Saturday, August 30, 2008

For The Sake of Accuracy

Mark rested his shoe on the rail and lifted his beer to his lips while he lifted his eyes past the base of the bottle. The bartender tended to be a bit slow, so he waited to grab his buddies' beers. It was his turn to pay and he paid attention to the women in the bar while he waited. He saw Brady and his heart beat his beer to his gut.

She breezed through his buddies. Her nods seemed sincere. Her eyes searched the periphery of his pals. He saw as her mouth asked for him. She looked for him; he looked for a place to go. He sat his bottle on the bar and turned to go into the men’s room. "I’ll be right back," he apologized to the bartender. He stepped into the men’s room and stepped up to the enamel.

"Why’d you come in here?"

He recognized her voice. He refused to turn to face her. "Jesus woman!" Mark closed his eyes and dropped his head back toward his back "Tell me you didn’t actually come in here!" He zipped his trousers and turned around. "No! Don’t answer me! Just leave!" He walked over to the sink and washed his hands. He wasn’t surprised to see her. He regularly met his buddies at this bar at this time on the same day of each month.

"It’s your fault," she argued. "You’re the one who went to hide in the bathroom. I know you saw me." Brady crossed her arms over her breasts. "I just want to talk to you." She never raised her voice; her presence would have raised a few eyebrows, but the room was deserted except for the pair.

"Look. No." Mark pulled a paper towel from the machine. "It’s a rule. Men don’t talk in here. Leave." He wiped his hands, balled the paper into a crumple and pitched it into the trash. He balled his fists and pushed them into his pockets. "Besides, we have nothing to talk about. We’re talked out. Seriously. Goodbye." He stepped toward the door.

Brady stepped toward him. Her heels clicked on the tile. "Why aren’t you answering your phone?" She stood so close to him that he felt her breath on his lips. "Mark? Why won’t you talk to me?" She slid her hands between his fists.

"Please don't come near me anymore." He jerked his hands from his pockets and took her hands off his groin and into his hands. "You've gotta stop! I can’t take it!" He stepped back from her. "I hate looking at my phone now. You call me. You text me. You gotta back up!" He moved his hands up to her shoulders. "Stop Brady. Please. Just stop."

"There’s no good reason we aren’t together." Her tears followed her cheeks to her chin. "This makes no sense." She walked over to the machine and jerked a chunk of towel out of the dispenser. "Why can’t we just live together?" She blotted the tears off her face. "Lots of people just live together. Why does everything have to be all or nothing with you?" She walked over and dropped the towel into the trash. "God that’s what I hate about you! Everything’s always so extreme with you! All or nothing! Love or hate! Goddamn you! Can’t you ever just compromise a little? Can you Mark? Can you just give in a little? Just one time?" The tears echoed the previous path. She walked over and jerked another sheet.

"Why are you doing this?" He pushed his palms back inside his pockets and grabbed the glucose packet in his fist. "I want the break to be permanent. We’re done. It’s finished. I’m just having a beer with my buddies and you follow me in here, feel me up, and yell at me about what you don’t like about me. Well let me coach you to a little realization here sweetheart. You don’t like me - quit following me! Quit calling me! Quit talking to my friends! You don’t want to marry me? Don’t marry me. But get the fuck out of my life!" The exhaustion from his exposition seeped into his lungs until he couldn’t catch his breath. "I’m not the one calling you or bothering you! Am I?"

"No. You’re just the one writing about us for the whole world to see." She reached into her purse and pulled out her make-up bag. She unzipped it and pulled out a compact. She turned to the mirror with the confidence that she had his attention. "So Mark for the sake of accuracy, why don’t you write that you’re exhaustive and exacting and that you consume everything around you?" She repaired her make-up while she severed any chance they’d ever make up. "Mark?" She dropped the compact into her purse and pulled out a tube. "Are you going to write that? Are you going to write about how you get inside our heads until we can’t think anymore?" She rimmed her mouth with a reddish hue. She looked at him through the reflection. "Are you going to write about how we can’t have any pride around you because you make us feel incompetent all the time?" She dropped the tube and turned to face him. "Are you going to write how foolish we feel around you?"

She pulled a small gold cigarette case out of her purse and pulled out one cigarette and brought it to her lips. He couldn’t breathe and she intended to take even more air out of the room. She continued after she lit it and took one puff. "I don’t care whether I can smoke in here or not! Just because Saint Mark quit - does that mean I have to too?"

He stepped toward the door and grabbed the handle. He turned around. "If I’m really all those things, why won’t you just go away? Why won’t you just leave me alone?"

"Because you really are all those things." She sighed and dropped the cigarette to the floor and smashed it.

He opened the door, held it, and watched her walk away.