Annie & Jack After Forty

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Chapter 26


I sit on the bus and think about how last week, I let Jack bully me into getting his way. I ended up going home with him after the girl’s yoga class. Now it’s been almost a week since I’ve slept at my apartment. Tonight, I’m going home and organizing my space and to have some time to myself.

It’s been nice going to bed early. I’ve noticed that Jack and I both are early morning people. We have been living side by side with each other this whole last week. It’s been natural, comfortable; it’s been too easy. He left for New York this morning, and I’m a sap because I miss him already.

We’ve fallen into a nice routine. We’ve split time between downtown and out at the house. Derek, Maranda, and I have made a lot of progress on the house project. All the wallpaper is down, the ceilings painted, and the woodwork painted. But Jack has changed his mind and is adding grasscloth wallpaper to two rooms plus an upstairs hallway.

I pull my phone out of my back pocket when it vibrates. It’s Judy, the assistant manager from The Stardust.

“Hey, what’s up? Do you need me tonight?”

“If you could be here by six, you can be the first one off tonight. Em has an emergency and needs to get home.”

“I’m on the bus now. I’ll switch and be there shortly.”

I hang up. So much for a night home getting my things in order. Thank goodness I leave clothes at work.

I stand behind the bar, across from Kyle, wiping down the bar top. “Man, I’m beat tonight. How are things with you tonight, Kyle? How’s Cody, did he decide to stick with soccer?” I smile kindly to him. He’s struggling in life. I notice his eyes first. He’s super drunk tonight. I feel sorry for him, but nothing is going to change if he doesn’t start leaving this bar stool. We all like him and try to give him positive advice when he asks. I’ve noticed the last two weeks he’s allowed his drunkenness to be more outward, more noticeable.

“What the fuck do you care, Annie?” He slurs.

I’m shocked. He’s never spoken to me or any of us in that tone before. “Excuse me? I think you need to be cut off for the night, Kyle. Call a cab and go home, please.” I lean across the bar to take his drink away.

He grabs my wrists and squeezes, “Pretty, nice, sweet little Annie. You’re just a poor little mouse who’s so nice it makes everyone sick to their fucking stomachs. You’re so nice, but yet not nice enough to go out with someone like me, a man who’s down on his luck. You’re worse than the rest of the bitches working here; you know that Annie. You’re a flirt, a cock tease, but in the end, you’re just like the rest of them. Dumb and stupid, thinking you’re too good for me. You’re a cunt just like all the rest.”

When I hear the c-word, I stop waiting for someone to come out of the kitchen to the bar. I’ve remained calm, but I’m afraid there’s going to be a scene now. I lean up and over the bar counter to put my face close to his. He stills, he’s questioning what I’m able to do. I swear in his drunk, alcohol riddled mind, he thinks I’m coming on to him. He smiles, and I return the smile, then snap my head forward quickly, so my forehead hits his nose.

He lets go of my wrist and grabs his face. His eyes are watering, and he starts sneezing. I point my finger right in his face, “Never lay your hands on me again. I’m telling Judy, and we’re calling you a cab.”

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