“You’re a Good Kid, You Just Make Bad Decisions.” -My Father

Sitting at the dining room table looking at my winnings. Texas Hold ‘Em. The other players are actors talking about themselves and quoting. I sit silent nickel and diming them to a saloon death. Hand after hand, luck shines on my greedy smile like 3 6 Mafia Oscar Bling Teeth.

Yes, you fucker. Raise me. Raise me. Exalt me, oh.

A collective sigh as I take the pot.

On cue, a friend calls.

“You gotta come out. There’s this girl who I think you’d really like.”

“Where are you?”

“________.”

“Alright.” End call. “Sorry guys…here I gotta trade in my chips. Its a friend’s birthday and I gotta go.”

Its only thirty dollars but it gets me a cab towards my destiny for free. A hop, skip, stumble, and a jump and I’m in the cab. “________, please.”

Thinking about my good fortune. Streetlights lighting the way and wiping our faces with a yellow rag. Forward!

“Hey, this is ________.”

“Hi.”

In a grand mood I can make people laugh, wince, and walk away in a paragraph. It is rare that I have this mood/power so I utilize it to the utmost when given the opportunity. The gift of speaking in tongues to a moody athiest. Magical, impossible to understand, and, in the end, useless.

I dance. I lie. I wish her, my last minute blind date, a happy birthday.

“Can I walk you home?”

“Its far.”

“Its also a beautiful night.”

“Yes.”

An hour of twilight and we are askew on coffee table, staircase, wall 1, spare bedroom floor, wall 2.

The moment arrives. Death comes to the door in a fog and has no scythe. Just a wink and a nudge.

“I can’t. I promised myself no more hooking up with random guys.”

“I’m not random. We’ve been together for hours!”

“No.”

In my mind I was concocting a plan to get out. I am not one to force someone’s will. The end result is ridiculous and laughable. And never worth the energy or words.

“That’s okay.” Saying that bought me precious minutes. I decide to smoke in the meantime. No cigarettes. “I’m gonna go buy cigarettes.”

“Its five-thirty in the morning. There’s nothing open.”

“Oh, I’ll find something.” I’m determined, lady. Yes.

I skip out and breathe in the morning air. Earth’s nicotine. I didn’t need a smoke. I needed a walk and a think. And eventually, my bed.

Two mile walk. Bus #74. Asleep on the bus. Wake up in time to pull the cord. Breathe in relief at the sight of my apartment doorstep and wipe imaginary sweat off as if I’d put in an honest day of work. I reach into my pocket and it is empty.

Somewhere on the coffee table, staircase, wall 1, spare bedroom floor, or wall 2 were my keys. Little gems of metal that, in times like these, are more precious than gold. Or a space shuttle with a living teacher on board.

I call the friend that introduced us. “I need ________’s number.”

“Did you guys hit it off?”

“Yes. We’re great for each other. Do you have it?”

“Its in my phone. I’ll text it to you.”

Angrily staring in the distance. The sun is so hot when you are waiting outside of your unattainable apartment for your friend to text you the number of the girl you were a complete asshole to but now has your keys. Vibration in hand. Push button A, D, then B. Got it. Dial.

“Hey. I think I left something there.”

“Yep.”

“Can I be by in an hour to pick them up?”

“Yep.”

Cab rides are so long when you are on your way to the girl’s apartment who you were a complete asshole to but now has your keys.

Ring buzzer.

Only two glaring eyes came downstairs to the gate. Its been hours and shades of daylight since I’ve laid eyes on birthday girl, puffy from booze and not cake.

“Here. Did you get cigarettes?”

“Yes. Thanks.”

I go home quickly. Not to escape, but to sleep. To the vaccuum where the only glaring eyes are my own.

* * * * *

Johnny and I fill our guts with beer and head to the carnival that was randomly dropped into the park on Western and Pratt. Ride tickets in hand, we gorge ourselves on the thrills of Pharoah’s Fury, the Hurricane, and the Fireball…over and over and over. Laughter spills from our mouths, like the cola he brought on the Fireball when it remained upside-down for ten seconds, and we head to our local to cap it off. He gets on the phone, arranges a meeting. He has brought the Angel out for another meeting. Remember last time?

Cab ride. Johnny says that everything should be fine between the Angel and I by now. I’m still worried but let the adrenaline from the Fireball cover my inhibitions with a warm blanket. A blanket, it turns out, that also releases my bowels.

I go straight to the bathroom. Comforted, I meet up with the group; Johnny and the Angel describing a mutual story to an unmet female party in the group.

The Angel welcomes me by saying, “This is my friend ________.”

I high five her and sit down.

Hours and beers pass. Laughter. The Angel has forgiven me. She moves next to me and compliments me by touching my leg, by laughing at my jokes. She asks questions. I answer them honestly. She is wonderful. There is one more thing that the situation needs: Harry Nilsson. The jukebox houses a “Best of” collection so I dig out a fiver and play the whole goddamn thing.

Wonderful.

Wonderful.

No expiration date.

The Angel’s friend needs to go home. “Awwww…” we say. Just needs to unwind, she says. “Happy Birthday!” we say.

Johnny, the Angel, Nilsson, and me. Johnny turns and converses with new patrons and I focus a deodorant’s protection precentage on her.

“Are you sure you’ve never met ________ before?”

“No. Why?”

“I asked her what she did last year for her birthday and she reminded me of a story she’s told me once before. About SOME GUY leaving HIS KEYS at her apartment after he SKIPPED OUT because she wouldn’t SLEEP WITH HIM.”

In addition to spilling your cola, the Fireball can also make you feel queasy. Not unlike graduation day, being hit in the stomach, or watching your ideal future catching fire before your eyes for the second time.

“Oh. My. God. I thought she looked vaguely familiar.”

“What are the chances,” the Angel asked.

“What’re you guys talking about?” asked Johnny.

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Comments
5 Responses to ““You’re a Good Kid, You Just Make Bad Decisions.” -My Father”
  1. RJ says:

    well titled

  2. apple says:

    Good heavens, Lucas! D:

  3. RJ says:

    Help me!

    I don’t know what to believe anymore!

    Although I think I might be doing the latter definition in a comment that makes you seem like the former.

    Right.

  4. kate says:

    TYPICAL

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  1. […] and piece together. There was the girl that I encountered twice, and only twice, and each time ruined her birthday (exactly a year apart and under completely different circumstances). Then there was the extremely […]



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