I was at a bus stop waiting for a ride home when a man standing by me asked a question.
“Why are you murmuring to yourself?” he said.
“Was I?” I replied.
“You keep repeating a phrase. You’ve said ‘all I wanted is to propose’ a couple of times. What’s that about?”
“Oh, don’t mind me. What I meant was, I wanted to propose to a girl and it went sour.”
“That’s a bummer. I’ve proposed to a girl once.”
“Yes I did. I proposed we should watch something kinky together. Best move of my life, mate.”
“No. I’m talking about serious stuff. Marriage.”
“Why would you do that? Why would you want to tie yourself to a woman for life?”
“I want it. I need it. I don’t know.”
“You don’t know? Or maybe you don’t know any better? Were you emotionally stagnant for the last past few years? Life moves on, mate. It’s just how the Universe works. Neurons merge and new ones are created each day. New images. New sounds. New tastes. New women. Or new men, if you prefer. Were you waiting for the last bus?”
“I think so. But I don’t think it’s coming.”
“In that case. Let’s take a walk. That is, if you’re headed towards The Bootmakers’ Boulevard, cause I am.”
“It’s on my way.”
“Alright. So, what happened with you and that girl?”
“Well it was earlier today. I drive to her house. The only free spot is a firelane. But I have no choice. It’s either today or never. I’ve got the ring in my pocket. So I park there.
I’m wearing a suit. It’s loaned. But it’s better than anything I would normally wear. I’ve shaved off my beard. I put on contact lenses, though I hate those. And I’ve got the ring in my pocket. It’s not a grand diamond, but it will have to do. I close the box and look into my wallet.”
“I always carry a rubber with me. An old one in a red wrap. I would never use it. It’s too old. But it brought me luck so far. I had it with me when taking my college exams. I had it at my comencment speech.”
“You never used it?”
“My father gave it to me. Didn’t have to use it. My first love carried her own.”
“So you’re still in the car?”
“Yeah. I sit in the car. My phone rings again. I think it was my mother. And there goes the last of my battery. But I take the phone with me. I can charge it at Kathy’s place.
I walk to the door. I knock a few times. No answer. I knock again. This time the door opens and my fist almost launches at ther face. She’s pissed. I take a step back. She asked me, where I had been. She’s been waiting for me. And she doesn’t listen, when I tell her that I had trouble finding a parking spot. She’s angry and tells me I’m the worst driver in the world. She even insulted my car, which got me a little angry, but I let that one slide.
Then she noticed the flowers. She told me, I never brought her flowers before. And that’s true. I’m allergic. If I did, the flowers would probably kill me. This time I took the risk.
Finally she asks if I would come in. She made dinner.
“That’s cool. In my mind I can hear Bobby McFerrin whistling right now. Seems everything is going to be alright.”
“I don’t know. I’ve got a vivid imagination. My parents say it’s because I was dropped on my head as a baby. My name is Walter, by the way. What’s yours?”
At the same time Natasha is telling her story. She is talking to a policeman
“Listen. I got up at 10 AM. I put on a t-shirt and some boxers. I fixed my make up. I had to. I was up all night crying. My hair was a mess, so I fixed it too. Then I went to get cereal for breakfast. I don’t normally live in my flat. So there’s not much there. Some cereal and some alcoho made with egg yolk. I mixed it with mater and there was my breakfast.”
“Ok, madam. But what does any of it got to do with this car being scratched? The black lexus? Belonging to Mr Morano?”
“Mr Morano can suck it. He is a dick. He parked in a handicapped zone. And I pointed it out to him. I asked, if he was blind. Cause there wasn’t any sticker on his windshield. He was wearing shades though it’s not that sunny today. He wasn’t blind. He knew what he was doing. He thought that if he’s some kind of businessman in a suit, he can park wherever he wants.
I know people like that. They think they are James Bond on vacation just cause they own a car, a suit and have rings on their fingers. Fucking macho Mr Morono here was busy listening to “Ridin Dirty” and parking his pimped out lexus far away from other cars so that noone scratches it. So he violated traffic rule number fucking zero. You don’t park in the handicapped space.”
“What happened then?”
“He said: ‘keep it cool, sugar babe’. I told him to get the fuck off the handicapped spot. And that there is a crippled woman’s car normally parked there. And I wouldn’t allow some fucking douchebag to fucking screw my neighbour over. I told him there was room fucking everywhere. And he said…”
“Yes. He told you since there is room for anybody, then there’s enough for him or anyone else to park wherever they wanted. That your neighbour can park next to his lexus and that he doesn’t mind.”
“He told you that? And you agree with that kind of behaviour?”
“Madam, I am asking the questions. How much of that liquor did you have before you left home?”
“Not nearly enough. But not as much as you’d think. Yesterday, I had enough to write the most goddamn hard letter I fucking wrote in my entire life. So yeah, I had some of it. But then I had to fucking drive home from myh ex. So I needed to be sharp. You can ask me to blow your fucking thing and measure it if you want.”
“That won’t be necessary. Go on with my initial question. How did you respond to what Mr Morano said?”
“I didn’t. The douchebag took out his phone. Started talking to someone and walked away.”
“And that’s it?”
“You didn’t scratch the car with your keys? Because Mr Morano says you did.”
“No I didn’t. If you want, you can ask my neighbour. She saw the whole thing through the window. She will confirm, what happened.”
“You’re lucky. Mr Morano won’t be pressing charges.”
“Can I go already? I’ve got a letter to send.”
Norm and Walter are walking down Bootmakers’ Boulevard.
“So we’re sitting there. Eating dinner. She’s talking all the time. I can’t get a word in. So I sit there silent and nod every once in a while. In my head there’s this white noise. I look at Kathy and only see her face. Her eyes and her hair. I recall the time we were younger. She was smiling. We sat by the river. I played some tune on my guitar. She even compliments my singing. We’re together and that’s everything we need.
Then she says, we are through. She doesn’t love me. And she just understood that we can’t be together.”
“She says, she can’t be with someone who has no ambition. She mentions my job is a dead end and that I don’t earn enough. Then she tells me I am too… colourless. That there’s nothing manly about me. I’m too weak. Can’t stand up for myself. And that is why I’m stuck. Always the last in line. And that she needs a true man.
Especially in the sack.”
“What did you do?”
“I sat there silent for a while. My hand went slowly for my pocket. I found my wallet with my lucky rubber. So I reach for the box with the ring.
I take it out. Open it and say the words.
‘Will you marry me, Kathy?’
She gives me that long silent look.
‘You are fucking wrong in the head’, she says.”
“Nasty stuff, mate. Any bright side?”
“Well she didn’t say anything else. I got up and went to the door. She called me and threw my coat at me. My phone fell on the ground. The touchscreen shattered to pieces.
I can’t return to my car. It’s being toed. And I get a ticket. I can reclaim it if I pay the fine. So I walked to the bus stop and waited. And that’s my day so far.”