The Girl in White

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By Barn0wl   |   
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The Girl in White

Inspired by Jay Dyer’s light art piece “34”; jaydyerlightart.deviantart.com…

      Today was mostly a miserable day. But then, most days were pretty miserable for me anymore. Work sucks … I hate having to deal with idiots who can’t read instructions, and then expect me to fix what they broke. Or yell at me to try to bully me into going faster or try to force me to do something that isn’t my job.

      Most nights, I just want to be alone, pick up a six-pack of stout, or more likely a cheap bottle of Bourbon, and go home and watch T.V. or surf the ‘net. When I am at home I just want to ignore the real world, shut it out and let the alcohol soothe me into blissful oblivion. I’ve always been a bit of a loner, avoiding crowds of people and large social gatherings. But when my wife of 17 years dumped me for a younger guy it raised my misanthropy to a whole new level.

      That had been a year and a half ago and I’ve pretty much gotten over her now. I had some vindication though. I thought the guy was a con artist, most of her friends and family knew it too. I tried to tell her, but of course she wouldn’t listen to me. She wouldn’t listen to her brother or her friends either. We were right of course and she found out less than six months later, when he disappeared along with three-quarters of a million dollars and her new Mercedes. So, yeah, I was vindicated … but I still felt like crap – she didn’t deserve that. But she’s got another new guy now who seems to be okay.

      Yeah, like I said, I’m pretty much over it. At least now I don’t try to talk to her when I walk in the door. I couldn’t afford the house, so I moved into a one-bedroom apartment in the city. I was angry at her back then and left the house a mess; broken windows busted up furniture and so on. Typical temper tantrum stuff, rather childish really. But she sold it and gave me half the money. I burned through that pretty fast. Most nights I just stay home and drink.

      But tonight feels a little different. I really haven’t any idea why, but it does. I suppose that part of what is making me feel different is how my boss stopped into my cubicle near the end of the day and told me I’d been doing a great job of helping all those morons. Maybe it was the fact that my boss actually used the word “morons”. It is good to know that she really does understand what some of us actually feel.

      Oh, me? My name is Max, short for Maxwell. I’m about, well, let’s just say I’m middle-aged. I work tech support. I sit in a cubicle and answer questions from people who aren’t smart enough to figure out their “smart” T.V.’s. It seems like ninety-five percent of what I do is to remind people that they have to actually put the provided batteries into the remote. Or; “Oh, your T.V. won’t turn on? Did you plug it into the electrical outlet? No? It works much better now, doesn’t it?” Dealing with people who can’t figure out how to put batteries into a remote does not leave me in a good frame of mind. Not one bit. Oh, did I mention that I’m not much of a people person?

      This morning was much better than usual. Yesterday a woman had called who was actually smart, but had a real problem with the T.V. She had actually read the user’s manual and gone through the trouble-shooting chart in the back. I was amazed. It turned out that there was a real problem with the T.V. so I was able to help her out and get a replacement shipped over-night. She called back this morning and asked for me by name to thank me for helping her out. She had gotten the new T.V. and set it up and it worked. Of course it would … she was one of those rare ones who could figure things out.

      We chatted a little bit when she had called. It felt like we kind of hit it off. She mentioned where she lived and it was right here in the city. That was quite a coincidence since we take calls from all over North America. I had to get on to the next call, but she did mention she would be at this particular pub in her neighborhood. She really liked it because it was off the beaten path. Sounded like my kind of place, so I made note of the address and went on to the next call.

      In between the good start and the good end, today was more of the same old stupidity. “Did you put the batteries in the remote? You did, but it still isn’t working? Okay, sounds like one of the batteries is in backwards, try turning it around. It works now? Great!” Click! Not even a “thank you.” Telling people how to connect their cable to the T.V. or explaining the difference between the HDMI cable and the network cable or walking them through things clearly explained in the “easy start” directions can leave a person simply exhausted at the end of the day. And I am exhausted.

      But, it’s Friday and Naomi had mentioned that pub. Oh, yeah, “Naomi” is her name. She’s the woman who had called me back this morning. Thinking back on it, it was kind of an odd conversation. Somehow we had gotten onto the topic of what colors we like. She said she liked white, with maybe very small splashes of color here and there. But her hair was black with white streaks added in. Don’t know how we ended up there.

      Now I’m sitting in a taxi on the way to the pub and I’m thinking back to that conversation. It had seemed to flow very naturally, we were just chatting. All told, I don’t think we talked for much more than five minutes, but she had told me quite a bit about herself. She was vegetarian, but didn’t mind dairy. And she liked dark beer and other alcohol (“Gin doesn’t have meat, right?” she had said). And, telling me about wearing white and about her hair. I guess she was kind of asking me out in an indirect sort of way. But I like the way she sounded. There were stirrings in my heart that I haven’t experienced in a very long time.

      The taxi has dropped me off. I’m standing at the door of what I’d call a “hole in the wall” type of place. It seems like it was hammered into place between the larger buildings on either side of it. A green door with a round port-hole type of window is looking back at me. Each window on either side of the door proclaims “Mickey’s Pub”, painted in big red letters. Heavy green curtains cover the lower two-thirds of the windows. There is light above the curtains, but it’s rather dim. Several motorcycles are parked at the curb. I look at them and see that, along with a couple of Harley’s, there are Yamahas and other foreign makes. So, at least I’m not nervous about going into the place because of that (nerds, even middle-aged ones, really don’t belong in “biker bars”).

      I admit to myself that I’m still feeling a little hesitation. Was Naomi just chatting, or was she asking me out? Maybe it’s just wishful thinking but we seemed to really connect. She sounded nice on the phone, friendly and seeming to like me, but maybe she’s out to rob me. After what happened to my ex, it’s something that crosses my mind as I stand staring at the door. But then, I don’t really have much she can steal, do I? What if she isn’t here? I guess I can just have a drink then leave. But what if she is there and really didn’t ask me out? She could be angry. I’ll be embarrassed … she might file a complaint against me at work and that could be a problem. So here I stand, awash in a sea of indecision, staring at the door to Mickey’s Pub.

      The sound of footsteps coming up the sidewalk startles me a little. A plain little man in a plain brown suit, with his collar unbuttoned and tie loosened, walks up to me; “You okay there fellah?”
      “Oh! Yes, I’m – I’m fine, thanks.”

      “Well, c’mon in. Folks in Mickey’s don’t bite … well, unless you want them too.” He winks at me, then steps to the door and pulls it open.

      Cool jazz flows out of the door like a blue mist. Miles Davis to put people in a good mood, and playing at a level that allows you to talk if you want to, or saunter around a dance floor if that’s what you feel like. The music puts me a little bit at ease, so does the man in the plain brown suit.

      He waves me in with a grin and offers to buy me a drink. I take the plunge and walk inside where the soothing jazz envelops me like velvet. The lights are low, but I can see that Mickey’s is larger than it looks from outside, extending much further into the back than I expected. But the real surprise is when I look to the left and see that most of the wall between this small building and the one next to it has been knocked down and Mickey’s actually takes up the ground floor of both buildings.

      Mr. Plain Brown Suit guides me to the bar to the right and tells the bartender to get me whatever I want and it’s on him.

      “Bourbon, please.” Mr. Plain Brown Suit slaps me on the back telling me what great taste I have and orders one too. The bartender sets out two spotless, shiny crystal glasses, drops a few ice cubes in and pulls down a bottle of Knob Creek and pours a nice generous measure for each of us. At least they’re not stingy with the drinks. I take a drink and my eyes go wide in surprise. Most of the time I drink pretty cheap, this is like the liquid equivalent of silk, a little bit sweet and nicely woody.

      I thank Mr. Plain Brown Suit and take another sip of the incredible nectar from Kentucky. I may have to re-think my drinking habits.

      I turn to my beverage benefactor and ask, “Do you by any chance know a woman by the name of ‘Naomi’? I gather she comes around here sometimes.”

      Plain Brown Suit is looking at me like I’m sprouting antennae from my head. “Naomi??? Okay, thas’ right, this is your first visit here, isn’t it?”

      I nod. I’m beginning to get the inkling that I’m missing something.

      He is nodding with me and says, “Okay, I guess you wouldn’t know then. Naomi … well, everybody knows Naomi. She owns this place.”

      Great. Mickey’s Pub is obviously very successful, so she probably is too. She probably did invite me over, but just as a new customer. I wonder if she’s married then, with a couple of kids, boys that grew up to be bouncers to throw a guy like me out on his ear. I deflate a little bit. I was avoiding getting my hopes up too much anyway. Well, at least it’s a nice place, good music and I got a free drink out of it. I’ve had nights out that were much worse than this.

      Mr. Plain Brown Suit is looking around. He walks over to a brick pillar between the two sections of Mickey’s. He’s motioning me over. Picking up my drink I drag myself over to him. I’m not really looking forward to meeting a frumpy old Irish mother.

      “There she is, at the end of the other bar.”

      My eyes follow his arm and stop. In a near trance, I am drawn in the direction he pointed. I have self-consciously stopped ten feet before reaching my goal. I stare. My mouth is hanging slightly open and I snap it shut.

      Lounging against the bar, her white dress sears into my eyes, shining like a neon sign in the black night, a pale blue satin belt around her waist drapes over her hip. Jet-black hair generously streaked with stark white flows over her shoulders and chest and down her back. Smoke is drifting lazily from a cigarette in a long black and silver cigarette holder. One leg is propped on the rung of the bar chair next to her, the other crosses gracefully over, dangling like a snare waiting to trap the next passing man.

      She is talking to the tall man behind the bar. He notices me staring and nods her in my direction. She turns a beautiful oval face towards me and deep brown eyes pull in my soul threatening to never let it go again. One brow lifts ever so slightly in a questioning look.

      I am suddenly very conscious of my faded blue jeans and old safari shirt. Even more so of the bit of paunch I’ve developed over the past several years. I run my fingers through my graying hair and wish I had stopped to shave before I left work. What a foolish old man I am to think that a beauty such as the one lounging before me could ever be interested in an aging computer geek.

      I look down in embarrassment. I have to say something … or run away.

      “Can I help you with something?” I immediately recognize her voice, though I’ve only spoken to her twice over the phone. Her voice is so beautiful in person that I almost melt.

      My mouth opens of it’s own accord and words stammer out; “Uh, hi Naomi, I’m …”

      Her exquisite features suddenly light up with a dazzling smile. “You’re Max! From the tech support line! I’m so thrilled that you came by. I was really hoping you would!”

      I watch, amazed, as she jumps from the stool, dropping her cigarette holder on the bar. She rushes to me and wraps her arms around me and presses her luxurious lips against mine. I am kissing her back, I mean, I have to right?

      Just as suddenly, she pulls back; “I am so sorry Max. I just … it’s just that, I simply fell in love with you while we were talking before. I … I don’t know why, but … I think … I think love you.” She blushes, and looks down, then back into my eyes. I am stumbling back into a chair behind me and falling into it. Naomi is now looking worried; “I really am sorry, it was so wrong of me …”

      I hold up my hand. “Wait.” I gulp down the rest of the Bourbon I find I am still holding. The drink has helped me stop trembling. I find that I am able to stand again, I reach out and take Naomi’s hand, then look into amazingly deep eyes that are starting to fill with tears, eyes that draw me in and consume my heart in that one instant.

      “I love you too …”
A short story inspired by Jay Dyer's light art piece "34" - see it here; jaydyerlightart.deviantart.com…

Check out his other work at; jaydyerlightart.deviantart.com

Sometimes, love is just meant to be, even when folks are from two completely different walks of life.
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JayDyerLightArt's avatar
JayDyerLightArtProfessional Photographer
Now see, this is why I would never call myself a writer. I am blown away at what you have created. I never would or could have imagined such a touching story. I am honored that you were inspired to write such a piece from my work.  Thank you so much.
Barn0wl's avatar
I am so very glad that you liked it. Your photos are beautiful and this one really grabbed me. :)
JayDyerLightArt's avatar
JayDyerLightArtProfessional Photographer
I'm so glad it did.