Kelly was in the middle of washing dishes when I walked in. She didn’t say one word to me when I stepped into the kitchen, and when the sink shut off, she resorted to her room. I didn’t see Luke’s Saab in the driveway, but I wondered if he was in her bed.
I bet Luke is the type of guy who has a poorly drawn portrait of Freddie Krueger or Michael Myers tattooed on his chest. He pulls down the sheet and Kelly can’t help but to lock eyes with some horny, burnt up, scissor-handed freak. Monsters like Freddie or Michael are always able to chase down the girl no matter how fast or slow they are moving. They reach under the lady’s nightgown or skirt and rip it to shreds. The girl always dramatically falls into their arms and lets the monster have his way. Luke follows the same strategy. Instead of reaching up Kelly’s skirt, he fondles her mind for any positive thoughts of me, wrings them dry like laundry and leaves them to collect mold. Besides, Kelly never wears skirts.
I didn’t have a job in high school, so on weekends, I would hang out at my girlfriend Kasey’s house. Her family had a home theater in the basement. There were a set of eight leather recliners with a cup holder big enough to fit a 7-Eleven Big Gulp. The carpet had this confetti design and the flat screen TV fit the whole wall. When I would come over, Kasey and I would go straight to the basement. The basement had a lot of insulation and the movie theater was completely sound proofed. Her parents, who were upstairs or out doing errands, never thought to check up on us. I could count on one hand the number of times I spoke to Kasey’s parents. They always looked like they had a place to go. Even on Saturday mornings, they were dressed to the nines – decked out in wedding guest or business meeting attire.
For the first month of my relationship with Kasey, we watched a lot of horror movies in her home theater. One of them being Nightmare on Elm Street. I don’t remember much about the film, because five minutes in, Kasey left her seat, snuggled into mine and straddled me. We dry humped for the remainder of the film and maybe even longer than that. She would only dry hump me during horror movies. If we watched a chick-flick she’d want to cuddle up to me with a box of tissues and hold my hand. I once tried to tuck my hand between her legs when we watched A Walk to Remember, but she pushed me away and returned to her own seat. Sometimes I wonder if that same strategy would work today. Maybe that’s why some girls never admit to liking horror movies. They aren’t scared of them; they are too scared of how horny it’ll make them.
I want to tell Kelly everything about my night and how I continued to make a fool of myself. I want to tell her I’ll make it up to her, but I know she won’t believe it. If you want someone to believe in you, you need to first believe in yourself. I sit down at the kitchen table and take out the last of Kelly’s money. I contemplate getting in my car and driving straight to work. I could sleep in the parking lot until morning, or maybe sleep past my shift. I could sleep until Scarlett calls me. Scarlett is the only person in my life who hasn’t left me hanging.
“Where’s my car?”
Kelly stands in the doorway wrapped up in a blanket. She looks like Mother Mary getting ready to give birth to a can of whoop-ass.
I hand over the seven dollars and keep my mouth shut. She’s the kitchen monster and I refuse to look her in the eye. I bet her eyes aren’t even green anymore. When she’s happy, her eyes glow and look like pure gold. I bet in this poor kitchen lighting she has shark eyes. I hear her lick her fingertips and count the money bill by bill. I hear her pass the money hand to hand again, but this time she doesn’t count it under her breath. “I’ll have your car tomorrow. I promise.”
“Where’s my car now, Eric?” She throws the money to the back of my head. “Looks like you had the ride of your life tonight!”
I’ve dealt with enough embarrassment tonight. She should be happy I even came home. “I told you I had a date tonight.” I want to yell at her until I lose my voice.
“I have every right to know where my car is.” She starts sniffling. “Eric,” she whispers my name. “Eric!” she takes ahold of my shoulders and squeezes them. “Why aren’t you looking at me?” She kneels down to the floor and rests her head on my shoulder. Her tears soak through my shirt and slowly pelt down my back. They feel warm and heavy like they were carrying bits of eye makeup. I don’t know if she’s crying over me or over Luke. I’m sure it’s Luke. I’m not the type of guy girls cry over. I take her hand. It feels cold and clammy. The type of hand that hasn’t been touched or kissed in a while. I kiss her hand and her crying stops. She stands up and collapses into my lap. She lets the blanket drop to the ground and holds me until her hysteria calms. Her hair smells like burning wood but with a faint sweetness – burning maple wood or chestnut. She looks up at me and her makeup is still running down her face. She looks like Helga’s sister on Hey Arnold after she gets her bad report card. I smile. She smiles back. “Can you come lie down with me?” She stands up and takes my hand. There’s this sudden warmth rushing through me and I start to wonder if I’ll touch more than Kelly’s hands tonight. I feel like I am interrupting someone else’s dream. I’m an unreliable narrator in a comic book who hops and skips over to the next box before the superhero saves his damsel in distress. Kelly rubs her eyes and smiles at me. It’s not a full-blown, showing teeth smile, but a “want to watch a scary movie?” grin. I’m still pent-up from my date with Scarlett and keep replaying Kelly’s grin in my mind as we approach her bedroom door. I know the second she touches me I’ll explode. She gets under the covers and pushes her hair out of her face. “I don’t want to be alone tonight.” On her personal TV she has the chick-flick Beaches paused. Beaches is one of those movies I recognize right away. My mom used to watch it with my sister all the time when I was younger. Kelly has it paused at the part when the two women have an argument at a jewelry store. Before my sister started smoking crack, she could quote this scene word for word. I feel my bottled up sexual tension slowly trickle out of me – it tickles a little bit on its way out – the type of discomfort you feel when your foot falls asleep. Kelly isn’t hiding anything warm or wet under those bed sheets.
“Beaches?” I ask when getting into the bed.
“You know it?” Her face lightens up with a smile. “When I was little I always wanted to be Cee Cee. But now that I’m older, I’m scared I’m more like Hillary.”
It takes an honest man in the friend zone to understand that reference.