A short story based on a reddit.com/r/writingprompts post.
I need you to know.
Before Harry, it’s actually hard to remember what life was like. I floated through life, as so many of us do, not wanting to think much about where I was floating to. After undergrad, I found some sales jobs. I can’t remember why. Over the years, though, I became fairly competent, and I spent most of the late 2000’s selling various inter-business products at a handful of firms.
And then, and I know this sounds lame, but I got this sweet job in the sprinkler industry. The pay was great! Also, Brit worked there. One of my best friends in high school, I’d been madly in love with her since that football game where she grabbed my ass on dare. She let me touch a few things under the bleachers, but she came to her senses pretty quickly. She was probably high at the time, all the cool kids were. Two decades and a 3 Honda Accords later, I was still in love with her, moving halfway across the country to take a job that really didn’t do anything for my career.
I wish she could have seen how I felt earlier, it probably would’ve saved all 3 of us some trouble. Especially Harry, the fucker. And Brit. And me, come to think of it. But I can hear the sirens, so I’ll get on with this.
I started working at Distrotech in July, and everything seemed to be humming along smoothly. I was getting into a groove at work, getting to know my stuff. When I was in the office, Brit and I would talk some, and I played it pretty cool. My stomach was in knots, but god, she….
Anyway, we’d talk, and sometimes her glance would linger a bit. She really could have loved me, you know? Harry arrived in October, though, as some sort of glorified accountant. Not the CFO, but something like the CFO.
We met on a Monday morning, I was off the road that week, and we reached for the same donut.
I apologized, and said he should take it. He thanked me, but there was a look in his eye that seemed snarky, mocking. I made a mental note, but I don’t like to judge people too quickly. Maybe I just didn’t get him, you know? He wasn’t a particularly good looking guy. He looked like what you would assume any accountant name Harry Menlo would look like. A Dwight Schrute type character, complete with mustard colored shirt. When he shook Brit’s hand for the first time, I could feel my twitchy eye flare up; he just seemed skeevy. On Tuesday, I saw them drinking coffee together in the breakroom, but couldn’t work up the courage to join the conversation.
But on Wednesday, I saw her get into his shiny black asshole of a BMW. I went home. Something was happening to me, and I just needed to go home. I took a couple Vicodin and had beer, which seemed to help. Even though I was feeling better, I couldn’t stop thinking about the two of them, exchanging fluids in the back of his car. Even though he was weird little dude, he had a kind of charisma with the ladies, everyone at the office thought so. Since I was home, I put out some food for the stray kitten that had been in the neighborhood, I needed some company. Pacing the house was starting to hurt my old ankle injury, so I had another beer and put on the television, and promptly fell asleep. I woke up while it was still light, and no one from work had called. The quality of light coming in the window was that cold, grey light that tells you it’s friggin’ cold outside. I went to invite the kitten in from the cold, and found it curled up on the south side of the house, right by the mudroom. She ate all of the food I’d put out, and she looked sleepy, so I slowly approached. She let me bring her inside, where she proceeded to devour more deli meats, while I ate one of those frozen dinners aunt Trudy made for me last summer after mom died. I don’t usually like to eat those things, I don’t like thinking about my mom, she was kind of a trash person. Homeless by “choice” for the last 10 years of her life, living with her demons, dying in a Taco Bell. But since I had the kitten for company, I decided I could take it. I was almost starting to forget about Brit and Harry.
After dinner, more television on the couch, but I got the cat to come with me. She curled up on my lap like she’d been there for years. My deli meats bring all the cats to the yard. Having something living and warm next to you is soothing. It had been a few hours since I had checked up on Brit’s facebook, so I started scrolling, while in the background Wolf Blitzer droned on about something important. It’s kind of hypnotic, one hand working the phone and the other petting the cat. When I saw that they both checked in at the steakhouse across town, though, I guess I must have flipped. When I came to, the kitten wasn’t on my lap anymore, and my beer was warm. Once I felt like I could control my self, I went to get the shovel for cleanup. I found the kitten, and there was actually less blood than I was expecting. I buried the poor thing with the rest of them. Even though I felt bad, it always helps me sleep.
Thursday was a blur. I had to take quite a few pills to stay calm enough, but everyone was fooled, and I made it through most of the day without incident. They took their breaks together, though, which was mildly infuriating. Too much giggling. I knew deep in my heart that one day we would end up together, she would someday realize that I was the guy she was always dreaming about, as long as Harry didn’t screw everything up. They didn’t leave in the same car, and the internet didn’t say anything for the rest of the night. The real stuff started on Friday morning. I must have been sleep walking again, because I’d been making piles of tools and random kitchen stuff all over the living room. All I remembered from my dreams were a few fleeting images of Brit, so maybe my brain somehow associates the piles of stuff with her.
Some intern at the office told me. Harry had been bragging over coffee about setting another date with Brit, and apparently the whole office was buzzing with the new workplace romance, which was bad for me. The way she looked at me when I sullenly walked out to the parking garage told me everything I needed to know. Suddenly, all the piles in my house made sense.
The rest is trivial really. The look in her eyes that day was the end for all 3 of us.
I followed them. To the movies, to dinner, and finally back to her place. I waited until they moved to the bedroom, with my bag full of tools softly tinking as I walked down the hallway. It was really bloody, but he struggled, and actually got a good shot in: I think my left hand is numb. She was terrified but she wouldn’t move, so it was more poetic and gentle, just like I wanted.
I really did love her.