Monday, October 17, 2016

I hope my skills have improved

So, I've found some old stuff that I wrote years ago. I decided it wasn't right to keep these gems to myself. Here's a little something from sophomore year of high school. I scanned it in from the school's literary magazine, "Ventures".

Then I found this short, short story from my senior year in college. It is actually 20 years old this month. I keyed it in because the versions I had were a draft with mark-up and the published version. I did not like the editorial changes that were made to the published one. It's funny to look back, especially since this was before area codes were required. 

A Doral burns in the ashtray, releasing more smoke into the room than he ever takes into his lungs firsthand. He sits in "his" chair, a recliner that is worn to fit him perfectly, unlike his clothes. His once-white tee-shirt reveals his distorted belly button and all the t.v. dinners that were eaten but not tasted. As he watches one of many television shows that will fill his lonely evening, he decides it's about time to find that blasted piece of paper.
His hand reaches toward the table next to him, just past a can of warm, stale, Old Milwaukee. "There it is," he says, as though anyone is there to hear him or even help him look.
He adds the racing results to the rest of the thrown-away money piled on the floor. "Now it's time to think about this chance," he says to the crumpled paper he holds tightly in his potatochip greased fingers. He looks at the numbers, 8-6-2-7-3-5-1, and asks them, "You brought me luck once, can't you do it again?"
The question takes him back to the first time he saw those very numbers on a crinkled piece of paper. Actually, it was a cocktail napkin. That was thirty years, eighty pounds, and a full head of hair ago. He was new in town, looking for a neighborhood bar to make a place for himself among the regulars. As he took a seat on a stool at the bar, he watched to learn all he could about the customers at "The Eight Ball". The bartender gave him a napkin with his bottle of Budweiser. He thought the napkin looked strange but didn't give it too much thought. Then, he began to look for some of the typical bar top, chewy pretzels. When he looked down, he noticed that the napkin under his beer wasn't ordinary after all. He read what was scribbled on it, "Call me sometime, 862-7351, Barb." His first instinct was to pretend he didn't notice it because who knew how many others had the same note with their drinks? Then, he decided to look around. Maybe he could figure out who she was. After a few glances around the joint, he gave-up, put the napkin in his coat pocket, and walked out. Since Barb didn't approach him on his way out, he imagined how she looked and what her voice was like for the entire walk home.
His apartment was strange to him, and he felt lonely walking into the emptiness. The loneliness made him think about Barb even more. He decided to give it a shot. "Heck! I'm new here, and it couldn't hurt to meet someone." He went to bed, figuring he would give her a call sometime the next day.
He worked up the courage to call her and dialed 862-7351 from memory. The phone number had been on his mind so much, he couldn't help knowing it by heart. As he dialed, he thought about what to say. "You. Me. Tonight. 'The Eight Ball'" was an option. His rehearsal time was cut short when she picked up on the third ring.
"Hello?" she said into his ear.
He stalled for a minute. The voice on the other end was not the voice of the Barb that walked him home in is imagination. This wasn't good or bad -- it was just she.
"Um, Hi. I was given a not last night at "The Eight Ball." Was it from, you?" he forced himself to reply before she could have the chance to hang up on him.
"Yes, it was from me, but I don't want you to think I make a habit of doing that type of thing," she said in response to the question he asked her -- and the one on his mind.
That was how it had all begun. They had dated for a year and were engaged for another. Their wedding was exactly two years after the night Barb wrote the seven numbers on that napkin. The marriage had lasted twenty-one years. He couldn't help thinking about the day those years together came to an end -- when his good luck and his wife walked out the door one morning and never walked through it again.
The music from "The Big Seven" lottery drawing snapped him back to his pathetic present. He's back in "his" worn-out chair with cheap cigarettes, bad beer, and lost chances around him. Now that she's gone, he sits in another lonely apartment, looking at the 8-6-2-7-3-5-1 in his hand, and says to the woman no longer there, "Maybe lightning can strike the same place twice, and maybe your number will bring me luck again."

 The End

Well, that's enough memory lane for now. Maybe I'll get the mood again since I have come upon so many writings.  

No comments:

Post a Comment