Hair like an electrocuted clown (Part 2)

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: After spending all Friday night drinking, Lyle wakes up on Shep’s apartment patio with his shirt unbuttoned and empty beer bottles strewn everywhere. He can’t remember anything that happened after they visited the Silver Tavern. Shep comes outside with two cups of coffee, as well as Lyle’s broken cell phone. Together, they try to piece together what happened, and Lyle figures out that he called his ex-girlfriend, Annabelle, and begged her to come back. “The conversation couldn’t have ended well if you broke your own phone,” Shep said. 

Shep kicked at a bottle, sending it rolling toward the patio railing. “At some point today, I got to pick up my car. We left it in the casino parking lot.”

“Good – maybe my dignity’s with it. It wasn’t here when I woke up.”

“Lyle, your dignity’s been missing for a long time. You must really be hung over if you’re just now noticing.”

Lyle sighed. “I’m worried about what I might have said to Annabelle. It’s making me feel sick inside.”

“That’s the hangover that’s making you feel sick inside.”

“I mean it. My stomach’s in knots worrying about it.”

“I wouldn’t worry about Annabelle. She knows you get sentimental when you drink.”

“I wasn’t sentimental – I was just plain mental.”

“Yeah, well, I’m sure she knows that, too.” Shep leaned back, sipping his coffee. “You know, I was thinking about something. A way to help you, I mean. I’m not sure you’ll like it, though.”

“I spent last night sleeping outdoors on a filthy patio with a beer bottle up my ass. Clearly, I need all the help I can get.”

“Well, remember at the Mexican restaurant, when you were talking about giving up on your writing?”

“I think so. Those memories are relatively intact, but hazy. Sort of like my will to live.”

“Well, the way I see it, you have two problems.”

“Take a good look at me, Shep. I think I have way more than two problems.”

“For the sake of simplicity, we’ll focus on two of your infinite problems. The first one, of course, is that you can’t get over Annabelle.”

“Correct. As evidenced by my cringe-worthy phone call and abject desperation.”

“The second is that you gave up on your writing, which you said was a passion of yours at one time.”

“Back when I believed that life had something to offer, yes.”

“Well, my idea was this: Why not combine the two? Write about Annabelle and everything that she meant to you. Putting your thoughts down on paper will help you come to terms with your relationship. Plus, it’ll get you writing again, which you said is what you really love.”

Lyle stared. “Are you as hung over as I am, or are you still outright drunk?”

“I’m serious, man. I think it’s a great idea. They say keeping a diary is a terrific therapeutic tool.”

“Real men don’t keep diaries. They keep journals.”

“Yeah, but you’re not a real man. That’s a long-established fact.” Shep grinned. “Come on. I think it would help you a lot.”

“You thought getting me out of the apartment and having a night on the town would help me a lot. Now look at me.”

“Clearly, you have a lot of unresolved emotions about Annabelle. I imagine they’re crawling through your subconscious like worms. Wouldn’t it help to put them down on paper, to purge them from your system?”

“I think I need to purge my system right now. This coffee’s turning my stomach.”

“Well, think about it, at least, will you? You need help, and I know you can’t afford therapy.”

“But I can still afford alcohol, so I haven’t hit rock-bottom yet.”

Shep shook his head and drained his mug.

“I do appreciate it, though,” Lyle said, closing his eyes and massaging his head.

“What’s that?”

“Your thinking of me. And taking me out last night. I hope I didn’t ruin your evening.”

“Of course you didn’t ruin my evening. You’ve already ruined my life by moving in. The evening was just a small part.”

“I’m serious, man. You’re more than just my cousin. You’re my best friend.”

“Don’t lay that label on me just yet. The last person who wore that badge ended up sleeping with your girlfriend, remember?”

Lyle grinned. “I’m just sorry we didn’t meet any women last night. I know that was the plan.”

“Shep?” A woman’s voice called from deep inside the apartment. “Shep? Where are you?”

Lyle looked up at Shep, his mouth open. Shep grinned.

“Actually, I did meet someone,” Shep said. “At the nightclub.” He nodded toward the apartment. “We spent the night together … which was another good reason to set you up out here. You know how thin these walls are.”

Lyle shook his head. “You’re amazing.”

Shep nodded, grinning. “I know.”

“Shep?” The woman’s voice was louder.

“Coming!” Shep said. He stood up and opened the screen door. Before walking inside, he looked down at Lyle. “You going to be OK?”

“Yeah.” Lyle nodded.

“You think you’ll take my advice?”

“Maybe. We’ll see.”

“You’re skeptical it’ll work?”

“Not so much skeptical as scared. It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything. I’m not sure I’ll remember how.”

“Just start somewhere. That’s the trick to everything, right? You got to start somewhere if you want to get anywhere. You can’t be afraid.”

“There you go,” Lyle said. “Right there.”

Shep tilted his head. “What?”

“I think you just identified my biggest weakness.”

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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