B. L. Pride: KING OF FOOLS
Luke sank a tiny bit deeper into the thick, muddy mess
that was his screwed-up life.
Bright blue eyes were observing him across the counter and making him feel as if someone was scientifically studying his every move. He wasn’t going to give into her little plan and ask why she was looking at him the way she was, so he silently sipped his coffee and tried not to reveal how uncomfortable her eyes were making him feel.
“Why are you so strange, Luke?” she finally asked.
“I’m just being myself. I can’t help it if that’s strange.”
“Don’t be such a smartass, Luke. Why did you invite me over if you didn’t want me here?”
A tear or two gleamed in her eyes. Were they real or just an act? Were they simply a way to make him feel bad about the situation? If that was what they were about, they weren’t necessary at all. He was already feeling like a real jerk, especially for not being able to answer her question. How could he know why he invited her over, when he didn’t even remember inviting her?
“Oh, Sonia,” he sighed and got up to get some more coffee. “What do you want me to say?”
“I don’t want you to say anything. I would simply appreciate it if you didn’t behave like such a moron.”
He smiled his cruel, nasty smile and sat down with a cup of fresh coffee.
“And I would appreciate it if you told me what it is that makes me such a moron in your eyes. Is it something I do? Is it something I say?”
He could see the resentment grow in her eyes. Oh, yes, he could make her furious in a heartbeat.
“No,” she stood up. “I think it’s just who you really are that is so moronic. Next time you get a restless dick syndrome, please, don’t call me, okay?”
She almost ran past him, and Luke, just as softhearted and shitty as ever, immediately felt he had to do something to take the edge off his words.
“Hey,” he started after her and reached her just before she reached the door.
“Sorry, Sonia, you were right, I was a complete moron. It’s just that … It’s just this hangover and my mum … it’s everything today, and I’m taking it out on you. Sorry.”
“What are you sorry about? I mean, really? I don’t understand you at all anymore. One moment you’re acting like the biggest idiot I’ve ever met, and then you’re all different the next. I can’t figure you out and I’m really getting tired of all this. Why did you call me last night?”
They were still standing by the door and the way things were going, it was more than possible she would storm out of the apartment sooner or later.
“I don’t know,” he shrugged his shoulders. “I guess I just wanted to see you.”
“Well, guess what I think.”
“You needed someone to fuck, that’s all.”
“I don’t think so,” he grinned wickedly. “I obviously wanted all the drama you always make about everything.”
She grabbed the doorknob, burst out of the apartment, and slammed the door behind her with a sound which exploded in his head. Great. It had been going on for months now, and the mixture of guilty conscience and confusion was killing him. She kept clinging on to the times when things between them were … different. Better. When he was different and better. She kept clinging to the memories from the time before the accident, refusing to accept the fact that he had returned a changed man. But then again, how could she have understood that he was trying so hard to persuade her, his family, his friends, and most of all himself that he was just the same as always. He couldn’t admit he had changed. He didn’t dare. It seemed convincing himself, along with the world, that he had always been this way was by far the best option.
It was around noon, which meant he could still get some sleep before work, but Luke gave up the idea of getting the needed rest after about half an hour of restless tossing, turning and trying not to sense the smell of his castaway lover. He got up, took off the bedding, threw it into the washing machine, and took a shower. He didn’t want to think about the night before, but the blurred images of his friends, some women he didn’t know, and Sonia kept reappearing over and over again, causing him to smile one second and scowl the next.
No matter how much he hated the idea of his mother being right about anything, especially anything connected to him, there was no denying that she was. His life as it was seemed to be going nowhere, and he felt it every day. Actually, he felt it every second of the day, because he was far, really, really far from being anything even remotely resembling happy. Except for the rare moments when he had the opportunity to do what he’d been dying to do for his entire life, he was getting more and more miserable and empty and … lost. Yeah, he definitely felt lost. No wonder his mother said he was a little boy because that was exactly what he was. A little boy in a grown man’s body, struggling to lead a grown man’s life and making one mistake after another.
All of the goals he had had a couple of years ago were getting more and more out of reach, all of the dreams he had had were getting more and more distant, and all of the happiness he was able to feel not so long ago was turning into a highly unpleasant emptiness which had been successfully transforming him into a person he didn’t like all that much. He desperately needed something powerful in his life, something that could charge him with new energy and provide him with the zeal he was lacking. He needed something more powerful than what had been destroying him for the past few months.
Most of the people who knew him would surely say that he had a tendency to be reckless and careless, but he wasn’t like that at all. He was just too proud to show he was everything but what they thought he was; and besides, letting others believe what they want to believe is the easiest thing in the world. So his silly, childish and yet women-attracting image of a tough, rebellious guy was actually not so bad at all. Luke could say and do whatever he wanted and be forgiven just like that, on account of being himself. And who in their right mind would want to refuse such an opportunity when their life was falling apart and scaring the hell out of them?
The cool water from the shower did him good, but he still felt like a piece of crap and when he saw his image in the in-shower mirror, he saw that his face revealed everything he didn’t want to admit to himself. He was fed up with everything. He was fed up with his friends always doing the same things, going after the same kind of chicks, drinking in the same bars, eating in the same diners, and most of all, he was fed up with himself for always doing the exact same things. True, this was a pretty lame morning with every possible thing that was difficult to deal with piling atop one another and making him much more unsated than usual, but the truth was that even if his mother hadn’t called, the combination of the hangover and Sonia’s presence would have been more than enough to make him seriously concerned about his life. For a guy who didn’t want problems he was incredibly efficient in creating them.
Something caught his attention and Luke turned off the water to listen to the silence of the apartment. The phone was ringing. Could it be the guy his mom had been talking about? Could it really be him? The last thing Luke needed right now was to get his hopes up just to be disappointed again, but as he got out of the shower and reached for a towel, not feeling the damn excitement wasn’t an option anymore. This was another one of the numerous and highly annoying side effects of his mom’s trying to get him a job. Whenever he actually started getting excited, one thing or another went wrong and nothing good ever came out of it. Ever.
He rushed into the kitchen, checked the screen and saw the exciting flash of a number he didn’t know.
“Okay, here goes,” he said out loud so the sound of his voice would calm his nerves, and produced a funny sounding, expectedly official, “Hello?”
“Hi, am I talking to Luke?”
This was strange. He was expecting a man’s voice, because his mom was talking about a guy, but this was definitely a woman. A woman who sounded just as nervous as he was feeling.
“Yes,” he nodded, “this is he.” Was there any way to sound even stupider than he managed to sound right now?
“Hi, it’s Julie. From last night.”
“Julie?” he checked with a voice which revealed every single shade of his uncertainty and surprise. He really was a shithead, obviously.
“Yeah, we met last night. At El Chupacabra, remember?”
Actually, he couldn’t even remember being at El Chupacabra.
“Sure, yeah, of course I remember,” he stuttered, hating himself and his stupidity.
He must have sounded terribly unsure because she started to explain, and Luke just couldn’t listen to what she was saying. He honestly couldn’t care about a woman that was desperate enough to call a guy she had met the night before in a club and then even explain the idiotic particulars of their meeting because he suffered from a serious case of alcohol-induced amnesia.
“Huh, listen, Julie, I’m sorry, but …”
The silence was so intense he could feel her embarrassment almost as much as he could feel his own.
“Oh, sorry,” the unknown voice lingered. “I didn’t want to … You gave me your number and told me to call you and I thought … I thought, why not? Well, sorry, really.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’m the one who should be sorry, and I am.” Which was true. He was sorry and embarrassed and sick of himself.
“Well, okay than.”
“Yeah, bye. Sorry again.”
“Oh, it’s okay. Bye.”
One of the most trying and embarrassing conversations he had ever had was finished, and Luke was feeling even worse than before. What the hell happened last night? A part of him wanted to call one of his friends and try to figure out the previous night’s scenario, but the other part cowardly suggested that the best thing to do was to simply act as if nothing special had happened. He went out, got drunk, flirted with some chicks, called Sonia, and that was all there was to it. The I’m-so-not-vulnerable-and-such-a-cool-guy attitude which was getting on his nerves more and more prevailed again, and Luke sank a tiny bit deeper into the thick, muddy mess which was his screwed-up life.