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  “The EX-Boyfriend”
 
Something
is just not
right
he whispered
to himself
as she looked
at him
from across a
crowded room
she could see
he was
uncomfortable
standing there
alone
she tried to
give him
a reassuring
smile
but faint
was all he
got
from her
he knew
that he
didn’t fit in
with any of
her friends
the best
he got
from some
of them
was an uneasy
tolerance
of his presents
but many weren’t
so charitable
towards him
they exploited
any weakness
he was foolish
enough to show
in conversation
he was in
dire need
of some support
a stand from
her
besides her man
but he could
see now
that wasn’t going
to happen
she wasn’t going
to throw him
a line
she just sat
and watched him
bob
up and down
in the water
of this social
swamp
waiting for him
to go under
for the last
time,
he had thought
about
making a
play
a show of
force
he had reason
enough
their accidental
shoulder bumps
whenever he
moved across
the room
letting him know
they were
ready
anytime he
wanted,
he could chose
from two or
three
of the guys
each hoping for
a ticket to
a quick fight
that they might
be mistaking for
as easy,
he could see
her
laughing and
talking
with one of
the guys
who just let
him know
he wasn’t welcome
here
with a cold
stare
following him
to the kitchen
as he went
for a beer
it wasn’t a
fight
that worried him
he had walked
away
and been
beaten down
from more
than he could
count
being bloodied
was nothing new
to him
what bothered
him
was why?
He remembers
when she said
she had got
invited to a
friend’s party
they hadn’t been
doing a lot
together socially
work and home
were the only
two places
they ever seemed
to be
she was excited
about the up
coming night
which he thought
he was to be
included in
an assumption
that was news
to her
he realizes now
he should have
let her go
given her space
but he wanted
to show
he belonged
with her
but
she saw it
as her
belonging to him
mistake #1,
so he came
with her
brought a 12-pack
of beer
and a fifth
of upscale vodka
for the host
an old friend
of hers,
he had met
her
“Barbara”
twice before
she looked
surprised
to see him
as he handed
her
the vodka
“this might
prove to be
an interesting
night”
she said
looking at the
vodka
but he knew
she was talking
about him
he slides
two beers out
of the 12-pack
as she turns
to put them
away
leaving the girls
in the kitchen
as he takes
a spot
in the large
living room,
that was an
hour ago
she checked
on him twice
since then
stiffly standing
next to him
for a minute
as they talked
he could feel
her tension
in the air
was she ashamed
of him
did he lose
her
when he stepped
through that
front door
he leaned in
to lightly kiss
her
she took
half a step
back
bringing her
drink up
to parley
his attempt
she gave him
a sad smile
instead
before chasing after
a couple of
her friends,
he looked around
the room
a few people
looking back
but none
holding onto
his gaze
for more than
a second or two
what was this
party to her
anyways,
he went to
the kitchen
found his vodka
poured a generous
amount
into his half
drank beer
he was watching
her
when the door
opened
the look that
took over her
face
excitement
and nervousness
mixed together
her eyes as
wide
as they could
possibly go
he looked at
the doorway
he saw him
standing in the
doorway
her ex-boyfriend
without his
present day
girlfriend
he studied his
girlfriend
as she struggled
to hide
some of her
feelings
and tone down
a stare
that looked like
she had no
control over
the whole room
could see
the real reason
she was at
the party
the whispers
of people
“did you hear
his girlfriend
dumped him
two weeks ago”
he does the
math,
right when she
got the call
for the party
he knows now
why she had
been
so distant
the last two
weeks
it wasn’t him
going to the
party
it was just
him,
he called out
her name
breaking her
fixated stare
the excitement
washing from
her face
as she turns
towards him
dispointment
taking its place
as if she is
surprised to see
he was still
here
her look
cut right through
him
as she held up
one finger
asking him for
one minute
before turning away
and rushing towards
the front door
along with
most of the
others
at the party,
the return
of the conquering
hero
he thought
to himself
he couldn’t help
but start
sizing him up
he had a certain
ruggedness
about him
that propelled
him
into the lead
of this statistical
bout
he entered himself
into with him
he started looking
for faults
in the ex’s
armor
to try and
catch up
to the current
points leader
he could hear
him talking
and quickly
picked up points
in intelligence
his replies
to simple questions
quite easily
established
that fact
but he got
lapped
when he compared
charisma
he could see
the ladies were
hanging all over
his words
and when given
the chance
his body
and his girl
was now trying
to fight her way
to the front
of the pack
to get a little
squeeze
and touch
of her own
along with
some of his
attention
he hadn’t thought
about it before
but when a
woman
hasn’t seen a
guy
they have an
interest in
for a while
they ask the
same questions
“you look great
have you been
working out”
“all alone tonight
where is that
sexy girlfriend
of yours?”
knowing full well
she had dumped
him
and of course
“we should get
together and
catch up
sometime
go for coffee
or a drink”
hoping he picks
the latter
if its coffee
it means as
friends
with possibilities,
for a drink
well that’s one
giant step past
the friend zone
closer to the
bedroom
two other girls
asked him
some form of
those three
questions
each got coffee
as the third
answer
but when he
saw his girl
he rushed up
to hug her,
he couldn’t hear
them as they
talked
but her face
was so flushed
he thought she
might faint
and the way
the ex kept
looking up and
down her body
as if he was
trying to decide
which end
he was going
to
start devouring
first
had him clenching
his fists
you could see
the looks from
the other girls
it was as
obvious
to them
as it was to
him now also
there was much
more
than just a
spark left
between them
he watched as
they went through
the motions
other people
coming up
and saying hi,
but they were
only seeing
each other
it took a while
till she glanced
in his direction
all of a sudden
remembering
he was still
there
disappointment
again
took control
of her face
which she
didn’t try and
hide
her ex noticed
this
and followed her
eyes
back to him
he watched him
look back at
her
mouthing the
words
“who is he”
the ex looks
back
and nods to him
she is also
looking
at him
as she talks
to her ex
he holds his
beer
with the vodka
poured in it
up to them
as if making
a toast
in their honor
a show of
confidence
to both of
them
on his part,
he didn’t really
know
what he was
feeling
he thought
he loved her
but things
hadn’t been
what they were
a month ago
and these last
two weeks
she’s picked
fights
with him
at every turn
was she just
leading up
to a reason
to leave him
he can’t help
but notice
the other people
at the party
have left the
ex-couple alone
“they have a lot
of catching up
to do”
one girl
tells another
as they walk
past him
as if he wasn’t
there
the funny thing
is that he’s
not as pissed
off
as he thought
he would be
maybe he didn’t
love her
and he always
knew it,
he watches
them
as they keep
looking at
each other
as they walk
to the kitchen
she helps him
make a drink
with the vodka
he brought
she is giddy
like a school
girl
but he’s not
swept over
by love
in the same
fashion
as her
she looks so
cute
over exaggerating
her smiles
and poses
he had forgotten
how sexy
she can look
when she
poured on
the charm
he turned away
he had already
seen more than
he wanted
tonight
he found a
back corner
to call his
own
finished his
beer
with the vodka
poured into it
feeling like
he could really
use another one
but couldn’t really
predict
what he’d do
if he caught
them
still talking
or even worse
in the kitchen
then as he
stood there
thinking
she came up
to him
he looked
closely
at her
more than
maybe
he had in
a long time
she was so
beautiful
he didn’t really
hear
the words
she was saying
he was taking
in
every little
detail
of her face
as if he had
just met her
for the first
time,
time slowed
to a crawl
for him
he found the
tiny scar
that hide in
her eyelash
he had forgotten
it was ever
there,
the light
sprinkling of
freckles
the summer
sun
brings out
on her face,
how her hair
sometimes falls
in such a way
that it covers
her left eye
he had fallen
in love with
that face
the first time
he saw it
maybe
it was his
fault
not appreciating
all the little
things
about her
taking her
presents
in his life
for granted
he just didn’t
know anymore,
the sound of
her voice
slowly becomes
louder
and clearer
in his head
time begins
to sync up
for him
as he heard
her last couple
of sentences
“so when your
ready to go
just take my
car,
I think I am
going to stay
the night here
with Barbara
it’s been ages
since we spent
time together”
she starts to
hand him her
keys
he can’t stop
looking
in to her
eyes
as he reaches
for them
he wants to
pull her close
feel her body
up against
his
and kiss her
but she’s already
pulling away
from him
he’s still holding
her hand
with the keys
in them
her fingers
slowly slipping
from his grasp
and the keys
fall to the
highly polished
wooden floor
with a heavy
sounding thud
getting the
attention
of the few
people
not already
watching
the anticipated
climax
of the party
he turns for
the door
leaving the keys
in the middle
of the floor
and as he
approaches
the door
for no reason
he can
think of
he wonders if
the keys left
a mark
on that
highly polished
wooden floor
when they hit,
“don’t you want
the car
so you can
get back home”
she says
a little bewildered
by his actions
“don’t worry
about me babe
I’ll find a way
home”
she just stood
there
staring at
his back
as he went
to the door
not sure what
to make
about this
as one of
the other girls
bends down
to pick up
the keys
for her
he doesn’t look
back
as he walks
through the open
door
and right before
the door closes
behind him
he hears the
girl
picking up the
keys say
“Barbara, I think
the keys
made a nick
in your floor”
he pauses
on the porch
of this house
in the hills of
San Fernando
and looks out
over the valley,
the weight
of the day
disappearing
with the summer
sun
the first lights
of the night
start popping
up
on the valley
floor
down below
as he takes
his first few
steps
towards home
and he comes
to the conclusion
that he did
really love
her…
 
     Tom Allen…01-29-2018…