I'm still trying to wrap up a couple deadlines before I head out to Spokane on Friday. So I figured I might as well throw down with the next chapter of SEX OFFENDERS. Now on this chapter I need to offer the disclaimer that this is my LEAST FAVORITE chapter to date. If I had the time I would rewrite the crap out of it because for some reason it made me cringe to read it. Cringing and being mildy embarassed by the assy-ness of my old writing is a pretty familiar feeling, but this one is on another level of cringetivity. Suffice to say I am not a huge fan of this piece of wordsmithing.
I guess I shouldn't color everyone's opinion before they have a chance to judge for themselves. I'm probably too late at this point. Oh well. I hope you enjoy it more than I did.
After a short ride that is mostly quiet, but still comfortable for both parties, they arrive at the sports bar. Hardballs is a collection of wall mounted LCD televisions, pool tables and bar stools surrounding a rectangular bar in the center. The décor is modern sports memorabilia chic, with assorted signed game balls, jerseys and other professional sports related paraphernalia encased in Plexiglas along the walls. The staff consists of mostly attractive women sporting skimpy outfits that should have “Hooters” emblazoned on their tight white t-shirts instead of Hardballs. In fact, if one were sufficiently hammered, they could mistake the orange Hardballs logo for that of Hooters.
Although Edwin left the office much earlier, somehow Danny and Mae manage to be the first to arrive. Their get to know you chit-chat really begins in earnest at the main bar. Mae orders a bottle of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, but changes her order to a coke, after Danny orders a Cherry Coke.
“You don't have to get a coke on my account.” Danny says.
“I know. But it's no fun drinking alone.”
“Sorry. I don't really drink, much.”
“No?” Mae says. “Why not?”
“No big reason. I'm not recovering or a religious fanatic or anything like that. It's just not really my thing.”
“I respect that. I don't drink much either. Just socially.”
“That's a relief.” Danny feels comfortable enough to set up his first witty remark.
“Why?” Mae takes the bait.
“Nothing. I was just beginning to believe all of those rumors about you being an agoraphobic alcoholic. That's all.”
The too-clever-for-its-own-good remark elicits a small obligatory chuckle from Mae, which doesn't go unnoticed by Danny. Embarrassment begins to swell behind his cheeks, turning his face a nice shade of red. Mae, sensing his discomfort, does her best to let him off the hook and keep the conversation flowing.
“I'm not agoraphobic.” She says in her best dumb blonde voice. “I think those fuzzy sweaters are just darlin'.” Her silly quip is enough to make Danny laugh at its own stupidity and give himself a reprieve from embarrassment.
“Me too. I have several myself.” Danny redeems himself a bit. This time Mae's chuckles are authentic.
“You do? I bet you look absolutely fabulous in them.” Mae counters, placing her hand momentarily on his.
“Oh, I do. I just love wearing them... and nothing else.”
Mae’s subsequent ensuing laughter is so infectious that Danny can't help but respond in kind. This laughter takes on the added importance of being their first real intimate moment together, a fact not lost on either of them. To Danny, it is the beginning of something forbidden, which excites and frightens him at the same time. Mae, on the other hand, accepts it as a finite moment in time that cannot lead to anything. So she will file this away in her memory catalog, to inevitably be called upon as a future means of escape. Although their reasons differ, they both resign themselves to a fate that is untrue to their hearts.
The light-hearted conversation flows smoothly, and their comfort level rises accordingly. Danny and Mae volley witty banter back and forth, speaking only in broad generalizations and steering clear of anything related to love, sex or their personal lives. For Mae it is a subconscious choice done to divorce the present from her past, while at the same time not allow any consideration of the future. She wishes only to live in the moment she shares with Danny, because that is all she can grant herself. It is Danny's ever-present failsafe, however, that motivates him to steer clear of those subjects which may risk further intimacy. Yet, he feels the overwhelming need to at least express his gratitude for their time spent together. He feels indebted to her for allowing him a temporary reprieve from loneliness.
“Glad you came. It will make this whole thing a lot less painful." He says. I'm not used to the bar thing. Not really my element.”
“Same here. I used to go out a lot. When I was younger and stupider. But I can't really stand it anymore.”
“It’s all pretty lame.”
“Yeah. And getting propositioned all the time is so annoying.”
“Too many drunken dopes, huh?”
“But what should I expect. A girl can't even go to Trader Joe's without being hit on. And why do guys always act like they're not trying to get in your pants? As if they are really interested in my totally awesome wizard figurine collection. God, I hate it when people do that.”
“You have a wizard figurine collection?”
“Seventy-seven of them. Why? Do you like wizards, too?”
“No, I but if I act like I’m interested will you invite me over to check out your figure… I mean figurines?” Danny can't help but cross his own line, even if it is in jest. Mae is not sure how to take it at first. She laughs it off anyway, in hopes that he will do the same. He breaks into a crooked grin that is genuine but goofy looking.
“Did I sound convincing?”
“Almost. For a second I thought we shared something special. I was gonna jump into your lap and fuck the shit out of you right here.”
Her last eight words are incredibly shocking and unexpected. They enter through Danny's ears, but instead of going up to register in his brain, they travel south, landing in his penis and causing it to stir. But, before he can even consider the words lodged in his member, Edwin and his posse of Totally Toys people, arrive.
Edwin is the first through the double doors leading into the bar, laughing and carrying on with the others. Like a heat seeking missile, he immediately hones in on and finds Mae, and to his chagrin, Danny. He leads his congregation to them.
“You made it!” says Edwin.
And just like that, the intimacy shared by Mae, Danny, and Danny's penis is destroyed. What follows is an Edwin led group conversation that is impersonal, uninteresting to them, and deprives them of the opportunity to make liars out of themselves.