The Literary Girlfriend: Library Girl
When Danielle put on her thick, black glasses and pulled back her hair, people thought she was a cute college coed or a librarian. Even I forgot that she cursed too much, was vindictive, and did a bunch of crazy stuff that made my life more interesting than I wanted it to be. But I wouldn’t forget for long, and I would then wonder what I had gotten myself into by living in sin with a woman I hardly knew.
It had begun as a peaceful enough Sunday afternoon before Vin, a guy from Danielle’s past, disrupted our lunch at a Mexican restaurant. After a few uncomfortable moments, Danielle sent me to the car to retrieve a bag with pictures that she wanted to show Vin. All three of us knew this was a crock. Danielle was getting me out of the restaurant for a reason, but I didn’t know why. She hadn’t brought her bag, and it wasn’t in the car, and I knew she was going to do something while I was wasting minutes walking all the way through the parking lot to her car and back.
Even though I already knew the bag wasn’t in the car, I checked so that I wouldn’t have to lie about it later. Then halfway back to the restaurant, I noticed three guys eyeing me. One was a thick busboy, and the other two were guys that I had barely noticed sitting at the bar just inside the restaurant. They (not the busboy) were my age and dressed nicely in sweaters and slacks. One was taller and had a little longer hair than the other guy. None of the three looked menacing, but they definitely were in my way.
“You Jimmy?” the tall guy said.
I paused. I was tempted to say no, but I didn’t think they’d believe me. I had a weird feeling. I didn’t feel like I was in danger, but in the city sometimes you didn’t know you were in danger until it was too late.
“Yeah?” I said.
“Your girlfriend told us to tell you to wait out here,” he said.
“Why?” I asked.
“Crazy shit,” the tall guy said.
“Crazy shit?” I repeated.
“Those were her exact words,” he confirmed. “She said you’d understand.”
“Why are there three of you?”
“Just in case. We’re supposed to stop you.”
“You’re friends of hers.” I understood that Danielle knew a lot of guys through her job, but still, that seemed quick. How did she get three friends in just a few minutes?
“No. She paid us,” the tall guy said.
That made more sense. “With cash?” I asked.
The guy nodded. I hoped it was her own money, but I doubted it. Well, that was more of my money down the drain because of her.
We stared at each other in silence. I wasn’t a fighter. I would have had a tough time getting past one of these guys much less all three of them, but I was worried about Danielle. She had been scared of Vin, and I didn’t know why, and I didn’t know how dangerous he could be. I didn’t know what kind of scene she would make with him. With Danielle, things could get out of hand really quickly.
“You guys do this much?” I asked. “You know, keep people from going into restaurants.”
The tall guy shook his head. The other two looked around the parking lot.
“So if I bolted for the restaurant, what would you do?” I asked. “Beat me up?”
“Tackle you,” the busboy said.
“We’d do whatever it takes,” the tall guy said, but he smiled when he said it. “She just doesn’t want you to do anything crazy. No ‘crazy shit’ in the restaurant.”
Crazy shit? Danielle had convinced these three guys that I was the crazy one. I wanted to laugh, but that would have made me look crazy. There was no way that I could have explained to them that the quiet cute chick with the thick glasses and the copy of Pride and Prejudice was the one with “crazy shit” in her life. If I did anything except stand there and wait, they’d interpret it as acting crazy. So I remained quiet, which was easy for me.
I was kind of (or very) relieved. Now I didn’t have to go back inside and witness whatever was going on. If Danielle was swapping spit with Vin, or dumping a drink on him, or going after him with cutlery, I wouldn’t be a part of it. I had no idea what kind of crazy stuff was happening or about to happen, but I was grateful that Danielle had gotten me out of it. That probably wasn’t boyfriendly of me, but that was how I felt.
The tallest of the guys said, “You been going out for a while?”
I stared him in the eye proudly, and said, “A few weeks.”
“We called her ‘Library Girl’ before she talked to us.”
The other guy who wasn’t a busboy said, “We give nicknames to all the women.”
‘Library Girl’ made sense. Danielle had her big glasses on and had carried her Pride and Prejudice around so that anybody paying attention would know that she was reading it (even though she wasn’t). As far as nicknames went, ‘Library Girl’ wasn’t demeaning. It was downright respectful. Danielle would appreciate the nickname. Her literary façade seemed to be working perfectly on people who didn’t know her.
The tall guy continued. “That short waitress with the big knockers is Little Miss Cleavage. And that woman at the bar with the spandex is Camel Toe.”
The guy kept talking about other women and their nicknames, and I made a mental note to check out ‘Camel Toe’ when I returned to the restaurant, and then… Ugh, I needed to focus.
I looked at the bus boy. “Shouldn’t you be cleaning off tables?”
He suddenly looked pissed off at me. “I’m on break.”
Right after he said the word “break,” the restaurant doors flew open, and a family came running out and fled straight to their car on the other side of the lot. A few couples power-walked out and then stood by the door and peered into the windows to see what was going on. Through the darkened panes, I could see movement, groups of people moving around. Something was going on in the restaurant, something crazy. I felt vindicated.
“That’s Step One,” I said to the three guys.
I turned to the busboy. “You might want to go inside… since you work here.”
The busboy looked at the other two guys.
“I’m not going in there, I promise,” I said to the busboy. As far as I was concerned, if Danielle or ‘Library Girl’ wanted me to stay out, I was going to stay out.
The busboy ran across the lot into the restaurant, and I hoped that he would be able to keep his job.
“Whatever’s going on,” I said to the two remaining guys, “this is only the beginning. Just wait.”
And then I heard sirens in the distance. “That’s Step Two,” I said.
The two guys seemed nervous. One tapped his foot. The other couldn’t keep his eyes in one place. None of us had any idea what was going on.
Moments later, two police cars pulled up to the restaurant’s front door, and three uniformed officers ran inside.
“That’s Step Three,” I said.
By then, I probably could have run inside myself, and the two guys wouldn’t have stopped me. Maybe I should have. If something bad enough for the police had happened, then nobody would have blamed me. But whatever was going on, I wouldn’t have been able to help. I would have been a useless boyfriend. I knew I was a useless boyfriend standing outside with the two guys who were half-heartedly holding me back, but at least I was where I was told to be.
I knew somebody was going to be escorted out of the restaurant. Either Vin was coming out handcuffed, or Danielle, or both. I was guessing both. It would be just like Danielle to get herself arrested in order to get somebody else arrested too. She was vindictive enough to do it. I thought about the petty cash I had lying around the apartment and whether or not it would be enough to get her out of jail. That would be another bill of hers for me to pay.
A few minutes later, I could see the police dragging somebody out of the restaurant, but I couldn’t tell who it was between the crowd and the shade of the windows. In a moment that door was going to open, and I was going to see who and how many people were being escorted out or arrested. I was going to see how crazy the cute and quiet ‘Library Girl’ had gotten. This was going to get interesting.
“And here comes Step Four,” I said to the other guys, and I took a deep breath.
To be continued in… The Literary Girlfriend: Response Time .
And to read “The Literary Girlfriend” from the beginning, start here.