. We had about six concrete steps to walk up before coming to the front door of the building. Then once inside, we had another 17 steps till we reached the top floor apartment we were looking at possibly renting.
It was a three bedroom, two bath with in-unit laundry and the price was on the high end for us but we had to consider it for the extra bed and bathroom.
Immediately upon entering, my eyes focused on the “sun room” in the very front of the home, just off the living room. The windows inviting all the natural lighting excited me and I soon forgot about the dreary outside of the building. When I turned my head to look toward the rest of the apartment, I was greeted with a super long hallway that went from the front all the way to the back of the apartment, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms being outsourced from the hallway.
I immediately envisioned Lovie learning to walk and one day running down that hallway. Viewing the rest of the place just added to my excitement.
I was in love.
We moved in at the start of the following month where we’ve lived now for nearly four years. I still madly love that sun room, which was immediately turned into my daughter’s playroom. It’s my absolute favorite part about this place.
Isn’t it dreamy? (This is looking straight in from the living room. There’s a set of windows on either side of the entry way as well!)
The outside is still pretty horrendous looking. Scary, really. But the inside is just so perfect for us. We don’t want to leave (the inside), but the parking sucks and Lovie’s getting bigger and bigger. It would be nice for her to have a real yard to run around in.
Our lease is actually due to expire end of next month, so time will quickly tell if it’s time for us to move or not. If it is (or when it is) it’s going to be damn hard to replace that awesome sun room (play room).
written in response to the writing prompt provided by #Post40Bloggers
Papa gave me my first real bike when I was about 10—a brand new, purple and sparkly 10-speed. I rode that bike like it was my job, and I felt like a rock star while doing so despite its awful girly feel to it (if there was ever something I was not, it was purple and sparkly).
This is when 10-speeds were to bikes what the latest iPhones are to cell phones today. So as all the other kids rode their much smaller, probably hand-me-down bikes, I floated along on my brand new 10-speed (though I admit to being jealous of those with BMX bikes—why I never was gifted a BMX bike, I don’t know).
Really, I was a rock star. So much so that my 10-year-old self would ride my sweet 10-speed bike in the middle of the street!
It wasn’t a busy street, just the street we lived on: a side street where the traffic could only go in one direction and where stop signs were placed at the end of every block ensuring motorists maintained the 25 mph.
When I wasn’t riding my awesome 10-speed in the street, I was racing it through the alleys. Up and down and all around the several blocks surrounding our home in the burbs. The wind whooshing through my thick bowl-cut hair. The sun tanning my olive skin. I loved the sound the bike would make when I stopped pedaling and just coasted along, my nose turned up at the others who weren’t on 10-speeds.
Yeah me and my 10-speed bike.
We lasted all of maybe two weeks together. But that’s the good thing about being a kid. Things seem to last way longer than they actually do in GrownupLand where two weeks would be a sneeze in comparison to the eternity of two weeks when you’re 10.
We had a good run…till I was pedaling my sparkly purple 10-speed down the street like a rock star and hit a pothole in just the right way that catapulted me over the front handlebars, slamming me, face first, into the cement road.
I didn’t feel like much of a rock star walking my stupid fucking bike home with blood dripping from my nose and mouth.
I never rode that girly bike again, nor have I gotten on a 10-speed since.