"Please Micah, please!"
"Not on your life bucko! Oh look..." I held the thing out of the window and let it drop. "...you forgot your stereo!" It smashed very satisfactory into a million pieces scattering along the sidewalk.
"MICAH be careful!"
Yes I know I'm acting like lunatic, right now I really don't care.
"You probably need your clothes too!" I yelled sending his undies flying through the air. I sure as hell am giving our neighbours a good show. Yes ma'am he does wear a size small!
"I swear it was only one time honey."
"Ah yeah right!" Like I was going to fall for that!
"Honestly Micah! Please give me another chance. Pleeease!"
I calm down a little holding a box full of his shit out of the window. I rest it on the windowsill and look down. There he was... two stories below me kneeling down on the pavement.
"Vance, the only reason you got caught is because I happen to pass the motel during my lunch break and spotted that worthless piece of crap you call a car!" I took a deep breath trying to settle myself. But I could feel the anger rise quickly, images flashing through my mind. "You didn't even have the decency TO USE PROTECTION VANCE! You better pray my tests come back negative you son of a shit!"
The sight of Vance romping in bed with a grey balding fat man was already disgusting enough as it was. I shoved the box from the windowsill and send his crap clattering down.
I wasn't good enough to trump even an old fat guy? Vance religiously used a condom every time even though we always tested negative. 'Just to be safe' he said.
Guess now I know why! My anger and humiliation swelled. I searched the room for anything else I could throw.
"Don't be like that Mimi! I was thinking of you the whole time."
I actually gasped was he insane? I stared at the now hideous Vance Mason and shook my head in disgust and disbelief.
Who was this man? Who had I been living with for the past two years?
"You can get the rest of your crap tomorrow at 2 o'clock." With that I shoved the window shut, grabbed the phone and called a locksmith. The only time they had available to change my locks was tonight at 8.30. After the appointment was set I dialed my sister, she picked up on the fourth ring.
"Katie..." My voice and me broke I started crying uncontrollably. Alarmed Katie tried soothing me through the phone.
"Hold on sweetie I'll be right over. Do we need Maggie's?" She asked.
"...Yeah" I croaked, she hung up and I slumped on the couch utterly exhausted. Fifteen minutes later. Katie opened the door with her key. Took one look at my sobbing face and ran over to crush me in a hug only Katie can give.
"I saw Vance outside picking up his dignity. What happened?" I relayed what had went down just an hour ago, choking back the tears as I did.
"That piss-artist!' She fumed, fire in her eyes.
"He was old Katie, really old like 80 or something and ugly as hell. He cheated on me with an old flabby fat guy." I had my head in my hands crying into my palms. "A bold old flabby fat guy!" I whaled.
Katie released me to mix the margaritas. Our Hardship Maggie's.
"I mean I'm 29, I keep my body in good shape. For him no less! I'm not GQ stunning but I'm not that ugly am I?' I looked up at Katie as handed me my drink.
"Hell if you weren't my brother and gay, I'd do you in a heartbeat.' She commented making me chuckle which spurred on more tears.
"It's not even the worst part Katie. He wasn't wearing a rubber! Nothing at all! It scared the shit out of me." Katie was silent I knew how much this frightened her too. She grabbed her cell phone and retreated to the kitchen for a few minutes.
"Remember Suzy, the nurse? She coming over in an hour to get you checked." He stated returning to the couch.
This calmed me down a little but not much. I looked around my two-bedroom apartment and sighed. His stuff was everywhere; it was making me nauseous.
"He's coming back tomorrow for the rest of his stuff. I don't think I can face him. Could you be here? Make sure he doesn't take any of my stuff?'
"Sure sweetie, I don't have to work tomorrow. Point out what he can take and what he can't." She hugged me close again as I sobbed into my Maggie. We remained so on the couch until Suzy arrived.
Just having ended her shift she still wore her white nurse uniform. Suzy and my sister had been friends since college and stayed in touch ever since. She was really nice and very gentle as she talked me through the procedure.
"We can take one of these OraQuick In-Home HIV tests right now for immediate feedback. But I have to do blood work all the same to verify any results, just to be safe" I winched at her echoing Vance's words but nodded; man I hate needles. I'd been tested many times and never got used to it, although getting it done in the comforts of my own home was a novelty.
She opened the test and swabbed my upper and lower gums, a weird experience to say the least.
"It takes about 30 minutes, I'll draw some blood while we wait. We'll have to draw some blood again in three months, to be sure."
Twenty-eight painstakingly slow nerve-racking minutes and a needle prick later Suzy checked the test.
She smiled "One line! Negative! The blood work should confirm that in a few days." I think I'd like one of those Margareta's now please.' We all breathed again relief flooding me.
"Suzy you can have all the Maggie's you want.' Katie jumped running in to the kitchen and returned with more drinks for all of us.
Suzy stayed with us all afternoon well into the evening. I had a pity party talking crap about myself, which switched to talking crap about Vance as more Maggie's went down.
"I mean he gave terrible head!" I started giggling in my booze buzz. "I found the one gay guy in the city that gave terrible head." We were in the bedroom stuffing the remainder of his clothes in trash bags. Suzy opened a dresser draw and looked up wide-eyed.
"Er... are these yours or his?" She pointed to a small collection of intimate toys.
"His! I don't want any of that.' I visibly shuddered looking into the draw. Dildo's and vibrators are fine, fun even but not the way Vance sometimes liked to play with them.
I broke down again sobbing in the middle of my bedroom with a trash bag in my hand. I'd loved him; I would have done anything for him.
Why wasn't I enough?
More Maggie's arrived.
I placed stickers on all the furniture that was his while emptying them of all my belongings. My anger seemed to dim as I distanced myself from everything that was Vance. Suzy kept cracking us up with stories about her patients and by the time the pizza arrived I was more than I little drunk.
Damn, a late Friday night appointment. I hate these; I like my Friday nights just like the next guy. A cold beer, a movie and me; my perfect threesome.
I trudged up the block towards Snyder Street tool bag in hand to my last job of the day. I stopped at 1078A, judging by the male underwear in the hedge and remnants of smashed electronics on the sidewalk this was the place all right.
A bad break-up, he cheated on her guessing at undies in the hedge. I rang the bell for apartment 2b and got buzzed in immediately, clearly expected.
What I hadn't expected was what greeted me when I knocked on the apartment door. A nurse opened it for me still clad in her white uniform, which stood out against her dark skin and wild curly hair. Behind her the apartment was a disaster zone, bags and boxes everywhere. Furniture moved to the middle of the room, for no apparent reason.
I could hear a man and woman singing drunkenly to Benny and the Jets.
Yup. A definite bad break up. It was a little funny hearing them mush up the lyrics of the song. No guys... it is not mowhard foods...
"Hi. Sorry about this.'" The nurse smiled apologetically.
"No problem ma'am, this ain't my first day on the job."... well it wasn’t.
"Micah! The locksmith is here!?' She called out to another room.
"YES!" Yelled a fine looking man a little too loudly as he stumbled into the living room. He looked up to see me standing in the doorway, his freckled face lighting up instantly.
"YOU!" He pointed at me walking towards the door almost tripping over several boxes. "You... look like a man -hmm nice man- that wouldn't cheat on his signisssicant other.' He slurred poking my chest with his finger. His intense chocolate eyes looked down distracted by the poking of my chest. He kept poking me giggling like a little schoolboy. "Oh hard hihi."
The nurse quickly grabbed him and mouthed an apology as she dragged him into the living room.
Now that was cute and funny.
Smiling I kneel down by the door and start my work. Half listening to the man rant and rave about his cheating ex-boyfriend.
"Vaaaaance." He stretched the name lyrically. "What kind of a ridiculous name is that anyway? It sounds like its been dumped in the swamps. Ha! Suits him, they suck too!"
They all continued packing up the boxes and laughing at Vance's stuff.
"And he had a pencil dick!" the man commented out of nowhere at some point.
He walked over to a lone chair and sat himself down picking up his cocktail.
"I should have seen the douche bag signs." He mused drink in hand. The other woman with the same auburn hair and freckled cheeks, looked up at him from the depths of her own alcoholic beverage.
She giggled. "There are signs? If so I need to know them.'
The man nodded excessively. "For sure." He raised a finger theatrically "Douche bag sign # 1: Well rehearsed pick up lines. He literally came on to me with 'My name is Vance, remember that you'll be screaming it later.' " I swallowed a chuckle as the women almost chocked on their drinks laughing. "In his defense, that is exactly what I did that night."
"You fell for that?"
The man shrugged "He looked like fun at the time or maybe I just liked the attention. I don't get hit on very often."
I frowned as I heard him say this. He was a sexy man with a great smile and those freckles dusting his nose and cheekbones were out-and-out adorable.
"Douche bag sign #2:" He held up a second finger. "Giving people nicknames they hate. Mimi, I mean honestly! Micah isn't a long name, why shorten it?"
I had to agree with him on that one Mimi sounded terrible. Now it doesn't take a lot of time to change a lock... but these douche bag signs were funny and I slowed down my work to hear them.
"Oh Oh Oh! # 3" His sister chimed in jumping up excitedly. "He never gave you anything. No gifts whatsoever not even flowers."
"Yeaaahh Katie! Not once, not even a potted plant. Although he demanded expensive gifts every chance he got. One of them is outside on the sidewalk as we speak."
Ah, thought so. I pried the old lock out of the door and threw I into my tool bag fishing out its replacement.
"Ha! sign # 4" Micah started laughing holding up four fingers "Dancing, like in dance routines. 'Oh baby, they playing my song!' I mean omylord the moves he pulled, that was so embarrassing."
I can imagine...
"Douche bag sign # 5:" The nurse chipped holding up a picture of what I guess was of Vance. "Posing for a photo doing the peace sign. I mean we're not in Japan!" They all giggled. Micah grabbed the picture, stomping toward a box with labeled Vance's Shit. He threw the picture in the box and suddenly grew very quiet.
I glanced towards him as I was filling my bag with my tools having finished with the lock.
He just stood there staring into the box lips trembling with tears rolling down his cheeks. I froze my heart broke seeing hem standing there so completely forlorn.
"I never cared. I never cared that he called me Mimi or danced like a douche. Cause he was sweet and funny." He spoke in a small voice sinking to his knees sobbing. "It never mattered that I never got anything or that he gave lousy head. He'd wake me up with a cup of coffee each morning and watch foreign movies with me even though he hated them. I didn't care cause I only wanted him; I tried to make him happy. So why did he chose a bald flabby 80 year-old guy over me?! Why wasn't I enough?' Micah was sobbing hard his sister sank down next him her arm around his shoulder.
Who ever this Vance guy is, he's an idiot.
I closed my tool bag and did something I'd never thought I'd do on a job. I got up walked towards the shaking Micah and kneeled down in front of him. Reaching out I lifted his chin gently with my fingers and placed a small wake-up kiss on his lips. He stopped sobbing immediately staring at me wide-eyed.
"You're plenty." I said slowly and deliberately so he heard me staring intently into his chocolate eyes. "I've been here not but 10 minutes and even I can see you're caring, funny, very attractive and filled with love to give." I paused a second. "If you weren't hurting right now, in the midst of a break up. I'd ask you out in a heartbeat."
He choked back sobs catching his breath and taking mine away. I saw the words slowly sink in.
"Th-thank you.' He managed after a full minute. I released his chin, stood up and walked towards the door. Katie sat staring at me open mouthed but it was the nurse that followed me out.
At the door I handed her the new keys for the locks.
"We'll send the bill.' I reached into my bag and handed her one of my personal cards. "I don't live far from here. If there is anything, call me."
The nurse smiled, "Thank you, that was very nice what you did just there."
"Meant every word ma'am." I nodded a curt goodbye and left the apartment. My own apartment being but a block or two away from Snyder Street I walked home enjoying the soothing evening air. I've seen more post-breakup scenes in my line of work than you could imagine. If anything it keeps us in business. I wish it didn't though, seldom had it been so heart breaking to listen to as it had been tonight.
I checked my watch walking back to my place, 7 o'clock Vance should be long gone by now.
I sighed, what was I going to do now? A very empty apartment awaited me. I turned up the collar of my jacket against the cold wind. Not even the weather liked me today...
"Hey Micah!" I raise my head to see a car pulling up next to me on the curb. A man leaned over the passenger's side towards me. It took me a few seconds to recognize the stranger as I'd only seen him for altogether a minute yesterday and that evening was rapidly becoming hazy.
"Oh Mr. Locksmith.' I forced a smile not wanting to be rude. I remember Suzy giving me his card but I hadn't checked the name.
"I wouldn't go back yet, I just passed your place and there are still two men loading stuff."
"Oh..." Shit what now? I'd been wandering around town for the past 5 hours. I was tired. I wanted to go to what was left of my home.
"You want to grab a bite? You look like you could use a friend. I promise that was not a rehearsed pick-up line." He said grinning... he's got a cheeky streak this one.
"Ha, sign # 1 huh..." I smiled more genuinely.
"Sign # 1." He nods motioning me to get in the car. I pull out my cell and dial Katie, she answers immediately.
"Sorry sweetie he's still here, he arrived two hours late and he been taking his sweet time. He's stalling until you get back. Can you hold out for another hour or so?'
"Yeah sure. I'm going to grab a bite with Mr. Locksmith. He just pulled up warning me he'd seen men outside my place still moving shit."
"Yeah I'll see you in an hour Ok?' I hung up and shoved my phone back into my pocket. I climbed into the car next to Mr. Locksmith. I really should ask his name.
"I know this great mom and pop place a few blocks away. You mind if we go there?" I said turning to look at him. His blue eyes twinkled and a big grin appeared flashing me with pearly whites.
"You mean Frank'n'Salsa's?'
"Yeah you know it?"
"Yeah I know it. I was just on my way there as matter of fact." The man smiled to himself concentrating on the oncoming traffic.
"Great. Everyone calls the old man Papi, I just love that. His wife Donna is really nice too always comes and chats with you. I swear she probably knows all her customers by name."
"Oh she does." The man sighed smiling.
"Vance didn't like it there so I mostly snuck in during my lunch break."
"Well at least we can change that. By the way my name is Ren Aquila.' He said while parking his car near Frank'n'Salsa's.
"Oh thank god." I breathed. "I feel so embarrassed not remembering your name. Your card is still at home sorry I forgot to check."
"Please I think you had enough on you plate last night." He smiled while we climbed out of the car.
"I'm Micah Couch.' I stated holding out my hand as we were about to enter the eatery. "Please to meet you Mr. Aquila. I also want to apologize for my behavior last night it was very... unbecoming of me."
Ren shook my hand firmly, a real mans man handshake. "Enough said."
The moment we stepped through the door Papi came rushing towards us.
"Renzo!" He grabbed Ren and to my surprised hugged him tightly... he's never done that before, Donna never far behind lavishing him with the same treatment.
"Renzo it has been a week since you dropped by!" She chastised him like little schoolboy, which was a little funny to be honest. Cause he blushed like one.
"Hey Papi, sorry momma I had a busy workweek."
Momma? Ren turned to me.
"My parents Cosimo and Donata Aquila. Papi, momma this is Micah Couch.' He introduced.
... What? I felt my face burn, shit I'd just been glorifying his own parents in the front seat of his car.
"Oh we know Micah!' Donna exclaimed taking my arm dragging me to an empty booth.
"Micah has been having a tough couple of days papi. He needs some Italian comfort." Ren confided to his father behind me. Papi nodded disappearing into the kitchen with a very italian flourish.
"Oh no, not love trouble?' Donna frowned concernedly brushing a strand of stray hair from my eyes. Her demeanor towards me had subtly shifted. She's always been very nice to me but now she doing things my own mother never even did. I nodded staring at her nonplussed.
"Momma I think Micah could use a crema gassosa." He whispered leaning over to his mother.
"Of course!" she shuffled off to leaving me staring after her.
"A Crema Gassosa?' I managed a few seconds later.
"It’s comfort in glass. She only makes this for family so you're in for a treat.' Ren smiled he was weirdly restful to be around. My cell rang Katie was calling.
"Do mind? It's my sister..." He shook his head and I turned away speaking softly as not to disturb the other customers.
"He wants the bed Micah! He is arguing over every single piece of furniture you didn't label as his.' I sighed pinching the bridge of my nose I was tired and hungry. I didn't want this right now.
"He can have the bed I don't care. He can anything we bought together he wants. All except my personal stuff, grandma's furniture and granddads records.'
I ended the call slumping back into my seat sighing.
"Urg Guess I have to go furniture shopping next week." I rubbed my face feeling exhausted I hated furniture shopping. Sensing my mood Ren handed me a card from his wallet 'Aquila Furniture & Furnishings'
"Frankie could help you with that. Give him a description of what you want and he'll email you pictures of whatever he has that corresponds with it.'
"Don't tell me you have one of those huge Italian families with cousins and businesses all over the place?' I smiled even though it's weak. I had to say not trekking from shop to shop did sound interesting.
Ren held up his hands in mock surrender. "Guilty as charged." Donna appeared carrying my huge milkshake glass and an ice tea.
"Yes." She nodded. "Frankie can get you anything. Tell him we send you, he'll give you family price.' I sipped my drink and the sweet chocolaty goodness did make me a feel all warm and fuzzy inside...
Donna beamed nudging Ren proudly before she bustled off to her other customers. We sat there for a moment in comfortable silence. Which is weird for me cause I'm one of those people who always try to fill up silent lulls. Maybe it was because of what was happening. Cause right now I was just content sitting here.
Probably for the first time since last night and sober I took a good look at Ren. He was watching his mother whirl around the place, elbow resting on the table with his chin cupped in hand. There was a faint smile on his thin lips.
He had black hair, blue-rimmed eyes and quite a fair complexion. Obviously taking after the mother. He was tall too but not build up. At least not obviously, I do remember poking a very firm chest yesterday.
Damn did I do that? His eyes drifted towards me catching my frown.
"Sorry for poking you yesterday..."
His laughter shook his frame. "No need, it was kind of cute." He didn't mean it as a come on. I really didn't get that vibe from him right now. No way I could deal with that at this moment.
"Thanks for this." I said.
He looks at me long and hard before replying. "There is an Italian saying 'Love makes all men equal'. "
I smile. "Dante."
"Yes." He nodded a little surprised though he tried not to show it. "I've shared your pain. So what better time is there to have a friend?'
"So" Ren suddenly flipping the chipper-switch. "Where does the name Couch come from? Is it...-"
I held up my hand to stop him. "Please don't say anything about potato's or furniture stores!'
"... Scottish?' He finishes suppressing a smile while cocking an eyebrow at me. "You get that a lot? Potato?"
"Ha, elementary school kids aren't very imaginative, high school kids neither for that matter. Couch Potato stuck for a very long time. Actually it's Welsh.' I pointed to my auburn hair. "It means red as in having red hair. Everyone in our family has had red hair going back generations.'
"That's actually very cool.' Ren commented as Papi joined us with two plates of steaming hot spaghetti and meatballs.
"I put in extra special ingredient just for you." He whispered conspiratorially placing the food in front of us.
"Thank you." It smelled amazing pricking my sense back to life. I adore good food.
"Hey Papi do you know what Micah's surname Couch means?" Ren turned to his father ready to impart a little bit of newfound knowledge.
"Yes of course. It means red or something in Welsh."
Ren and I both stared at papi open mouthed. Nobody knew that right of the bat.
"What?" he exclaimed seeing expressions. "Ellis Couch used to come in here all the time, years and years ago.'
"My dad? My dad used to come here?' I was completely shocked. Papi beaconed Donna to join him.
"Momma, remember Ellis Couch? Used to come in every Tuesday and Friday for lunch?'
"Erm... "She thought for a moment before snapped her fingers "Yes! The Trattoria burger with salad and fries.' She saw my shocked face. "Oh of course, you have to same hair." Again brushing a stray strand of hair from my eyes. "I never made he connection. We were very sorry to hear he passed away.'
"But that was fourteen years ago!' I croaked feeling tears starting to well up I started to tremble.
Papi was nodded reminiscing. "He was always going on about his son Mics baseball games. Left handed pitcher right just like our Joey?"
Only dad ever called me Mics. What was going on here? My breath became laboured and I knew I was on the verge of hyperventilating.
"I'm s-sorry, I ... I just need a minute.' I fled to the men's room. Trying to catch my breath and calm down breathing slowly. Fourteen years ago but it could feel like yesterday in a second...
Once calm and face plashed with cool water I returned to Ren.
"I'm sorry.' I apologized sliding into our booth. Papi and Donna seemed to have retreated to the kitchen for the time being. "Dad’s passing was extremely sudden and we were all very close. It's kind of been an emotional roller-coaster these passed few days.' I noticed Ren hadn't touched his food yet; he just smiled at me understandingly. I picked up my fork and started eating.
I almost started sobbing again right there.
The meatballs were something out of this world. Like I was eating love and comfort with each mouthful. It overwhelmed me; Ren seemed to notice the change in my composure. He leaned over the table patting my arm softly, as if reassuring a small child.
"Just let it wash over you, breath slowly.'
We ate the rest of our meal in silence. I couldn't have talked if I wanted to.
I watched Micah finish eat his dinner and checked my watch.
"I'm sorry am I keeping you from something?' Micah asked pushing his empty plate away. This guy really should stop apologizing.
"No not at all. My cousin Joey, yes yet another cousin, has a game tonight and I promised to go watch. Want to come along?'
"A baseball game?" His interest clearly peeked. "I haven't been to a game in ages. Vance was into soccer and going alone isn't half as much fun.'
"It is strictly minor league though.' I explained before he got too excited.
"How much do I owe you?' Micah asked pulling out his wallet.
"Nothing.' He looked up at me skeptically. "Momma will probably refuse the bill anyhow." On cue momma reappeared at he table clearing away the plates. Stating exactly what I had said.
"You better get going not to miss Joey's game.' She shooed us out. In the car Micah was putting on his seatbelt when he froze mid action and looked up at me frowning.
"Not Southclaw Aquila? He's good.'
"You follow the minor leagues?" huh interesting.
"Not religiously.' Micah smiled, it was almost a full smile this time.
Four hours and 9 innings later we were waiting outside the players locker room. It had been immensely entertaining to see Micah completely absorbed in the game.
He wasn't a silent spectator either; man did he have a set of lunges on him. How could such force come from that skinny body? Some of the words he used to chew out the other team were simply hilarious. You could see the umpire failing to suppress his grin during the game.
To be completely honest the spontaneous hug he gave me when our team hit a home run was really distracting. But I'll just keep that to myself for the time being, he doesn't need that right now.
While I drove Micah home, he was jumping in his seat retelling the innings, as if I hadn't just been there with him. There was a gigantic genuine smile on his face as he was using his hands to describe the gameplay. I let him talk until he noticed we'd been parked outside his apartment for a while now.
"Oh we're here. I kind of run my mouth after games, sorry."
"Micah, please stop saying you're sorry. You obviously enjoyed the game.'
"Yeah I did. I really did.' He looked out of the window towards his apartment building. "Thank you, I forgot about all this crap for a few hours." He turned to me and smiled. Not the huge genuine smile from just before but a hurt tired one.
He rummaged in his wallet digging out a card handing it to me.
"I'd really like to have you as a friend.' He slightly stressed friend. "Maybe we could go see another game together?'
I took the card from him smiling. "I'd like that too, like you said going to the game alone isn't as much fun. Going with you certainly was an experience!"
He shaded pink. "Yeah I kind of get into it a little.'
"A little?' He didn't answer just smirked as he climbed out of the car. As he entered his building I read the card he gave me.
Micah E. Couch - Police Officer
Now that... was not what I was expecting...
A new story... Hope you guys like it and I'm working on the following parts!
Comment and/or email me!
This is a piece of fiction. My piece of fiction which may not be borrowed, altered, taken or copied without my explicit permission. These stories are registered under my name.