Now over a month since the night of our botched rendezvous, I still couldn’t help thinking of her every day. I called Quincy and told him I wouldn’t be coming around and asked if he would watch out for her more since I couldn’t. He didn’t ask why but it seemed evident.
Strumming the guitar, I waited until the guys got back into the studio from their latest break. Kapp Stone, the same snot-nosed young punks I had been working with for the last couple of months, finally decided to take my advice and toss out the shit song, ‘Pussy Fuck’ and go for one that actually made sense. Too bad they didn’t have another one written and now we needed to develop one in a hurry. The record should have been done last week. Pushing back the release date for another two months, they didn’t seem as if they could collaborate on even ordering a fucking pizza lately.
It made me smile a little at the similarities between my old band and them. Social Offender was just like they were starting out. As much as we fought you wouldn’t think we even liked each other, but when the shit hit the fan, we all hunkered down to help. Yeah, this new band would do fine. We just needed this last song to tidy up the record.
My return to playing guitar was bittersweet. The night of the fiasco with Charlie and Nina, I went to Ryder’s club looking to forget with alcohol or worse, instead, he dragged me down the street to barge in on a band playing and we ended up jamming with them the rest of the night. Afraid I would be too rusty, I loved how as soon as he placed the axe in my hands it all came rushing back to me. Yeah, there were some bad feelings still lingering around, but I was glad to find out the good outweighed the bad, and here I was collaborating again and it felt right. I only wished Nina could hear me.
“Play that again.” Emory Kapp, lead singer of Kapp Stone peeked his head in the room where I sat absently strumming the guitar.
“No man, it isn’t anything. Just something I would strum to loosen my fingers before playing a gig.”
His eyes lit up, “No seriously. That is something. Wait.” He ran out of the room and returned with his guitar. “Okay, play it again.” I strummed the melody, and he added to it understanding the way the song drifted like a river into a bay. We rode it together and in the end, I had to agree it could be something special.
The singer started crooning lyrics from his head. Some imaginary poem from his memory banks and it was cool to see the way he would turn a couple of riffs on a guitar into a song. He sang a couple more words and then backed up again letting the rhythm dictate the story. Singing about the recent unrest in the Mideast, I had to admit it was pretty deep. I accompanied him and watched him work only to see him get stuck and turn to me. “What is a three-syllable word that rhymes with hate?”
I shrugged, “Obdurate.” Examining me oddly, I answered his look, “It means stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or course of action.”
“Hey cool. What are you, some kind of walking dictionary?”
I quipped, “No. Not really. It was a word on my word of the day app.”
He laughed and said, “Man, you old people dig on the weirdest things.”
Annoyed at the term, I kicked his feet off the chair he rested them on, “Well if it wasn’t for this old person you would be stuck rhyming hate with ‘cunt I ate.’” He joined me in a laugh as he got up to stretch.
“Look, we’ve been going at it all day. How about we pick it up in the morning?”
He shook his head, “No man, just a little more. I got to get this straight in my head. You can go if you want though.” Smiling a truly Rock star smile he added, “And, hey... thanks!”
Saying a good night to the rest of the crew still left, I glanced down at my phone for the time. Trying to fight the urge, and losing hopelessly, I swung into the parking ramp by the hospital. According to my calendar, she worked the day shift today, and it was almost time for her to leave. I didn’t know why but I itched to see her.
Quincy noticed my arrival and let me in. We talked for a while and then he left me to patrol the rest of the campus. I shouldn’t have come but I had been thinking of her so much lately I only hoped this would help to break my thoughts for a while.
I could still remember the feel of her skin. Her walk and her little mannerisms. The way she spewed out medical facts like it was common knowledge. I knew some people might hate her uninvited information but it secretly turned me on. I knew it sounded weird, but she was so into being a doctor I felt it difficult for her to shut it off. Well, not easily at least.
Did she think of me? I doubted it. I could still remember her citrus smell. The way her auburn hair would change color depending on what light she stood in. Her eyes. My God her eyes were beautiful and inquisitive. With each question she would ask me, they would light up as if she cared about what I had to say. And I answered each one without hesitation. Although at that point, I didn’t think I secured a chance at her. She was so far out of my league it never paid to lie. The funny thing was, she never seemed put off by my confessions. Each one demonstrated worse than the other. The drinking, the women, the drugs. Not one of them made her run from me. She was amazing and it scared me knowing I would never find a person like her again.
God, I missed her. The feel of her skin, the way we would talk so open and honest. Well, I guess that wasn’t exactly true. I was honest and she kept herself from me. She kept her secrets but I fooled myself into thinking she would tell me in time. She did, well, kind of.
Maybe if we had more time together she would have told me. It was always the elephant in the room but I guessed it wouldn’t have made any difference. Charlie was what she needed. The first night we had sex together she wanted it rough and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t hurt her. Had I disappointed her all along or were there some good times we shared? I thought so. She kissed me. She laughed with me, and she let me hold her at night, and we slept side by side tethered to each other, and it was the best sleep in the world.
When would I ever give her up? Here I was after she rejected me, back at the beginning in my creepy stalker phase. She didn’t want me. If she did, then she would have called me, right? She knew my address and number but still didn’t make any attempt to contact me. It appeared her life went on fine without me.
I made some changes to my own life. Subtle but some. I found I like to jog. Not run, but I didn’t keel over at going more than a couple of miles anymore. It was also good for clearing my mind. The shit still circulated there but the open air did wonders to calm my hyperactive personality if only for a little while.
Working with Kapp Stone I realized I missed writing and playing music. Ryder and I would steal away when we could to play with some local bands. Nothing heavy, but it was fun and it got me back to feeling human again. Before all the bullshit with the band and fame took over our lives. It came as a relief.
Bonnie and Tabitha would visit more often now with their families while I cooked for them. We would barbecue out on my deck but I always made a vegan type of meal to off-put the heavy meat we would consume. I still couldn’t eat like a rabbit for Christ’s sake but Nina’s health-conscious mannerism rubbed off on me and I liked having company. I guess you do need family occasionally.
Wishing I knew what to do with myself without her in my life, I tried to block it out and spent all my free time working on my multiple house projects. I missed her but knew I was not the person she needed. She probably had the life she wanted now. The one she possessed before I interrupted it by sticking my nose in her shit.
Why? I just wanted to know why? It just didn’t seem like her. What we had for that little while was good, hell it was more than good, but I guess it wasn’t enough. I kept seeing the welts on her back and the pain in her face. No, I knew I wasn’t the person for her. I could never do that to her body. Well, at least now she wouldn’t need to worry about giving Charlie up.
Staring down from the second tier of the parking garage I saw her leave the building. She had on a light coat in the cooler late winter/early spring air, and she looked... beautiful. The lights of the parking lot reigned down on her and made her hair shimmer. She walked with a co-worker and their laughter drifted up to me and the sound of her squeezed my chest. I wished I could make her laugh again. The way her eyes lit up and the sound of her voice giggling and not caring who heard it.
The co-worker and her split to walk to their cars. As she walked the short distance to her dark blue sedan she stopped when she reached the driver's door, and I watched as she touched the windshield wipers softly. The same spot I would leave her flowers. Was she thinking of me? She couldn’t be. She probably was brushing away a leaf or some type of debris.
Suddenly she turned to look up at the parking garage, and when her eyes started their scan I dropped down out of sight. Hiding and feeling like a fucking idiot, I didn’t have the guts to talk to her, I also didn’t have the guts to let her know I still cared. What the fuck happened to my balls? I knew. Before I didn’t think I had a chance with her, now I didn’t want to know how happy she was without me. I couldn’t. After all that happened, it was better I kept her at a distance. I might not be ready to move on without her but it didn’t mean I needed to disrupt her life and bring her down with me.
Once I was sure she had left I got up and walked to my car. I thought of the narrow escape and the stupidity of what I had done and I promised myself I wouldn’t be coming back. It was time I let dead horses lie.