It’s my birthday! As my birthday is progressing, I have decided I’m going to talk about that which is my favorite to talk about. I’m gonna tell you all about the love of my life. This is a section of my autobiography. It is the third volume, and the thirteenth book of the autobiography titled Reality of the Unreal Mind. This section is called The King’s Concubine. It’s about the times when me and my wife almost got together spanning from the last day of eighth grade til six years later, when we actually did connect. So today we talk about the near-misses of love. This is the seventh post in this series. I will be releasing them all day.
Now we’re talking about my day, and I live on a 48-hour schedule. So a new one of these will be coming out every two hours and 45 minutes from now until 2 in the morning on the 24th, when I go to sleep.
“Good game,” I said to her as she put the chess pieces back in the box. I looked at Bekah and smiled. There was something about watching her concentrate on a thing that made me feel at ease. “Hey,” I said.
She looked up with a grin on her face.
“Hug maybe?” Shadow said.
She jumped to her feet and hugged me. Her body felt so right, like it was sinking into mine. I pulled away and Shadow could not even look her in the face. “Thanks, play again some time.” He muttered as he walked out.
“We are out,” he said, and everyone followed.
Harvard had parked right in front of the door and as everyone piled into the car, Shadow grabbed the door handle and stared at Bekah. Brett had walked back to her table and was talking to her. She was looking at Shadow.
“Let’s go!” Shadow said.
“Where?” Harvard asked.
“Taco Bell,” Walleye said.
Harvard pulled out and as he backed away, Bekah was standing at the door looking at Shadow.
“She’s cool,” Shadow said.
“All tied up in Brett,” Jammy said.
“God knows why,” Walleye said. “I think I almost killed him out there.” Walleye had fought Brett in a stick fight match outside while Bekah and I were playing chess.
“You kick his ass?” Shadow asked.
“Well I think he almost started crying,” Jammy said. “When Walleye was done with him, he set the stick down and I picked up mine. I told him to get in there and Brett tried to get out of it but-”
“But we don’t allow that,” Shadow said.
“Yeah, well he wasn’t ready for me,” Jammy said.
“No one ever is Jammy, not one time, not ever,” Shadow said.
We walked into Taco Bell and owned it immediately. I went to get a table.
“You want anything?” Harvard asked.
“Tostada, two bean burritos,” Shadow yelled. He sat staring out the window and his mind played back the way she smiled, the way she swallowed that spoon. The hug. All of it. He barely saw his food when it was dropped in front of him.
Everyone ate. Thanked Harvard for the food and we made it out to the car.
“How stuck is she on Brett?” Shadow asked.
“Are you going to steal her from him?” Chanel asked.
Shadow could barely concentrate on the road, the music, or the things being said to him, but he caught that. “Can’t steal a friend’s girl. There has to be a code.”
“Fuck code,” Harvard said.
“Yeah, fuck code,” Chanel said. “Do you like her?”
“I am not getting into this. Bekah belongs to Brett as long as she wants to,” Shadow said.
“But if they broke up?” Chanel said. She had a way, and if she wanted to wile me between Bekah and Brett, she could do it.
“No. Leave her with her man. She chose him, she gets him,” Shadow said. “But she is cute.”
Now that was the night of the chess game. The next day, Brett tracked us down at Jammy’s house. When Brett walked in, Harvard rolled his eyes and got up to go into the side room and listen to music.
“I broke up with Bekah,” Brett said.
Shadow looked up. “You did what?”
“Yeah, she is just too fucking clingy. She said last night that she wanted to see me more and she was talking about having me over to her house all the time. She is just too much.”
“Where does she live?” Shadow said.
“What?” Brett said. “Why do you want to know where she lives?”
“I want to go check on her. She is cool. I want to make sure she is okay,” he lied. Shadow just wanted to see her. Just wanted to hang out with her again.
“You can’t go see her man, bro code,” Brett said.
And Shadow knew exactly what he was talking about. He knew he could never date Bekah if Brett said it was not okay. He looked at Brett and at his stick.
“Wanna stick fight?” Shadow said.
“What? No.” Brett looked around the room.
Shadow looked at Walleye, who looked at Jammy.
“Go tell Harvard,” Walleye said. He looked hungry. He snatched up his stick Blackie and was out the door.
“No, man,” Brett said. “I am not, I mean, I don’t even have my stick. And you guys don’t let anyone borrow your sticks, so.”
Shadow jumped to his feet. He patted Brett on the shoulder and headed for the door.
“Jesse is fighting Brett!” Jammy yelled into the side room.
The music clicked off and Harvard yelled out, “I’m coming!”
When Brett walked out into the driveway and Shadow was spinning Peeks, Brett froze in the yard. He stared as Shadow twirled the staff and pointed it at Brett.
“I win, you give me her number,” Shadow said. “You win, I will never speak to her again.”
Brett stared wide eyed at Shadow for a moment. Blackie soared through the air and Brett tried to catch it but fumbled the catch. There was a certain way to toss a staff at someone. You threw it so that the side of the stick came at them. With one delicate grab Brett could have caught Blackie, but it bounced off his chest. He picked it up and looked at the weapon in his hands.
Harvard looked at Brett and smiled. “It won’t bite,” he said. He jerked a thumb in Shadow’s direction. “He might.”
“We fight for her number,” Shadow said. “Get out here.”
“I can’t. I have to go,” Brett said. He looked terrified. He held Blackie out and away from his chest.
Chanel looked at Shadow, then back at Brett. “I wouldn’t. I think he will kill you to get it,” she said.
“I have to go,” Brett said. “She would not even answer her phone anyway, she is so busted up over our break up,” He was making his way to his car. “She will not come out of her room or answer her phone for weeks. Guaranteed. Here,” Brett threw Blackie back at Walleye, who snatched it out of the air and spun it.
“This is not over,” Shadow said.
“She won’t even talk to you,” Harvard said. “For some reason that boy is all she cares about. Fuck her anyway. Let’s get out of here.”
We walked up the road to the apartment Harvard had rented for us. Shadow watched Brett leave and scowled.
Six months later Misty calls. I have my own apartment now and I work at Best Western and Pizza Hut. I just got off at Best Western a few hours ago and my bed is calling. I let the machine get it as I take off my shirt.
“Hey, it’s Misty. I was wondering if you wanted to come to lunch with me and Bekah?”
I picked up the phone. “Lunch, where?”
“There is this great new restaurant in Alpine House. It is just getting started, so it is not fancy, but the place is amazing. Huge food. Come on, let me come pick you up.”
Artist is in the car.
“Where is Bekah? I thought she was coming and bringing her hair,” Artist says.
Misty giggles. “Her hair. Of course she is bringing her hair. We are meeting her there.”
“Why are you taking me here?” Artist says.
“It’s legend that you don’t feed yourself,” Misty says. “I’m doing it for you.”
We pull into the parking lot and Bekah is standing near a door with no sign on it. There is no sign at all announcing that this is anything but a hotel. I sweep the place and look back at Bekah.
“Hi,” she says. “So glad you could come. This place is awesome. You’re gonna love it.”
We walk in, standard booths. Standard napkin holders. It looks like a diner without the cool stuff that comes along with diners. There is little or no decoration. Little or no sign of anything at all.
“Come on,” Bekah says. She tugs at my wrist and I follow. I drop in a seat across from her and Misty sits next to me.
“We gotta get the fried zucchini!” Misty says. “It’s amazing!”
“Don’t eat zucchini, but you two go nuts,” Artist says.
“Will you try it if we get some?” Bekah says. She smiles at him in that way that makes her a jokester and a sweet girl at the same time.
“I don’t know. Let me get a look at them first,” Artist says.
To be honest, he doesn’t remember much of the conversation. He remembers that this is the first time he hears the title Dali Lama. He has never heard that term before, and he just kinda lets them talk, knowing he is not smart enough to be there.
Bekah keeps looking at him, and he smiles at her. The light is doing amazing things with her hair and the conversation kind of drifts away. Caramel, her hair looks like warm caramel, and Artist can look at it all day. She has a beauty mark by her eye. Artist can’t imagine why he keeps forgetting that. He stares at it for a while as she smiles. She tucks the sides of her hair back behind her ear and he watches it roll. She has easy hair. The kind that doesn’t frizz. The kind that just rolls like liquid, and Artist smiles.
“Here, you gotta have one,” Bekah says. She holds out a massive piece of fried something. It looks like a huge chicken finger but it obviously isn’t. This is a piece of something cut longways. It used to be a cylinder but it was sliced in six wedges. It is almost as long as his forearm, and he takes it from her.
“What is this?” he asks.
“Fried zucchini,” Misty says. “Try it with the ranch.”
Artist dips and eats and has never tasted anything like it. He looks at the basket and sees twelve of these pieces here.
After eating about four, he can’t stuff another bite of food in his mouth. Then his burger gets to the table and he stares at it in awe. It is huge. Bigger than any burger he has ever seen.
“I can’t eat that,” Artist says.
Misty looks at us and smiles. “Well, get as much as you can in your gut.”
Artist stares at Bekah and smiles. He pulls back and Shadow comes out.
He looks around confused. Misty, strange restaurant, huge burger. Bekah. He grins at her.
“Hi,” he says.
She giggles. “Hi.”
He picks up the burger that is almost too big to pick up, takes a bite and sets it back down. It is delicious but he is stuffed. He looks across the table as Misty starts talking about her boyfriend, and he slides his foot forward and taps Bekah’s toe.
She pulls it back. She didn’t even notice.
Another bite of burger. And he slides his foot forward again.
She pulls it back.
He does it again, locking eyes with her.
Misty is still talking and Bekah’s eyes swoop to Shadow. They widen. And he grins at her.
He slides his toe up to her ankle. To her pant leg. Up to the knee, then back down again. She is trying to look at Misty while the talking is going on, but when my foot hits the floor, hers rises up. She sets it on the bench between my knees.
She is giggling, and I don’t know if Misty’s story is funny. But Bekah is trying not to look at Shadow.
He reaches down between his legs and strokes her foot, her ankle, and a bit of her sock.
She looks at Shadow, her eyes wide, her lips pressed tight. She wants to say something so bad but she doesn’t. She just giggles and goes back to Misty.
As Misty talks, Shadow strokes Bekah’s shoe and ankle. He runs his hand up her socks into her pant leg.
The meal is over. Shadow is in the car. Misty is taking us home. There is a massive take-out box in his lap and he looks at his fingers. The same ones that stroked Bekah’s foot and leg. He wiggles them around as if he has never seen fingers before.
Misty gets out and hugs Shadow.
“Is Bekah over Brett?” Shadow asks. Every time Brett talks to him, he tells stories about how much she is calling trying to beg him to take her back.
“For a while now,” Misty says. “She broke up with him like six months ago or something.”
“That is not right. Brett broke up with her,” Shadow says.
“No, my darling,” Misty says. “Brett was dumped.”
Another hug and Misty is in the car.
“Thanks for lunch,” Shadow says.
She waves and is gone.
Shadow realizes that she left before he got Bekah’s number.