Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Flash Fiction Friday, Week 47: Safe
This week, the prompt was to write a story about a blind date, with a genre of romance. It was as follows:
“You haven’t been active socially following a breakup months ago. A friend decided you’ve been on the shelf for far too long, and arranges for you to go on a blind date. Your friend tells you nothing about the person except where to meet, and you are given a code word to use for purposes of recognition. It’s all a bit cloak and dagger for your liking, but you know you’ll never hear the end of it if you don’t go, so you agree.
It’s hard to anticipate how a blind date will turn out. We want you to tell us all about yours.”
My name is Bea. Yeah, I know. It’s a name that’s a blast from the past, but my mother never fully acclimated to the 20th century, and that name was quite popular in her day. My point is, what was popular in her generation, she visited upon me each and every day; that is, until a few years ago, when she forgot who I was. But, that’s another story best left for another day. To close the issue on mom for you, she’s in good hands, well cared for, and always has a smile on her face. Now, back to me.
I’m a jerk magnet. If a good-looking guy sits next to me, I shamelessly throw myself at him. He gets my number and does call me and asks me out on a date. You didn’t see that coming, did you. I’m no one-night stand though; I want to make that clear up front. Anyway, he does call and I’m wined, dined, and smothered with charm. Before the end of the evening, I could easily see myself falling head over heels in love, but I don’t push it. We say goodnight, and he promises to call again, which he does.
This goes on for a few weeks and I’m told we’re going to be exclusive. What they all forget to mention is that the exclusive clause is totally one-sided. I’m expected to sit home and wait for my lord and master to call while he hooks up with anything in a skirt. How I find out is that he accidentally, or deliberately – I’m not sure, sends me suggestive texts asking me for suggestive photos, addressing these fairly lewd transmissions to someone other than me. Sometimes it’s Lucy, other times, it’s Suzanna – you get my drift. When I bring up the subject, first I’m told I’m too clingy, then I’m summarily dumped. Is it my fault? Maybe, but that’s my life; or at least it was until a few months ago when I decided to throw in the towel and give up on finding somebody to share my life with. My friend, Sally, however, refused to let me die miserable and alone.
Sally and I have been best friends since First Grade and she’s always gone her own way and I mine, until now. She’s been married to a nice guy for 11 years and they have two beautiful kids. Her life is secure and safe – her words, and that’s how it should be for all, including me. I’m too reckless – again, her words, and I need to find someone safe and settle down. Can you guess where this is going? She knows the perfect somebody for me and has arranged a blind date.
She won’t tell me anything about him, except that he is normal and safe. To give this meeting a touch of excitement though, she told me to meet him in front of the fountain at the mall and when I approach him, I’m to say ‘Rosebud’. She’s never seen Citizen Kane, but thought the idea behind the mysterious word might pique my interest. I asked how I was to know who to approach, and she told me after I say ‘Rosebud’, if he responds with ‘Ah, yes. Rosebud’, then, we should let nature take its course. He’s quiet and shy, but stable and you guessed it, safe. Since I’ve yet to figure out how to say ‘no’ to Sally and have it stick, I reluctantly agreed.
How bad could a safe life be? Every day, Sally’s family gets up, she makes breakfast, puts the kids on the school bus, and hubby goes to work. She cleans, does laundry, watches soaps, and helps the kiddies with their homework. In the evening, they sit down to supper, play a board game, put the kids to bed at nine, watch the ten o’clock news, have a cup of hot cocoa, and turn in. She’s described her life to me many times, glowing all the while. The thought of it makes me feel a bit nauseated, but it’s a step up from the migraines I get from the jerks, so what the Hell?
I went to the Mall for lunch the next afternoon and arrived at the fountain at exactly one o’clock. There were two men standing there, both looking around. One was a few inches shorter than me and the other much taller. The shorter one looked middle-aged, was a bit overweight, and looked terrified. He had to be married, waiting for his wife to finish her shopping. He had that look. The other one was well dressed and fit, had dark hair, dark eyes, and a killer smile. I approached the dreamboat and said, “Rosebud”. He leaned down to me, and with his peppermint scented breath replied, “Ah, yes. Rosebud”. I owe you, Sally. I owe you big time.
We spent the rest of the day together. We went on a carriage ride through the park, and he invited me to have cocktails and dinner with him in his penthouse. It was absolute Heaven. He was the perfect gentleman, and took me home after dinner. He asked me if I would be up for more of the same tomorrow. Was he kidding? I couldn’t wait to tell Sally all about it in the morning. Turns out, I should have waited.
“What’s going on, Bea? Stanley said you never showed up. My God. Who did you go with?” Sally was frantic.
Stanley? Oh dear. My new guy’s name was Winston.
“What does Stanley look like, Sal?” I knew the answer before I asked the question.
“Well,” she said, “he’s a bit shorter than you, a tad overweight, and always has a frightened look on his face.”
“But,” I was getting a bit frantic myself, “when I said the code word, this other guy responded just like you said he would.”
“An awful coincidence,” she said. “Don’t go near this man again. He’s probably a serial killer.”
I doubted that, although they are reported to be lookers and charming. I decided to keep tonight’s date and clear the air about how we met. If he was a psycho, at least I’d be found dead in a penthouse.
Winston picked me up right on time that evening. Sally watched through her balcony window with binoculars planning to jot down the license number in case I mysteriously vanished. Sitting in the back of his limo, I decided to ask him about the ‘Rosebud’ thing. I figured if he tried to strangle me in the car, I could always throw myself out the door onto the curb. Hey. It works in the movies.
“Winston,” I said, “I was wondering. When I walked up to you by the fountain and said ‘Rosebud’, why did you respond the way you did?”
“For one thing,” he said, “Citizen Kane’s one of my favorite films. Too, I thought what a great pickup line that was. I’ve never had a woman come on to me quite like you did.”
Oh my God. It was just a coincidence. But since his hands were occupied with pouring champagne into chilled glasses for both of us and not fixed firmly around my neck, I thought c’est la vie. Onward and upward. Winston told me he had a very special evening planned. He said he felt a connection to me and knew we had a promising future together.
When we arrived at his penthouse, he took me over to the hot tub. I counted six women already in there - naked. Excuse me?
“This will be great, Bea. Remove your clothes and join the ladies. I’ve got cameras set up all around the room. I don’t want to miss anything. Our last film brought in close to $10,000.00. You’ll all be nice and friendly with our new star, Bea, won’t you?”
I’m meeting Stanley by the counter at Woolworth’s. I’m so looking forward to fixing supper, tucking the kids in, watching the ten o’clock news, and brewing a couple of cups of hot cocoa.