The Literary Girlfriend: A Lack of Subtlety
Despite living in sin with Danielle for a few weeks, there was a lot that I didn’t know about her. In fact, when it came to her past, I had an astonishing lack of knowledge. Even when I was 25, I didn’t believe in judging people too harshly about their pasts, especially when it came to a hot chick who was willing to live in sin with me. The only thing that had concerned me was what Danielle had called “crazy shit” in her life, and she seemed to have toned that down since the slutty blonde furniture incident. But then Vin had shown up at the Mexican restaurant, and things had gotten weird.
Vin sat back smirking in the booth with his arm resting on the top of the seat. I’ve never trusted smirks. I’ve caught myself smirking a few times in my life, and it was always to hide some insecurity. I didn’t know if Vin was insecure, but I was sure he wasn’t trustworthy, and the smirk confirmed it.
Even with the smirk, he kind of looked like me. He was tall and thin, but his hair was gelled back a little, and he had cool stubble. I always wished that I could have cool stubble, but mine looked too wolf-man-ish, so I always had to stay clean shaven. Vin’s voice was low and quiet, and when he’d called Danielle a bitch and threatened to hit her, nobody else in the restaurant had heard.
I wasn’t sure how Danielle and Vin had known each other. I didn’t know if Vin was an ex-boyfriend, a high school acquaintance, or a former Nero’s customer. He could have been her brother (except they looked nothing alike), and I wouldn’t have known. I wasn’t sure if he’d been serious in his threat, or if that was just the way Danielle and her friends talked to each other. Danielle had seemed scared of him, but I didn’t know if that was physical fear or a dread of what Vin would tell me. I didn’t even know why Danielle wanted me to talk to Vin, especially when she’d seemed so uncomfortable around him. Vin wanted to tell me about Danielle’s past. I was very interested in Danielle’s past. But I didn’t want to hear it from him.
Vin watched me intensely as I sat across from him in the booth. He had controlled the conversation earlier when Danielle had been with us. Then, I hadn’t been sure how to play it. Since Danielle knew him, I had let her take charge and she had done nothing but take his verbal abuse, but without her now, I actually felt more comfortable. It was kind of a high pressure situation, but I do better with those when I’m not being watched by people I know.
“So you’re Danielle’s new meal ticket,” Vin said to me. He was way too eager to talk about her.
“Do you remember my name?” I asked.
Vin stopped. His smirk remained frozen, and he shook his head.
“It happens all the time,” I said. “It’s kind of frustrating. I’m a quiet guy, so I guess people think I’m forgettable. I’m Jimmy.”
I extended my hand across the table and kept it there. “Are you going to shake it or not?” I said.
Vin slowly clasped my hand and then gripped it too tightly just to show he could. It kind of hurt, but I tried not to show it.
“Since I’m a quiet guy, it takes me a while to warm up to people,” I said, while massaging my hand underneath the table. “I usually don’t talk to people I don’t know.” I paused. “And I don’t know you.”
Vin still smirked, but at least he wasn’t talking.
“Do you like football?” I asked.
Vin frowned and shook his head again, like he was still sizing me up.
“That’s too bad. I like football because that’s how I get to know people,” I said. “I have a bunch of weird hobbies, so it’s tough for me to find common points of interest with other people. But everybody talks about football. That’s the great thing about football, I can talk to a bunch of people that I have nothing in common with.”
Vin’s smirk was gone, replaced with some bizarre sneer that I interpreted as bewilderment.
“It’s funny,” I continued. “The only reason I could talk to Danielle at first was because of football. She was wearing one of her football t-shirts when we met, you know, the ones that are a size too small.”
Vin smirked again. “Yeah, Danielle’s got some nice…” And he finished with a crude remark about one of Danielle’s finer physical attributes. He wasn’t the most subtle guy I’d ever met.
“She was wearing a football t-shirt,” I reminded him. “That meant I could talk to Danielle about football. That was what we had in common. Then, from that, I learned that she liked to read books. And from that, we started dating.” That was a very inaccurate version of how Danielle and I had met, but I figured Vin didn’t deserve to hear the truth.
“She reads books?” Vin said. Then he followed that with an expletive.
“You’re wrong about her,” I said. “She really reads books, real books.”
Vin uttered a couple more expletives to show that he didn’t believe me.
“She finished Sense and Sensibility a couple weeks ago. It’s by the same woman who wrote that.” I pointed to my/her/our copy of Pride and Prejudice on the table.
Vin grunted a couple more words, but now he didn’t seem so certain she didn’t read.
“She’s even read Atlas Shrugged.” That accomplishment would have impressed a lot of people, but it was lost on Vin.
“She reads poetry too,” I said.
Vin shook his head but was silent. I decided to use an example that Vin would appreciate.
“She recites Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton to me while we lie together naked on the balcony.”
That got his interest. Yeah, I was pushing it, but I couldn’t help it. I would never do anything naked in public, but Vin didn’t know that, and he knew that Danielle was the type who would.
Then I decided to go for it. I didn’t know why I was lying to Vin, except that it kept him from talking too much. I’m not usually a good liar, but I can say outlandish stuff in my monotone voice, and people will believe it for a while, until they have time to think about it. It’s one of the few benefits of having a monotone voice.
“You know…Danielle has found God,” I said. “She accepts Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.”
Vin’s mouth opened wide, and I wasn’t sure if he was stunned or about to call my bluff. He started to speak, probably to say something profane either way, and then he stopped himself.
“I’m back!” Danielle said cheerfully, returning from the restroom. She slid her hand against my shoulder. “You become friends?”
I was almost disappointed. I felt like Vin was just starting to warm up to me. But Danielle’s eyes were no longer red. And she still had her glasses on with her hair pulled back. That was a good sign.
“I invited Vin to go to church with us next Sunday.” I smiled widely as I made eye contact with her.
“It’s too late for him,” Danielle said with no change in her tone.
“What… religion are you?” Vin asked me.
“Episcopalian” Danielle said immediately. I almost did a double-take because we had never talked about this. Then again, she’d been through all my stuff. If she found my porn on the first day (she did), she also would have found the religious stuff (not that the two were anywhere close to each other in the apartment).
“A-pisco-po-what?” Vin exclaimed.
“Catholic-lite,” I said.
“Episcopalians have money,” Danielle said.
I expected Danielle to sit next to me so she could be away from Vin, but she returned to her side of the booth and motioned for Vin to scoot over. He budged a little but not much, and when she sat down, they were close. Their sides touched. They looked comfortable together. Vin smirked again and kept his left arm up so that it was around Danielle’s shoulder, and I eyed the couple in the booth across the room and how they seemed attached as well, and I felt the jealous anger in the pit of my stomach like I had at the Halloween party.
“Honey,” Danielle said, looking at me. She had never called me that before. “Would you please go to the car and get my bag? I have some pictures I wanna show Vin.”
Here she was sitting next to Vin in a booth, and now she wanted me to go to the car. This didn’t feel right.
“You didn’t bring your bag,” I said.
“Yes, I did,” Danielle countered.
“No, you left it at the apartment,” I said. I really didn’t want to go the car and leave them together. And I knew the bag wasn’t in the car. I knew it.
“It’s my bag,” Danielle said with narrowed eyes and gritted teeth. “I know if I brought it or not. Now… would… you… please… go get it!”
I knew her bag wasn’t in the car. She probably knew I didn’t want to leave them together, but she was sending me out anyway. Vin seemed to be enjoying the argument. I figured Danielle would eventually win this dispute anyway, so I turned to Vin and shrugged.
“She’s so confident, even when she’s wrong,” I said.
“It’s in there,” she said, more sweetly this time.
I got up and decided this wasn’t the time for a parting hug or kiss, and I walked slowly to the front of the restaurant toward the parking lot. I turned for one final view of Danielle, and she was staring with her cheese-eating grin at Vin, who was smirking at me. He did a slight wave with his hand over Danielle’s shoulder. I knew Danielle was up to something. Her mood had changed way too much way too quickly for her not to be up to something. I didn’t like the idea of not knowing what she was up to. I wasn’t a fan of Danielle’s “crazy shit,” but I had the feeling that something “crazy” was about to happen.
To be continued in… The Literary Girlfriend: Library Girl .
And to read “The Literary Girlfriend” from the beginning, start here.