Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Game is Afoot (Finally!)

Once again, I stopped posting for awhile mainly because...well, not much has happened in the past month and it has been a generally crappy month anyway. Although the weather forecasters said that the La Nina in the Pacific would bring us a mild winter in the Mid-Atlantic states, we have had to contend with some vicious cold since early December. Then we had a bizarre thundersnow blizzard which dumped eight or nine inches of very wet, very heavy snow that refused to melt because of the freezing temperatures.

This week, we finally got a reprieve with temperatures in the 50s and 60s, but there are still giant mounds of filthy snow in the parking lot of my apartment complex. Anyway, it's been just plain dreary and, to make matters worse, Geoffrey did not make contact with me during the entire month of January. I thought at first I had thrown off his game by taking matters into my own hands and getting a job at a bar in Chestertown where he was operating. We ran into each other one night while I was waitressing, and he came in with a couple of his construction buddies (Geoffrey's masquerading as a construction worker named Hank). We made eye contact, but he never said a word to me. The plan, worked out back in December, was that we would somehow become romantically involved (for pretend sake, of course). I thought for sure, once he saw me working in the bar, he would start showing up and courting me, for lack of a better term.

That did not happen.

Instead, I spent night after night, serving drinks and cleaning up vomit in the rest rooms, waiting for Geoffrey to come around. Strangely enough, I haven't really minded working in the bar. My boss, Prune, is really easy going and the patrons, for the most part, are pretty cool. You get the occasional asshole on a Saturday night, but that just gives me an excuse to practice some of my hand-to-hand skills. I think Prune appreciates having a strong arm around to handle the rowdy ones.

Outside of the bar, however, things have been just as gloomy as the weather. I've spent most of my off hours working on the novel I started back in November. Although I have the basic story down, I'm going back through, polishing and elaborating on the events. Initially, I just wrote down what happened to me during my assignment in Vermont last fall. After reading through it, though, I realized how flat it all sounded, like a dry assignment report I would submit for work. If anyone was going to want to read this, I thought, I needed to spice it up, even if I had to play fast and loose with the facts. Although the main story is what I experienced, there's some creative license on certain specifics, just to make it more fun to read. No one will believe it anyway, so I might as well turn it into a tall tale.

So that was January and a good bit of February. I was reaching a boiling point with regard to Geoffrey and I was just about to contact The Colonel for advice when, last Saturday night, who so happens to walk into the bar but Geoffrey, aka Hank. He came in with some people I hadn't seen before, three guys I would guess were about 10 years his junior. The fact that he was buying them beers probably had something to do with the easing of any generation gap, and they were getting pretty loud. I could see Prune eying them nervously from the bar, so I took the opportunity to show a little tough love to my so-called partner.

"Say, you guys wanna keep it down," I said to them. "My boss gets jittery when the decibel level gets above 150."

"Who do you think you're talkin' to?" Geoffrey barked back at me. "Do you see how much cash I'm puttin' in your register? You've got some f___in' nerve talkin' to me and my friends like that!"

Blah, blah, blah. Lots of bravado and crap. I started giving it to him right back, and the rest of the customers got kind of silent. Finally, I grabbed Geoffrey by his flannel jacket and hauled his ass out the door and into the alley.

"All right, now just what the hell is the game plan here," I yelled at him in a whispered tone so no one but him would hear. "You know I've been in this bar for a month and a half now and you've made no contact. I'm ready to bug out and head back to DC if this shit keeps up."

"Sorry, but I've been tied up," Geoffrey replied, sounding almost sheepish. A far cry from the blowhard he was playing a few minutes earlier. "I've been having trouble winning over our target. I decided to take a new approach. Did you notice the guy at my table with the red hair and denim jacket?"

"I guess."

"His name is Chester Schifflet. He's friends with our target and part of the domestic terrorist cell we're trying to crack. I thought if I could get on his good side, he might lead me to Ryan."

Ryan was the man we were really after. I was happy to at least get a progress report, such as it was, but I still felt like I was out in the cold, literally and figuratively. "So when are you bringing me in on all this?"

He beamed his winning smile and, strangely, I felt calmer. "Don't worry. Just keep doing what you're doing. Now sock me in the eye."

The way I was feeling, I was only too willing to comply. I gave him a pretty good shiner, too, given how small my fist is. We stumbled back into the bar, pretending like we had just gone a few rounds in the alley. Nursing his sore eye, Geoffrey told his friends the bar was a dive and they were better off spending their money elsewhere. At least, that's the sanitized version of what he said.

Two days later, Valentine's Day, he was back with some of his construction buddies. I was feeling slightly annoyed by the lovey-dovey couples in the bar, playing sappy songs on the jukebox and making out over their bottles of Budweiser. Valentine's Day is so annoying when you are not attached. Anyway, every time I would bring a round over to Geoffrey's table, he would make some flirtatious remark to me. At first, it caught me off guard, but soon I started giving it right back to him. To strengthen my nerve, I would take a shot of bourbon each time I went back to the bar. After a couple hours of this, I started feeling a little giddy and, yes, a tad bit horny. I started dancing around the bar, flashing some seductive glances toward Geoffrey. By the time I reached the pool table, he had raced over and wrapped me up in a pretty steamy embrace. The crowd started hooting and clapping. I had never been the focus of such a display, but it felt kinda nice.

The crazy thing was, I think Geoffrey was really into it. I've had some play-acting kisses before, and this was not one of them. I felt a little breathless afterward. Even the next morning, my knees were a little weak. I haven't seen Geoffrey since then, but I'm kind of curious what his next move will be.