Carol’s perilous seas


We three all have our shot at taking Carol home from the bar tonight.

            Maybe because we three are so different, she has a hard time making up her mind between us.

            She has become a legend among the boys – who tell stories about her exploits.

            I keep trying to stay out of those stories, telling myself I’m an observer not a participant in the comedy of errors we call “our band.”

            I am, of course, full of shit.

            And when she looks at me or touches my arm, my head spins as if I had many more drinks than I’ve actually had.

            Somewhere in the back of my brain, a more Lucite person calculates my chances against the other two and I come up short.

            This part of me says “brain” doesn’t stand a chance in the sex came compared with “brawn.”

            Yet it’s more than that.

            I’m so tiny a fish in this small rock and roll pond it takes a microscope to find me.

            Yet every once in a while, she glances my way and I melt.

            Maybe I’m a stalker at heart, watching her every move from the bar, turning away with embarrassment each time she catches me staring. Some people accuse me of being a vampire, of feeding off other people, always the shadowy shape in the back booth ready to take in any body’s story. The whole place is filled with walking text books on loneliness and pain, and I guess listening to them makes me feel less lonely. Donne claims no man’s an island. But I’m not sure he’s right when it comes to me. Or for that matter, Carol, whose attraction I feel deeper than just the desire to have her.

             Although I admit I’ve got her moves memorized, her shape so firmly carved out in my mind I could shape her out of clay with my hands if only I could for once lay my hands on her.

            Maybe it’s a mistake always staying silent when Tom, decorated in a two-day-old beard, recounts his career as a sailor and gives the usual crap about his having had “a girl” in every port.

            It’s bullshit, of course, since we all know if he could have Carol, he would have her, instead of sailing each night away on the same barstool, drowning himself  salty tears and beer foam with the rest of us losers.

            Jim, on the other hands her his own heroic spiel, about his days scrounging around in the jungles of Vietnam and how he gave his best years to the service of his country and how his country had let him down, spitting him out of the army was the war was over as if it was ashamed of him.

            I think she comes over to where we hang out because she feels sorry for us – when it is clear she can snag any guy in the place and does so often.

            Sometimes, when she is very drunk, she starts mumbling about going off to some port of call that even Tom has never heard of, sailing some ship that she had shaped out in her dreams.

            This is one of those nights, she crying on our shoulders, looking at each of us as if we three are the only men she’ll ever really trust.

            She wants one of us to go off to her special island with her, but is too drunk to say which one of us ought to go.

            Tom says he’s got the most experience on the high seas.

            Jim says he’s a survivor and can handle whatever dangers they might find when they get there.

            Me, I tell everybody I got to use the toilet, and when I get near the door, make a sharp right out into the night air, hoping I’m sober enough for the long lonely ride home – thinking as I fish the keys out of my pocket – how I would love to sail around the world with Carol, too, only I don’t have any of the qualifications.

            But I do wonder, which of the two got lucky tonight, and whether or not the next time, I might get selected.


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