STORY: Home Run

“I want a story!” Andrew whines. “I don’t like it when you write about any other characters but me!”

“Darling, you know I can’t just write about you. You’re not the only character who inspires me. Sometimes I like to change it up. Get out there and enjoy the scenery, you know what I’m saying? I thought we were on the same page about this.”

Andrew stomps his foot impatiently.

“But I want a story! Write one about me next. You already wrote about somebody else today. I want a story now too.”

I sigh heavily.

“Why shouldn’t you write a story about me?” Andrew asks. “I’m the sexy one. In fact, I’m so sexy, I think you should write me a story for every other story you write from here on out.”

I give him a sneaky smile. It’s always so amusing to watch him come up with my ideas all by himself.

“Alright, darling, I’ll write a story about you.”

Andrew smiles at me and sits down on the floor beside me. He crosses his legs and looks up at me excitedly.

“I like story time,” he says softly.

I look down at my creation and shake my head.

“And what name are we going by today?”

“I want to be Andrew,” he says. “I want to be the Star!”

“You can’t be Andrew,” I say. “You’re Sam.”

“I don’t want to be Sam!” he says. “Sam is boring! There’s too many Sams in this world. I’d much rather pretend to be somebody else.”

“Maybe that’s what I’ll write my story about today.”

Andrew smiles at me again.

“Okay.”

I open up a new word document and begin to type the tale.

One evening, I was sitting at Bloody Mary’s writing and people watching as I always do. Suddenly, two patrons appeared at the bar to order drinks. After chatting them up for awhile, the Owl discovered both are rabid Chicago Cubs fans. Looking for any excuse he can to talk his Boss up, he seized the opportunity immediately.

“You know, the Owner of this bar is also a rabid Cubs fan. He even went up to Chicago during the World Series. He couldn’t get a ticket, so he decided to just hang out at a bar nearby the stadium before the game. Wouldn’t you know it? Some random guy at the bar just happened to have an extra ticket to BOTH games that weekend. What are the odds, right? Right! He and Sam got to talking and the guy liked him so much, he just gave him the tickets for free! Sam got to be there to see the games and everything! He’s so lucky. That guy has everything in the whole world. His life is so Perfect. All of us basically just wish we could be him. The End.”

“BOTH games, huh?” I thought to myself. “Yeah, right! Both games my ass! This sounds an awful lot like that time he played basketball at South Sioux City High School. Something definitely isn’t right here. I wonder if I can figure out what it is.”

Sometime later, I heard the story repeated again and realized just how far-fetched it actually sounded. Sam was just sitting there in a bar and somebody just gave him not one, but TWO, tickets to the World Series? For free? So he could go both Friday AND Saturday night? Come on. That’s a little much. There’s embellishing a story, and then there’s a straight up lie.

Here’s what I think really happened:

The moment the plane touched down at O’Hare, Sam was ready for his escape. He had the entire weekend planned out exactly in his head. First, he was going to drop his stuff off at the hotel and get something to eat. Next, he was going to hang out outside of the stadium and pick up a ticket from a scalper. He would enjoy the game and get fucking wasted in the nearest bar afterward to celebrate. Then he was going to wake up the next day and do it all over again. On Sunday he would return to the dreary existence of The Perfect Life that everyone around him envied and coveted.

“Hell yes!” Sam said to himself as he dropped his suitcase on the bed. “I am so ready for this weekend! I earned it. I deserve it. Chicago, take me away!”

By the time he got down to the stadium, fans were already pouring in from all over the world. Sam looked around and picked out all the scalpers in the crowd. The first two were fresh out of tickets, but the third had one last ticket to spare.

“I’ll take it,” said Sam as he pulled out a roll of cash. “How much?”

“That’ll be $1500, please.”

Sam stood there in shock.

“For one ticket?!” he exclaimed.

“It’s the World Series,” said the scalper with a shrug. “If you don’t want it, I’ll give it to someone else.”

“That’s ridiculous,” said Sam. “Nobody is going to give you that much for one ticket.”

“Excuse me,” a woman’s voice said. Sam turned around to see a woman in her early 20’s wearing a Cubs baseball hat. “Did I hear you say you still have one ticket left?”

“I sure do,” said the scalper. “I’ve got it here for the low, low price of $1500.”

“I’ll take it,” the woman said and she pulled out an envelop of cash. She counted out the bills and exchanged it for the ticket.

“Hey! Wait a minute!” Sam exclaimed. “That was my ticket!”

“Sorry,” said the scalper. “She’s got the cash.”

“Better luck next time, Old Man,” said the woman with a wink. “World Series, here I come!”

Sam watched in dismay as the woman bounced off. When he turned around again, the scalper had disappeared. He walked around for another hour, but was ultimately unable to find another ticket. Angry and frustrated, he finally decided to give up and head over to the nearest bar to watch the game. Usually he preferred to be social when at the bar, but tonight he just wasn’t in the mood. He was really looking forward to being there at the actual game. Now, here he was sitting in the bar, drinking all alone yet again.

Sam looked around the room to survey the crowd. That was when he saw the blonde girl in red. She was standing alone in the corner, leaning up against the wall like a prostitute waiting on the corner for her next customer. She was nursing a bottle of Stella Artois and looked bored out of her fucking mind. There was something irresistible about her that captivated the imagination of every man in the room. That was when Sam realized she actually did have the attention of every single man in the room, himself included.

He decided to watch her for some time before actually approaching her. Something about her that felt vaguely familiar to him. It was almost as if he’d seen her somewhere else before. He watched as she shot down every single man who approached her, using them only for another free drink. The longer he watched her, the more he wanted her. The more he drank, the braver he felt. It wasn’t long before he started playing with the ring on his finger. Shortly after, he took it off altogether and shoved it deep down into his pocket, hoping it would disappear into the non-existent black hole there.

Sam watched as The Blonde Girl finished her drink and put her coat on to leave. Just as she was making her way to the door, Sam stepped out in front of her and blocked her way.

“Hey,” he said. “You’re not leaving already, are you?”

“Actually, I am.”

“But why?” asked Sam. “It’s still so early.”

“Who are you?” the Blonde Girl asked. “I’ve never seen you at this bar before.”

“I’m Andrew,” Sam said with a smile. He picked up the Blonde Girl’s hand and kissed it softly. “And you are?”

The Blonde Girl looked at him skeptically.

“Liz.”

“Just Liz?” he asked.

“Just Liz,” she said. “And you’re just Andrew, right?”

“Right,” said Sam. “So can I buy you a drink or what?”

“I suppose,” replied Liz. “One more couldn’t hurt, I guess.”

Liz sat down next to Sam and motioned for the bartender. A big stocky guy with lots of tattoos and multiple piercings approached them.

“Two Stellas, please,” said Sam.

The bartender looked at Liz and rolled his eyes. He leaned over to Sam.

“Just between you and me, you’re making a big mistake,” he said. “I know that girl. She comes in here all the time. You’re not the first guy she’s used to buy her free drinks.”

Sam shrugged.

“In that case, let’s hope it’s worth it.”

The bartender shook his head and went to fetch their beers. When he returned, he gave Liz the once-over again and took Sam’s money.

“Keep the change,” Sam said arrogantly. “There’s plenty more where that came from.”

Liz raised an eyebrow with interest, but said nothing.

“So what do you do?” she asked in the manner of a person who’d already had this same conversation a thousand times before.

“I’m a basketball coach,” Sam lied with a completely straight face. “I coach the ladies basketball team over at a local university.”

Liz looked at him as if she could see right through him. Unused to being sized-up this way by a woman, Sam mistook her expression for a look of deeply intense, passionate desire.

“I bet you do,” she replied with a twisted smile on her face. “I bet you coach those ladies hard.”

“I mean, we’re okay,” Sam says obliviously, continuing on with his lie. “We’ve won some games. We’re not ranked highly enough to really be competitive, so I just like to let the ladies have some fun.”

“Uh huh.”

“In recent years, we’ve gotten a lot better. You know these girls really take themselves seriously as athletes nowadays. It’s hard for me to have to explain to them that their hopes and dreams of a professional sports career just aren’t realistic.”

“And why is that?”

“Because they’re women, of course. They’re just going to quit as soon as it’s time for them to get married and have babies.”

“Wow.”

“What can I say? It’s a hard job, but somebody has to do it.”

“Yeah.”

“So what do you do?”

“I’m a stripper,” said Liz flatly.

Sam stared at her.

“Like an exotic dancer?”

Liz scoffed at him.

“Yeah,” she said sarcastically. “Like an exotic dancer.”

“So you consider yourself a professional entertainer then?”

Liz rolled her eyes again.

“Whatever makes you feel comfortable, sweetie. Call it whatever you want as long as you’re comprehending the fact that my job is to take my clothes off and shake my tailfeather for bored, married men just like you.”

“Those are a lot of pretty big words for a stripper,” Sam said condescendingly. “Are you stripping to pay your way through school?”

“No,” said Liz. “I already finished school. I choose to be a stripper.”

“Why would anyone choose to be a stripper?”

“Because I don’t want to sit in a cubicle all day and I make more money in one night than I did in one month working full-time as a waitress.”

“How much?”

“Oh, it depends on the night, but usually I walk out of the club with somewhere between $500 and $2000 in cash.”

“Wow,” he said. “That’s a lot of money.”

“Yes. Yes it is. I can afford to pay my own rent and everything.”

“So where can I see your show?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know?”

“Why aren’t you at work right now?”

“Oh, my boss closed the club for the weekend so he could go to the World Series. I was bored so I came here.”

“And now you’ve got me,” said Sam with a smile.

“Yeah,” Liz said, looking down at the time on her phone. “Now I’ve got you.”

“So how much money do I have to give you to get out of here with me?”

Liz looked at him judgmentally.

“That’s not how it works, honey. I’m a stripper, not a prostitute. Prostitution is illegal. Besides, at the end of the day, all I really am is a human being. If you want to fuck me, all you have to do is ask. No Purchase Necessary.”

“So do you wanna fuck me?” Sam asked without missing a beat.

Liz gave him the once-over and shrugged.

“I guess,” she said. “You’ve got a pretty face and nice enough arms. I like that in a man. Don’t think your wife would be too happy about it though.”

“I’m not married,” Sam said quickly. “What makes you think I’m married?”

Liz scoffed at him again and shook her head.

“Whatever,” she said.

“I’m not married,” Sam insisted again. “You don’t see a wedding ring on my finger, do you?”

“Yeah…” Liz drawled. “You’re definitely married. Only a married man would say that.”

“But you said you fuck married men all the time!”

“Actually, I said I get paid to take my clothes off for married men. There’s a difference.”

“Is there?”

“Oh yes,” said Liz. “There’s definitely a difference, and you are definitely married. I see your type every day. You’re not fooling anybody.”

“Listen,” said Sam. “The truth is, things aren’t exactly going well at home–”

“Heard it.”

“–And I’m just looking for an escape–”

“They always are.”

“–So what do you say we go back to my hotel room and have a one-night stand?”

“Okay.”

Sam stopped and stared at her.

“Really?” he asked in surprise.

“Yeah,” said Liz. “Really. Let’s go. Why not, right? You’re sexy enough and I’m bored as fuck. You don’t seem like you’re going to bother me again, so yeah. Why not? Let’s go.”

Sam smiled at her and took her by the hand.

“Let’s go.”

The pair walked back to Sam’s hotel, making small talk along the way. When they arrived back at the room, Liz turned to Sam and looked him straight in the eyes.

“Listen,” she said. “I have to get up pretty early, so let’s just get this over with, all right?”

“Okay.”

“Do you have a condom?”

“Of course,” he said. “I’ve actually got several.”

“Well, with any luck we’ll use them all.”

“Great!”

Sam pulled Liz to him and started kissing her sloppily. They removed their clothes and stumbled into bed drunkenly. It didn’t take long before the first obstacle arose… or should I say, didn’t rise.

“This never happens to me,” Sam stuttered.

“Uh huh,” said Liz impatiently. “Never heard that one before.”

“No, seriously!” Sam whined. “This has never happened before in my whole life! This isn’t a problem for me, I swear! I’m a real man!”

“Yeah. Right. How much did you have to drink again?”

“It doesn’t matter! This isn’t me! This isn’t who I am!”

Liz sighed heavily.

“Don’t worry about it, honey,” she said. “You’re not the first client I’ve had with this problem.”

“It’s not a problem!”

“Why don’t you just relax and let me take care of it for you?”

“It’s not a problem!” Sam insisted.

“Shhh… just let me do my job, okay?”

Liz pushed Sam back down on the bed. He closed his eyes and allowed himself to be swept up in the moment. He imagined himself with another woman instead. A woman he could never touch who always sat just beyond his reach. He was surprised when he opened his eyes and saw her face floating above his.

“Betsey?” he asked softly.

Liz glared at him through the darkness.

“Who is Betsey?” she asked.

“Huh?”

Sam sat up immediately.

“Who is Betsey?” Liz asked again. “Is that your wife’s name?”

Sam stared at her again. Suddenly he realized what it was about this woman that had attracted him to her in the first place. “Did I call you Betsey?”

“Yeah. You did.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

“Is that your wife’s name?”

“No…”

Liz laughed in his face.

“Wow. Did you just call me another woman’s name who isn’t even your wife?”

“Yes… yes I did.”

“That’s pretty fucked up.”

“I know. I’m sorry.”

“Look,” said Liz. “I’m really not into this. So, if you just want to finish up, I’m just gonna lie here and wait until it’s over. You can pretend you’re with Betsey or your wife or whoever. Let’s just hurry it on up.”

Sam rolled over on top of her and finished himself off halfheartedly. As soon as it was over, he rolled back over and passed out immediately. Liz looked down at him in disgust and rolled her eyes again.

“Men,” she muttered to herself. “They’re all the same.”

When she looked at her phone, she realized only fifteen minutes had passed since they reached the hotel. She got up from the bed and put her clothes back on. She poked Sam to make sure he was out cold before she picked up his pants from the floor. She fished out his wallet and wedding ring, leaving the latter where she found it.

“Alright, Andrew,” she said as she pulled out his driver’s license. “Let’s see who you really are. Well, wouldn’t you know it? Andrew isn’t your real name after all! Shocking! Simply shocking! It turns out you’re really Samuel M. Shepherd!”

Liz pulled out her phone again and googled him immediately.

“Owner of Bloody Mary’s Bar International Inc.”

She laughed in spite of herself.

“I knew he wasn’t a basketball coach. I wonder if anyone actually believes any of his bullshit?”

She continued digging through his wallet. Inside she found a little less than $500 in cash, multiple credit cards, and a picture of Sam with his wife and newborn baby.

“Scumbag,” she muttered. “I’ll just be taking this money as Asshole Tax.”

She removed the cash and credit cards from the wallet and put it back in his pants. She rifled through his suitcase and found another roll of cash, which she also decided to keep for herself. She turned on the TV, put it on mute, ordered a premium porn channel, and closed the doors to the cabinet where it was stationed. She got out his phone and took a picture of him lying naked on the bed with his dick in his hand. She sent it to his wife with the caption “Sorry your husband is such a douchebag. Sincerely, a Friend” before turning off his phone. Finally, she tossed a lone $20 on the table as payment for the disappointing night.

“Thanks for nothing, asshole,” said Liz as she closed the door behind her. She returned to the bar as if nothing had ever happened and ordered herself another drink. The next morning, she woke up early and took Sam’s credit cards to the Mall. It only took three hours for the damage to be permanently done.

Around five o’clock in the afternoon, Sam woke up with a splitting headache and the worst hangover of his life. He looked at the clock on the bedside table and stumbled into the shower. Once he felt coherent again, he plugged in his phone and turned it back on. He was immediately greeted by a barrage of angry text messages and voicemails from his wife. Confused, he scrolled up the conversation until he saw the picture Liz had taken of him. He felt sick as he read the responses from his wife. Before he could even finish reading the conversation, his phone started ringing again. He was almost afraid to answer it.

“Hello?” he asked meekly.

“WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN?!” his wife screamed on the other end of the line. “I’VE BEEN TRYING TO REACH YOU ALL DAY!”

“I was sleeping,” said Sam honestly.

“Oh, you were sleeping, huh? That’s not what it looks like to me. I just got a phone call from the credit card company! It looks like you had a great time with your little girlfriend at the mall today. $700 at Designer Shoe Warehouse, $5000 at various clothing stores, $1000 at Victoria’s Secret ALONE, $500 at The Panther Den Sex Shop, $500 in spa treatments, $200 at the salon, AND lunch for two at the most expensive restaurant in town, bottle of champagne included? And you expect me to believe you were SLEEPING all day?!”

“What the fuck?!” Sam exclaimed. He fished his wallet out of his pants in a hurry. Much to his horror, the stripper had robbed him absolutely blind. “That wasn’t me! Somebody must have stolen my identity!”

“Yeah right,” said his wife. “Like I’m really going to believe you. You used to at least TRY to be discreet! I don’t even know what to say about this!”

“Oh come on!” exclaimed Sam. “You spend just as much money as she does!”

“So there is a SHE?!”

“Oh shit,” Sam muttered under his breath. “Listen, that’s not what I meant. I told you. My identity was stolen! I met this woman at the bar last night. She must have stolen my credit cards.”

“And how exactly did this woman get a hold of your wallet? Let me guess! She pick-pocketed you, right? Somehow managed to get her hands down the front pocket of your pants without you noticing?”

“Uhhh…”

“Don’t even try to lie to me this time,” she snapped. “I know who you are! I know you’re lying to me! I knew there was something fishy going on when you wanted to skip town alone for the weekend! Let me guess! It was that Writer, wasn’t it? You met up with her in Chicago for your own little weekend fuckfest, didn’t you? And then you took her on her very own little shopping spree! I knew you were fucking her, you little shit! It’s practically all over her blog!”

“That’s not what happened at all!” Sam said. “Listen, it wasn’t her. It was this woman I met at the bar last night. She was a stripper!”

“Oh, so you fucked a stripper instead? Yeah, because THAT’S so much better than a Writer Extraordinaire!”

“At least the stripper actually wanted to fuck me!” Sam exclaimed. “Nobody can even TOUCH that Writer. Not if she has it her way!”

“So you did fuck the stripper!”

“No! I told you! I met her at the bar and she stole my wallet.”

“DON’T LIE TO ME, YOU PIECE OF SHIT! I HAVE THE CREDIT CARD STATEMENT RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME! I CAN SEE EXACTLY WHAT YOU’VE BEEN DOING ALL DAY!”

“I’m telling the truth! She really did rob me!”

“Why should I believe you?! All you ever do is sneak around behind my back and lie! Why would this time be any different?! You know what? I’ve had it with your bullshit. We’re done.”

Sam heard a click on the other end of the line and looked down to discover the call had been disconnected.

“Shit,” he said. “Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, fuck, shit!”

He quickly dug through his bag, only to have his suspicions confirmed. Liz had taken him for his money’s worth. All he had left was the $20 bill sitting on the bedside table. It wasn’t even enough to get him dinner and a drink in this city. For the first time in many years, he suddenly felt very, very lost. Unsure of what else to do, he shuffled down the street to the nearest gas station, where he bought a forty and some junk food. His only hope was that he didn’t run out of money before he made it home.

Sam went back to his hotel room and ate the saddest meal of his entire life. He’d wondered if this was what it felt like to have nothing at all. He had a feeling he was soon going to find out. The only thing that cheered him up was seeing his team win the game that night. But even that didn’t last long, for another shitty phone call would soon arrive to fuck up his day.

“Hey Shep,” said one of his employees. “Uhh… we’re having a problem down here at the bar.”

“What is it this time?” he said tiredly, already drunk from the half-empty forty in his hand.

“It’s Betsey Horton. We had to kick her out again.”

“What did she do this time?”

“Nothing,” said the employee. “TG just suddenly lost his shit and tossed her out for no apparent reason.”

“And how is that my problem?”

“She’s flipping out on social media, sir. She has everyone’s attention.”

“Is she using the real name of the bar?”

“Yes, she is still using real names on Facebook and Instagram. Everybody knows exactly who she’s talking about.”

Sam sighed heavily and rubbed his temples.

“Just what I fucking needed,” he muttered.

Sam got on his phone and pulled up BetseyHorton.com. There, he read the story of exactly what took place. Just what he needed. A Writer Extraordinaire with a significant following making his establishment look like shit online, and on the same night he was robbed by a stripper who looked just like her. He wondered to himself what he’d done to deserve a cruel fate such as this. Who was this woman and why did she seem so determined to ruin his Perfect Life? He was a Nice Person! He deserved everything he had! Why was she so hellbent on destroying him?

The Truth was, the Writer never had any intention of destroying him. The Writer actually liked him a lot, in spite of his ever-increasingly list of personal flaws. He was her favourite bartender. She liked to go in whenever he was there simply because he was always nice to her and never seemed to cause her any drama. Did she find him attractive? Of course. Did she even intend to act on it? No! She never thought he would ever look at her. In fact, she was certain he had no idea who she was. It wasn’t until he came outside without a shirt on that the horrible realization of what was really going on dawned on her. It was her belief, quite reasonably, that something truly terrible must be going on at home if this man was desperate enough to hit on her. She was a worthless piece of trash, and he had everything in the whole wide world. Why would he come to her if he wasn’t serious? Why would he act that way toward her? He was a Nice Guy, after all. He wouldn’t just use her and toss her aside like all the others did… or would he?

The Truth was, she wanted him. She wanted him so bad, it drove her mad. She wanted him so bad, the only thing that stopped her from diving right in with blinders on was her friend. Her friend asked her questions. Questions she’d never thought about before. Questions like… what, exactly, was going on here, and why was this married man acting like this in front of her? Where was this going? He was a married man. What was she going to do? Fuck him and let him toss her aside when he was bored with her? Had she thought about the consequences of her actions at all? What about his wife? What about his daughter? What about the so-called sanctity of marriage?

The Truth was, the writer didn’t give a shit about the so-called sanctity of marriage. Sam didn’t seem to care; why should she? Her lust blinded her so badly that she couldn’t even see him for what he really was. She couldn’t see him as The Snake. She could only see him as the object of a lustful fantasy, one which was getting more and more difficult to control by the day. She deluded herself. She told herself that he wanted something more. She told herself she would be there to carry his baggage when it all felt apart. Worst of all, she told herself he’d actually want her to stick around for much longer than a one-night stand. It was only when her friend stepped in and put a stop to it that she was able to see what exactly was really going on.

The Truth was, the Writer was looking for someone special. Someone she could actually trust to touch her after all of the hell and misery the various men she’d known had put her through. She’d been raped, assaulted, lied to, and cheated on. She had been consistently let down by every single man she’d ever put her trust in. Every day she prayed her special someone would finally come to her. She did everything she could to change herself into something they’d want her to be. But for all her efforts, all she got was an inbox full of superficial jerks and a bored married man looking for something on the side. It was almost too easy to see where all of the disillusionment and rage toward men came from.

The Truth was, she had no interest in taking revenge upon this individual. She did not want to hurt him and she did not want to take away everything he had. In fact, it was her greatest hope that he work out whatever was going on at home and just leave her alone to drink at the bar. She didn’t want to keep him for herself. She wanted him to be Free.

So she did the only thing she really knew how to do in a shitty situation like this: she took out her notebook and wrote a story. She wrote the story and published it, knowing full well it could be her very last day at The Office. How did she spend it? Not in Fear of retribution, but in the best way she knew how. She worked on a story, took a 30-minute break to play Jeopardy, and waited until she was finished writing for the day before having a drink. It was a good day and she enjoyed it to the fullest. She was grateful for what she knew in her heart could very well be her last day at Bloody Mary’s Bar.

When Sam finally returned home from his weekend escape, his wife was standing outside on the Perfect balcony of their Perfect HGTV Dream Home with a piece of paper in her hand. All of Sam’s belongings were scattered across the front yard and all the locks had been changed.

“I got your porn bill from the hotel,” she snapped. “And oh, isn’t it just a treasure? Apparently you had it on in your room all weekend! Let’s take a look at some of these titles here, shall we? Busty Blonde Bisexual Bitches, Sexy Strap-On Sluts, Hot Horny Hookers, Pussy Pounding Penises on Parade, and does that actually say Cunt Hunters International?!”

Sam chuckled in spite of himself as he slowly began to realize just how fucked he really was.

“That was a good one,” he said to himself softly. “It really helped me figure out what I wanted.”

At this, his wife was infuriated.

“Get the fuck out of my house.”

“It’s not your house!” he says. “It’s my house. I’m the one that bought it!”

“And you’re the one who threw it away when you decided to fuck some trashy slut at the bar. This is my house now.”

They argued and argued and argued some more, until the day Sam finally decided to stop being stubborn and just give up. She took everything he had left in the Divorce. At the end of the day, his mother was the only woman left who really cared.

“Sam-Sam, were you telling people lies again?” she asked when he finally came home and plopped down on the couch.

“Yes, Mom.”

“I thought I told you not to do that anymore.”

“I’m sorry, Mom.”

Sam’s Mom looked down at him and smiled. She patted him on the head gently.

“I just want you to be happy, sweetie. You know that.”

“Thanks, Mom.”

Sometime later, Sam returned to the bar. All of his employees were eager to hear how his exciting weekend in Chicago went.

“So, Boss, how was the World Series?”

Sam put on his most winning smile and once again lied with a completely straight face.

“It was great!” he exclaimed. “I just went and hung out at a bar and met some guy who gave me free tickets to the game! I got to go on both Friday and Saturday night!”

“Damn,” said his employees. “Your life is so Perfect. We’re so jealous of you. We wish more than anything we could be you.”

“Yeah,” said Sam. “My life is Perfect all right. Absolutely fucking perfect. To be completely honest with you, I wish I was me too.”

The End

Andrew glares at me, unhappy with his story.

“I could have you banned from Bloody Mary’s forever for this,” he growled.

“I know,” I say. “That’s why I’m afraid to publish it.”

“But you did it anyway.”

“I mean… Freedom of Speech and all that.”

“But you’re not free from the consequences of your speech.”

“Nor are you free from the consequences of your actions. You think you can mess with me and pretend it never happened? Tough shit, Pretty Boy. You messed with the wrong Writer Extraordinaire.”

“I know.”

They look at each other sadly.

“I’m sorry,” I say. “It’s really not my intention to ruin your life. I just want you to apologize to me for what you did.”

“You’ll never get that apology,” he says. “That’s not who I am.”

“I know,” I sigh heavily. “But it’s still fun to pretend.”

“I’m sorry,” he says. “I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

“Same here. I sincerely hope you get whatever’s going on over there worked out. I just want you to be happy. I don’t want to ruin your life. That’s why I don’t come in when you’re working anymore.”

“And the sign?” he asks.

“It’s not exactly what you asked for,” I say, “But it’s pretty damn close. Don’t worry, I’ll understand if you threw it in the trash. I didn’t even buy it. It was hanging up in my apartment when I moved in. I gave it to you because I really do give That Much of a Shit about not giving that guy business unless you really, really, really have to. He’s a pervert and a predator. It’s not about YOU. It’s about WOMEN. It’s about not enabling someone who actually admitted to my face that he was sexually attracted to thirteen-year-old girls. Do you understand?”

“No.”

“That’s why I’ve lost so much respect for you in the past couple months. You’re not the person I thought you were when I met you. At all. You’re a liar and a snake and just plain disrespectful towards women. And you have the nerve to demand respect from me when you obviously have none for me? Fuck off! I’m sorry, but I can’t help how I feel. That’s just the way it is. I guess you’re just going to have to do what I always do and just… get over it!”

“Okay.”

“Okay.”

And that’s the story of why I didn’t have an affair with the married owner of my favourite bar.

The End

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