Price Breaks and Heartaches
A journal of retail and failed romance
The Creep On The Borderlands
Five days later I saw her.
She was in the self help section of Ivanhoe Books Incorporated, she had soft curves and long brunette hair. As I checked her out I thought to myself that I had never knowingly gotten to third base with a brunette. I approached her, “Hi there.”
She looked my way her gaze lingering over my name tag and my smock but completely missing my broad shoulders and doughy pecs, “I don't need any help. I'm just looking.”
“So am I,” I grinned.
“Uhm... I mean I couldn't help but notice how pretty you are.”
“You know, attractive,” I quickly grabbed a thesaurus off one of the shelves, “pleasing to the eye. Beautiful...”
The lovely brunette frowned, “Are you hitting on me?”
If there was one thing I had learned in my brief foray into the dating world it was that if a girl has to ask you if you're hitting on her you've utterly failed at hitting on her. I cleared my throat, “In a manner of speaking...”
“I came here to shop not to have some jerk try to get me into bed,” she shouted.
“Actually, I was just trying to get you to go to Denny's with me. I didn't even think going to bed was on the table,” I was bushing furiously now, everyone was looking at us, “not that there are beds on the tables at Denny's. How would you eat your Grand Slam Breakfast.... heh... you're going to complain to management about me aren't you?”
One complaint to management later and I was completely demoralized. Here it was, another Friday night without a date. Kevin and my other friends were always going to see movies or shoot pool but I didn’t feel like either. Thing was I didn’t want to be home either. I thought of calling Tallulah but talked myself out of it.
I spent the remainder of my shift moping around and feeling sorry for myself. I suppose what I did after work was inevitable in a way, I just got in my car and let my subconscious take me to the only place I felt I had left to go.
“I think Benny Hill is funny,” Will said.
“But he’s not.” Norm replied. “He’s got five maybe ten jokes that he stole from vaudeville and he repeats them over and over again- just in different formats.”
The argument went round and round as we waited for the new player to arrive. I was back at Norm’s, with its crowded upper floors and oddly empty lower level. Daniel was splayed out on the loveseat, Curtis, Buddy and Will were crowded on the couch. I sat in a folding chair- I had brought it with me.
Will was still hard at work defending the chubby man from Britain, “I don’t think that’s very fair. There’s nothing wrong with a little repetition, it makes people comfortable and sets them up for new jokes and stuff.”
“It’s laziness and a sign of a comedian with his best work behind him,” Norm said.
Curtis stroked his mustache, “You gotta admit those Hill’s Angels were pretty sexy. Total Junior High stroke fodder- especially that Sue Upton. Oh baby.”
Daniel’s face curled up in disgust, “You know the names of Benny Hill’s dancing girls? I didn’t think it was possible but I respect you even less now.”
“By the way Al,” Norm said, “I’m very glad to have you back.”
I set my dice and pencils down on the coffee table, “Thanks. I figured what the Hell you know?”
“Our new player should be here soon. You’ll like him he’s been gaming with me off and on for years now,” Norm handed me my character sheet, “I told you Eddie won’t be here for a while right?”
“Yeah, where is he?”
Will answered, “The Monkees came to town on their reunion tour so he decided to follow them cross country.”
My jaw dropped, “That is utterly insane”
Norm nodded, “I thought so too.”
“I mean Mike Nesmith isn’t even with the touring band.”
I heard the door open and the echo of footsteps coming up the stairs. Everyone got quiet for a moment then Norm grinned at the sight of the person at the top of the stairs, “You made it.”
The blood drained from my face, “YOU!”
And I said it just that way in all caps with italics. How could I not?
“Oh.” Norm said, “You two know each other.”
“We go back.” Orville’s smile was smugger than smug.
It was Orville. Yes, that Orville, the stealer of girlfriends, unprovoked grabber of asses and all around bastard.
“You game?” I said. “I would think you were too cool for that.”
“Oh I game,” he said. “But I don’t just game. See the difference?”
“This is gonna be good.” Darren chuckled.
“Shut up you,” I said back.
Norm cleared his throat, “Well now that introductions are behind us, let’s get started.”
The game picked up pretty much where we had left off, deep in the Caves of Chaos, deep in Kobold territory. “By the way,” Norm said, “since we didn’t know if you were coming back the other players looted your character’s belongings.”
I shrugged, “Well now that I’m here I’m sure I can get them back.”
Daniel laughed, “The only way your character gets his stuff back from my ninja is if he can survive the five challenges of death. Those challenges being his fingers wrapped into a fist.”
“Meaning of course that he could kill you with his bare hands.”
“I got that.”
“His. Bare. Hands.”
I groaned then asked, “What is your problem?”
Daniel snorted, “One more player means less treasure and glory for the rest of us.”
“But...” Will said, “…there’s strength in numbers.”
Buddy looked up from mixing a screwdriver from the different plastic bottles in his backpack, “You know what else there’s strength in? That mesh they have in the back of the police cars that keeps you from touching the officer.”