"Yes it did. It explained my behavior. I already told you, it really was my period. I told you I was sorry and I’m exhausted. Let’s just watch the movie.”
“No!” His tone changed from affectionate teasing to passive-aggressive. “When it’s not convenient for me to talk, like when I’m working, you call me and make me listen to you whine and complain. Now it’s your turn.”
“That’s very mature of you, Carlos. An eye for an eye, the basis of our marriage. I thought we already outgrew that.” Eunice got up from the couch, removed the movie from the DVD player, and turned the television off.
Carlos knew that when she turned off the TV, she had every intention of extending the conversation to equal the same amount of time for a full-length movie. He looked at the clock behind him: 2:17. In about five minutes, he is going to shut down everything around him so that he can remain calm, cool, and collected. He did not want to listen to her taunts and insults. Actually, he did not want to listen to her at all. Eunice was known for her razor tongue, and she would attack without warning. He closed his eyes and recalled the night they met.
“Not once did you tell me I wasn’t being true to myself. You’re the one who lied to yourself when you said you were successful in your career back when we were dating, and how much money do you make for this family now?” Her voice trailed off as he thought back to the night they met.
It was at Brews, a downtown pub, where all the frat boys and the beer-bellied alumni rugby players hung out to drink the imported specialty beers. Beer snobs. Not where he belonged, yet he found himself driving over there to meet up with his shady friend Larry who was a lot of fun to party with.
“Dude, I found an after party tonight, but I gotta meet this chick at Brews first. I am going to hook up with her tonight," Gary said matter-of-factly. It was no secret what he did for a living.
“Why don’t you meet me up there?”
“No, thanks, man. I’ve gotta work early in the morning tomorrow and my son’s gonna be looking for me in the morning.”
“Isn’t that why your dad’s living with you? So he can take care of your son?”
Carlos laughed. “Good point. But I’m already in bed, man.”
“The after-party, Carlos. I heard DJ RJ is spinning tonight.”
“Oh really? He’s playing house music?”
“You know he will.”
Carlos found himself getting up out of bed that night and telling his dad to watch his son. No, he didn’t feel badly about leaving his son to go party. After all, he gave up everything so he could raise his kid, even though he didn’t want one. Unwanted pregnancy. Unwanted woman. Then she had to go leave them both. He felt entitled to a break once in a while, and tonight was his opportunity. He had to seize it before it slipped away again.
The day Jeffrey was born was the day he gave up on music and the band, but he couldn't resist music altogether.
Driving downtown was like coming home. The clubs and the streetlights were familiar, and the drum and bass from the music clubs was throbbing in his ears. People were laughing and drinking, and someone’s getting her belly button pierced at the tattoo parlor. He felt alive again. What a horrible year it has been – with Jeffrey’s mom leaving him and two years of his life wasted, tonight, he felt like he finally was able to start picking up the pieces to move on.
He pulled the old Buick up to the curb and parked his car next to the meter. I’ll only stay for 30 minutes, he thought to himself, as he put in a few coins in. Just enough time to drink a beer and go.
He walked into Brews and instantly felt nauseous. He was surrounded by the same dorks that he and his cousins used to hang out with in San Antonio. Those were the guys that used to be stars of their high school football and talked about what losers the non-football players were. They were the guys who drank overpriced beer.
They were all here together in one place. Ugh, he was gonna get sick. Where’s Larry? I gotta get outta here.
He finds Larry surrounded by several young women, all of whom were giving him their undivided attention. Larry could charm anybody’s pants off, even a middle aged male bartender. He was just Larry, and everyone loved him.
That was the night they met.
He saw her talking to Larry. At first, Carlos thought she was the girl Larry was talking about over the phone, but it turned out that she just happened to have smashed his drink earlier that night.
As he walked towards them, he could hear her telling him, “I totally didn’t see it. I’m really sorry about that. Let me buy you another one.”
Before Larry could agree to the free beer, Carlos walked up to them and interrupted. “You don’t have to buy Larry a beer. He doesn’t even need another one. Don’t worry about it. It’s his fault anyway.”
He gave her his sexiest grin, but it didn’t work. In her innermost snotty attitude that she still throws around from time to time to this day, she asked, “Who are you… and why are you interrupting us?”
He fell in love with her instantly.