I’ve always wondered why failure stings the way it does. The perpetrator, the victim, even innocent bystanders seem to feel the bite. I could see it in their eyes, reflecting the turmoil in their soul. I hate failure. I hate what it does to people…most of all, I hate what it does to me. Once again, face to face with my old nemesis, I could feel the effect of its venom spreading through my soul.
Kelly studied me for a few seconds A couple tears raced one another down her cheeks. Timmy watched her carefully and then switched his penetrating gaze to me. Then back to Kelly once more before he addressed me.
“Mr. MacDonald. I am sorry as well. It would seem as though the end of our negotiations has…ahem…arrived. I will, of course, inform the powers that be of your decision. I had hoped for a more ideal resolution to our situation.”
He scooted over toward the end of the booth and then stood up. Placing his hat upon his head he nodded first to Kelly and then to me. “I am tempted to wax philosophical on the lessons learned during our time together. However, as Mr. Dickens once penned, ‘A word in earnest is as good as a speech.’ My sincere condolences to you both.”
The dark clouds rolled into my mind as I tried to keep my stomach from convulsing. My body began to tremble as the walls closed in…all alone in the prison of my making. The pain pierced my soul, awakening from their tombs years of hurt from days gone by. My head lowered under the weight of it all.
“I’m sorry too,” chimed in a familiar voice, coming from behind me and over my left shoulder.
Turning toward my friend, I responded, “Jake?”
“Sorry to interrupt and sorry I’m late Mac. Hi Kelly. I just finished up the paperwork. The transaction we spoke about earlier just completed. The funds you requested have been transferred to your account. It sounded urgent so I hope you don’t mind the interruption.”
Two seconds later I embraced my old friend. A huge friggin’ bear hug.
“I love you, man,” I said, at least five times.
He smiled as he struggled to breathe. Barely able to speak, he managed to squeeze out, “I love you too, Mac. Think you could put me down?”
“Yeah, sorry about that,” I said, restoring his five foot nine inch frame to the floor from whence it came. “Sorry, man,” I mumbled, feeling suddenly self-conscious.
“Well, just wanted to give you the news. I’ll let you get back to your company. Later, Mac.” He nodded his head and then politely added, “Kelly.”
“Later, Jake. Thanks. You’re a magician. Seriously, dude, thank you.”
He nodded and headed over to the bar. And for the rest of his days, I made sure Jake never paid for another beer in my pub.
Grinning from ear to ear, I rejoined my group. “Well, Timmy, looks like we’re good to go after all. Where do I sign?”
Smiling in return, he responded, “Well, quite the interesting turn of events, Mr. MacDonald. Just when I think I have you figured out, you surprise me. Excellent. Without further ado, let us finalize this transaction, and put this ordeal behind us.”
Sitting back down, he pulled out a small cellphone-sized device from inside his grey, pin-striped suit. On closer inspection I thought it looked very familiar.
“Is that an iPhone?”
“Yes, it is.”
“We’re going to conduct this transaction on a friggin’ iPhone?”
“Unless you have religious preference precluding your use of technology from the company in Cupertino?”
“Uh….no…I just….expected something more James Bondish. You know, like a briefcase with a special access code verified by eye scan, voice recognition, and fingerprint.”
“Yes, well, that’s all fine and good, but I’m not exactly in Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Are you ready to proceed?”
I nodded. His long, slender fingers worked deftly on the surface of the phone, surprisingly so. A mere few seconds passed before he handed the device to me.
“Please enter your account#, your password, and your verification information.”
I followed his instructions and an “I Agree” button popped up on the screen…like I was purchasing a five dollar app. With my finger hovering over it, I paused. My heart raced and my palms started sweating. Everything I owned, all that my parents had left me, my entire material net worth sat in that account. For the first time I seriously questioned the sanity of my decision. My hand drifted down and away from the device.
I mean, what the hell had I been thinking? Selling my birthright? The only thing my beloved parents passed down to me? All that I had left of them? How could I even contemplate doing such a thing? Had I lost my fucking mind?
And for what? Yes, for what? No longer fixated on the screen, my eyes darted around. A girl who came into my life only months ago? Someone I know less about than almost anyone else in this town? She might be a serial killer or a man-eater. She says she loves me, but mysteriously declines my proposal? I can’t believe I even asked her to marry me…what was I thinking?…maybe she’s a witch…casting a spell on me….or maybe she’s a pod-girl from another planet…or maybe--
In the middle of my rapid-fire internal interrogation, I felt her hand touch my arm. My gaze met hers and all my questions seemed to disappear into the emerald pools of her eyes. All I needed to know peered right back at me. I loved her. And I would do anything for her. The time had come for me to stop vacillating and be a man. Act on what I believed, regardless of the damn consequences.
Once again, I positioned my hand above the screen. She squeezed my arm and mouthed the words, “Are you sure?”
I smiled. Like an out-of-body experience I watched my finger press the button marked “I Agree.” In response, a polite, green “Thank You” popped up on the screen. Closing my eyes, I took a long, deep breath.
I felt her lips softly kiss my cheek. Almost like a test run, she whispered into my ear, “Thank you, Scotty.” Taking my face in her hands, she turned me toward her and pressed her body up against mine. This time she spoke clearly at a regular volume. “Thank you, Scotty.”
Through my smile, she kissed me and I felt it everywhere – my head, my toes, my stomach, everywhere. I wanted to make love to her, right there, and right then. In that moment, my universe began and ended with her…the center of my galaxy…the sun to my moon…
Sounding like an attendant giving out boarding information for the next flight, Timmy’s voice crackled in the distance, “Well, I can see that three is a crowd and all that. Good day to you both.” By the time I’d disengaged enough to respond, he had disappeared, once again. A small twinge of melancholy ran through me at the thought of never seeing him again.
Bringing me back to the moment at hand, Kelly slid over into my lap, facing me and straddling my legs. Resuming our makeout session, one thing quickly led to another. Our hands ran free across each other’s bodies and we started unbuttoning every button we could find. I’d forgotten where we were, and even if I’d remembered, I wouldn’t have cared. I wanted her and I wanted her now.
As I kissed her neck, feeling the warmth of her skin on my lips, I could hear her saying my name over and over again. I realized how much I loved her voice, how much I’d missed the sound of her voice. About to remove her blouse, I felt a strong hand on my shoulder and heard someone yelling in my ear.
“Mac! Mac! Mac!”
“What?” I yelled back.
“Mac! You’re in your pub! Look around, dude!” Jake waved his hand in the direction of the twenty-five or so patrons staring in our direction. Shaking my head trying to merge the two realities, I overheard a small laugh coming from Kelly’s direction.
A few awkward moments later, Gerry stood up in the back of the crowd. Lifting up her pint of Guinness toward the two of us, she gave her husband Lynn a get-off-your-ass-and-join-me glare. He grunted and moved his heavy frame up from his chair. Lifting his glass of Cabernet, he took his place beside his wife. And then one by one, the rest of the group joined them, all extending their glasses to us.
Gerry took two steps forward, cleared her throat, and extinguished the silence with her strong Bronx accent. “To Mac and Kelly. May your kids have Kelly’s brains and looks and personality and temperament, and Mac’s....” She paused, searching the ceiling, and then continued on, “And Mac’s pub. Cheers.”
After the chorus of “Cheers” and laughter died down, Gerry spoke again. “Come on people! Can’t you see these folks need some privacy? Show’s over. Time to go.”
Still in the middle of their lunch hour, the crowd dispersed, leaving their unfinished food and drinks. The staff followed a few minutes later. The last person to leave, flipped the sign to “Closed” and locked the door.
Kelly hadn’t moved from her position on top of my lap. I smiled and casually tossed out a comment. “Well, that was…unusual.”
“Yes, very unusual,” she responded.
And then we took up where we left off as if nothing had happened in between. The rest of the day we made love. Until that time, I’d never known there was a difference between having sex and making love. I gave myself to her and she gave herself to me, no strings attached and no inhibitions. We became one physically and emotionally. The most intoxicating event of my life.
Midnight came and went. Eventually, our passion settled into a more peaceful intimacy. With her head on my chest and my arms wrapped around her, Kelly struggled to keep her eyes open. She looked up at me and smiled. The words “I love you” floated out from her mouth just before she drifted off to sleep.
The next few hours passed quickly. I was exhausted and I needed rest, but I just couldn’t sleep. Her fragrance, the feel of her skin, her heartbeat, her soft breathing…everything about her felt like a present that just kept opening to reveal new and wonderful surprises.
Through a myriad of different positions, we managed to stay in contact throughout the night. Each position seemed to work for us…we fit together….almost magically. Somewhere around four or five in the morning, I found myself behind her, laying on my right side, with my left arm around her. My legs intertwined with hers, and my lips rested against the back of her shoulder. The next thing I remember the brightness of the day woke me from my slumber.
Still trying to regain my vision, I searched around for her - the love of my life. Not anywhere to be seen, I threw my jeans on and stumbled over to the bar, calling out her name. After completing my walk through the main part of the pub, I decided to head to the back where she lived. Knowing that I’d probably find her there and anticipating holding her in my arms again, I picked up the pace. Her closed door greeted me, so I knocked. My knock pushed the door open and I peered inside.
Nothing. Other than the furnishings, absolutely nothing. Her bed made and her room spotless. Not a scrap of clothing, a picture, toiletries…nothing. Without a trace, like she’d never been there at all…
Kelly had disappeared.