REAL ART

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Joe and Alice Part 1

I wanted to tell Alice. I wanted to tell her that she was an idiot for even considering Joe, but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. She didn’t know me and I barely knew her. Who was I to invade her personal life? I guess you could call me a coward. I mean, I guess I was. You know how you ask out girls? You fucking talk to them! You don’t just stand there hoping they’ll talk to you. No. The guy has to take the initiative because most women are shy.

Well, I was shy, nervous, and also worried about being slapped in the face so I didn’t bother to tell Alice my true thoughts about the situation. Was I in love? It didn’t make sense. I barely knew Alice. Hell, I didn’t know her! I had seen her once in the lounge. But then there is that old cliché of love at first sight. But I didn’t believe in that shit. No. I was not in love with Alice Sterling. I just thought she was cute. But every cute girl to me was cute.

When Friday came, I wished it would disappear. Joe was seeing Alice at Kelly O’Bryan’s at seven in the evening.

When it was seven P.M., I was at the campus bar. Yes, I was acting like your typical depressed man. My enemy is dating the girl I’m in love with! Boohoo for me! I’ll just drown my sorrows with four or five glasses of yellowish liquid. Sure, maybe I was acting like that old cliché but I was angry and needed something to calm me down. A drink seemed to be the best thing.

I walked into Lift Your Spirits and ordered a pint of Heineken. A glass was poured and I sat at the bar staring at the shiny silver taps. The bartender seemed to know why I was here.

“Rough day?” he asked me.

“You have no idea.”

The bartender gave a small mocking smile. “You know this doesn’t work.”

“I know,” I said, sounding like every drunk that came in here. The bartender just shrugged his shoulders and continued drying the glass in his hand. I could tell it was a Stella Artois from the gold trim that lined the top of the glass.

As I sat there sipping my beer, I realized that I shouldn’t be mopey on a Friday. I needed to have fun. Why did Joe have to be the only guy having fun? I could pick up a girl. It wasn’t hard. Hey, if it was just a one-night stand, I didn’t care. I needed to get off. Every man did. But then I realized what I was thinking. A woman was not an object you used to please your needs. And that’s when the tears started rolling down my cheeks.

“Whoa, whoa, buddy. Hey, you can’t cry in here, all right? Everyone’s going to stare.”

I glared at the bartender. “Sorry,” I said as I wiped away my tears. I was a mess.

I drank my beer and left after paying and tipping the guy. It seemed my night was going to be spent alone in my bed jerking off.

I didn’t see Joe until three A.M. the next morning. Why? Because I was still up trying to find something good to jackoff to. Sometimes it took a while to find something. You know, the breasts have to be right, the girl’s face has to be cute…actually, why am I telling you this?

Joe walked in and saw me with my right hand under the covers. “Dude, are you fucking serious?”

I had my earbuds plugged into my ears and hadn’t even heard him come in. I didn’t have my computer so I had used Joe’s. I know, stupid idea. But I was going to erase the history afterwards.

But his appearance made me drop his computer on the floor in alarm. The camera was zoomed in on Dani Daniels’s ass as Johnny Sins slammed into it. Quickly, I clamped the computer screen shut.

“You’re lucky I got laid.”

Joe was still standing in the doorway.

“I’ll come back in an hour. Just fucking clean up. God.
Then he shut the door and was gone. I sighed. This video wasn’t exactly what I had been looking for, but I realized I couldn’t waste anymore time. I opened up the screen, rewound to the part I had been contemplating, began, finished, and cleaned up. After my hands were clean, I placed Joe’s MacBook on the desk and tucked myself in. But I woke up at six in the morning.

At six A.M., I flicked on my bedside lamp and stared up at the white ceiling. Joe had fucked Alice. But why was I so ashamed? Alice was a slut. That was clear. No one had sex on the first date. But what did I know? I was a virgin.

I showered and changed into a black T-shirt and blue jeans. I didn’t feel like doing anything today, but I was still trying to figure out why I had broken down yesterday. I had met Alice once, yet I was acting as if Joe had just stolen the love of my life from me. This wasn’t healthy. But I knew that some way I had to tell Alice how I felt. Going on like this was suicide. There was something inside me that I couldn’t explain. I tried to argue that I had cried because Joe was not right for Alice, but then I tried to make myself believe that I didn’t care. My next argument was that I was a lonely fuck who had never even had a girlfriend so this was my act of desperation. But I couldn’t exactly believe that one either.

Maybe it was the way Alice had smiled at me when I had looked at her or maybe God was trying to tell me something that I was too oblivious to recognize. I had no idea, but I knew I had to tell Alice the truth. But I didn’t know what dorm she was in and I couldn’t exactly ask Joe. I didn’t even know her friends! Joe was gone, but then I noticed his phone was lying on the desk.

Who leaves their phone? I asked myself, but I knew he had forgotten it.

I logged into his phone (I had seen the code for the phone when I was reading a bit of On Writing in bed two nights ago. I had just looked up from my reading and saw Joe sitting on his bed across from me. He was logging into his phone and since the screen was so big, I saw the numbers: eight, nine, zero, four) and was surprised not to find some scantily clad woman staring up at me. Not even his login screen had a picture of a woman, both screens just showed two landscapes: one of a dark green forest and another of a park strewn with various autumn leaves. It made me wonder if Joe wasn’t as disgusting as I had thought. But I ignored the thought and once entering his contacts list, scrolled through it until I found Alice’s number. I took a pen out of the top desk drawer and wrote down the number on a yellow Post-It. Then I took out my Android and punched in the numbers. The phone rang twice before Alice answered.

“Hello?”

“Hey, Alice. It’s Art.”

“Who?”

“Art. I’m on your floor. I was in the lounge, you know, that night we had to introduce ourselves.”

“O.K. How did you get my number?”

Shit. How did I get her number? “Joe gave it to me,” I said without thinking.

“Why would Joe have given it to you?”

“Uh...because I had missed Psychology and he told me you took good notes.” Phew! Good thinking.

“I see. Well, I wish he had told me first but I can give you the notes. They’re written up though, so I can’t email you them. You can come to three-twenty now if you want to pick them up. I’m in my room and my roommate’s out.”

“Sure. Great. Thanks.”

Then I hung up. Wow. That had worked.

I knocked on her door and waited. Alice poked her head out and saw me standing there. “Hey, Art. Here are the notes.” She handed me five pages of lined paper with black writing on them and shut the door.

“Alice,” I said to the brown door. “I actually wanted to talk to you about something.”

Alice opened the door a crack. “About what?” she said through the slit.

“About Joe.”

“What about Joe?” Man, this girl was defensive.

“Well, I…uh...” I scratched my head in nervousness. “I just don’t think he’s right for you.” God, how cliché could I get?

The door opened all the way. “And what would you know about it?”

“Uh...well, last night he told me...” I spluttered and then completely changed topics by blurting, “I think I’m in love with you.”

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