Sunday, 25 April 2010

THE DATE By Liza Larregui

The Date

The champagne colored sedan drove up to my house as I ran down my front steps to meet it. I saw my reflection in the passenger window as I approached and was pleased at how well my hair appeared. I pulled on the door handle and was met with resistance. I knocked on the window and motioned for Jim to unlock the door. I waited for the click, and tried again.

“Hey, thanks for picking me up.” I said as I pecked his cheek with my lips.

“No problem. Say hi to Kevin.” He said as he pointed to the back seat.

“Kevin, hi. I’m sorry, I didn’t even realize you were there. Nice to meet you.” I pulled down the visor in front of me and slid open the mirror to see who I was speaking to.

“Hey, Danielle! It’s great to finally meet you, too. I’ve heard so much about you.” I wondered if he really did hear about me or if he was just saying it out of kindness. I didn’t have to wonder for too long before Jim interjected.

“Not really. I haven’t said much about you, to be honest. This is still new, you know? We’re just dating.” My face turned red, more from anger than embarrassment.

“Right.” I said, trying to hide my annoyance. With my right foot tapping loudly on the floor of the car, I began to wonder why I was even there. I had been with Jim for three months and only then was I meeting his best friend. Something was wrong.

We finally arrived to the bowling alley in what seemed like the longest, most awkward car ride in the history of car rides. Kevin jumped out of the back seat and opened my car door. Jim looked on with confusion, as if he didn’t understand why anyone would open a car door for another person.

“Hey, Dan, come here.” He asked, patting his hands on his thighs the way you would to an animal.

“You know I hate when you call me Dan.” I stood there, arms crossed, not ready to move.

“I was going to ask if you like Dan or Danielle, too. Ha.” Kevin said. His brown curly hair barely moved in the ever so slight breeze that circulated the parking area. My feelings for Kevin, though new and most likely unfounded, started to grow at a rate I was unfamiliar with. It normally took me weeks to feel comfortable with someone and for some unknown reason, I was falling hard for him, fast.

“I hate Dan. Thanks for wanting to know, though. Your friend here never even asked me. Even after the thirtieth time I told him, he still calls me Dan.” I sighed loudly enough to make my point, though I wasn’t sure I cared anymore what Jim thought.

“Let’s go. The lanes will all be booked by the time you guys decide to start walking.” Jim said with a jealous tone. I enjoyed it.

After waiting an hour for a lane to open, we settled into our spots and changed into our bowling shoes.

“Hey, Danielle, would you like a soda?” Kevin offered. Shouldn’t Jim be asking, I thought.

“I’m good. Thanks. Jim?” Without even looking my way, Jim just shook his head no. Kevin walked over to the snack bar and waited on line.

“Do you like him?” Jim asked. His voice was strained.

“He’s great. I haven’t really talked to him that much yet, but he seems very cool.”

“No!” Jim yelled. “Do you like him like you like me? Do you even like me anymore?”

“Where did that come from?” I finished tying my shoes and looked up, puzzled.

“Just asking. You guys seem to be hitting it off.” Jim’s face was redder than a rose, but not quite as delicate. He pulled the laces on his shoes tighter as he continued. “I wouldn’t be surprised if you liked him. It’s happened before. Why do you think it took me so long to introduce you two? I knew you would prefer him and I see it already.”

“You’re acting crazy. I’m with you, remember? We’re in a relationship--”

“Woah, hang on there. We are not in a relationship. We’re just dating. Let’s get that straight now.”

I felt my blood boil as I tried understanding his logic. “If we are not in a committed relationship, then why do you care so much about me and Kevin? Not that there is a me and Kevin, but even so. I don’t understand.”

Jim looked at me with blank, soulless eyes. “We’ll talk later. Kevin’s on his way back.”

I sulked in the hardback chair attached to our lane. I felt heat radiating off my face so I grabbed the score card to fan myself.

“Hey guys! I know you said you didn’t want any soda but I got a pitcher and three cups. Just in case.” Kevin smiled as I began to relax and grabbed a cup to pour myself some soda. “Who’s going first?”

“I am.” Jim declared as he grabbed a yellow ball and threw it venomously down the lane. As it veered toward the gutter, my heart sank as I knew this night would only get worse. “DAMNIT!” Jim’s voice echoed throughout the place as a ZERO blinked on the screen above us.

“You still have another shot, and it’s only the first round. Relax.” I said as he waited for the pins to reset. Kevin watched with no comments.

Jim twisted his body to release the ball exactly in the center of the lane and managed to knock down two pins in the right corner.

“Great first round. This is just warm up anyway.” I cheered Jim on and raised my hand for an unmet high-five.

It was my turn and as I approached the lane, a hard smack landed on my ass. I turned around to see Jim smiling obscenely. “Really uncalled for and unnecessary. I’m going to ask that you don’t do that again. Thanks!” I said as I dropped the ball, not caring where it landed. The only thing I could think about was the comfort of my bed, away from Jim and away from the world.

“What? You wanted to be in a relationship, right? Well, if I’m your boyfriend, I could do that stuff.”

“No, actually, that’s not how it works. What’s going on? What’s wrong?” I asked as the sting from the smack began to numb.

“Nothing is wrong. You want to be in a relationship with me. Well, that’s how I roll.” He grabbed my arm and dragged me to the ball waiting for me.

“Stop it! You’re hurting me.” I screeched.

“Danielle said to stop. I think you should stop.” Kevin chimed in at the perfect time.

“What are you going to do about it? It’s not like you haven’t stolen my girlfriends in the past? Why would I think this time would be any different?”

Kevin stepped back from where he was standing and straightened his spine. Within seconds, he was no longer Kevin. His body was now consumed with grey hair that lined his entire frame. His mouth contorted into a twisted shape as his teeth grew to an disproportionate size. If the other bowlers had not noticed the transformation, they were made well aware when Kevin opened his mouth to release a frightening growl.

Jim, completely thrown off by his friend, fell over the ball return trying to make his escape. I sat back, completely in awe of what I was seeing. The screams from the other bowlers were being drowned out by Jim’s cries.

My face glittered with happiness as I realized I was not the lone wolf in this town anymore. I had finally met my match.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting finish. On first reading I thought it was a bit of a cheat twist ending, but on a re-read the Narrator being "pleased with how her hair looked" in the opening paragraph (which grated on first reading, with no hindsight of the end) was a clever hint of things to come.

    The story is conveyed by a lot of dialogue, which gets character across well enough. Though none of them come across in much of a good light within the narrative!

    In future, I'd tighten the story up a bit. The important stuff before the actual Date at the bowling - Danny and Kevin liking each other, Jim being jealous and unpleasant, them being on a date - could have been added in to the narrative of the bowling without losing anything totally significant. Remember your Vonnegut: "Always start as close to the finish as you dare!"

    Good effort though. I look forward to more from you in the near future.

    Best wishes