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Erik Einsam: A Short Story

It's coming up on that time of year. In honor of your highly anticipatedor dreadedhigh school class reunion, I've pulled this story out of the pile. Ever wonder what other people are thinking at those reuinons? More than you may want to know. Regardless, you have to admit there's a little bit of Erik Einsam in us all... I wrote this flash fiction a few years ago and it was published in Technicolor Magazine out of Denver, Colorado in 2010.

It’s the night of my twenty-fifth class reunion and where do I end up? In the john talking to a fuckin’ advertisement for beer on the stall door. Bold taste, clean finish, my ass.

Ellen’s in Vegas on business at a biomed tech convention, so I came alone. I don’t mind being here in Minnesota without her. She’s never really liked going to reunions and stuff with me. It’s always a little awkward introducing her when people ask what my wife does for a living. I mean, come on. She reps urinary and fecal incontinence products. How would you explain that one, King o’ Beers?

“I’m just an accessory you tote around alll night, Erik,” she said last night as she packed up her manufacturer’s sample kit of various injectable bulking agents. She had a point. I met her online in L.A. She doesn’t know my high school buddies. Then she had to throw in the last word, “…and you always drink too much.” She’s got that part wrong. I learned my lesson with my second wife. I’ve changed. Hey, people can change, can’t they?

The night started with a pretty darn good dinner catered by a fancy Italian outfit and after a few scotches with the guys, the dance floor really heated up. Some women didn’t look half bad for their early forties. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember most of them. Where did these lovelies come from? Where was I in high school? Skipped too many classes smoking in the boys’ can, I guess. No matter. That mirror ball flashed red and blue like a DWI pullover on what must have been hundreds of dancing bodies. And the music was right on, Top 40 from Casey Kasem, 1979.

So get this, I spot Gloria Beindorf, a gal I dated my senior year, cutting through the crowd towards me. That red, knit dress on her five-foot-eight still holds a rack worthy of admiration with an ass to match.

“Glo-ri-a,” I says to her. “My god, you look great.”

She stares at my name tag. “Erik?”

“Yours truly.”

“Erik Einsam…how are you?”

“For a temporarily single guy, I’m feeling fine. Real fine.”

“Did you say single? Me too! Just got divorced—thank god—six months ago.”

“Sorry to hear.”

“Don’t be.”

I ask her to dance. She bats her eyes and offers her hand like a regular Lady Di. Sure enough, no wedding ring, but she’s got a rock on her middle finger that could pay off the US national debt to China and then some. Barry Manilow of all people starts singing some douche-bag song, but being a slow dance I can forgive ol’ Barry for his sentimentality. We dance real close. Gloria’s breath and the scent of her perfume raise the hairs on the back of my neck. Then the deejay plays Foreigner’s Hot Blooded. It splashes me like a cold shower. I’m light-headed. Maybe it’s the scotch. Maybe it’s the dancing. Either way, my heart says, take a seat, old man, and Gloria shrinks away, disappears into the crowd of balding men and blonding women.

I sit down at the bar and order a drink. When the guitar riffs pound my ears and the drums thump my chest it comes to me how I’ve heard that same song before, twenty-five years ago. God damn! How could I forget that night when Gloria’s dad caught us on the basement couch half naked and fully drunk?

I down another scotch.

I’m about to order one more when my gut twists, a sure sign to beat it to the men’s room. On the way in some ass hole nearly knocks me over and has the nerve to tell me to watch where I’m going. Geez. People. Finally I latch the stall door and sit down and now I’m here talking to—hell, a piece of cardboard—and trying to rest my forehead in my hands but they’re so sweaty and my forehead is burning up and my hands and I can’t—where was I?

Shit! Almost lost my cell phone.

You have to have a fuckin’ magnifying glass to read these numbers.

Answer. Come on. Pick up—Ellen! Score any sales? Is the competition shit’n bricks or piss’n in their pants?

No, no I’m not—

I just had one—

Sorry, babe, I didn’t mean—

Yeah, go right ahead and—Ellen? Ellen? Don't hang—up.

Geez, I miss you.