Thursday, October 11, 2012


Something was amiss.

John was looking through the window of the bar and he was gathering up the courage to go in, deliver some paperwork, but he had gotten caught up with looking around the place, noticing recent changes, appreciating renovations.

She'd done a good job. This was a bar he would hang out in.

He was looking at some art behind the bar when he noticed Max, at the bar. He was having a drink, playing a game of Dominos with Helena. It was a fairly slow night so she appeared to be mostly hanging out with him, scanning the place, serving a drink, heading back. Max looked comfortable, jovial even.

He walked in and presented the question on everyones mind:


Of course it didn't come out like that. Not like he felt. The hundreds of ways and zillions of manners in which this phrase fit sat comfortable in the back of his mind.

It came out more jovially. Like a friend might bust out to another friend "hey man...what the fuck are you doing here?" (slap on back)

They both looked up and said nothing, and he realized he was forcing a smile. and a tone. That was the new thing with Helena, this thing where they pretended they were totally fine with each other in hopes of ringing in a new era that would, most likely, never actually occur.

She looked at him and said something about it being a public place and so he asked again.
No, really what are you doing here .

When Max informed he was getting a drink, that was too much.

I am pretty sure that is not the answer to my question.

Helena made some sort of comment about everyone having to be out every once in a while.

He looked at Max and noted, directly: Not when you are a shut in.

Max was now, clearly, uncomfortable. And John was becoming distracted. he was increasingly noting Max, and his comfort, and the fact that he was drinking out of the same glasses he had at home, and that his favorite song was on the jukebox and he wondered if she had bought all of Max's favorite albums.

He was about to ask if they were having an affair but then he had to admit the problem with that, had to own that an affair had to be had secretively and Max sure as hell seemed comfortable, here, in public with his ex wife, in a bar he had once owned. And then he also had to admit that he couldn't even really ask if she were cheating when he was practically living with another woman and had only had sex just an hour ago and yet, looking at Max, right there, he was fairly certain there was a lie in here somewhere, an undeniable betrayal.

The various what the fucks were building consensus, taking storm.

Were they fucking?

Without realizing it he asked that aloud. Causing several heads to turn.

Oh, no! Lord no! Hell NO!
They asserted this quickly laughing, nodding their heads. gesticulating madly. Not fucking. Totally not having sex. Just having a drink. No fucking.

He relaxed.

But really...what the fuck are you doing here? How would Ann feel about this?

Helena looked at him with surprise: Ann left him. That look. The reproach. The surprise. The shock.
What the fuck John, don't you know it when your best friend has been left by his wife?
News he shouldn't be hearing first here. Any where else but here.

John looked embarrassed and he tried not sound accusatory.
Why didn't you tell me?

Max glanced at Helena and said, uncomfortably: you were on Vacation...I didn't want to (another uncomfortable glance, in deference, to Helna) disturb the lovebirds.

He looked up feeling guilty and then felt worse. Dismissing all the signs, the weirdness, it made sense. Man, you are left by your wife and of course you don't want to be at home. Of course you don't want to call your friend on his love bird vacation. Of course you just want a damn drink outside your house with all its ghosts and memories.

Damnit, I am really sorry, you could have called me.

They hugged and he looked over and he saw that Helena had poured him a drink. Fucking Helena. And her look said it all: stick around, have a drink, be there for your friend.

And the funny thing is, he did. And it was almost normal. Comfortable. Something had broken the tension and he spent the rest of the evening there, having drinks with Max. Helena made herself scarce, mostly, stopping by, occasionally having conversation, throwing in a word here and there.

It is all just felt so.damn.normal.

So damn normal that he even gave Helena a half friendly hug at the end of the night, grabbed Max's keys, drove him home life this was already habit.

And at the end of the night, pouring Max out of his car, turning off the last plaguing questions, he was almost comforted.

Coming home, crawling into bed with Jessica he thought about how much he had missed Helena, how, for the first time, he could imagine, someday a life with her in it, a place for them to know each other in a new way, and he wanted to tell her anything, something, everything.

He inhaled Jessica's scent and drifted off to sleep with only the smallest nagging doubts

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