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May 2011
She yelled from the bottom of the stairs

"What the **** are you DOING!?"

My neighbor, Mr. Monroe with the mustache, ring on every finger and a parrot that talked, pressed his face to the glass to look down at her.

"What the **** are YOU looking at?"

Mr. Monroe quickly went back to his day time soap operas and corn flakes. He never left the house because he believed their was going to be a grand earthquake where everyone that was outside getting food, shopping or at the beach, would die. He told me he believed that his house was a fortress and that God or mother nature or what have you could never touch him if he just stayed holed up in his room with his corn flakes and bath robes and old Sunday newspapers.

"HEY GUY, LET'S GO!"

I gingerly stepped out of my place. I stared up at the sky which was blue spattered with white clouds that were inching slowly toward the ocean. It was a beautiful day.

"******* FINALLY. What were you DOING?"

"Just getting myself a little more ready then usual."

"WHY?"

"I'm nervous or something."

We were headed to a dinner with my parents. I was going to introduce them to Alice and wanted to make sure all my pampering was in order, my mother could always tell if I forgot to comb my hair or use deodorant, my father didn't care. I walked cooly and lightly down the stairs.

"Well you smell like a laundry mat people have been drinking and ******* in."

"Thank you baby."

I kissed her on the cheek, waved up to Mr. Monroe who had gently re-placed his face upon his living room window, and headed to my car.

---

"So what you are you gonna' say to them about me?"

"I'll tell them we have a lot of *** and like movies."

"Really?"

"I don't know. Why not?"

"Seems strange."

"Were strange."

"What if we get married and they say that at our wedding and its awkward and my parents get mad."

"I'm not thinking that far off."

"Well you ******* SHOULD!"

Alice opened the window and stared out at the ocean which passed by with blinking blue reflective lights, beach combers and sand dune cops. There were many surfers wading in the light blue water waiting for the NEXT BIG ONE. I thought it was funny how they could sit out there for so long, not doing anything, and call it some kind of religion. I liked the idea of doing nothing and it saving you, I wanted to join but I was afraid of sharks.

"Do you want to get married to me?"

"No."

"I wouldn't either."

We drove down the highway but hit a big block of heavy traffic. We were gonna be late.

---

By an instinct I acquired either by fate, magic or the hand of the GOOD LORD, I ordered a hamburger with curly fries. The waiter was a young kid fresh out of college with a messy head of hair and a slight limp stuck on his right leg, he said it came from a biking accident but the kid looked like a scrapper.

My mother was alone on the other side of the table while Alice intensely examined the menu. There were clouds in her eye not of insecurity but of determination for my mother to accept her and pull no punches, when she wanted something she got it, like me.

"To start I am so sorry about your father not being here. He didn't come home last night and I haven't heard from him all morning so I suspect he forgot and slept at the office to get an early start on this Friday morning."

"It's fine Mrs. Kindle. I just feel so BAD for you."

"No worries. It is sweet of you to say though."

"Very sweet Alice. Yeah, I'm sorry Mom. Dad's an *** like that sometimes."

"Yes he is."

The water was warm when the waiter brought it. I hadn't looked at the menu but everyone was ready to order. I was thinking about my father all holed up in his on-site construction office, sweating over blue print over blue print, re-examining every last comma, every last note until it was "perfect". He had tried to get me into the business but I always hated a path that had already been trampled and organized upon, I didn't see the point.

"So how did you guys meet?"

"We actually met at one of Joe and Abe's parties."

We actually had met at a hot bar with loud music and cheap drinks with the wind ripping men and women to pieces outside and the bar man said we looked like we would make a good couple but we had never even looked or talked to each other but because this one little bartender in this one little hot tiny bar gave us the idea that maybe, just maybe, we would be good for each other I bought Alice a drink and then, thinking it would be funny and how she hates cliches, she bought me a drink and we got very drunk within the dark heated bar with the people swinging back and forth with the loud quick hipster electronica madness that spun all around us invisible in the smoke and the liquor and the cigarette smoke and there, in that dark steamy bar, we talked and talked and talked until I got a little drunker then her and she took me home, which we laughed about in the morning after we had drank a couple glasses of wine and tried to have *** but were both to drunk to talk or have *** or even kiss for that matter, we fell asleep on top of each other's faces and both of our necks were twisted and hurting in the morning.

"We call it "Our Spontaneous Romance".

"Very funny."

"Alice, do you know what you want yet?"

Alice, keeping her eyes down on the menu not looking up for a second.

"Not quite."

My mother shifted in her seat, she was getting anxious because she wanted to eat and she was worried about my dad. He'd been "busy" with many "things" that he "didn't like to talk about" or was "too tired to talk about" and it made my mom shift and silently sigh after every conversation either about the subject or related too.

"I'm going to have the soup and the sandwich"

"Turkey sandwich and salad for me."

"Healthy."

"Have to be."

"One sec..."

"OK."

"No rush."

"Mashed potatoes and gravy and ribs, that's what I want."

"Very nice..."

"Very nice."

"Thank you."

Alice was nervous. She ate mass amounts of food when she was either nervous or in tight confined places where she needed to converse but had absolutely nothing to say, the large order was her scapegoat and she would later blame it on *******, anxiety and depression, half of which was probably my fault. Alice didn't want to meet the parents, she thought it pointless, a waste of time and pushing towards something that may not even actually happen. She believed being invisible in a phenomenal world was the only way to go through life and in some respects, I agreed with her but also, I knew deep down, she was a little crazy, as was I.

---

"Thank you for meeting Alice and I for lunch Mom."

"Not a worry at all, I'm sorry about your father."

"I'll talk to him later."

"It was very very nice meeting you, very nice."

Alice and my mother shook hands cooly and suspiciously underneath the 3 o'clock sun. They hadn't talked much at lunch and I honestly didn't know how it went at all, they spoke about their food and that was it. Perhaps they neither hated or liked each other, maybe they were simply indifferent towards each other's presence and what they meant to me at all. They smiled, Alice waved as did I as my mom drove away down the hot black top. Alice, still waving said.

"Horrible, that was just horrible."

"I thought it went right as it went, neither here nor there."

"We didn't talk about anything but the food."

"Maybe that's all there was to talk about, some people meet and have absolutely nothing to say to each other, happens more then you think."

"Sounds right must be right."

"Let's go."

We both walked to my car which was boiling hot inside, the kind of hot when you enter when one wishes they couldn't breathe. We quickly opened the window turning on the radio listening to an old blues station for a second. I but the gears in reverse and slowly backed out of the restaurant parking lot as Alice neatly put on her dark sunglasses and rubbed sun tan lotion on her face, leaving a small patch on the tip of her nose. I paused the car before entering onto the main road.

"Let's get married Alice."

"I was about to say the same thing."

I pulled onto the main road home, nearly getting in an accident with a road biker who shook their fist violently toward my gleaming fender. I lightly smiled, embarrassingly laughed to myself, merging on. We were off.
Mitchell Duran
Written by
Mitchell Duran
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