HAPPY FRIGGIN'

HAPPY FRIGGIN'

BIRTHDAY

TO ME

Sunlight sparkled over the patches of dew that lay scattered across the field of bright green grass. The trees swayed ever so slightly in the light, summer breeze. The warmness in the air was just enough to keep the wind from bringing a chill, making the day very nearly perfect.

Ron lay down on the large blanket that was spread out over the grass, his hands behind his head as it lay in her lap, his eyes locked with hers as he looked up at her. His thoughts kept churning in his head; thoughts of her beauty, her smile, her heart. He had never known a more perfect woman, one that fulfilled his heart's every desire.

Smiling at her, Ron closed his eyes as she leaned down to kiss him. He longed for the feeling of her lips on his, but for some reason it never came. He edged upward, thinking that she was teasing him, drawing out the moment. He became aware of an incessant buzzing sound, thinking that maybe a bee was circling his face, causing her to lean back out of their kiss.

He opened his eyes, anxious to see what was keeping his kiss, and let out a sigh of despair as reality came crashing back in on him. The beautiful countryside was gone, replaced with the dingy green of his bedroom, the realization hitting him that it had all been a dream.

Lashing out with arm, Ron smacked the alarm clock off of the night stand, that cursed buzzing ending as it's cord was pulled out of the wall.

Laying propped up on his elbows, Ron shook his head to clear it, the image of Kelly still with him. He thought about her all the time, constantly failing to work up the nerve to ask her out, and now she was invading his dreams. She was so beautiful, so perfect in every way he could imagine that he believed there was no way that she would ever go out with him; he was just too ordinary.

Through the open door of his bedroom, Ron could hear his phone ring and the answering machine kick in to answer it. He listened as his recorded voice greeted the caller, a very long five seconds beeping by before the caller could leave their message.

"Ron, it's your mother," he heard from the other room, her tone sounding as angry as he had ever heard it. "Just so it don't hear it from you slut of a sister, your father and I are getting a divorce."

Ron's face dropped, the news catching him completely off guard. He had always thought that his parents were perfectly happy together.

"Oh, yeah, and have a happy birthday."

CLICK.

The day definitely was not starting off right.

Swinging out of bed, Ron flicked on the stereo as he passed it on his way to the bathroom. A heavy rock beat filled the apartment as a classic Eagles song blared forth, Ron's movements almost in perfect sync with the beat.

Stepping into the bathroom, Ron was not surprised to find the cat in the tub, playing in about an inch of water. Fluffy, as his ex-wife had named the cat, loved playing in the tub, and Ron had yet been able to get it to stop. Hell, he couldn't even figure out how the damn cat was getting the water into the tub, always certain that he had left it empty.

Planting his foot solidly on one of the hard, nip filled cat toys, Ron stumbled to his left and bumped into his wicker hamper. Ron's last roll of toilet paper tumbled from the top of the hamper, heading directly for the open toilet. Lunging to grab the roll of paper, Ron completely knocked over the hamper.

Ron succeeded in preventing the roll of toilet paper from plunging into the bowl of water, and a triumphant smile spread across his face. Doing a little jig, he danced around the tiny bathroom, abruptly stopping as he saw that the hairdryer which had been on top of the hamper was now on the edge of the tub, teetering threateningly. The small appliance, still plugged in, finally fell into the tub, the cat lunging at it as if it were a new toy.

With a crackle of electricity and a shower of sparks, the cat was flung through the air, the lights blinking for a few seconds before finally going out. Standing in the darkness, the smell of fried hair filling his nose, Ron heard the telephone ring again.

"Ron, it's eight-thirty," came the voice of his friend Jim. "Did you forget about the eight o'clock meeting this morning? You're on Brenson's shit list again, buddy."

CLICK.

Letting out a deep sigh, Ron went to find the fuse box that he had never had to use before.

Ron had decided that he was going to celebrate that night no matter what the day brought to his life. Since the banks would be closed by the time he got off work, and since he didn't have an ATM card yet, he figured he'd stop by the bank on his way in to get some extra money. Since he was late already, and normally he didn't go in until ten, then what the heck would be a few extra minutes.

Stepping into the bank, Ron was immediately regretful of his choice. The other customers of the bank were all laying face down on the floor, as was the bank's security guard, and all but one of the tellers.

Three men, armed with shotguns, were spread out around the bank, a fourth robber holding a large plastic sack that the lone teller was dumping money into. The closest robber leapt over to Ron and shoved his shotgun into the perplexed man's face.

"On the floor, asshole!" barked the man.

"I can see that you're busy," blurted Ron, backing towards the door. "I'll come back later when you're all done."

"Freeze it. Kiss the floor or I'll blow your head off!"

Ron dropped to the floor.

The robber knelt down and tapped Ron on the shoulder, speaking softly so that the others could not hear him.

"I've seen you before," whispered the ski-masked man. "Yeah, you were in that picture with Linda. Linda Levey."

"Her name's Linda Walsh now," replied Ron. "We got divorced."

"No shit. I guess it's been a while since I looked her up, but she was a damn good lay. I remember going over to her house…"

"Is this really necessary?" asked Ron. "This day has been total shit so far, and now you're telling me that you slept with my wife back when we were married!"

"Chill out, buddy. You think you're the first guy whose wife cheated on him?"

"It's not that. It's my birthday, and birthdays aren't suppose to be like this."

"No shit, it's your birthday? Well, happy birthday, buddy."

"Gee, thanks."

"Oh, hey, the boss is done. I've got to be going, but if you see your wife, tell her I said hi."

By the time the police had arrived and interviewed all of the witness, it was after twelve-thirty, and it took Ron another twenty minutes to get to work. Walking into his office at a quarter after one, having missed his meeting, seen his cat electrocuted, and been in a bank robbery, Ron really wasn't even phased by the fact that his boss was pretty pissed with him.

"Ron, I'm pretty pissed with you," spoke Brenson in a voice so calm that it raised the hairs on the back of Ron's neck.

"Mr. Brenson, sir, it's really not my fault. There was a bank robbery, my cat got fried, I…"

"Your cat smokes dope?"

"Huh? No. NO. It was in the tub and the hairdryer fell in…." Ron trailed off as Brenson gazed at him with disbelief. "I'm sorry, sir. It won't happen again."

"I'm not a heartless man, Ron. Since it's your birthday, I'm going to let you keep your job. I am, however, giving you the rest of the week off…without pay."

"Yes, sir."

"Now get the hell out of here."

Ron pushed his car to it's limit, the little Volkswagen roaring like a saw. The tires squealed through out the parking garage as he took the corners as fast as he could, finally hitting the bottom level and heading for the exit gate. Ron hit the brakes at the last moment, screaming out in terror as the pedal sank to the floor with no effect.

"Aaaaaaaaaah!" echoed Ron's cry as he smashed through the yellow, wooden barrier arm, flying out into afternoon traffic.

With a sickening crunch of metal and the shattering of headlights and glass, the Volkswagen came to an abrupt halt less than three feet out into traffic. Shaking his head to clear it, Ron looked up over his now bent steering wheel to see what had stopped him.

The police officer that had been driving was already sporting a nasty looking bruise on his forehead despite the padding of his steering wheel. His partner was wearing the remains of a Styrofoam cup, coffee dripping off his face and drenching his shirt, splattered bits of donut on the inside of the windshield.

Ron lowered his head back down on the steering wheel, muttering under his breath, and wondered what else was going to go wrong today. The horn of the VW suddenly went off, it's pitiful bleeping sounding like a duck that was dying a long, and painful death.

Stepping out of the police station with a slight limp, Ron made his way down the street in search of the nearest bus stop. His car had been impounded, now locked away until he made restitution with the police department. Realizing that he was in an unfamilier part of town, Ron walked down one block and up another, ever vigilant for a bus stop sign.

Rounding a corner, Ron suddenly found himself facing about twenty youths, obvious gang members. The wild eyed teens wore jackets and vests that had The Ball Busters sewn all over them. Several of them carried clubs and chains, and one of them even carried a chain saw.

Round turned abruptly around, desperate to vacate the area, and found himself staring at another gang, this one decked out in gayfully colored spandex. The new gang was made up of thin, wiry men wearing…makeup?

The Flaming Ones was neatly stitched on the left breast pocket of each member of the frilly gang. The leader of The Flaming Ones winked at Ron and blew him a kiss.

"Shit," said Ron, a shudder running through him.

With a roar the gangs charged at each other, their weapons flying. The pounding of clubs, the whipping of chains, the buzzing of saws. The night air was filled with a cacophony of violence as the men released their aggression on each other. Ron dove to the right to escaping the brawl, crashing into a stand of trash cans and a pile of rubbish.

Ron didn't have to lift his arm to look at his watch, the sling kept his arm up in that position. It was just after nine in the evening, he had a broken arm, a sprained shoulder, and a stiff neck. His cat had got electrocuted; he had gotten suspended from work; his car was totaled and impounded; and his physical condition was rapidly deteriorating. Ron was no longer thinking that it couldn't get any worse, he was fearing what would happen next.

Nearly an hour later, the taxi that Ron had called finally showed up and he climbed slowly into the back seat. He had no sooner than lifted his foot off the ground and taxi rocketed away from the curb, it's tires screeching and spewing smoke. The door slammed against Ron's leg before he could pull it out of the way, a sharp right turn sliding him fully into the cab and letting the door finally slam shut.

"What the hell is your problem?" screamed Ron, fighting to set upright.

"You no blasphemy in my cab!" yelled the driver, his thick accent making his words barely recognizable.

"To hell with you," shouted Ron back. "You nearly killed me!"

The taxi skidded to a halt, bumping up on the curb, and the driver turned around screaming at Ron to get out of his cab. The scar down the driver's face, his milky white left eye, and his every-other-tooth-missing mouth sent a wave of revulsion through Ron that made him clamor out of the cab in fear.

"Two dollars!" yelled the driver, stretching his hand out the passenger side window. "Meter say two dollars!"

"What?" exclaimed Ron. "We hardly went anywhere!"

"Two dollar, or I put gypsy curse on you!" The man held up a cloth doll that was eerily dressed up like Ron, complete with shoulder sling.

Ron pulled out his wallet, withdrew a five and threw it in the window, telling the driver to keep the change.

"Thank you very much," said the driver, pulling away from the curb.

"You stupid shit!" shouted Ron at the dwindling cab.

"Keep your voice down, pal," instructed a voice behind Ron.

Ron turned to see a man standing the shadows, his hand held out before him as if it contained something.

"Excuse the hell out of me!" shouted Ron.

Ron's nose crinkled up as a gun was pushed against it.

"I said keep it down."

"No problem," whispered Ron, his voice sounding high pitched with his nasals covered by the gun barrel.

"Give me your wallet."

Ron quickly handed his wallet over to the gun man.

"Not bad," said the man, flipping through the wallet. "A hundred bucks and some nice credit cards."

"Could you please leave me with some money for the bus?" asked Ron, figuring he had nothing to lose.

"Hey, pal. How am I suppose to make a living at this if I give people their money back?"

"Never mind."

"Here, you can keep your driver's li…hey. Happy birthday, buddy."

It had been a long time since Ron had had to walk any great distance. He wasn't in bad shape, but five miles on top of the day he had had was almost more than Ron could bare. Limping badly, nearly dragging his right foot along, Ron staggered into the lobby of his apartment building. He immediately saw the Out Of Order sign hanging on the elevator doors, his mind seeing it as some obscenely flashing neon that laughed at him relentlessly.

Ron's eyes shot upwards as he thought of his apartment on the eleventh floor, a deep, soul emptying sigh escaping his lips. Resigned to his fate, desperate to get home and get this day behind him, Ron headed for the stairs and started up them. The first step saw his right shoe fall apart, splitting like a dropped melon. He ignored it completely and continued trudging up the stairs.

Climbing out of the stairwell on his hands and knees, his shirt drenched in sweat, his breath labored and his vision blurred, Ron saw that his door was slightly open. Thoughts of a robbery flowed through his mind, deep down in him, Ron realizing that he just didn't care. He gathered himself up, brushed his hair back in a useless attempt to regain at least a margin of his dignity, and pushed his door fully open.

"Happy birth day, Ron," cooed a voice from the darkness.

A lighter flicked on and began lighting candles on a rather large cake that was setting on Ron's coffee table. In the soft glow of the candles he could make out the gentle features of the woman that haunted his dreams, sitting serenely on his sofa.

"Kelly?" he whispered, thinking that something good was finally going to happen to him this day.

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!" chimed a chorus of other voices.

The lights flicked on to reveal nearly two dozen of Ron's family and friends, most of them wearing party hats and blowing little party horns.

Ron muttered something unintelligible as his eyes rolled up into his head and he fell forward, his body stiff as a board. The cake and candles splashed through the room as Ron crashed into them, the coffee table smashing apart to let him drop to the floor. Somewhere, in the back of his mind, Ron thought he heard a collective gasp, his senses finally giving way to complete and total exhaustion.