(I first wrote this story three years ago while taking a class at Cabrillo College and posted it on my old blog. This is a rewrite of that previous version. It’s a tale of love lost, then found again…sort of.)
Andrew and his briefcase were pulled along by a mass of evening commuters moving through the atrium of Diridon Station. As they all headed to the front entrance, Andrew exited the stream and stopped at the schedule chart and system map up upon the wall.
He turned around and saw an bouncy, youngish woman looking right at him. “Excuse me?”
“Yes! It is you! Two Drink Andy!”
The woman’s colorful attire was quite striking to Andrew and reminded him of a bowl of fruit punch. “Um, do we know each other?”
“It’s me, Wendy,” she declared hand upon her chest. “Wendy Bartlett! Don’t you remember me?”
“Oh, Wendy,” Andrew drew a blank as he turned away from the wall schedule to get a better look at her. “Uh, where do we know each other from?”
Wendy was taken aback. “You really don’t remember, do you?”
Andy tried to think. “Sorry, not ringing a bell, Wendy…what’s your last name again?”
“Wendy Bartlett!” she reemphasized a little louder. “I was just over there coming out of the tunnel, and then I look over this way and I’m all, ‘Oh my god, it’s him! Wonder if he remembers me?’”
Andrew was disoriented by the seeming stranger who apparently knew him. “So where and when did we meet?”
“Ha! We did more than just meet.” Wendy smiled slyly.
Andrew was taken aback. “Really? What did we do?”
“Oh my god!” Wendy laughed. “What didn’t we do?”
“But…how did we first meet?”
“At Shady Brady’s! Don’t you remember?”
A dizzying confusion came over Andrew. “Um, where is this Shady Brady’s?”
“Oh stop it, you know perfectly well where it’s at. Shrouded in the fog of Seabright,” Wendy said with a dramatic sweep of her hand, “attracting unsavory sorts from the waterfront. And on one fateful night you and your friends showed up.”
“Oh, yes, of course, I remember,” Andrew said having no idea where it was, but assumed it was somewhere over the hill in the Santa Cruz area, a favorite spot of his friends for mischief making and evidence hiding.
“Yes! All you guys were doing shots while I was across the bar being hit on by some loser who worked at a vitamin company. And then your friends dared you to talk to me and ask me to dance.”
“Why can’t I remember that?” Andrew said partly to himself.
“Your friends said you couldn’t handle too much alcohol. They said that’s why your nickname is Two Drink Andy.”
Andrew was struck by the new information. “Oh. I see.”
Wendy leaned forward. “Also, they may have slipped something into your drink,” she said confidentially. “I think it was STP.”
The surprise continued for Andrew. “Isn’t that a hallucinogen?”
“You know, it may have been the fuel additive. But don’t quote me.”
Andrew recalled the tomfoolery of the old gang and was slightly relieved by the explanation. “Yeah, that sounds like them,” Andrew said knowingly, but a question gnawed at him. “So, what happened that night?”
“Well, after the flaming brandy shots, you lost all your inhibitions and we sashayed out onto the dance floor for some dirty dancing,” Wendy said provocatively.
“Really? That doesn’t sound like me.”
“That’s because whatever you were on loosened you up, and you sure did have some moves!” Wendy said as she sexily demonstrated how they had danced.
Wendy’s boldly expressive manner intimidated Andrew. “Well that sounds like it was a fun night,” he managed to say. “Glad we were able to have a dance with each other.” He looked toward the opened brass framed, glass pane doors of the front entrance and tried to move toward them.
“That wasn’t the end of our night.”
Andrew stopped before he could get away. “Uh, what else did we do?”
“We went to my place for a game of Monopoly.”
“Oh. That sounds harmless enough.”
Andrew was startled. “H-how is that played?”
“Well, every time one of us passed Go, we had to take off a piece of clothing. And if one of us ended up in jail, we had to get strip searched.”
“That…doesn’t sound…the rules,” Andrew said as he tried to search his memory.
“It was your idea.”
“Oh yeah. And if one of us landed on the other’s property and couldn’t pay the rent, other arrangements had to be made,” Wendy said luridly. “That was my idea,” she added proudly.
“Well, at least we both contributed,” Andrew said lamely.
“Yes, we sure did. You even let me win,” Wendy said as she playfully grabbed Andrew’s side. He recoiled slightly from her ticklish touch. “My, that was some night,” she reminisced.
“Did we even finish the game?”
“Yeah, we were finished all right,” Wendy said with a laugh.
“Sounds like it was quite a night,” Andrew said, more puzzled than ever.
Wendy gripped Andrew’s forearm. “I felt things I had never felt before.” She looked into his eyes with an unsettling sincerity.
Andrew was alarmed by the whole experience. He felt overwhelmed, then slowly realized the possibilities. “So,” he began cautiously, “are you doing anything this weekend?”
“What?” Wendy suddenly pulled her hand away. “Are you hitting on me?”
“The nerve of you! Whatever gave you the idea that I wanted anything to do with you?!”
“But, those things we did.”
“I’m married now!” Wendy shouted as she held up her wedding ring. “I’m going home right now to make dinner for my family! I was only trolling places like Shady Brady’s because I was going through a dark period in my life! What do you take me for?!”
Andrew held up hands defensively. “I’m sorry, really, I didn’t know.”
“Get away from me, you sicko!” Wendy stormed out the front entrance. Andrew looked around the train station confusedly. He noticed a young, menacing security guard looking directly at him through the conflux of commuters. Others seated on the pew-like benches were completely indifferent to his plight.
The security guard began to advance toward Andrew while reaching for something on his belt. Andrew panicked and quickly left the station in a state of confusion. He went around the half circle driveway and scurried across Cahill Street to the parking lot. The sun was setting and twilight was nearing as he approached his vehicle. He thought more about that night. Did the guys really slip me a Mickey? he wondered. Aw, they were always doing stuff like that, he remembered somewhat nostalgically, said I needed to loosen up. He unlocked his car with his remote, got in and placed his briefcase on the passenger seat. He started the ignition and the multi speaker stereo surrounded him with easy listening music in the sound proof interior. He slowly drove out of the parking lot and proceeded with the surrounding traffic. He then merged onto a main highway and headed toward his suburban neighborhood.
Andrew tried to recall more of that night as he was driving. I remember going to a bar that night with the guys, he thought, and I remember hanging out there, but then everything becomes a blur until the next afternoon. He then recalled how when the shots were served, one of the shot glasses was pushed upon him as the guys grabbed all the other ones and drank them which forced him to drink his. He also seemed to remember that his shot glass may have been fizzing. Maybe I should’ve said something, he thought, but I didn’t want to kill the moment. He remembered awakening back in San Jose, and surmised that his friends must have picked him up from Wendy’s. He then had the unsettling thought that his friends were also at Wendy’s, perhaps as spectators, or even as participants!
As the entire, murky experience played out in Andrew’s mind, he began to reexamine his own life. Once again I can’t meet the right woman, he thought, something always seems to goes wrong. I thought I’d be married by now, he lamented, I never wanted to rush into wedlock, but am I being too cautious? He ruminated over his life, how he was moderately successful at a reputable employer, and how he thought that was all it took to find a woman.
I should be more like Rory, he thought. He remembered how Rory had lived boldly, without abandon, and was by far the craziest out of all his friends. And even though the motorcycle and fireworks mishap had resulted in Rory not being able to have an open casket funeral, Andrew knew he should learn from his example on how to live life.
Andrew passed his exit and drove further down the highway and onto the next exit. He navigated through a maze of suburban streets and arrived at his parent’s house. He knocked on the front door and his mother answered.
“Why hello, Andrew! Come on in,” his mother greeted. “We’re just sitting down to dinner.” Andrew ate with his parents while talking about his women problems.
“There is no reason why a man like you shouldn’t be married,” his father asserted. “You need to get out of your rut, change up your routine, visit new places.”
“Oh, I agree,” his mother said. “A change of scenery would do wonders for you. Have you ever tried a place called Shady Brady’s?”
©2015 Robert Kirkendall