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2 Friday Night

Jim got home shortly after ten after ten o’clock, placed the six-pack of Molson Golden in the refrigerator, grabbed two mini-bottles of Smirnov, and sat down just as the Big Ben replica started its first quarter chimes.  He turned on the TV, connected to Netflix, and sipped through the first vodka as he found a mindless movie to help unwind his mortal coil.

The short movie was over halfway into the third beer, and after returning from the bathroom with great relief, Jim started to browse through the movie collection displayed on simple, hand-crafted shelves framing the television. One title caught his eye and sparked a memory. He pulled Good Advice off the shelf, and gazed at the cover.

“She looks just like Angie Harmon,” he said, each word more accented than the previous. He returned the movie to its place as a new memory was resurrected, and returned to the viewing chair. He reached to and opened the drawer on the simple coffee table, and removed a silver pendant. He barely felt the chill that coincided with its retrieval. “It’s not the same, but….” His voice trailed off, but mainly to accommodate a further gulp of Golden.

While finishing the beer, Jim found an episode of Mad Men to watch, and after securing a glass of water, started the show. After ten minutes, he could feel his eyelids become stone.

* * *

The room is the same, but there is something different. Everything is in its place, but nearly everything seems as though recently returned or replaced. The room is cool and gray, and still. So still, and still so silent. The TV is blind.

The doorbell chimes. The door opens, and neighbor Renee is trying to dry her tears. She can only talk through the sniffles and snuffles.

“He dumped me! Why me?”

“It’s not you, sweetie.” The words, embracing as the hug, calm her. Her sobs slowly ebb. “Do you want to go get some coffee?” She nods.

Dino’s Diner is empty. Half the chairs are up on the tables. Cradling her mug, Renee implores again, “Why me? I only asked if we were getting serious.”

“You attract the kind of guy who’s not interested in anything serious, and you scare those that are.”

“My job?” Her red and puffy eyes respond to the nod with a single tear from each. “I’m trying to find something else. I want to do something else.”

“I know.”

“It’s just so hard.”

“I know. And you know I’ll do anything I can to help you.”

“Yes, and I wouldn’t be going to Tech without you.” Her smile is a warm and genuine, “Thank you.” She looks like she wants to ask a question she has asked before, and decides against it.

“Do you feel better?”

She nods as her eyes find a silver design on a simple silver chain. “That’s new?”

“Not exactly. I found it again, but I’ve had it for a while. I forgot all about it.”

“I like it. It suits you.”

A phone buzzes. Renee retrieves it, and giggles. “Stan wants to see me. He’s waiting for me. Can you walk me home?”

“Of course.”

Before bounding on to meet her guest, Renee grants a tight hug. “Thank you!”

“Any time.”

“And don’t listen to the radio, okay? I don’t know what I would do without you.”

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