“She said she’d be right back.”
“She said she’d be right back.”
Meghan sighs as she sees the night slipping away too soon. Almost ten in the evening and she still has no date. She swipes the photo to the left, but soon changes her mind and swipes it to the right. She reads the brief profile of the guy she decides to pursue: “Enjoys anything that rocks — rock candy, rock climbing, and hard rock. Rock me hard!” She snickers at the last sentence.
“Oh yeah, baby,” she thinks to herself.
She texts him: “What flavor rock candy you like?”
Seconds later a response comes back: “Cherry”
She texts back: “I’ve got on cherry lip gloss.”
“Yum,” flashes on Meghan’s iPhone screen.
“I wish I was somewhere listening to hard rock now,” she types in, hoping to get something going soon.
“You’re playing my tune. Want to hang out?”
Meghan likes that and keys in, “Sure . . . when?”
“Let’s face time,” he messages back and adds his number for her to call.
“Cool,” Meghan thinks as she punches in his number.
A toothy grin dominates Meghan’s phone screen. She catches her breath as her eyes rake over the green cast of the face with bulging eyeballs and stained teeth that seems to take on a countenance that doesn’t look human at all. As soon as her brain registers the freaky visage, a scream escapes through her lips, now quivering from repulsion. Laughter from the screen erupts just as instantaneously.
She throws the phone across the room, screaming and hearing the laughter. She realizes she’s just been goblined*.
*Goblined – when a person gets startled, surprised, or freaked out by a goblin; usually occurs when a person least expects it. These are Halloween times . . . the countdown begins . . .
O Valentine mine,
You pursue like a cheetah;
Treat me not as prey.
Part 3 of 3, see Part 2
Ron surveyed the unit, satisfied his studio apartment looked tidy. He ran to the daybed to make sure he put in new sheets. This might just be the night. A light tap on the front door prompted him to straighten his shirt and greet his guest.
“You look great.” Ron swallowed, as he noticed the top two buttons of Ronnie’s blouse were undone, allowing a glimpse of cleavage.
He took her hand and led her inside. “I thought we could have our dinner first and then relax over there on the couch.” He gestured for her to sit. “Here, please.” He pulled out a folding chair from the makeshift table, made up of two TV trays facing each other.
“Pretty candles.” Ronnie commented on the centerpiece.
Ron thanked her, glad he decided to buy the two red votive candles instead of settling for his little electric lantern, seeing that the dancing flames looked more romantic than a LED.
He took out the meatloaf and mashed potatoes from the oven, relieved he had gotten to the grocery store on time before they ran out of dinner entrées. “I hope you like it.” He placed the food on the table and sat across from her.
“Thank you for making dinner. You’re quite the cook.” She beamed at him.
“I admit I’m a man of a few hidden talents.” Ron hemmed and hawed, as he bit into the meatloaf and found it to be dry. “Oops, forgot the music.” He got up and turned on the radio to a station that played instrumental music.
They ate mostly in silence, smiling at each other between bites. After they finished, Ron served cupcakes, which they quickly consumed. Almost bounding out of his chair, he guided her to the sofa.
“I’d like to read to you a poem I’ve been working on all week.” He took out an index card from his shirt pocket. Clearing his throat, he read:
“Roses are red, violets are blue,
Every day and every night, I think of you.
You opened the door to my heart,
Which I gladly give to you in a cart.
One slam is all it takes to make me say bye.
Then I cry because I’m a sensitive guy.”
Ronnie sighed and wiped an eye. “That is the most beautiful poem anyone has ever written for me.” Ronnie cupped his face and kissed him on the lips. “I adore your face, Ron.” They both held each other’s eyes. She started unbuttoning her blouse.
He placed his hand on her arm, interrupting her reveal. “Ronnie, I have something to tell you about me.”
She looked at him expectantly.
“I . . . I . . . ahem . . . I’ve never done it. I’ve never met anyone who liked me enough to . . . “
Ron felt Ronnie take his chin so he was forced to look her in the eyes. She smiled at him and said:
“Daisies are yellow, carnations are pink,
Let me tell you what I think,
You bring out the poetry in me
Flowing so naturally.
I see it as a sign
For you and me to entwine. “
Though they fumbled at first, Ron finally had his cherry burst.
With a flourish, Cupid bows after recounting his latest accomplishment to his rapt audience. “Thank you, all, for your loving attention. I’m overjoyed to see yet another match come together so well.”
[To read the beginning: see Part 1]
Part 2 of 3; see Part 1
Ron couldn’t believe how long he’d been seeing Ronnie. Three weeks, two days, one hour, and 45 seconds, as he looked at the time change on his smartphone, the screen looking good as new. He had never had a real girlfriend to speak of so he wasn’t sure what stage he’s in now that it appears to be continuing.
After pondering this a bit, he determined he’s in the “door phase,” which means to him he has yet to get past the door after taking her back to her place. At least he’s not getting it slammed in his face. That’s progress. Another forward move is that she seems to have gotten over her ex, although he wasn’t quite sure in what way he was an ex. He thought about their date last night.
“I’m so happy we ran into each other,” said Ronnie as she looked deeply into Ron’s eyes. Then they both burst out laughing because that was exactly how they met.
Now settled down and seated with Ronnie at his favorite Italian restaurant, Ron said, “I don’t know if this is too soon to ask, but I often wonder if you’re still thinking about your ex-boyfriend.”
“Oh, he’s just an ex, but I don’t know if I would call him my boyfriend. We dated only a couple of times and then he would text me. But, he never asked me out again. He just kept texting almost every day, letting me know about his day and saying we should get together again. And then, that day the two of us met in the park, he simply said he wasn’t interested in me anymore. I don’t know now why I cried so hard. I guess I was afraid I’d never meet anyone again.”
“I was thinking the very same thing, actually. It was fate that brought us together. To be honest with you, I’ve never been with a woman this long.” Ron’s revelation made him think about his secret.
Ronnie gasped and replied, “First of all, I always thought that since we have almost the same nicknames, I felt we were meant to meet and . . . I also have never been with anyone this long.”
Suddenly overcome with emotion, Ron said, “Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m so glad I got to know you.”
“How sweet . . .”
“I’ve never felt moved to write a poem before until I met you . . . my moose, you inspire me.”
“Uh, I think it’s pronounced muse,” she whispered.
“Oh, all this time I thought it . . . no wonder it seemed kind of odd. Anyway, this is so new to me, writing poems and all that’s involved with it.” Ronnie smiled.
As they both held hands and savored the moment, their server suddenly appeared and presented the check. The distraction ruined the mood and Ron soon took her home shortly after paying for a dinner that set him back nearly half a paycheck. But he felt it was about time to spring for a good meal. Going out to coffee shops didn’t give them enough time to talk as much as they did during dinner. He almost confided in her, but perhaps he can wait until Valentine’s Day that’s coming up soon.
Stacey is in love with Dan and is nervous about their first date. When she finds out they are going to the Comedy Club, she is doubly nervous. She’s heard about how some comedians can be merciless in picking on their audience. Still, she hopes they have a good time tonight.
“Hey, when you told me you enjoyed funny movies, I thought I’d take you to this club. I’ve heard it stars a lot of good up and coming comedians.” Dan tells her, as they are seated in the front row, practically touching the stage.
“Oh, no,” Stacey thinks, alarm bells ringing in her mind.
“I got us good seats because I know the manager who works here. You like it?”
Stacey tries to smile wider and barely assures him when the emcee comes up onstage and greets the audience.
Dan turns his attention to the stage and Stacey continues to fret inside.
After sitting through two comedians, both of whom have picked on the guests sitting near the stage, Stacey can barely keep from fidgeting; her dread escalates after every joke. She feels herself almost ready to hyperventilate when the next and thankfully last act comes on stage.
As the comedian starts his monologue, she realizes how funny he actually is, but this doesn’t stop the tension that continues to build insider her. Then, the moment she’s been fearing all evening happens; the comedian homes in on her and Dan. Her heart thuds.
“Yo, you’re the spitting image of my bobble head . . . “ As the comedian starts his riff on Dan, Stacey’s ears fill with the rush of blood flushing her face, making her deaf to the words. The tension that’s been building all evening finally bursts into a show of hysterical laughter. Beads of perspiration trickle from her hairline down to the side of her lashes. There too goes the mascara.
“The heart of my art is the reality I infuse into my pieces. But enough about my passion . . . speaking of which . . . let me make a toast.” Ben raises his wine glass and continues, “Here’s to two souls brought together by Cousin Gail.” He smiles across to his date, Molly.
Molly clinks her glass against his and says, “Three months ago when I moved to this city, I knew nothing about its night life. Now, I know what a great menu Andre’s has, so I’ll definitely be coming back here. Thanks for the awesome dinner. I’m so glad I listened to Gail because I’m having a really nice time with you, Ben. ”
“You’re too kind. I hope I didn’t bore you too much about all that talk about my artwork.”
“I appreciate anyone who has that much passion about anything. I’m in Finance where even the people I work with are as dry as the numbers I look at all day. I have bills to pay and I’m still in search of a passion. I admire anyone who finds something that makes a difference in their life. The only difference my job is making is subtracting my college debt. Plain and simple.” She pauses and drinks some more. “Excuse me for a minute. “ Molly gets up to go to the restroom.
As she fixes her hair in front of the mirror, she suddenly feels embarrassed for spouting off like someone who has nothing going on in her life. It’s the alcohol talking, and I don’t care, she thinks. She realizes she’s been feeling lonely and friendless since moving from her hometown. She goes back out to join Ben.
“Let’s drink to Gail,” Ben proposes when Molly sits back down.
After they finish their drinks, she says, “Just so you know, I don’t usually go out on blind dates. I only said yes because Gail is my best friend. And by the way, I’m glad I did. It’s just so funny how between texting and emailing, Gail was able to arrange us to meet. I miss her, I wish she lived here too.”
Ben leans forward. “As long as you maintain contact, you’ll always be friends. Gail told you how close her mom and my mom were, right? Neither had siblings, so they adopted each other as sisters and pretty much dubbed me and Gail as cousins. When Dad got transferred to Asia right after we finished eighth grade, my Mom drilled into me the importance of keeping in touch with friends and relatives. So every year, I send Christmas wishes to friends and family. I’m glad I did too because when I came back to the States, they were there to support me. I move around quite a bit. It’s always about where the job is.”
“Got that right. You go where the money is.” Molly sighs.
“Hey listen, I hope you don’t think I’m being too forward, but I’d really like you to come to my place and check out my sculptures.” Ben flags down their server. Molly thinks why not. He’s Gail’s cousin after all even if not by blood. She also feels a connection with him, so she accepts his invitation.
Ben drives outside the city. He explains, “I have a studio unit in a sketchy neighborhood, but it’s affordable and close to work. I bought this little house out in the country to get away from all that noise, as well as work on my art in peace. I get my inspiration from the city though.”
They enter the house and Ben flicks on the switch. Molly sees an old woman carrying a paper bag in one corner of the living room. From another corner is a young man with a stethoscope around his neck and a clipboard resting on one arm. “Wow, I’ve never seen so many lifelike sculptures. You’re so talented.” She walks over to where a little girl is tying a shoe. Molly bends down to inspect her.
“Please don’t touch.” Ben is by her side. “I’m still debating with myself whether I’ll ever be ready to show off my creations.”
Molly stands up and feels her head spin. “Whoa, I drank more than I usually do. I might not be good company after all. Maybe I should go home . . .”
“No worries,” Ben takes her arm and leads her back to one of the bedrooms. “Come on over here and rest.” He turns on the light and she sees an S-shaped loveseat with a male figure sitting on one end with his head swiveled toward the other seat, where Ben is guiding her. “Let’s park you here.” He gently folds her lap because she’s starting to feel stiff and unable to move. Instantly, she realizes her folly. Her tongue seems stuck in her mouth. With the diminishing sensations she’s feeling, the last recognizable touch is Ben turning her head toward the still figure before her. A handsome man stares at her with eyes that look frightened.
Ben kisses her forehead. “I’ll be right back.”
True to his word, he returns and she sees him using an eyedropper to put a few drops of liquid on the eyes of the young man staring at her. “Oops, where are my manners? Molly, meet Jack. You might say he’s your real blind date.” He chuckles. “Sorry about the pun. After his eyes whiten, I’m going to paint them green to match his shirt.” He turns toward her and proceeds to put drops in her eyes, too. “And you, my beautiful Molly, so perfect for my piece. I will paint yours blue to bring out the aquamarine in your dress. Utter synchronicity. I’m calling this piece ‘My Valentine.’ Happy Valentine’s Day!”