Rum Ball Blues

[This #1667 Words entry is by Kyle Schewe.]

What could’ve been a pleasant evening, with burgeoning romance, had gone all wrong. And he found himself alone. Again. How did this always happen? Tiril was holding the box of chocolates in his hand, the flowers discarded a block ago, and it had just started to rain.

Why do I always find myself alone on Valentine’s Day? He had brewed up formula after watching a hundred of romance movies. Probably more. And maybe it did work for others. He explained it once to his friend Sven, and when he did it, love! Now Sven was happily married. But Tiril? Not poor Tiril. He worked hard, had a dog German Sheperd, Odin, who was well-behaved, his own studio condo in New York, and still he was alone.

And it’s not like he didn’t try all year round either. It was just the most depressing on Valentine’s Day.

Tiril unlocked his door, went up the five flights of stairs, was greeted by Odin at the door, and plunked himself down in front of his computer, and scrolled his news feed on Facebook.

Of course he had told all his friends about his date tonight, and they wanted to know how it was going. Like it always does. I say one stupid thing, and the whole thing comes to a crashing halt.

This time he tripped over the landmine of religion, and had his date shouting at him for not believing in Jesus Christ, and that he could be gay and be religious, that they were not exclusive. Tiril didn’t think that they were, but it had come across that way, and in trying to back pedal, he had only made it worse. So after his date had stormed out of the restaurant, Tiril had paid the $134 bill, noting that he only had $150 before the transaction.

He opened the box of chocolates, and grabbed one at random. Rum ball. Why the hell do people like these? He consulted the chart for the next one he ate, tossing the second rum ball to Odin, who happily ate it. That was probably a bad idea. Is it cats or dogs that can’t have caffeine? He watched Odin, waiting for him to have a seizure or something, and after 10 minutes when that didn’t happen, he relaxed, and replied with generic responses about how his evening was going. And it was only 8pm. Well, maybe he would watch some Olympics on his PVR, and fast-forward to all the events where the US were contenders for medals. He knew they had won some already from the exclamation point posts on Facebook and Twitter, but it was still exciting to watch some of the events.

He scratched Odin behind her ears as he stopped fast-forwarding the recording to watch the women’s skeleton. Then his phone rang. It was his friend Jared.

“Hey Jared, what’s up?”

“Saw you were alone tonight, can I come by?”

“Sure, that sounds great! I could use some company. As long as it’s alright with Odin. What do you say girl? She approves. When will you be by?”

“20 minutes.”

“Great! See you then.”

Tiril had a thing for Jared, but they were just friends, and he knew that. Right? Just friends, nothing more.

“Come on in Jared! I just made some popcorn. Got the Olympics on from earlier today too. Here, let me take your coat.”

Was he feeling nervous? Could romance still be possible tonight? Put those thoughts out of your head. Nothing’s going to happen. But Jared gave him kind of a sly look, checking him out, and it set his heart thudding faster. Tiril was still dressed up from earlier, and maybe that’s why Jared was looking him over, admiring his sense of style.

It didn’t take long until the conversation became awkward, the two men finally lapsing into silence, staring at the television as the announcers recapped the day’s events. Even Tiril’s normal interest in all things Olympics didn’t bring him out of his own thoughts.

“You read about another state approving gay marriage?” Tiril asked.

He couldn’t have said anything more controversial. Turns out, Jared didn’t believe in marriage at all.

“Ya. Who cares? Why would I want to pay taxes for loving another person anyways? What kind of system is that? No, I’d rather stay shacked up with my lover without the government reclassifying me. Hell, I feel sorry for married people. Having all those extra tax rules and regulations, trying to make sure you submit everything correctly to the greedy IRS. Even when I did it online, I got a letter from the IRS, saying that I had change my income claimed, something about last years unused donations not carrying forwards because of some special rule.”

Tiril nodded along as Jared spoke.

“What do you think about marriage?”

“Uh, well, I want to get married when I meet the right person.”

Silence again.

“I got to get going,” Jared said, looking at his phone. “Got to get up early tomorrow for work.”

Tiril got Jared’s jacket, and they said their awkward goodbyes.

“Well Odin, I guess it’s just you and me. Again.” He tossed him another chocolate from the box.

[Kyle Schewe lives and works in Winnipeg where he writes and edits, trying to convince himself he is an author, while admiring the cold and snow outside his window for half the year.]

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You can find out more about the 1,667 Words Story Contest here.

About Kurt Schweitzer

A former vampire logistics facilitator, past purveyor of Italian-style transportation, and Y2K disaster preventer, I'm currently creating websites, novels and other fictions while reinventing myself. Again.
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