The Beautiful Talkers

The Beautiful Talkers

By, Andrew K. Smith

Jay and his wife Tara Palmer are happily married. Jay is an upbeat professional auctioneer downtown Seattle, Washington and he specialize in antiques. Tara also works in Seattle as a paralegal at Cohen P.L.L.C., while battling Gastroparesis, an abnormal burping disorder, where she burps upwards to 300 times a day. Anyhow they both constantly wake up and get that coffee buzz and then hop into a cannon infused with coffee and this propels them into the forever. In a lot of ways coffee is a placebo for their confidence that they use to tackle the briskly wet climate of the northwest.

The Palmers were very much in touch with their only child Sandy Palmer. Sandy is about to be a senior at Washington State University where he studies creative writing in the English department. Sandy has himself a girlfriend Hailey Hampshire, who is a junior currently studying business wine management. Summer went by at lighting speed and it was time for the Jay and Tara to drop off Sandy and Hailey at school for the upcoming fall semester. (Jay, Tara, Sandy, and Hailey. Okay, that’s 4 in 2 paragraphs. Let’s keep it simple, yo.)

In the morning the Palmer’s went to go pick up Hailey at the Hampshire residence. When they pulled in the driveway. Jay soared out of the brand new 2013 Land Rover to help Hailey with her bags.

“Hey,” Sandy screeched to Hailey. Then he grabbed her and picked her all the way up off the ground, smothering her with some love.

“Senior year is here. You know what you need, Sandy? You need to meet a nice girl,” said Hailey. But she is a girl. I don’t get it.

“A nice girl? Shit, I wouldn’t even know what to say to a nice girl at this point.”

Jay being the hyper auctioneer that he is, popped his head out of the sunroof, “Well, seeing as you’re about ten seconds away from sitting down in a long car ride with one, you better figure something out.”

Sandy and Hailey shake their heads and start making out in the driveway. Hailey’s mother lets this go on for five seconds and then she says, “Alright enough you two. I think you made your point.” (I’m dense or slow, cuz I don’t get the point.)

After they finish packing the car they head out to Pullman in pursuit of the Palouse. During the car ride, right of the bat, Jay says, “I worry about technology and its affects on people building relationships using it.”

“Dad, come on now, how can you say that?”

“I thought love was all about the process of finding things out about each other? If so? Then wouldn’t finding things out in a quick manner ruin what it is really about?” Jay said to Sandy. Sandy pauses for a moment to regroup his thoughts.

“I think everyone falls in love at a different speed. Sure, maybe in the twentieth century people fall in love at faster speeds, but does that really make it any more dangerous?”

“I’m no Dr. Phil, but it seems to me that the relationships that fail, fail due to the fact that a couple learns about each other in such a quick manner through various portals consisting of the online world, texting, et cetera, and don’t spread out the learning about each other. Then there is eventually nothing else left to learn about their soul mate.”

Haily hears this and butts in, “Your saying the learning curve for learning about your soulmate has a peak?”

Jay says, “To an extent, yes, yes it does.”Jay turns to Tara,“What’re your thoughts on this?”

Tara thinks for a moment and says, “Today we have all different varieties of portals available to learn about somebody. These new portals are going to replace the old ones your dad and I used when we fell in love. Soon the post office will be replaced and the good old-fashioned letter and stamp will become extinct. We are using the postal service to send each other material things instead of communicating.”

“ You make a great point about the structure of communication changing honey,” says Jay. Then he keeps at this discussion, “Still I think the communication structure changing leaves out important things, such as looking someone in the eyes, and body language which are crucial communication techniques.”

Meanwhile Sandy is getting furious.

“Stop the car dad! Now!”

Jay pulls over on the side of the road on Interstate 5 and Sandy gets out of the car and screams! Then he knocks on the window of the driver’s side of the Range Rover.

“Get out dad!”

Jay gets out of the car and tries to get his son to calm down. All while Tara and Hailey are inside the car and Tara turns to Hailey and grabs her hand. Hailey says, “I still like to think what Sandy and I are doing is good and at the end of the day it’s going to be okay.”

Tara nods her head. “Hey. I think you and Sandy together are cute. Always.”

“Thanks,” says Hailey in a silent whisper.

“I’m just hoping you two don’t forget to reflect and savor the moments you two enjoy together,” muffles Tara. (It’s pretty dialogue intensive. Give us some stage direction. What’s going on outside. Wind, cars zooming by, stuff blowing on the road. Give us some texture in addition to the dialogue. Some description. Let the landscape do some thematic work.

Temporarily outside Sandy bangs on the hood, “Escaping anticipation and silence when I look at my phone has nothing to do with this,” he shouts. Then Jay rebuttles,

“Look I don’t think escaping those awkward moments with your partner by looking at your phone is what’s making those feelings so good and real. In fact I think its only making you farther away from an intimate stand point.”

Sandy groans and he starts to cry, but Jay doesn’t stop he keeps on pushing,

“You and Hailey moving from one portal to the next without realizing the possible long-term affects. Short term it may seem that what you’re doing is fine, but its not!”

“Urgggggh,” Sandy grunts.

Jay keeps on pushing it even farther now: “At the same time you’re using these technologies to write your way into Hailey’s heart, and that is what scares me. This kind of shit is what has lead to the high divorce rate situation; and is why using technology to pursue your lover is so dangerous. Sure you’re not married yet, but say you do get married. Then what?”

Do you want white space here?

Back in the Car Tara has moved to the rear seat and Hailey is leaning up against Tara with her head on her shoulder. Tara is comforting Hailey and then she says, “Look I want to say something else. I know I’m not your parents, but I hope you can ad least listen. I’m sure at one point or another you have thought to yourself, ‘time’s going by way too fast’ or ‘school’s going by so quickly.’ Well sweetie, that’s because it is, Sandy and you are moving from one portal to the next without realizing the possible long-term affects.”

Tara pauses for a moment letting the words marinate into Hailey’s skull.

“So, the next time you think to yourself that time’s going by way to fast, that’s because it is, so you should do something about it, so you don’t die as fast. We are sucking the oil out of the ground and burning it as fast as we can to get each other places as quickly as possible. I’m even a victim of doing this, we all do, even Jay. Is this living life to the fullest? I’ll let you decide my dear!”

Hailey unhooks from Tara’s warm body and stares deep into Tara’s eyes, almost as if she is time traveling on a magic carpet through the universe and back.

“We our doomed,” Hailey remarks to Tara.

Need more differentiation in your characters. They are blurring together a bit for me. They need to have different mannerisms (or mannerisms at all), different tonal qualities, and some slight references to what they look like, wear, whatever.

Then Tara begins to have a flashback to when she and Jay were at college together at Washington State University in the late 1970’s and how the first time they met was during a wicked blizzard. She remembered that she was stuck at the bottom of a hill and couldn’t get up to her apartment, so she called Sears for someone to come put some chains on her car. Jay was working that evening at Sears during the snowmaggedon of a blizzard, he headed to go find Tara. Tara remembers him pulling in, and hopping out of his Red Honda Prelude in his blue Sears uniform, beanie on his head, snow boots, and warm gloves. He kindly gave her his gloves to keep her precious little hands warm while he hooked up the chains on her car.

Tara snaps back to reality and looks at Hailey and she is looking down at her iPhone 4s, texting. She hears Jay and Sandy arguing outside and then tears start to droop slowly from her retinas seeping downward melting on the bottom of her cheeks. Tim passes before she opens the door to see what’s going on. Hailey looks up, puts her phone in her pocket and hurries outside too.

“Dad you can be a real jerk face,” Sandy says to his dad in a mad voice. Then he takes off down the side of the road running as fast as he can, as if he is running for his life like Forrest Gump. Hailey chases after Sandy, “wait up,” she yells from behind. Tara then grabs Jay’s hand as both of them face the open road and watch Sandy and Hailey run as if they’re running into the future.

Then Jay flashes to the when Sandy was born. He remembers being inside the hospital, right beside Tara, as she lay on the hospital bed rocking her newborn baby back and forth. Then Sandy come out of his transcendent flashback and turns towards his wife looking her in the eyes and kisses her on the lips while synonymously whispering,

“I love you Tara.” She smiles. They kiss again. She backs down off of his perched lips and looks back at him and smiles again. Then he helps her up onto the hood of the vehicle and then he hops up there and sits with her. They both sit there on the hood of the Ranger Rover and Hailey and Jay are out of their distance. Jay says, “They’ll be back soon enough.”

Jay and Tara are still sitting on the hood of the car when his phone vibrates.

Jay pulls his iPhone 4s out of his right pocket and see’s it’s a text from his mother, which is something his mother rarely does, “Hey, tell Sandy I’ll miss him. Grandma never got the chance to say goodbye to her grandson ;)” Jay looks up, looks to his right at Tara, then looks forward at the open road, then looks back at Tara, then looks down at the text from his mother, then looks up at the sky.

At any rate, Hailey and Sandy are in the woods making love under an evergreen tree near a creek. Birds are perched on the branches of the trees watching them as they coil together as a single unit. When they are done they get dressed and lay down on the uncomfortable bark that lies beneath the tree. Sandy’s arm is hooked around Hailey’s head and their legs are twisted together. Both of them are looking up at the birds, smiling with utter satisfaction. Then Sandy says, “People who aren’t in love can’t make love like we just did, don’t you think?”

“Couldn’t agree more with you. I know how you like it when I bite your ears. You know how I like it when you scratch my back slowly with your nails. We understand each other.”

“You’re right my dad may have a point, but we defy the odds.”

Back at the car Jay pulls out a phone of his left pocket and waves it at Tara.

“I managed to snag Jay’s phone while we were quarreling.”

Tara laughs and pulls a phone out of her back pocket.

“I snagged Hailey’s phone when she passed me to chase after Sandy.”

They both giggled loudly for almost a minute until Jay says,

“How about we hold onto these phones here and take off to Pullman and let Sandy and Hailey find their way there?”

“You think that’s hazing? Actually who cares? Let’s do it to it. Make them lovebirds go on a adventure together with no technology, just like we would’ve had to do in the old days when we got stranded somewhere.”

They both smiled at each other and hopped of the hood of the Rover and got inside. Jay looked at her, she nodded, and then he turned on the ignition and pulled back onto the Interstate for Pullman. (I’m doubting they’d abandon them out here without their phones. How far from the town?)

Back in the woods Hailey and Jay were laughing about how this whole argument even happened. Then Jay helped her up and they set out in search of the Rover. As they were walking he saw a tree and grabbed his keys and wrote on the tree, ‘Sandy and Hailey Forever with a picture of a heart’ and then both of them made out for a little bit. Then they continued on back to find the Rover.

When they finally did arrive back at the car they realized it was gone and Sandy freaked out and ran in circles and was pointing at the ground.

“It was right here? What the fuck? Are they playing games with us?”

“Hold on Jay, I got my phone,” she grabs for her pocket.

“Wait hold on, never mind I don’t,” then she starts freaking out too.

Both of them were scrambling with fear and then decided that there was nothing else to do but hitchhike to the next town and try to borrow someone’s cell phone along the way. Sandy and Hailey eventually found a ride from two frat brothers that were heading up for the fall semester as well, and offered to take them if they wanted a ride. Turns out the frat guy Nick who was the driver was a fast driver. He was driving a brand new, fresh off the lot, 2013 mustang convertible, and he so far averaging 90mph to 100mph on the roads. This allowed Hailey and Sandy to close in on Jay and Tara.

Eventually they saw them up ahead and Sandy pointed, “That’s my parents! Look!” Sandy rolled down the window in the back seat and flicked them off.

Jay and Tara see him flip them off and they giggled.

Anyhow, this age of life is one of the most unreal, profound, exhilarating experiences we can give way to. We begin to spark an upbeat feeling in our blood stream that connects with our heart and creates this oscillation of unattainable bliss. Then we gradually begin to free-fall into a trance that lasts enough to repeat it day after day. Pushing us forward into a transcendental empire of lavish romance that we time and time again suckle on. This is what we the people of the globe pursue and we miss judge the badness of it, because we spill into a pattern of what we think is right. We allow ourselves to peak inside each other’s thoughts and touch the ringing in our loins that creates bonds that last a lifetime. This narration feels sort of tagged on. I think Jay needs to say this, or one of the characters, anyway. But the narrator has heretofore been sort of out of the picture, not commenting much. Now it feels like a moral, or observations that are a bit forced.

Life is on a whole different wavelength in the 20th century, with tons of synthetic romance in the airwaves. We unintentionally seep words outside the skulls of each other forcing each other to mix with our surroundings. This is what makes people jiggle horizontally and diagonally against each other and touch the genius in each and every one of us.

Jay and Tara continued on the sunny pavement on the superhighway into the velvet dusk to a cracker box town where their love originated.

All love is mostly thoughts; during the honeymoon stage there is an abundance of thoughts and less when one’s married for years. Still being married one can draw on older thoughts, which have the same value as a series of young thoughts.

Then Jay says his last words like he always does, “Tara you’re a beautiful talker!”

She burped back.  (The burp should be integrated into her dialogue and not just resurface here. It’s been too long since it was mentioned in the first few paragraphs.)

Good connection to Carver—good initial draft with plenty to work on. You should study format with dialogue—you are doing some creative mid-line breaks/paragraphs.

I’d like more differentiation among your characters. This is one of the harder things to do but it pays great dividends down the road. You also will want to add natural (not overdone, but just enough) stage direction coming from your narrator. Last, and I’ll ask the class about this—I’m wondering if this narrative voice is the most appropriate for the story. See Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants to see what a very limited omniscient narrator looks like (you can find it full text online).

I like what you are doing here thematically, playing with the idea that technology has altered courtship and even levels of love. Like the portal notion.

To differentiate, you could have parents talk more about how they used to correspond (without technology).

Feminist Gangsters

Feminist Gangsters

By, Andrew K. Smith

One cinnamon haired women named Xana railed a couple of lines of cocaine in the back pantry of the coffeehouse through a 5-dollar bill from the tip jar—she heard someone pull up. In her pink-laced bra with matching panties, she rushed to the drive-thru window, and leaned over displaying her cleavage.

“Hey you!”

“Hey X-Rated, I’ll have a tall 12-ounce drip, and an eight ball please,” he smiled.

“Coming right up!” Xana Winked.

Xana grabbed six 20 dollars bills from the gentleman’s twitching fingers. She tucked the money in her panties and grabbed a small coin-sized baggy from under the counter, “labeled 3.5 grams” and tucked it in between the coffee-cup sleeve of the warm cup and handed it out the window to the client.

“Thanks, babe!” Xana wiggled her fingers as a goodbye jester.

He drove off in his car past the sign “Nixon’s Coffeehouse” and back onto the New York boulevards. Cars would come in waves to the corner coffeehouse to see the barista Xana, and everyone called her X-Rated. She was one of the top dope peddlers of the 10 women dealers in town. Her boss was Mercedes Summers, but her alias name was Mercedes meaning butterfly. The 10 Candy Women and their work were never done.

Mercedes was running a huge organized drug trafficking operation in the city of New York through coffeehouses and hair saloons. Every Sunday the sorority of girls would regroup at Mercedes chateau in the Hamptons, which matched the color of her product; pearl white. She counted the week’s yield and re-equipped the ladies with enough cocaine for the week. Mercedes had been very successful, it was no mom and pop enterprise, it was more of a cocaine monopoly, and men loved buying from the Candy Women, because guys thought maybe somehow sex would happen even if there was no way.

Mercedes was currently low on her cocaine innovatory. She annually smuggled her cocaine from the fields of Peru every six months. So she packed only a carry-on the next day, Monday, after the week’s take, and flew 1st class to Peru.

When she arrived in Peru the driver was waiting for her outside the airport in a beaten up, dirt-smeared. She wore a tan floppy sun hat, an orange sundress, and flip-flops. She threw her carry-on in the backseat and climbed abroad and they roared off down the road towards the jungle-covered peaks of the tropical rainforest town of Tingo Maria.

The view was majestic with dark greens that tarnished the landscape. A few million hectares of the land had been destroyed to harvest cocoa plants. The Jeep roared and bumped over potholes down the mildewed path deeper into the jungle. There were small deforested pockets, burned and scarred. Coca growers were sprinkled throughout the fields and the dry valley sun was torching the temples’ of both of them. It was a drug trafficker’s paradise, a wasteland of swelter; the community thrived off of coca. Mercedes reached in the back for her bag and pulled out a freshly rolled cigar, cut it, and plopped it in her mouth. She borrowed a lighter from the driver, bent down and cupped her hands, and lighted up.

They winded down the narrow paths toward the lethargic mundane town to meet the head honcho Mr. Taja Sosa, also known as, Simba. Mercedes loved to sample the product direct from the birthplace. She pulled out a bandanna and dabbed the sweat from the lines of her forehead, and moments later they pulled into Simba’s estate. He was a tall tan fellow, dressed in a tropical Hawaiian-esque t-shirt, with tortoise brown sunglasses, and he was holding a bottle of Pilsen Polar in his left hand. The driver stepped out of the gas-guzzler and opened the door for Mercedes. The smoke from her cigar was bellowing backward into the pours of her tan face. She shook hands with Simba.

“Hello, Mercedes, how you comin’?”

“Good to see you Simba. How was the harvest?”

“Ah’ll tell you in a minute.”

They sauntered together through the wooden brown front door of the property, down the hallway, and into the living room. There were four large hardwood tables with small mounds of cocaine piled on them that looked like miniature white volcanoes. Mercedes smiled and puffed on the cigar as they entered, she handed her hat to the driver who followed behind them, and he hooked it on a peg on the wall. Then he stood up against the wall and crossed his arms across his chest. Then Simba plucked a 100 Peruvian Nuevo Sol banknote from his front shirt pocket and rolled it up into a snug straw and handed it to her.

“Well, all right now?”

She grabbed it from his almost nine-inch fingernails with her left hand, bent down and stuck the tight rolled bill in her right nostril and sniffed with all her might. This triggered her head to hiccup backward. She cracked her neck and said, “Oof!” Paused for a moment.

“Yes sir.” She nodded in agreement and took another puff of the stogie.

Simba rubbed his hands tougher in excitement. “Ah was spectin’ to make a deal if you wood?

She nodded, “I’ll take 100 kilos.”

“Looka heah, ah needs 2.5 million, fur 100 kilos?”

“And the arrangements?”

“Ah’ll be down dis road uh little round dust dark ah reckon. We exchange dah cocoa.”

“Deal. My aircrew will be in touch.”

The driver uncrossed his arms and took the hat from the peg and handed it back to Mercedes and escorted her out of the living room, back down the hallway into the Jeep. They coasted back up the dusty motorways to her hotel and she kept puffing away on the stogie.

When she arrived at her hotel, she ashed the cigar outside, checked in and went straight to her hotel room and flopped onto the bed. She laid on the hard mattress and her mind was doing figure eights, and then her eyelids pressed homely together and she fell into a siesta.

Back in New York, X-Rated was high on cocaine running down side streets in panic with a backpack containing 2 bricks of cocaine. An undercover cop in a brown leather jacket was chasing after her with a 9mm handgun in his right hand. Both of them were running at full speed, moments later she put her right arm on the top of a fence and hoisted herself up and over the fence. She was sailing through the air, Adrenaline was rushing through her loins. Boom! She landed safely on the other side and sprinted as fast she could for the local Church.

Moments later she entered the front doors at the church and went straight to the bathroom into a stall, and opened her backpack and her finger stuck to cocaine like salty chips, and she throbbed it up to her nose and sniffed; it was like she was standing at the North Pole because she turned cold. Then she collapsed like a coke model and fell into the centerfold of death.

Jay Buhner Buzz Cut Night

Jay Buhner Buzz Cut Night

 By, Andrew K. Smith

I am in the back of the bathroom line at the Mariners game and there are two bald guys in front of me in line talking to each other. My eyes get bigger than the movies and I start to panic. I have peladophobia, which is a fear of bald people, and it totally sucks. Jay Buhner is the topic of their discussion.

“Jay Buhner is a disgrace,” the first bald man said. “I can’t stand Jay Buhner for allowing Jay Buhner Buzz Cut Night.”

“Yeah, his promotions, ‘Take me out to the Bald Game’ or ‘Bald is Buhnerful’ are pretty messed up. He’s actually bald and he’s promoting people to be bald.”

The other bald man laughs. “Thank god it only lasted for one season. Worst all time promotion ever. Fuck Jay Buhner he’s a disgrace to bald people everywhere.”

“My thoughts exactly. Fuck Jay Buhner.”

My heart starts to pump up and down like pistons. I don’t know if I can bear it any longer. Then I think to myself that a bathroom line at halftime of any game is like the mall lines on Black Friday. So I slowly try one of my relaxation strategies my therapist taught me. I take a big breath and then let it out.

I stand here in line, I am squirming, and I am trying to remain calm. This is a regular experience for me at sporting events because I always drink too much and break the seal. I tell myself to keep it together while I am falling apart at the same time.

Then the line starts to decrease. The whole time I hover near the toilet with someone that to the best of my predictions is about to shake off, like when I am in a parking lot with my blinker on, waiting for the next spot—except this time I use no manners and dash closer to the clay piece of earth. At that instant I see a man back step away from the toilet and my eyes lock onto the toilet like fighter pilots do to bad guys. Almost at my destination, my eyes aggressively scramble for the open toilet. I approach the white porcelain gutter and it begins to look somewhat handsome. Finally I make it to the toilet. In my brain fireworks start to go off like the forth of July. The celebration came to soon. I am stuck in between two bald people. It’s a bald sandwich, my worse nightmare coming to life before my eyes.

My mind and body split in two pieces. My mind is in a panic because I am being suffocated by baldness. My bladder feels like a balloon that’s about to pop. Then I stare forward, frozen like an otter pop.

The bald man on my right yells to the other bald guy, “Sir did you shave your head bald?”

The bald man on my right responds, “Yeah my wife loves it. She likes to rub it for good luck in the morning.”

“I can’t stand when people shave their heads bald as a fashion statement. We bald people don’t acknowledge you as apart of the bald community.”

The fake bald man starts to breath heavy. “Fine, whatever.”

Then the bald men exit the urinals and I start to relax again and I pee in peace. Then I shake off and walk to the sink and I ponder to myself, if my fears of bald people apply to bald people who pose as bald people? Or people who actually can’t grow hair?

—Inspired By, LD

Caramel Apple


Caramel Apple

By, Andrew K. Smith


It’s February and almost Valentines Day, so naturally I had a wedding to attend to. I was all fired up with my oxford-grey suit with a vest and ready to go, but one essential component was missing, a date. It’s a big bad world out there, stuffed with girls that hide inside in their self-preserved bungalows rather than going outside in public. Conveniently enough I carpooled with an old flame of mine who didn’t have any wedding etiquette, as we almost didn’t make it on time. Luckily, we managed to sneak in at the last second. It was a smaller wedding, so I was at an advantage, as I knew almost everyone already. There were two big challenges facing me before the cutting of the cake. The first was that I felt as though I was under a magnifying lens. Tanya was literally staring me down and watching every move I made. Either she was looking into my soul or was putting some voodoo hex on me. Neither of which I was into. The other problem was that there were not going to be many opportunities tonight for meeting potential wife material. Every girl was married, engaged or my least favorite, too young. A big deal breaker for me is a younger woman. Okay, call me ageist, a grave robber, but I’m not someone striving to be a girl’s little caramel apple; just trust me on this rule of thumb.

Fast-forward one hour and a few glasses of champagne later. I was on the dance floor showing off when I was approached by a mom on the prowl. Not a cougar, but a mom on the prowl for a son-in-law. Apparently, you can never start too early on recruiting potential husbands because this woman was asking if I would meet her daughter. Her 18-year-old daughter. “No way” I thought, “no way.” But I sucked it up and followed behind her for the girl. I just wanted this to be over and done. Then there she was all dolled up in a red dress. I swear girls looked so much older in today’s world, but fuck me, right? Without warming up the conversation the mom said, “Ellie, this is Ashton, Ashton this is Ellie. I’m going to go see how dads doing. You know how he gets at these weddings,” and quickly scurried off into the flux of people.

Ellie stood and looked at me with her panther eyes. I had to say something, but what? So I said the first thing that came to my mind, "What’s your number?" She looked at me with the most confused spooked -out look. I don't really blame her though I mean it couldn't have been a more random thing to do, but I imagined it would maybe break the ice. I could tell she was trying to gather words to say something back, but before she had the chance I said, "It’s cool if you don't want to." We were both standing there and were uncomfortably squirming in our shoes. I did both us of us a favor and resolved this forced awkward intimate situation. I figured I should say the funniest thing I could think of and run for the hills. So as I was turning for the door to put both of us out of our misery. I said, "smell ya later" and walked back to my table with my loser old hookup Tanya. I never looked back.

-Only that’s not how it happened

Lets retrace back to when Ellie stood with a colossal smile from ear to ear with her safari blue eyes. I took a breath and said “Come on fess up. What’s with the mom introducing me to you?”

“You mock” she said. Stretching for her toes, “what you don’t understand?” She paused, “Gosh these heels make my feet ache.”

I chuckled, “I’m just giving you a hard time.”

She rose like grandmas homemade bread, stepped closer to me, and placed her bright pink fingernails upon the table for balance.

“Who is the girl staring me down over there?”

I smirked, “Tanya? Just an old summer fling. Her and I used to hook up. I had no date. Cut me some slack.” I was wishing I could camp out in the middle of the conversation for millenniums. This girl was the smart type; she could handle every one of my analogies. I really got into a rhythm when I was with this girl. It felt as if I were a veteran quarterback, standing in the pocket, throwing first down after first down.

She folded her arms and said, “How old might you be? Your pretty smooth for an older man.”

“I like to believe I still have my muse. Or maybe just the fact that women seem to be getting more and more accessible, you know? I mean we have all these tools in today's world that provoke conversation. It just seems to me like these instruments are taking us away from the mysterious non-verbal things that happen in conversations,” I replied. I was realizing how much I've missed the pure anxious feeling that I get inside my loins when I brewed up some conversation from scratch.

Ellie blushed “Your funny. I need a drink,” she said.

A few minutes later we were sucking down some bubbly champagne at the wedding table. It was a fever pitch of excitement. “Look at my booty call over there, she gone texted herself stupid. I bet she has texted me novels by now,” I said of a man with a baby face that began to turn into a red face from the copious amount of champagne that’s been poured down my hole.

“Not even close” replied Ellie. “I bet we could make a drinking game, every time she looks at her phone we drink.”

I scooted closer to her, grabbed her hand, then looked back at Tanya. Within seconds she sensed me looking and took it as an invitation as she marched over to where Ellie and I sat.

“This wedding is lame” Tanya said, and punched me in the shoulder.

I tensed up and felt like an actor who forgets their lines in front of a packed house on opening night. It was real awkward.

Then Ellie let go of my hand and came in for the save, “I’m going to the bathroom,” and walked off.

“Who the fuck is that?” grunted Tanya.

I nodded. “I’m keeping my flirt muscles limber. That’s all.”

“Whatever,” Tanya said, and jerked her purse strap higher over her shoulder.

I pulled $30 out of my blazer pocket “Here is $30. I’m sorry. Call a cab.”

“You’re an asshole Ashton!” and stampeded off.

A few seconds went by and Ellie arrived back from the bathroom. I filled her in on the details, minus my attempt of how I tumbled into the platitudes. That’s the thing about me, I have issues of being committed to someone, and for the life of me I haven’t figured out why. After I gave her the scoop it was as if my words nurtured her in some way, and I realized I broke my own rule of thumb of striving not to be a girl’s caramel apple.

Her smile returned, “You’re way too cute for an older man.”

“I really wish you would stop calling me old.”

“Why don’t you just tell me then,” she said

“10 years?” I remarked.

“10 years? Wait. So your 28?”

Then I made my move. I gave her the playful kick on the leg move, and gently kicked her with my left foot, “You’re pretty good at algebra you should be a rocket scientist,” I paused, “I guess its not that old, but compared to you I am, you’re just a little kid.”

She grabbed my waist, “I can vote. I’m not a kid.”

“In that case,” I suggested, “don’t be so defensive, I’m only trying to push your buttons. I hope its working.”

Her expression was half surprised and half something else. Either way I loved the sweet mellifluous sound of her voice.

“Are we flirting? My heart seems to think so, it’s doing double time to keep the blood flowing to my brain.”

She unattractively mumbled back, “I guess I’ll have to take your word for it, but to be honest, I would like a little bit more to go on.

“Funny you should ask,” I said and raised my glass to toast her. “Cheers!”

She shrugged and moved her glass towards the direction of mine, “Cheers!”

“You know what they say? You have to look me in the eyes while you take your sip or its bad sex for 10 years,” as I sneered at her.

Her eyes locked with mine and looked like they were full of love and she melted into my cloak of love.

All of the sudden, “Excuse me,” said a voice that came from behind us. It was an even older man than me. He had a father look that smeared his face, “Ellie, who is this?” He muttered.

It was like her dad was Moses and parted ways with the water as Ellie and I separated in sequence.

“This is Ashton dad. Mom introduced me to him.”

His breath smelt like an open bar as he stuck out his hand and said, “Nice to meet you Ashton. I’m Ellie’s father, Brad.”

I shook his hand and acted cool, “Nice to meet you Brad. Ellie and I were just talking about how she got into college. So Rad.”

“Yeah her mother and I are very proud of her. I’m heading back to the bar area. Ellie, you better not to be drinking champagne.”

I was about to respond, but Ellie had beaten me to it and talked blocked me, “Of course not dad.”

He laughed, “Be careful.”

A minute later I beckoned, “Want to go get some air.” I figured it was time I take this one outside, because I could tell she was starting to get bored and maybe a little horny too. I liked to think I really liked this one, but I believe it was just my libido that was talking to me.

Ellie whispered in my ear and said, “I’d like that” and tickled me.

So we sputtered out the door together and the brisk cold refreshed our faces. We found a bench and sat down. She wrapped her arms around me and her head leaned against my chest as my heart fluttered to a standstill, while we looked into the dark horizon. Every ounce of me wanted to pursue the sparked attraction and move it into the bargaining stage, but I was reluctant. I was reluctant because she was only a small soul and I was soaring into her tiny little heart without even having to blink.

So the clock was sinking down like a penny in a fountain and I eventually sucked up my pride and did the unthinkable, I asked a juvenile, still in college for her phone number. What did you think I was going to sleep with her? Yeah right, I am a romantic. Good thing my face was red because my embarrassment wasn’t so obvious. At least the girl has potential, give her a few years and I might just be interested.