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Song Inspirations II
“Hello,” I croaked, rubbing my eyes. I knew who it was.
“Hey. Ca-Can you p-p… pick me up?” His stuttering was always worse whenever he was drunk.
I was already searching for my keys. “Where are you?”
“Give the phone to the bartender,” I said patiently, tugging my coat on over my pajamas.
“Hello,” said an unfamiliar voice.
“Hello, can you tell me which bar this is?” I asked as I finally finding the keys down inside the couch.
“Georgiana’s Get-Up, on Thirty-First Street.”
“Ok, I know where that is. Thank you.”
“You picking him up?”
I sighed, “I will. Just don’t try acting tough. It makes him angry.”
“Thanks again. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
I hung up, getting out of the elevator.
“Where would you be going at this time of night?” asked the security guard, Benny. He’d stopped the man who’d attacked me in my apartment a year ago, and we’ve been friends ever since; of course he knew where I’d be going at one in the morning.
I smiled at him. “I’ll be back in a few. Don’t wait up for me,” I teased, knowing his shift didn’t end for another four hours.
He laughed but I knew he didn’t approve.
“D-d-d-d-damn barman made me… c-c-call you or he’d n-n-not let me g-go,” he was explaining as we stumbled out the doors of the bar. He was a lot taller and heavier than me so supporting him was pretty difficult.
“I’m ssssorry for w-waking you up,” he slurred as he slumped against the car.
“Don’t worry about it,” I puffed, struggling get him to stand back up so I could open the door.
“You’re my b-b-best friend,” he smiled sloppily.
Before I could push him into the passenger’s seat, he’d pulled my face up to his and kissed me. He smelled of alcohol and tasted like acid; my lungs clenched automatically.
I pulled away immediately and carefully put him into my little car so he didn’t hit his head. I’d already adjusted the seat back all the way so he didn’t complain. For a moment, I had to lean on the car and catch my breath before I went around to the driver’s seat.
As I pulled out onto the street, I asked, “Where to?”
“Where do you want to go?”
I waited. “Do you want to go to your place?”
“N-n-n-no,” he stuttered, shaking his head. And then, inexplicably, he began to sob into his hands, hanging his head forward.
I just let him cry and drove back to my apartment, knowing that it was pointless to ask.
He’d all but passed out when I pulled into the parking lot. Benny put his arm around him and helped me get him onto my couch.
“Thanks, Benny,” I panted, swiping my hair off my sweaty forehead.
“You’re welcome,” he said in his gruff voice, adjusting his gun-belt on his hips as he came to stand next to me.
We both stared at the comatose man on my couch for a moment. His dress-shirt was un-tucked and crumpled and his hair looked as if he’d been attacking it with his fingers all night, but otherwise, he was as clean as he always was while waiting tables at the fancy restaurant, clean-shaven and spot-less.
Benny whispered, “Can I ask you something?”
“Sure,” I sighed tiredly.
“Why do you do this?”
“Run to his rescue after he attacked you…”
“Thank you for the help, Benny, but I’m really tired now. I’ll see you tomorrow night. It’s your turn to buy doughnuts, right?”
Benny looked less than pleased by my avoidance, but he’d learned about my stubbornness a long time ago. He nodded, frowning beneath his white walrus mustache, “I’ll save you a sprinkle. Take care.” He left in a huff. I didn’t need to worry about him though; he never got mad at anything for long.
Almost dropping with exhaustion, I started to pull off his shiny, black shoes.
He groaned, trying to sit up and mumbling.
“Shh,” I soothed, pushing him back onto the couch again.
“She’s… g-gone,” he stuttered incoherently.
I paused in pulling his phone and wallet out of his pockets, then walked to the closet and grabbed a blanket.
“She d-didn’t want me,” he was moaning, tossing his head. “Sh… she didn’t…”
“It’s alright,” I said, spreading the blanket over him. “It’s ok. Whoever she is, she’s crazy for leaving. Shh… you’re ok.” I sat next to him on the couch and put my hand on his warm, tear-soaked cheek.
He stopped moving, relaxing into slumber.
I was motionless, watching to make sure he stayed asleep, until I couldn’t stand sitting there any longer. Slowly, I stood, peeling my hand out of his, and walked to my bedroom on tip-toes.
I went through my bedtime ritual all over again, mindlessly brushing my teeth, combing my hair into a neater braid, washing my face. Then I sat on my bed in the darkness, my knees drawn up to my chest as I stared out the window at the city lights.
I knew what it meant to be unwanted.