Suicide no. 48: Saturday’s Roster
–by Derek Alan Wilkinson
“Which one?” Cynthia eyed me squarely, awaiting to pretend not to judge.
“Black t-shirt, wool golf cap. His name’s Jim.” I clenched, but tried to hide it.
“Well, he’s kinda cute.”
Kinda my ass. The guy could’ve passed for Cynthia’s own hipster version of Casanova. Plaid pants? Played an upright bass at The Gallows—a bar she and I frequent every Wednesday, after work and pilates? Yes, he was dreamy, I knew she knew.
And I’d fucked him the week before last in her bed.
This back and forth game I’d been playing with the local boys grew tiresome. Not for lack of trying, mind you; I wasn’t ever much for one-night stands, nor of developing the sinister sexual deviant reputation that I’d come to know through the occasional outburst of “whore” and “slut” uttered from the drooling mouths of jealous boys—not men—who all tried like infants batting at a rotating toy above their precious little cribs to sleep with me.
No. I’d arrived at the fulfillment of some sort of half-dream, where I got to seek out conquests from interesting artist types with low self-esteem, while in pursuit of something more substantial. I wanted to feel like I’d found someone worth spending long walks and longer conversations with, who I’d never grow bored of, and who, somehow, would evolve from what was the early-twenties equivalent to playing with action figures into a well-matured, strong, adequately full-grown man who could handle his own feelings of inadequacy. Maybe, on some level, I was fishing from the wrong pier, or with the wrong bait—seeing as how, after every semi-romantic interlude with these wiry and pasty, hopelessly romantic stick figures, they’d all leave heartbroken and wanting more.
I never wanted that for them, or myself.
Then again, every time I’d met someone, they’d do something—show something—that made me think to myself “There’s no way in Hell I can be with somebody like this.” After that thought: avoidance. Then, phone calls ignored, they would eventually eye me with murderous rage from some back corner of the bar, scurrying in and out of shadows, watching but trying not to see me make out with someone else—which mostly turned out to be either their so-called best friend, or their “I’m going to pretend like I think he’s okay, even though I can’t stand him” worst enemy.
“Hey, Sarah!” Cynthia yelled from the bar, coming back with two margaritas—which turned out to be a tongue-in-cheek offering that winded up on Jim’s tab. “Adam’s playing next!”
Adam. The douche bag who stole my virginity, and wore it around, braggart that he was, like a clown costume for over a week in high school. Of course, he’d settle down into a nicer, sweeter version of himself that I would later split right into in some self-loathing sense of revenge—hoping he’d never recover.
I never did.
Yet, thirty minutes later, there he was—singing and playing guitar with the same guys he hung out with in high school. I never thought I’d feel so drawn to him again. Yet, there I was—practically slack-jawed at the mere sound of his scratchy, terrible voice.
And then, there was Lillian—his new girlfriend. At least, she was “new” in my mind; truthfully, the two had been together for almost three years.
Between Cynthia talking about things I couldn’t hear, and Lillian shooting dirty looks in my direction, Adam stopped playing.
“I have an announcement to make.” The audience wooed but otherwise remained silent. “In six months,” he pointed at Lillian, “I’m going to be a dad!”
That’s when my heart stopped.
I realized that he’d moved on, and I hadn’t. He had the one thing that I wanted, and couldn’t bring myself to get close enough to have.
When I got home, about an hour ago, I found myself alone in my studio apartment—alone with the weight of a million lifetimes not lived, unheard, and romances having died in futility. As I drew my bath and finished off a bottle of Pinot in warm, soapy water, the only thing I could think of that would bring me solace is the hairdryer I’d left plugged in, sitting on the toilet—just within arm’s reach.