Part 9 – Condemnation
Part 10 – Enjoy The Silence
Michael Hutchence tells everyone inside the sugar filled air of Bubbie’s that “the taste of your freedom was sweeter than love.” I sit in the back corner of the little ice cream shop finishing my Chocolate Cinnamon ice cream in a waffle cone and watching the door.
Lance enters wearing jeans, a white t-shirt, and his leather jacket. He spots me, tips his chin up at me, and heads to the counter.
He sits across from me a minute later with a Styrofoam cup of Banana Royale. “Thanks for calling,” he opens.
“You can thank J.D.,” I respond dully, dropping my wadded napkin on the table. “I wouldn’t have called if it weren’t for him.”
“Where is he?”
“On his way back from Maui.”
“You didn’t go with him?” he asks surprised.
“I have a job, Lance. But I will be going again before he goes back to the Mainland.”
“Does it bother you that I’ve moved on?” I sneer.
“Ari, I don’t want to fight,” he says defeated.
“I don’t want to either, but I need you to accept I’m not the same Ari you once loved, and I’m not taking you back. I won’t do that dance with you,” I counter pointedly.
“Okay. You’re with someone else now.” He shoves his plastic spoon into his ice cream.
“So?” I look at him expectantly.
“I didn’t know what I was doing back then,” he fumbles.
I purse my lips in frustration.
“Jamie became jealous after she met you. I don’t know why. I told her it was over between us.”
“The ex is always a perceived threat whether she really is or not, Lance. And it wasn’t over if you were still in love with me,” I rebuke.
“I felt I owed it to her to make it work.”
“I just keep hearing excuses.”
“I’m sorry. I could have tried harder when we were together.”
“This isn’t about when we were together. It’s about you ending our friendship, Lance.” I lean forward against the table, my hands interlaced on my lap.
“We should’ve stayed together.”
“We were better as friends than as a couple. You were here, I was home, and we foolishly agreed to an open relationship.”
“If we hadn’t agreed to that, it would have been different.”
“It is what it was, Lance. We’re at an impasse.”
He sits back in his chair. Chicago comes through in the pause.
When we both agreed as lovers
We were better off as friends
That’s how it had to be
“What do you want?” I ask point-blank.
“I thought you understood that’s not an option.”
“I understand it. It doesn’t mean the want goes away. You think you’ll do better with J.D. on the Mainland when we couldn’t make it work?” he asks judgmentally.
“We want to make it work. I don’t know if it will or not, but we’ll do what it takes,” I state firmly then glance at my watch.
“Somewhere you need to be?” he asks irritably.
“Meeting friends as soon as J.D. gets in.”
“What if I keep you here?”
“You can’t force me to do anything I don’t want to do, Lance. I think it’s just best if we part ways here.”
“I can’t change what I did.”
“No, but the real rift is not some fairy-tale-could’ve-been-beautiful relationship we once had that didn’t work out. It was trashing the heart of the relationship and you refuse to take responsibility,” I state heatedly.
“I told you. Jamie was jealous,” he repeats angrily.
“But you chose to go along with her because you ‘owed it to her.’ That’s bullshit,” I retort furiously.
“What do you want me to say?” He raises his voice.
“If you can’t figure out what you should say, I’m wasting my time,” I seethe.
I place my hands on the edge of the table to scoot my chair back. Lance reaches over and grabs my wrist.
“Let go.” I attempt to wrench out of his grip.
“I don’t want you to go.”
“You can either let go, I can hit you with my free hand, or I can have the staff call 911 and you can end up with assault charges and a temporary restraining order on your record. Your choice.”
He frees my wrist.
“I don’t want to hear from you. If you see me out again, just walk away.”
Andy Bell is singing to his love about his broken heart aching as I make my exit and head for home.
I’m waiting on the bike rack when J.D. pulls into the parking lot. I jump down and meet him at the car.
I open the door and bend down. “Welcome back, baby.”
“Hey, babes.” A mischievous grin forms and he hauls me onto his lap.
I take hold of his head and greet his mouth hungrily. Our tongues feed their craving for each other until they have had their fill.
“Wow. I missed you, too,” he breathes.
“C’mon, we go.” I clamber out of the car.
We are walking down King Street towards University Avenue hand-in-hand. “How’s your mom?”
“She’s good. She was asking when she’d see you again. I told her you’re coming with me next week for my last trip of the Summer. We’re going to Moloka`i before, yeah?”
“Did you meet with Lance?”
“I did.” I recount the conversation.
“I’m sorry, babes.”
“At least this will be the end of it.”
Rock music plays loud enough to be heard through Anna Banana’s, but not loud enough for everyone to have to shout to be heard while talking. We are surrounded by dark walls plastered with band memorabilia. I cradle a soft-tip dart in my hand aiming for the dart board. I pull back then let it fly. It finds a home in the little green curve of fifteen. I thrust my fists into the air and pivot around smiling.
J.D. is leaning against his pub chair with his arms over his chest and left foot propped back on the footrest. “Sandbagger!”
“I warned you I’ve been playing.” I advance on him and settle my hands on his waist. “Cannot help if you can’t keep up,” I tease.
He seizes my upper arms and bends in so close I can feel his breath on my face. My heart quickens.
“Those are fighting words,” he breathes then moves me aside and heads for the dart board.
“Ari!” a Brad calls as J.D. removes the darts from the board.
I look to the right. Brad and Patrick are making their way over.
“Howzit!” We peck each other on the cheek and hug. “You’re just in time to see me finish schooling J.D.”
“I’m letting you win.” J.D. arrives with the darts in his left hand and shakes hands with Brad and Patrick by clasping around their thumbs. “Hey, guys.”
“Are you taking your turn or what?” I ask J.D. as I sit on his chair.
He stands behind the line and throws the darts absently in rapid succession. “Game over,” he says returning to the seat next to me.
“You can finish your game,” Brad says sitting across from me.
“Nah,” J.D. responds. “Ari was killing me anyway.”
“In other words, he’d rather give up than officially lose to a girl,” I tease.
“I’d rather not lose so spectacularly in front of friends,” he amends.
Mundo and George join us an hour later. Mundo is a Brazilian a few inches taller than me, proud of his heritage and his muscled body. He brags when he’s drunk that he runs naked through the Amazon. George is a local Japanese, shorter than me, but full of spunk and geeky about sci-fi.
I stand to give one of them a seat and to stretch my legs. Brad gives up his seat and stands next to me. I catch myself on the table as something hard connects with the back of my head. Everything distorts around me as Brad pushes me behind him.
I cover the back of my head with my hand and peek through the line the guys made in front of me. Two male college students are staring each other down. Bouncers arrive and escort them both out.
J.D. spins around, picks me up by the waist, and sets me down in the chair I gave up to Mundo.
“What are you doing?”
“Shh.” He pulls my hand away and cautiously checks the back of my head.
“It’s my natural color. No hair dye. I haven’t dyed it since we broke up.”
“Ari,” he says annoyed.
“Sorry.” I fold my hands in my lap like a proper lady.
Patrick stands next to me with his arms crossed over his chest. Brad, Mundo, and George sit in the empty pub chairs.
“What just happened?” I ask them.
“Looks like they were fighting and you got hit with a beer mug on accident,” Brad answers.
“Great. I’m collateral damage in a bar fight.”
“What are you doing, J.D.?” Patrick asks.
“Shh,”I answer and furrow my brow, “he’s being Mean Doctor. Don’t talk to him. Horrible bedside manner.” I roll my eyes jokingly at Patrick.
The guys chuckle.
“Mean Doctor just made sure you weren’t cut,” J.D. admonishes and slides his arms around my neck. “You’ll need some ice though. I’ll see if the bartender can make an ice pack.”
“Does he make house calls?” George rags once J.D. is out of earshot.
“Don’t make me beat you, George,” I say intimidatingly.
He throws up his hands.
“Ari,” Lance says behind me.
I shift in my seat. “Are you following me?” I ask incredulously.
“No, I came here after I had dinner.”
The guys move to get out of their seats and I put my arm out in front of Patrick.
“I told you, I’m not doing this with you. If you aren’t prepared to discuss what I asked earlier, I’m done.”
“What if I am?”
“Then say it,” I demand.
“I’m sorry,” he says emotionless.
Our eyes are locked and remains silent.
“That’s what I thought. Goodbye, Lance.” I turn back to the table and say to Patrick under my breath, “Whatever he does, don’t lay a hand on him.”
He nods in acknowledgement and continues to watch Lance along with the guys.
J.D. returns with an ice pack. “What’s going on?” he asks handing me the ice pack then follows the stares. “Lance.” He stiffens.
I grab J.D.’s forearm. “Don’t,” I order quietly.
He takes the ice pack back and gently lays it against the back of my head.
“Another time,” Lance says from behind.
“Never,” I reply without looking.
“Who the fuck was that?” Mundo asks.
“Am I the only one who thought that was creepy?” George asks.
“How long has this been going on,” Brad asks.
“We ran into him at The Row Bar. He tried to apologize and J.D. thought I should give him another chance to do so. I met with him earlier, but he’d rather skip apologies and go straight to getting back together.”
“But you’re with J.D.,” Patrick points out.
“He doesn’t think we’ll last once J.D. goes back to med school.”
J.D. rests his right hand on my shoulder and gives an acknowledging squeeze.
“He was oozing crazy, sistah,” George states.
“Hey, I was in a bar fight. Someone needs to buy me a drink!” I proclaim.
“No,” J.D. blurts out, “you have a minor head injury.”
“Minor. Come on, just one. I’m with a future doctor. I’m sure he can watch over me.” I bat my eyelashes at him.
“One. This future doctor doesn’t want to carry you home.” He leaves a soft kiss on my cheek.
I close my eyes with a half-smile on my lips.
©Debi Smith, 2013