Published on October 15th, 2009 | by TLV News0
“What the Faulkner Presents: Adventures with Pinecone” by Charles Hale (From TLV #91)
She had stopped returning my phone calls as quickly as before when I asked Sheila if everything was OK between us. I felt like a chick when I asked it and she answered me like a dude when she said, “Why do always have to check in about us? Can’t you just have a good time?”
I wanted to believe it was just because she was busy with school or that things were rough at home between her parents but I had my suspicions. Last week we went out to dinner and then the plan was to play some shuffleboard and have a couple of beers afterwards. But then she checked her phone right as the appetizer arrived.
We had held hands on the way in and ordered a sausage and cheese plate as soon as we sat down. The conversation was going well and there didn’t seem to be any tension between us. I guess she had her phone on vibrate because I didn’t hear it but as I turned to thank our server I saw Sheila flip open her phone and laugh. She’d never done that before and immediately my mind started racing through the scenarios. I hadn’t heard her mention any guys from class and I thought I knew all the dudes she worked with, but it must have been someone. All I wanted to do was feed her a piece of sausage on a cracker but the mood had been ruined.
“Who was that?” I asked and tried not to sound like I was accusing her of anything.
“Just a friend,” Sheila said and all I could think about was Biz Markie. I loved that song when I was younger. I had it on tape and since my vocal range and Biz Markie’s was roughly the same I could sing along and not feel like I was hitting all the wrong notes. But all these years later I was sitting at the restaurant where Sheila and I had our first date and the only thing I could think about was Sheila with some guy in a terrible white wig. We went along with dinner as best as possible but I was ready for drinks.
On the way up the sidewalk we had cart wheeled up before, I started doing a little bit of the corniest dance I could do. Sheila didn’t notice because she walked a step and half in front of me. I kept count and only twice did she turn around to see where I was. When we got to the bar she went to the restroom and I ordered two beers and a shot of Rumplemintz for me. Our first shuffleboard game started nice enough, I played left-handed and coached her on lining up the bank shots.
But since every time I went for a drink for either of us I did a shot on my own, it wasn’t long before I was hammered. Sheila didn’t notice when I started playing with my right hand, but she did notice when I was slamming every one of her pucks off the table. I was throwing harder than I needed to but I enjoyed the sound of her pucks slamming into the gutter. The bartender had some music playing, AC/DC or something, but there were different lyrics in my head. I came to her college on a surprise visit, to see my girl who was so exquisite. It was a school day so I knew that she was there. The first semester of the school year… At some point I blacked out. I think I had seven shots of Rumplemintz before that happened but it could have been eight. I woke up in my bed alone the next morning. I checked the messages on my phone and Sheila had called around midnight. Her voice sounded nice, not like she was irritated or anything, and she told me to call her when I woke up. She wouldn’t have done that if she wanted to get rid of me. She could have just left me at the bar, or left me in the bed and not said anything. So even though I had a giant hangover growing, I felt like maybe I had been wrong about Sheila’s friend. Maybe.
This is part 10. To read part 9, click here.
This article was originally printed in The Local Voice #91 (published October 15, 2009).