The eighth story from my short story collection Middle of Nowhere is up on my site. In “Grotesque,” an alcoholic businessman begins to wonder what is real anymore when he spends a wasted night with a girl who mysteriously has the same deformity as his former wife.
I MISSED THE CONNECTION TO SOME NOWHERE CITY ON MY ROUTE AND WOUND UP STRANDED IN ONE EVEN LESS APPEALING. Christmas season brought booked flights and little sympathy. So I decided to get sloppy at the airport bar and try to see how I’d do without a wedding ring on my finger, (we’re separating soon due to her wishes, so there’s no need to judge). Turns out, I was pretty invisible anyway.
At the next table over, a gaggle of stewardesses traded war stories over wine spritzers and curly fries. My hands clung to a glass of scotch as I took in their white stockings and over-zealous smiles. The least attractive one of the bunch had a gap in her teeth, and I kept glancing her way. It had been years since I had kissed another woman’s lips; hers would do just fine. She even had a similar teardrop-like mole under her eye like my wife did.
Soon they finished their spritzers and curly fries and wobbled to their feet laughing. My gap-toothed one was the drunkest of the three and her laughter was the loudest. I sucked at the ice in my drink to get at those last few drops. What led me to this airport bar? What led me to all the airport bars of the world with their peppery curly fries and watered-down drinks? In the window to my right was the same reflection I’d seen throughout the last decade – my slouched self on a bar stool with a tie flipped over my shoulder, scribbling notes for another conference and grinding my teeth. There was a time when the thought of my wife was all I needed to keep on scribbling.
I had made a ton of money, and the company I worked for made even more. We sought out troubled corporations, swooping in and buying them out once they had no other option. Then we restructured them from the ground up. The vampire I’d become fired all former employees and new blood was brought in. The boss man encouraged this vampire, actually demanded this creature, so how could I be blamed when I started to bring him home?
Through the window, I had a clean view of the runway and watched the planes sail into thick winter clouds. Right then I knew I didn’t have it in me to catch one. So when the alarm on my watch beeped, I ignored it and waited until I could see my flight disappear into the white sky.
I needed a nap.
I needed to take a break, and I’d always been able to daydream well.