Price Breaks and Heartaches
A journal of retail and failed romance
The Creep On The Borderlands
We’ve all been there right?
One bad night is all it takes. One moment of despair and desperation and suddenly you’re waking up with a head full of regrets. For some people they might wake up in the arms of an old lover, others might wake to see empty bottles of booze or cast off drug paraphernalia.
When my alarm clock went off I found myself staring at a handful of multi-sided dice.
A wave of guilt and self-loathing washed over me. I knew my heart, spirit and resolve had been broken but I hadn’t thought it would come to this. Why had I dug out my old Dungeons & Dragons stuff?
I scolded myself thinking that I should be moving on to the next girl, not the next player character. Grumbling I rolled over and hit the snooze alarm. I had to be to work shortly but I didn’t want to think about it. I didn’t want to think about anything...
...it was an age undreamed of, and unto this Bruno the Battler, destined to lose the majority of his hair from a troubled brow, wandered the countryside.
His search for glory, adventure and a merchant that sold magic armor in big and tall sizes had led him to the Cursed Forest Of Low Hanging Branches.
Then his manly and melancholy thoughts were interrupted by the cries of a woman.
He did not hesitate, he drew his trusty sword Chuckleblade and charged through the trees towards the sound.
After colliding with a particularly low hanging branch Bruno the Battler decided it might be better if he carefully made his way through the trees instead.
In a nearby clearing he found a woman with hair the color of fire. She was wearing a chain mail bustier and was facing off against a trio of barbarians. One of them grabbed for her. She ducked the blow and swung her battle axe in an upward arc cleaving the barbarian from scrotum to belly.
Blood splashed over the woman’s face as she pivoted on her heel and beheaded the second of her attackers.
The third barbarian turned and ran. Without a moment’s hesitation she drew a dagger from her belt and threw. The dagger buried itself in the running man’s back. He fell with a gurgling cry.
Then she noticed our hero standing there with his jaw agape. She snarled, her eyes flashing with feral beauty, “Now who are you to draw a blade in the presence of Scarlett Red?”
“I’m Bruno the Battler,” he squeaked, “and I’m here to save you?”
BREEP BREEP BREEP BREEP BREEP BREEP
...waking left me tired and sad. Hadn’t there been something familiar about that warrior maiden?
I hit the snooze alarm again...
...at dawn the army of the goblins had attacked the village of the people only to find two heroes waiting for them. The battle was savage but by brunch Bruno the Battler and Scarlett Red were victorious.
The village people sang in celebration and tried to reward the heroes with their greatest treasure but our two heroes politely declined.
As they road out into the sunset Scarlett Red commented, “I can’t believe they tried to pay us with an onion.”
“It was The largest onion in three kingdoms,” Bruno the Battler corrected, “it would have brought a hefty price if we had taken it to market.”
“Do you regret leaving it behind?”
“You won’t catch me shedding any tears.”
After a joke that bad they felt compelled to ride in a silence marked only by the occasional random wilderness encounter. Several times it seemed as though one of them might speak but they kept failing their saving throws versus romantic tension until the modifiers for a moonrise over a peaceful meadow bordered by a tranquil pond kicked in.
“Let’s make camp here,” he said.
“Sounds good,” she flashed him a grin, “I need a bath.”
They got off their horses and Bruno the Battler began unpacking their gear, “...great, and while you’re doing that I’ll start a campfire.”
“Actually I was hoping you’d join me,” she purred as she slipped out of her chain mail bustier.
By the time he had gotten out of his clothes she was already swimming and laughing. For a moment Bruno the Battler was afraid of what she might say when she saw him naked from the waist down.
What would she say when she realized he was a half dwarf?
“AL! AL! IT’S YOUR BOSS!” the sound of my Mom’s voice startled me awake. She was pounding on the door of my room.
“What?” I said.
My Mom pounded on the door again, “AL-BERT! YOUR BOSS IS CALLING!”
Other moms might have barged in but my Mom tried to respect my privacy, that and she was secretly terrified she might catch me wearing nothing but my bathrobe and lip-synching to Stevie Nicks songs.
Kicking free of my bedsheets opened the door so I could get the phone. I said, “Good morning Karla.”
Her voice was an angry squawk, “Where the Hell are you?”
I had to hold the phone away from my ear, “Home?”
“I told you that there was no one else to work this morning! The store should have been open two hours ago!”
The alarm clock started BREEP-ing again, my manager kept yelling.
“Oh by the way,” my Mom handed me a trio of manilla envelopes, “more of your stories came back.”
I closed my eyes again trying to snatch the dream back, trying to find a way to turn it into a hope or a memory.
Those were all I had now. Dreams of adventure and love, memories of making love in the back seat of my Monte Carlo with my best girl, and the hope that someday I would stop feeling like the kid that had gotten his gym shorts pulled down in front of the whole class.
On this afternoon my memories hurt and my hopes and dreams felt foolish. Was I being punished somehow? Was this because I never poof read my stories before I sent them out? Or because I occasionally liked to get half-naked and lip-synch to Edge of Seventeen? Or was it because I had started playing Dungeons & Dragons again?
Silly and superstitious I know but as I sped into work that afternoon I promised myself that I would start proof reading my manuscripts more carefully and that I would never ever play another role playing game.
But superstitious or not, nothing was going to come between me and my copy of Rhiannon.