4/6/15 What Would You Like to Text?

It had been years since Bellingham had been her home. Years since she’d spent any time at all. But the skeezy prostitute motel was still there and even though it was February there were still some of the homeless sitting about on the street corners or holding signs for food and money–or just money.

In the dark the stoplight turned red. She grabbed her phone, “Siri,” she said. “Text Alex.”

What would you like to text?

“Ten min away, where’s a good place.”

She put down her phone. The light turned to green. She revved her engine a little too high–she’d never been very good at driving stick, even after 10 years. Her phone buzzed.

Well, are a beer, mixed drinks, or cider person?

She clicked siri, took a sharp right.

“Beer or whiskey, typically.”

Then we should go to the Copper Hog.

“Sounds good, see you there.

“Siri, look up The Copper Hog in Bellingham Washington.”

Down the hill the taillights of other cars flared. The warm lights of the buildings splashed their warmth through the cold glass windows. Her car lurched over pumps and then she took a right, then a left and another left.

As she drove by The Copper Hog looked like a sleepy place, but then–it was a Monday. She parked on the street, since it was after five o’clock it was free. She wondered what this would be like–she hadn’t seen this guy since high school–and even then they hadn’t known each other in any likely sense to be meeting up at this house, on such short notice. The only reasons she’d known him was because his high school girlfriend had been her rival at Tennis. And maybe she’d heard stories about parties at his house? His dad had let them party there when they were young. She supposed if they still had parties they might still have them there–but whatever, most parties were lame.

Outside The Copper Hog sat a small patio fenced in by a sturdy black metal fence. Inside the place was a pretty typical sports bar–though to her right were many tables nicely set. In front of her was a large copper hog and to her left and little in front of her stood a tall slender frame with broad shoulders. Even though he wore a hat she could see long hair flaring out from below the slouchy beanie. There were a couple other people in the bar, but it was dead, really. Mondays.

She walked forward a little slowly and as she did the slender form turned and Alex’s face trained on her. His mouth broke into a smile and he began to laugh. It was a strange laugh, rather high for a man, but it seems slightly contagious, as she found herself smiling as well and then laughed a little also.

“Hey,” he said.

“Hey, good to see you.”

“Yeah,” he swooped in for a hug and the one armed it. No use in getting that close–it’d been 9 years, about.

“Whacha drinking?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” she said.

To the left, along the bar–lit with dim lights that gave the whole bar a warm feeling even though outside it was cold enough for your breath to be seen–was a chalkboard with a list of all the beers.

4/3/15 As Long As Your Intentions Are Pure

When a dirt trail replaced the rocks she felt a little more stable. The sun was setting as she, still above the treeline, walked down the trail. It was such a nice evening; the clouds there were acted as texture to the brilliant colors unfolding above and in front of her. The smell of the trail changed from pungent life to crisp cold and she increased her footsteps, wanting to be at the bottom of the trail by dark.

She had seen only a couple other climbers that day. One with a dog. She loved dogs, but right now, without her own place or the income she needed there was no way she could have one of her own. She entered the trees and the dim light of the evening was darkened considerable. She unslung her backpack and pulled out her sweater and put it on. She also grabbed her phone in order to use its flashlight. She turned it on. It buzzed. A message from an unknown number flashed on her screen. She thumbed it and read the text.

Hey, this is Alex. Nathan passed along your number. Welcome home.

I’m living in Bellingham, not sure where you’re at, but if you’re ever in the area, let me know.

A.

She thumbed out a response. She didn’t want to go back home. Anything to stay out of the house. Hopefully he’d be up for a drink or two. She wasn’t too far from Bellingham.

Days Earlier:

She sat with her phone. She’d asked Jen, her co-worker if it was weird to do this and she’s said no. Or she’s said, “as long as your intentions are pure I don’t think it’s a big deal.”

So why was she hesitating? Was it because she’d never had an actual conversation with either of them? Was it because she didn’t want to people to think she was creepy or weird? The worst that happened was they didn’t respond. She found Nathan R____ on facebook and her thumbs slid across the phone typing her message.

Hey Nathan,

I was thinking, since I’m back up North, it would be fun to connect with Ben and Alex– I always thought they were super rad and would love to kick it. Can you pass along my number to them? Thanks.

The thumbed down her number too. Outside her car Seattle was hustling and traffic was clogging the streets of downtown. Without look back at the screen she pressed the send button. She just wanted some cool friends to go hiking with, she told herself.

When she got back to her car parked at the trailhead it was completely dark.  She’d texted Alex back. Something that was truthful, but maybe a little forward. Was it too sudden to spring a couple beers on someone she’d not seen since high school? Well, either he said yes or no. She climbed into her car. Her phone buzzed. It was her mother. She confirmed that she had not broken her neck on the way down the mountain.

I’ll be home late. Visiting a friend.

She texted.

3/7/15

But then Sam has been working on what I’d call an unhealthy cocaine habit, so compared to that I suppose going to bed after drinking some coffee is easy.

“What’s up?” I ask.

“Ohhh,” crews Sam’s best friend Eddie, sliding into the room on large feet that trail behind a larger man. “If vampires were real, wouldn’t dracula be running the streets?” he asks in his black comedian voice. It’s a running joke that this will be his iconic theme when he’s performing stand up at the Apollo.

“Eddie, nice to see you,” I say, shaking his hand. Eddie’s head is shaved, but that is recent and he has a beard that starts near both ears and meets on his chin then travels down his neck a little. His face is a little fat, but not as fat as the rest of his body which he constantly makes fun of, because a couple years ago he was really skinny. Then he started drinking again.

“You just being an old man up there?” he asks.

“I have a message for you,” says Sam.

“Yeah. I can’t hang. I need to do work tomorrow.”

Eddie makes a farting sound. “Dude, we got the next Hemingway over here,” he says to Sam.

Sam sips his coffee. “You won’t believe this.”

“Hemingway was a drunk,” I say.

“Exactly,” says Eddie. “He partied and wrote some dope-ass stories.”

“I don’t want to be like Hemingway,” I say.

“So do you remember Danni Brook?” asks Sam.

“Uh, yeah. I haven’t thought about her for a while. Why?” I ask.

“Sam boned her,” says Eddie.

“Cool story,” I say, coldly.

“That was a couple years ago and we were wasted,” says Sam. “I mean, we had fun, but the next day she was like–well, it wasn’t ever going to happen again.”

I wonder how Sam treats women and how many regret being drunk and in his presence, as he doesn’t have any qualms about acting on mutual sudden impulses. I don’t think this is completely wrong, but I do think it breeds shallow relationships.

“Can’t keep a woman around for longer than a night, is the sitch,” says Eddie.

“I gotta get to bed,” I say, about to climb back up the stairs.

“Well, Danni facebooked me today and asked me to pass along her number to you,” Sam says.

“What?”

“Oh, you going to be eskimo brothers with Sam?” asks Eddie.

“Huh, I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation with her,” I say.

“She’s a nice girl, and she wants to hang out with you–and maybe Derek. She asked me to pass her number to him as well.”

“Oh.” Derek is my best friend and he is much more attractive and successful with the ladies in recent times than I.

“Yeah,” says Sam. “Sounds like she just wants people to hang out with. Nothing, you know,” he smirks a little as though I’m not really in the same league as him when it comes to charming the ladies. I’d like to respond that anyone who is told directly after a one night stand that it will never happen again, isn’t a charmer. No. At that point you are a mistake.