Drinking and dialing (Part 2)

After having quite a few drinks, a young man calls his ex-girlfriend and slurs through a desperate, needy conversation to win her back. Perhaps not so surprisingly, she declines.

The Ex-Executive Assistant, a story published on Tuesdays and Thursdays in a limited number of installments
"The Ex-Executive Assistant" is a comedic story about a young man who loses both his job and his girlfriend on the same day.

Recap: It’s Friday night, and Lyle and Shep are out for a night on the town. After eating dinner in a Mexican restaurant, visiting a casino bar and drinking in Lyle’s old hangout, the Silver Tavern, they’ve finally arrived at the place Shep’s wanted to be all along: a nightclub with “scores of hot single women.” Only Lyle’s been drinking all night, and with each drink he’s reminisced more and more about his ex-girlfriend, Annabelle. In the last chapter, he told Shep to go ahead into the nightclub while he stayed outside, to get some air. After Shep was out of sight, he whipped out his cell phone and called Annabelle, to beg her to come back. Their conversation continues now: 

Annabelle sighed. “Lyle, we can’t just pretend like nothing ever happened.”

“What happened? Besides us breaking up, I mean?”

“I cheated on you! Don’t you understand the ramifications of that?”

“I wouldn’t beat yourself up over it. Sleeping with Brent is punishment enough.”

“Well, I do beat myself up over it – I beat myself up every day. I hate what I did. Living with the knowledge of what I’ve done has been the absolute worst punishment I could possibly imagine.”

“Even worse of a punishment than living with me?”

“I’m serious, Lyle!”

“Look,” Lyle said, “I forgive you for what you did. OK? I forgive you. I understand why it happened.”

“No – it’s not as simple as writing it off. We can’t … we can’t just forget it ever happened.”

“But I want to. I want to forget it ever happened. Don’t my feelings count?”

Annabelle hiccuped. Either that, or she was crying. Lyle couldn’t tell which.

“You said you did it because we fell out of love,” Lyle said. “So, let’s put it behind us and fall back into love. Seems simple, right?”

“No.” Annabelle’s voice was cold, and Lyle could tell right away that she hadn’t been crying. Maybe he had only hoped she had been crying, so he could feel like he had the upper hand.

“It’s not simple,” Annabelle continued. “None of it’s simple. We’re not the same people we used to be.”

“You keep saying that, but aren’t people allowed to change? Of course I’m not the same person I used to be. And in ten years from now, I’ll be an even different person. That’s life. People grow and evolve.”

“Do they, Lyle? Do they really? Because if there’s anyone I’ve ever known who vigorously resists change, it’s you.”

“What are you talking about?”

“C’mon, Lyle. You know exactly what I’m talking about. If there’s anything you cling to tighter than a beer bottle, it’s the past.”

“That’s only because I was happy in the past … and I was happy because I was with you.”

“If that were true, then you wouldn’t have been so miserable the whole time we were together.”

“It wasn’t you! It never was you! It was my job I couldn’t stand. I hated being an executive assistant.”

“Then why did you take all your frustration out on me?”

“I didn’t realize I was. At the time, I mean.”

“Seriously? Coming home and putting away a six-pack every night and complaining about your life – all for my benefit, of course – and you didn’t realize you were taking it out of me?”

“Like I said, at the time.”

“Forget it, Lyle. What’s done is done. We can’t go back to what we had, because we never had anything to begin with.”

“How can you possibly say that?”

“Because all we had was a couple of years anyway, and you were miserable for most of it. You never made me feel wanted. All you cared about was complaining about your stupid job and reminiscing about your failed career.”

“That job’s gone. I don’t even have it now. You know that.”

“So is that why you want to reconcile? Now that you’re unemployed, you finally have the time to acknowledge my existence?”

“I got all the time in the world, baby. I’m a hapless loser with no hope of finding work. If it’s my attention you want, you got it.”

“Yeah, well, I don’t want it anymore. That ship sailed. I tried everything I could when we were together to get your attention – even going so far as to sleep with your best friend. That was the first time in seven months that you really noticed me … so I guess it did the trick.”

Annabelle’s voice broke, and Lyle’s throat constricted. He couldn’t think of anything to say.

“Please don’t call me anymore,” Annabelle said, her voice shaking. “We’re done. There’s no way I could look at you every day and not think about what I did. And even if I could, I don’t think I can be with someone who clings so desperately to a past life that’s never coming back.”

“Is this about you feeling guilty for cheating on me? Because if it is, I don’t know how to tell you any more clearly that I don’t care. Plenty of couples recover from cheating. I mean, we weren’t even married, for Pete’s sake. Neither of us took any vows. We could have just been on a break, for all anybody knows.”

“You didn’t hear me, Lyle. It’s more than that. You and I are two very different people. I don’t know when it happened, but at some point we took off in different directions. We just don’t have a connection anymore.”

“That’s bull.”

“Plus, you cling to the past. Right now is a perfect example. You’re too scared to face the future, so you picture a time when you thought you were happy, and you try to recreate those circumstances in your life. The thing is, Lyle, you can never reclaim the past. Those days are long gone. But you always get so frustrated when you can’t make things the way they were, and then you withdraw and get depressed. At some point, you’re going to have to realize that the present’s not that bad, and that the future is only what you make of it.”

“I’m tired of people telling me I’m afraid. Nobody knows how I feel.”

“Who else is telling you you’re afraid? Shep?”

“Of course. He seizes every available opportunity to lecture me.”

“That’s only because he cares about you. And I care about you, too.”

“Enough to come back?”

“This isn’t productive, Lyle. And we’ve been talking for a long time. We should probably hang up now.”

“Don’t go. Please.”

“I’m going to hang up now, Lyle.” Annabelle’s voice was soft.

“Don’t go. Just … don’t go.” Lyle slid his back down the fence, landing hard on his haunches. He stared ahead at the brightly lit parking lot, which started to blur till all the streetlights were nothing more than huge, crystallized orange blobs in his vision.

A few seconds passed where neither of them said anything. Lyle knew that Annabelle hadn’t hung up, though; he could still her breathing.

“Come back to me,” Lyle said, his voice choking.

Annabelle didn’t reply.

“Please,” Lyle said. “I’m on my knees, here. Well, OK – I’m not on my knees; I’m on my ass. But still, I’m vulnerable — and I’m begging you to come back. Promise me you’ll think about it, at least.”

Annabelle took a deep, long breath.

“I have to go,” she said, after a couple of agonizing moments.

“No. Don’t go.”

“I have to.”

Lyle’s stomach sank. “But we didn’t resolve anything.”

“Yes, we did.” Annabelle paused. “Goodbye, Lyle.”

“No, wait—”

But the phone clicked off in his ear.

The night was thick and silent; the only sound Lyle heard was the rustling wind as it ripped through his hair.

Slowly, he clambered to his feet, using the fence for support. His iPhone fumbled from his sweaty hand and fell to the ground. He bent over to retrieve it, brushing away the dirt.

He stared at the screen, which now was dark and encrusted with dust. The mirror-like surface reflected the bright parking-lot lights.

Lyle reeled back and chucked the phone with all his strength. It made a most-satisfying metallic clunk when it landed several feet away, sliding across the hard asphalt.

Author: Allen

I’m a humorist and fiction writer, as well as the author of two books. One is a collection of humor, and one is a collection of short stories. Both books are available on Amazon. I always wanted to write a comic strip, but I can’t draw. Not even a stick-person. So that’s why “The Lawn-Cutting Crew” is a comic strip without drawings. I hope you enjoy!

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