Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Valentine Short

He waited for this day each year.

He waited for it because he would walk the 87 steps to the corner of Arthur Avenue and make a right and cross the street, taking 347 steps to the newsstand. He would buy 14 quick picks and a pack of caramel swirl candies. He would buy the New York Post, The Times and El Diario (he didn't read Spanish but liked to think that he might at some point) and a Valentine's Day card.

He would go to the grocery store and buy the fixings for a Valentine's Dinner. Steak, potatoes, and asparagus. Something about asparagus said love to him. He would also get a Venetto cake for dessert.

He would walk the 51 steps from the frozen food aisle to the express checkout. The checkout girl had chipped black nail polish. That did not say love to him. She would abruptly take the $20 bill offered and put the change into his hand. He felt the scrape of her chipped polish nails and cringed inwardly.

He would walk the 434 steps back to his building and push for the elevator, making sure to cross the lobby twice while waiting, right foot over left, tapping his foot heel to toe seven times before entering the elevator.

Once on the 4th floor, he'd fumble for his keys and remember. His medication. He really should be more regular about taking it. He didn't want to end up back in the hospital. Nobody visited him there. Actually nobody visited him here. At least here, he'd have his Valentine's dinner and read the Valentines in the papers. He wasn't a desperado putting his love for all to see in a classified, he thought.

His love was gone forever - too bad they'd never met. He opened the card and wrote, Dear Maria...

29 comments:

pia said...

Bravo! That was truly beautiful.

Loved the number of steps, the apparent lonliness, but not desperation--the showing of age but not telling it

Wonderful wonderful character sketch and story

G said...

Pia, I'm bowled over by your praise and can only say - thank you. I wrote it quickly and impulsively hit publish before I could think about it.

ann said...

ah the sadness of unrequited love... beautiful

Pinky said...

::clapping:: WONDERFUL!! I agree, I like the loneliness but the lack of desperation. Oh my, G, this was just wonderful.

HUGS!!!

Claire said...

Well done, now I want more. Who is Maria and why did he never meet her? What kind of a life has this guy had to make his lonliness so complete? You are very good at imparting mood.

G said...

Ann: Thanks Ann. I'm not exactly sure what I set out to convey but it's interesting getting people's takes on this.

Pinky: Thanks Pinky - I think I like that too. A person can get used to loneliness without becoming desperate. XOX

G said...

Claire, I just missed you. You know it's quite experimental these little mini fiction sidetrips I've taken. But you ask such great questions, it makes it easier to explore further. Thank you.

Minka said...

wow, peace in solidarity? brilliant!

I pictured Jack Nicholson in "As Good as it Gets" at times :)

that was great...truly!

neva said...

absolutely charming -- and inspired. really wonderful, dear NBFF. with 2 sons who actually resemble this character (especially my younger son, who has this kind of penchant for "counting") this is more touching to me that you might imagine.

ooooooh -- everytime you do something like this, i feel so... proud. can't wait for the day i can say "G? oh, you mean the writer? sure i know her! we go WAA-A-A-AY back. in fact, she's my separated-at-birth-by-different-moms-years-geography-NBFF! and i expect she'll start returning my calls any day, now."

well done! xoxoxox

Doug said...

The Dog In The Night Time falls in love?

Very, very well written and imagined. That he did everything by rote but forgot his meds was perfect.

cindra said...

Yay! I truly love it...I feel for that man...damn. Good job, sistah! XOXO

First Nations said...

that was my favorite kind of writing-like an icepick. outstanding!

Angela said...

I'm with the others, absolutely lovely. BUT I NEED MORE, TOO! How can he know her name is Maria and never have met her? Did she die? How long has he been in love with her. Oh, I am so full of questions. Great job, G. You're capturing this fellow well.

Tom & Icy said...

That was really great and well written and touching. That's a keeper. I'll download it to my folder of posts I like to go back and re-read later.

G said...

I'll preface this all by saying, I don't consider myself a writer, I just like to play around with thoughts and force a story out of them. I'm a little embarrased to even publish sometimes, but knowing it's only my little blog allows me to do so. Your praise is more than is warranted but I humbly accept and appreciate it just the same.


Minka: Thanks. You know after I'd written it, he came to my mind too! Really thank you.

Neva: Thanks my dear NBFF! I'm glad that my writing would insipre anything in anyone other than myself. Now speaking of writers - that's a nice little tale you've spun in the second paragraph. As if. :) XOXOXOX

Doug: Thanks. I don't know if this type of a person would forget his meds, but in my story he can. Do in the Night Time - I think I have to read that.

Cindra: Wow, that's great and thanks. XOXOX

fn: Thank you. Speaking of icepicks (I like that analogy), we're beginning to need them finally.

Angela: Some more excellent questions which can only help me if I ever develop these characters beyond the little blurbs that come to me in a moment of clarity (rare as they are). Thank you.

Tom&Icy: That's the biggest compliment I could receive. Thank you.

somewhere joe said...

A gem. "He wasn't a desperado putting his love for all to see in a classified, he thought."

So sad, so endearing. Nowhere man, please listen...

al said...

Very nice tale, G. You may not be a writer, but you surely can write.

I just wish I could read.

G said...

SJ: Ah, thanks Joe. I'll add it to my broken crown.

AL! What fate has befallen you in your absence that you cannot read? Does that mean since you can't read, it would stand to reason that I can't write? Oy.

al said...

No way, G. You can write -- and, when I'm not being a smart-ass, I can read (a little).

On the subject of writing, most people think the good stuff proceeds from some kind of recipe, a process: pre-planned, linear, and predictable.

Instead, I think, good writing, like the Universe, springs forth when an earnest sentiment dares to disturb a tiny moment of uncertainty. In such an instant and from nothing, a whole galaxy of possibilities bursts forth, for the tired checkout girl, the lonely man who counts his steps, the mysterious Maria, not to mention all the people who live on Arthur Avenue. Poof! Your world exists! Now, we're waiting for you to show us around a little.

Good stuff, G.

actonbell said...

Bravo! I'm impressed, great story.

I like this template, too:)

Diesel said...

Excellent writing, G. I'm trying to figure out how the medication fits in though. Is he delusional?

Joel said...

Beautifully done Lampy G! Thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

G said...

Al, Your answer is more poetic than my little story. I like that. I think that's what I have to learn to do - show people around inside a bit more...Thanks again my friend.

Actonbell: Thanks on both counts. The template is a work in progress. Actually maybe the story is too.

Diesel: Thanks. We'll just have to see...maybe I am.

Joel: Thanks, glad you enjoyed.

goldennib said...

Poor Maria. Poor him.

Very clever way to sketch him.

Dan said...

Another great story G!

I have to ask -- did you actually count steps for this? :)

Mo'a said...

Wow!!! This is beautiful, your insight is amazing....you have touched a collective nerve. We are all just a racers edge away from the same fate.

G said...

Goldennib: Thank you for your input.

Dan: Thank a lot. Count steps for this? What do you mean for this :)

Mo'a: Thank you. Human frailty is all around us, sometimes closer than we think...or admit. Thank you - your comment was beautifully put.

weirsdo said...

Poignant sketch. And I agree with Doug about forgetting the meds.

G said...

Thanks Weirsdo. I happen to like that little detail as well.