I’m starting to write fiction again, after a break of almost exactly one year. It is taking everything I’ve got to get the momentum back. One technique I am using is to reread short pieces I’ve written over the years that never got used anywhere.
I found this and it seemed perfect for this blog. It’s slightly fictionalized truth, and the memory on which it is based still makes me smile. I hope that it will make others smile as well.
Memory is such a strange beast. Words meant to touch your heart may evoke a small swell of emotion at the time, but often they don’t last. It’s the stupid pun, or the offensive joke or the offhand remark that stung a bit at the time that replays itself over and over. Or sometimes, it comes back to you ten years later, out of the blue.
I am outside of a bar in Evergreen Colorado. It is biting, winter-mountain cold. Closing time has passed, the glasses have been cleared and the bar wiped down. That’s the drab part of cocktail waitressing. I grab my coat, and the late hour and brisk wind hurry me towards my little rented place across the road.
Loud, the voice of a big man, it carries from some distance away. Was he waiting for me, watching? Or did he just randomly look up from unlocking his car and feel like making drunken trouble.
“Why don’t you and me go home and warm each other up?”
I walk faster and I don’t look. This is my usual response to unwanted male attention. Ignore it and it will go away. It usually works.
“Hey. I’m TALKING to you.”
I walk faster. Look straight ahead harder.
“I know you hear me. ANSWER me, damnit.”
I can’t walk any faster but I do focus harder on the pavement.
Finally he yells in disgust “You didn’t have to be so choosy, bitch.” He laughs. “I wasn’t.”
With relief I hear him close his car door and start his engine. With more relief I watch him drive away.
I am still scared and embarrassed when I finally reach my own front door. The next several nights I leave the bar with friends who see me safely home.
“You didn’t have to be so choosy, bitch. I wasn’t.”
And I stop. I turn straight towards him, a memory shadow in the dark distance. I yell back to him. “Yeah, I don’t think your mother was particularly choosy either.”
The murky outline of his body registers surprise. I add with firm clarity “In fact, you look to me like you come from a long line of people who weren’t particularly choosy.”
I turn and walk on with unhurried confidence and he fades into memory. Go figure. I never walk down a cold dark street quite as afraid again.