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Writing Fiction - Chapter 21
Here's where Chapter 20 left you.
For a moment I was surprised, unsure of what to do. Then I realized his actions were fueled by the pain of a failed marriage. I jumped out of his car and ran after him.
I raced to the corner and saw him go into the coffee shop.
By the time I walked through the door, he was already seated at a table in the rear corner, his back to the door, shoulders hunched over.
I’d just walked up to him and tapped him on the shoulder, when Walden piped up, “Oh, so good to see you back so soon, sweetie!”
“Please,” I said quietly. “Please talk to me about Edgar. You don’t understand.”
He made a harsh motion with his hand. I chose to interpret it to mean, “Please sit down and we’ll talk about this.”
So I did.
And now, Chapter 21 Continues...
My motherly inclinations kicked into over-drive and remembering how my kids hated to be pressured when they had a lot on their minds, I sat quietly for a few moments observing the top of his head (slightly balding, I might add). When I couldn’t stand the silence any longer, I said in a soft and gentle voice, “I’m sorry you are suffering. I’m sorry your wife left you. I’m sorry I am being such a pain about Edgar but…”
“Spot,” he muttered with his head still lowered, “His name is Spot.” Then he looked up at me.
The sun came shining unkindly through the big glass windows of the coffee shop and illuminated a face tight with suffering. His brown eyes were swimming in unshed tears and misery. His mouth was a straight line drawn on with a crayon the color of unhappiness.
I looked away from the pain on his face and saw his hands tightly clenched. Ragged fingernails bitten back to the quick were another unpleasant surprise. “Uh oh, Pearl,” I told myself, “What have you gotten yourself into here? This guy is really having a seriously bad day.”
I backed off the subject of Edgar/Spot and leaned forward to touch his hand. He jerked it away. I pretended I hadn’t been reaching for him, and laid both hands flat on the warm, wooden surface of the table. He looked down
“My name is Pearl,” I tried again. “I’m a good listener. Would talking about the divorce help at all?”
I was really startled when he reached out and put his hands on top of mine. Hard.
“Pearl…or whatever your name is…listen to me very carefully. My wife did not…”
I interrupted. There was something about this guy that just got under my skin. “Yeah, I know. I know, your wife didn’t understand you, she turned your son against you, blah, blah, blah. I watch daytime TV and I know all about your kind, Mr. Mr...What is your name anyway?”
“What is wrong with you? Do you ever shut up? Do you ever let anyone finish a thought? What the hell is wrong with you?”
I’m not going to lie here. His words really hurt my feelings. I hadn’t talked to anyone in months. I’d been hiding out in my house. What the hell was wrong with me anyway? I never used to do this when my husband was still ‘among the living’. I don’t think I was wrong, though. It’s just that he wouldn’t answer me! His gravelly voice interrupted my thoughts.
“Pearl, listen to me very carefully. My name to you, anyway, is Mr. Moron. You can just call me moron. Or idiot. Or jerk. Whatever you prefer. I could care less what you call me because…”
“Oh for God’s sake,” I snapped at him, “Do you honestly think you are the only one that has problems? Everyone has problems. Yours are no worse than anybody elses.” I reached into my purse and grabbed out my cute, little magnetic note pad. “Here,” I said as I scrawled out my address, “When you check yourself into the psych ward drop off EDGAR and I’ll take care of him!”
He crumpled up the note and snarled, “SPOT! And I will not be going to the looney bin anytime soon,” he continued, “Because I couldn’t stand to be in there with YOU! Furthermore…,” (I swear to you…he actually used that word! What a pompous, self-righteous pig!) “…Furthermore, you need to be mighty careful jumping to conclusions, because…” he growled while shaking his index finger in my face.
“Jumping to conclusions?” By this time I had shoved back my chair and was on my feet pointing my index finger right back at him. “How could I possibly jump to a conclusion when you are in total denial about…”
“Oh shut up, Pearl! “ He said my name like he had swallowed a lemon. “Just shut up. You have no idea what the hell you’re talking about. SPOT is my dog. You’re certifiable! I swear to God I hope that the next time you jump to a conclusion you fall and break your pompous, self-righteous neck!”
And for some reason he grabbed my crumpled up address, shoved it into his pocket and slammed out of the coffee shop. The bell jingled merrily in the sudden quiet of the sun-filled room.
I stood there shocked for a moment until I realized I was not alone. Walden and two customers were staring at me, open-mouthed in surprise.
I started to pretend nothing had happened, but Walden beat me to it. “Lovers quarrel?” she enquired perkily.
I opened my mouth to answer. Nothing came out. Obviously, I could shut up. But now he wasn’t there to witness it.
Walden continued, “Gosh, I thought my boyfriend and I liked to bicker, but you two really take the cake! Well, at least making up will be fun! Right?” She winked at me.
I opened my mouth to respond again. I had obviously been struck temporarily mute by Mr. Moron’s terrible behaviour.
I made a ‘bye-bye’ motion with my hand and made the bell jingle myself as I beat a hasty retreat out of the store. I walked quickly to my car and climbed in. What was that? What had just happened? I was just trying to be a nice person and help. ‘Lover’s quarrel?’ Thinking of Walden’s remark made me blush. ‘Break my neck jumping to a conclusion?’ What a freakin’ jerk!
I drove home ticked off. I parked my car and went into my house ticked off. I threw my coat and purse on the table still ticked off. I saw Millie coming across the driveway between our houses, so I grabbed my coat and purse and ran upstairs to hide.
I will say that Millie is quite persistent. She knocked for a long time. She walked around to the front door and rang the door bell for a long time.
Finally, after a lot of time had elapsed I realized the coast was clear and that I wasn’t ticked off anymore.
“Pearl,” With great effort, I pep-talked myself. “That is exactly why you need to just hide here in the house and write your blog. People are insane in the real world. It’s time to get to work.”
In all honesty, I didn’t want to write a blog. I wanted to do nothing. Forever. About everything.
But my mother, God rest her soul, had not raised a quitter. My Dad had not called me his little oyster for me to just hide away. I had to avoid Jessie coming to visit at all costs. If she saw me, she would know. She would know that I was a liar and that I was doing horribly. It would worry her sick. She would know that I was even worse off now then when her brother had gone to prison. She would freak out and…
Yes, I said prison. My son is in prison, Okay? I don’t want to hurt your feelings here, but I can’t go into that right now. I have enough going on trying to manage the mess I’ve already got in my life that I can’t possibly go into that particular shame and pain. I need you to keep the whole thing quiet because up until now my husband and daughter were the only ones that knew about this. We told everyone that he was just working on one of those crab fishing boats in Alaska. That worked pretty good as an excuse until they made started making TV shows about crab fishing and then people started calling and asking us if he was going to be on the Discovery channel.
Lying can get pretty complicated sometimes, you know?
When Mr. Moron told me about not seeing his son, I had just wanted to commiserate with him. Obviously his anger issues superseded any possibility of accepting comfort.
I straightened my shoulders and spine and got my laptop.
Today was the day. I was going to finish the first post I had started and hit publish.
After all, denial wasn’t just a river in Egypt any more…it was becoming a freakin’ ocean in my life.
To be continued, Tuesday, February 1.
(c) 2010 Jennifer R. Matlock
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