The International Writers Magazine: Life Stories
Hunter sat at the bar, lit up a Marlboro and sighed.
Martin the bartender said, “Got troubles, my friend?”
“The wife is mad at me. You know how it is. I can’t even look at another without getting the weepy act.”
“Yeh? She high maintenance?”
“She’s always gotta have a new toy. I work seventy hours a week and what do I get out of it?”
“That’s just the way some women are.” Martin chuckled, “Where you work?”
“I’m a regional for 3M.”
Martin smiled, “That’s a good company.”
Hunter, who was unemployed and thirsty, said, “Hell, pour another tap.” While Martin turned his back and pulled at the tab, Hunter stared at his reflection and began to feel sorry for himself.
It was all so boring to Hunter: people were stupid and life was a dull game. People were stupid because they played by rules and led predictable and routine lives. They went to school, married people they never should have married, entered a series of jobs for forty years while having children and living pathetic lives. Then they died. Worst, and most puzzling of all, these people felt guilt at each and every stage of the game.
Hunter, after the principal expelled him from high school, worked a series of jobs delivering pizzas, working in bars, and selling used cars. He never worked anywhere long enough to earn any benefits or seniority: he either quit or was fired for not showing up.
Hunter entered a ring and transported stolen cars for a few months and after a narc screwed him over he ended up in prison for twenty-two months. Prison was like school, more rules and more of the same. He knew he never wanted to go back to prison, and as soon as he got out he latched himself to Emma, a cute redheaded respectable middle-class woman with a decent job.
Emma loved Hunter’s impulsive personality. She never met anyone like Hunter: he was charming and fascinating. He said the funniest things. Everything was interesting when Hunter was around, and her parents just loved him. But, there’s always a but, isn’t there? But he never thought anything through. He had no goals, no dreams or aspirations. Well, he had ideas, but he never followed them through. He said he’d make a great pilot, lawyer, politician, and pharmacist, but he wouldn’t be bothered with going to school. Also, Hunter had a temper. The slightest thing would set him off: his right eye lid would flap up and down, and watch out, he would start punching Emma or anyone else. The first time he hit Emma, she told her parents and they didn’t believe her. How could someone as charming as Hunter do anything wrong? And, well, Hunter was so sweet afterward and begged her to forgive him. Over time, he made it clear that his bad temper was her fault, wasn’t it? After all, she tricked him into marriage and had a baby, and she tied him down, didn’t she? That’s the way Hunter played the game out, and Emma fell for it line and sinker. People always do, and it was all so boring.
Emma took care of Joe, she made $40,000 a year and that was okay at first. Hunter just had to watch their little monster of a kid, and Hunter didn’t even have to do that: Emma’s parents were more than happy to baby sit daily. Yet, even with Emma paying the bills, Hunter was still bored. He wanted, well, he didn’t know what, but he didn’t want things the way they were, not much longer.
“This one is on me, my friend.”
Hunter was startled out of his reverie. “Oh, thanks. You are a good man.”
Martin walked away in a mood of delightful self-appreciation.
A brunette, thirty or so and a little overweight, strolled into the tavern and sat at the barstool. “Miller Lite.” Hunter sized her up and thought she was as good as any other. He slipped his wedding band off and his sport coat on, walked over to her, his heart thumped a little: he wasn’t sure which approach to use on this one. Pretend you already know her but some women hated that. He played it safe with, “I’m in need of a pretty lady to talk to and you are about as pretty as they come.” Seven times out of ten this worked like a charm and, fortunately, she wasn’t one of those lesbians who hated that line.
“Oh! I love a man who plays hard to get.” She smiled, showing nice even white teeth. Five drinks later, and after many protests of, “I’m not the type of woman who does this but…” they were rolling around on the floor of her apartment. It was satisfying, but as soon as they were done it got boring again. He sized up her apartment: nothing worth stealing. She went to the bathroom, he stole her wallet from her purse, scribbled a note that read, “going out for smokes, will be back in ten. Love, Tom.” He was gone before the toilet flushed.
Hunter sped to Wal Mart, bought that plasma TV he begged Emma to buy last night. After that bitch selfishly refused to buy it, he stormed out of the townhouse swearing he would never come back. Well, this would make a good peace offering. He got what he wanted, and she wouldn’t have to pay for it after all, would she?
Hunter stopped at a liquor store, bought a few pints and cases of beer with one of the stolen cards. Outside, he threw out the wallet. “Damn!” He thought it over, he hated thinking things over. He would have to get Emma something else too. She always wanted. Well, hell, it was easy enough. He went back to the garbage can, fished out a credit card and charged three dozen long-stem red roses at a flower shop.
Hunter sped back to the townhouse. Thank God, her parents weren’t there. He opened the door, “Honey, I brought you roses.” She stood with an icy glare, arms folded.
He smiled, “I got a job and a cash advance bonus.”
Her lips quivered, “Where at?”
“3M. And I was able to buy that plasma.” The look on her face made him suspicious. What did she know? Hunter blurted, “have you been sleeping with somebody else?”
“What?” She went on the defensive, like always. It was all too easy. After an hour of protestations and entreaties, she had a breakdown of what was left of her dignity. She weeped and apologized for not buying Hunter the plasma in the first place.
The plasma looked great in his den. He slid into his leather couch, took a hit from a pint and sighed. He would love this plasma here on out. Yes, Hunter thought, life would never get boring for him again.
© A Graupe June 2010
Biography: Adam Graupe has been published in magazines in Finland, England, and America. Visit his author's website at: http://adamgraupe.webs.com/
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