Conversation

By Heather Egland

unison "...so then I threw his shoes out the fourth-floor window," Charlotte claimed triumphantly.

"You did not," replied Drew.

"I totally did! Made me feel a whole lot better."

"Remind me never to stand you up, ever."

"So, that's my story. What's new with you?" she said as the cue ball smacked against the four ball a little too hard and a little too far to the right, banking all four rails to come to a stop not far from its origin.

"I've got a problem," said Drew, raising his dark eyebrows sheepishly.

"Yeah? You know, there are support groups for that kind of thing. How's Junior?"

"We got the ultrasound results back yesterday. It's a boy. Here's my problem—"

"Dude, I don't want to hear about your problems," Charlotte interrupted, sinking the eight ball in the corner pocket, followed by the cue ball. "Rack."

"Um, you lose you rack, Chuck."

Charlotte began the painstaking process of preparing to lose again at pool.

"It's bad," said Drew.

"What?"

"My problem."

"You're still on that? Lemme guess. Someone shot your dog."

"Not funny."

"Pickup truck done broke?"

"Nope."

"Yer woman a-leavin'?"

"Distinct possibility...." Drew let the cue stick fly. Balls everywhere. Open table.

"What happened?"

"Well, it's a little hard to explain—"

"You met someone else, didn't you?" Charlotte never beat around the bush.

Drew was stunned, mouth agape.

"AND you fell in love." The proclamation was made with one arm supporting the vertical cue stick, the other akimbo. "I'm much smarter than you, you must realize this."

"Yeah, it's a really tough situation. My girlfriend doesn't know about it."

"So? She doesn't know about any of the others either. Isn't there some correlation between ignorance and bliss?"

"But this time it's different. The others were just about sex. Complexity. But this-this isn't a physical thing at all."

"So you haven't? How did this even come about? Are you an idiot? Why would you go looking for something else after you went and got Pattie pregnant-ON PURPOSE, no less? My unsolicited advice is to stop that shit before it even starts. What the fuck is wrong with you? I don't even want to play anymore. Do you want a beer?"

Drew barely caught the javelined cue stick as Charlotte marched up to the bar. "Yeah."

The two old friends sat across from each other over a few beers as one of them explained how he came to be holding the greater part of his life over the shitter.

Drew had met Becky at the health club. They knew some of the same people, shared some of the same interests, and for the last three months had become workout partners. Becky was great, a real giver, realistic about life and love, never wanted to get married. Oh, and Becky was having trouble with her live-in boyfriend. She sounded almost perfect-possibly everything Pattie wasn't. Plus, she wasn't pregnant with Drew's baby.

"I think you're just freaking out about Junior. You're feeling trapped," declared Charlotte. Drew had to admit it.

"Absolutely. I mean, I love Pattie. If it weren't for her, I'd probably be dead. But I guess I always thought that I could just leave anytime I wanted to, you know? Just pick up and go and she could have everything. But now—"

"You ungrateful fuck!"

"I know, I suck. I can't help the way I feel."

"I can't help the way I feeeeeel," Charlotte mimicked. "God, you are such an infant! If you didn't want one, why did you actively participate in the making of one? I've never spoken to anyone before who so truly needed to face reality. Suck it up, you sniveler!"

"Hey, already. It's been nipped. She told me to go back to the 'wife' and forget about everything."

"So, she doesn't feel the same?"

"Yeah, she does, but that's just the kind of person she is. And that's why I can't stop thinking about her. That's why I don't want it to stop."

"Look, like I said, you're feeling trapped. You want a change. Why don't you just go home and rearrange the furniture in the house or something. Take Pattie away for the weekend. I'm positive that what you're feeling is in no way comparable to what she's going through right now."

"Yeah, maybe I should just buy a new shirt or something."

"That's the spirit!"

* * *


The phone was ringing. It was three o'clock in the morning. Charlotte could just make out the name on the caller ID. Drew. Great.

"I thought I told you never to call me," Charlotte yawned.

"Can you meet me tomorrow? I need to talk. I'm in bad shape."

* * *


Charlotte walked in to the guitar store briskly rubbing her hands together.

"It's getting colder and colder," she shivered. "I already lost the gloves I bought last week. Second pair this fall. And you think you have problems."

Drew had his arms folded, leaning over the counter. He stared at her through a greasy shock of black hair.

"Remember that thing I was supposed to forget about? Well, I didn't forget about it. Now it's a real thing."

"Houston, we have confirmation—no intelligent life here."

"Four hours. It was amazing. I have never felt like this about anyone before. It wouldn't even have mattered if it totally sucked. But it didn't."

"How could it? Sex usually doesn't suck when people think they are in love."

"I AM in love. I just want to be with her."

"Cripes, you made me get up on a Saturday for this shit? What is it with you?"

"You're the only one who knows, the only one I can talk straight with about this kind of stuff. It's so awesome and horrible at the same time. She doesn't want anything from me. We're just together when we can be together; she's not leaving her situation and I'm not leaving mine."

"It's not your situation, it's your family, dipshit."

"Still, all the same, I don't know what to do."

"Do? What's to do? Look, speaking as your friend and as someone who personally suffers from a severe lack of scruples, I say if you can deal with the wrongness of what's happening, it sounds to me like you've got a pretty sweet setup. I don't know what you're bitching about."

"Someone's going to get tired of sharing."

"Better not be you! You're making out like a bandit. More likely, someone's going to get bored. Guess which side I've got money on? Enjoy it while you can."

"Cynical. Things aren't going so well for either of us at home. This is like the only thing good either one of us has going."

"If you could both disavow yourselves of the notion that you are in love and that 'this time it's different,' then you might be able to see what I'm seeing."

"Are you jealous or something?"

"Ouch. Are you delusional?"

"Sorry. I was getting that vibe."

"May I suggest you add that to the myriad of things you're getting wrong recently?"

"I guess I don't have to make a decision right now, do I? I mean, I could just let this go on until the baby gets here and hopefully I'll feel differently. I mean, it'll be my son."

"If Pattie finds out before then, you will be out on your ass with a quickness. Is Becky gonna kick her boyfriend out and take you in when that happens?"

"I don't know."

"Well, good luck with that whole thing. I hope you make the right decision."

"Thanks."

"What time are you off?"

"Nine."

"Want me to kick your ass in pool?"

"Sure, I'll meet you there."

"I'll throw your shoes out the window if you don't."


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Copyrightę2002 by Heather Egland.

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