Dodging Questions, Yours and Mine
By K. Maag
Chapter 20: Always accept invitations to be a voyeur.
Bo got back in his vehicle, turned on the engine, and slammed his foot on the accelerator like he would have done before his life fell helplessly to the ground like a Slinky falls down the stairs. He smiled and realized that he wasn't wearing his sunglasses, so he put down the flap so the sun wouldn't kill his eyes.
When he got to the parking garage, he turned off the car and walked to the apartment. He walked up the stairs vigorously. Bacon could, and did, do that to him. When he got to his apartment door, he went inside, put his clothes down the laundry chute to be left on the floor again, took a shower, toweled off, and shaved himself. He looked in the mirror, and gave himself a conceited smile. Today would be good.
Bo went into his bedroom and found a yellow t-shirt, a pair of worn-in jeans, and navy blue boxers to put on. After putting on his clothes, he found a pair of leather flip-flops so he could walk into the living area without stepping on glass. Bo went into his kitchen, got the broom and the dustpan from the broom closet, and went to clean up the glass when he noticed that there was a message on his answering machine. He pressed the button and heard, Hi, it's me, Newt. I know I'm exactly the last person that you want to hear from right now, but I know you know everything. I just wanted you to hear me out one last time before you decide that you're never going to speak to me again. I know that I so richly deserve that fate, but I'm going to miss you, Bo. You were a good friend to me, and I just up and decided to take a shit on you that night. I'm not going to tell you that it was entirely my fault, or that it was entirely Roberta's fault, because it was entirely a consensual deal. We wanted to have sex, so we did. I'm also sorry about that night when you got drunk. I wouldn't have let that happen if I was being more careful. Some malicious part of me loved watching it, but if I was a good friend to you, I wouldn't have let it happen. I wish you would forgive me, but I know that I don't deserve it, so I'm just going to hang up before you have to listen to more of my apology. Bye, Bo. Bo thought for a moment with a calmly distressed expression on his face and in his mind. If he decided to kick an ass, would Newt deserve it? Probably. Did Newt sound truly sorrowful? Maybe. Would it take a while to get over this? Perhaps. These questions held too many possibilities within, so Bo decided to wait it out and withhold his ability to get upset quickly. So, he swept up the glass.
Bo was driving again. He had decided to go to the Mall of America. There were so many people in the mall that it would have been impossible to see someone he knew, or so he thought.
He parked in the large lot, walked to the door of the ground floor, and went in. He walked past the Barnes & Noble that was located right at the entry and remembered how he had phased out of reading frequently after Roberta asked him, "Who reads?" on their second date. He turned and saw the Build-a-Bear Workshop where he had bought Roberta her first gift. It was a black bear with a green ringer tee. She loved it, and how kitschy it was, at the time. He sped forward and when he reached the variety of plus-sized and teenage shops at the corner by Sears, he remembered how Roberta used to sit down with him and people watch. She would sit there, making fun of the fat people and the misguided teenagers. He'd chuckle, and watch the people too. He was never as unkind as she, though. He walked past all of that and when he saw the Hot Topic and all of the scenesters that walking past that store entailed, he remembered his teenage years. Bo was essentially an ex-emo kid himself, and the memory should have been slightly more pleasant than the memories of Roberta that going to the mall had brought up, but it wasn't. He had been more emo two days ago than he had been during the entirety of his adolescence. He walked by Victoria's Secret, American Apparel, and bebe, and realized that he and Roberta had spent a lot of time on that first floor. She had acquired much of her wardrobe at these places. He had always thought that her snobbery about lingerie was ridiculous and that she had spent far too much on her basics. However, none of these recollections bothered him as much as they should have, because he walked by Nordstrom and realized that most of his memories of their relationship were not positive.
Then, he reached Urban Outfitters, and saw a face that he had thought of a lot in the past hour that he had spent walking through a throng of people. Roberta was looking in the store window, as she often did, when she felt a strange presence that could only be explained by guilt. She turned her pretty head, and saw Bo looking straight at her. He had no intention of pretending that he wasn't watching her, and yet he did not look angry or upset. In the pregnant pause that followed this, she blinked twice and he smiled, cleared his throat, and said curtly, "I always wondered what I'd do when I saw you again." Then, he walked away.
Bo had eaten supper and driven around the metropolitan area at about 7:30 PM when he was sitting outside the door of the apartment taking a breather. He had eaten at a little Chinese restaurant in Bloomington and taken a joyride through the poor neighborhoods. He knew that one could learn a lot from watching poor people on their front lawns and in their backyards, who were happier at the worst of times than rich people were at the best. The only tough part for them was realizing that their opportunities were severely curtailed, and you didn't see that far in when you drove by. It was a pleasant facade. Bo was about to close his eyes and smile to himself when Emily opened the door of her apartment, peeked her head out, and said, "Bo! I haven't seen you since I saw you by the cinema having a bad trip! Are you okay?"
Bo got up and dusted off his pants. "Now I'm okay. I hadn't been, but I'm fine now. Thank you so much for bringing me home." Bo then thought, can I go back to hating her now?
Emily smiled genuinely. "Please come in! I have tea on rice mats!" She motioned at him.
"Okay." He came in and realized that Emily was dressed to go out. She was wearing a party dress with a black bodice and a white skirt with silver accents and what Roberta referred to as "nighttime make-up". Her pretty blonde hair was down, as usual. Bo found her magnetic and appealing when she looked like this.
"Where were you planning on going before you saw me?" he asked.
"Oh, I'll probably go to a club in Minneapolis, but the good ones don't get awesome until much later than this and my girlfriend isn't ready." She motioned somewhat frantically at the rice mat and the two cups of tea on the floor. "Pick one!"
Bo sat down on the mat on the right and asked, "Were you expecting someone?"
"Yes, but she'll understand. I have been waiting to talk to you for a while."
"You seemed upset about your girlfriend."
He narrowed his face a little. "Well, that's not all that's happened to me since Thursday."
He took a sip of the tea, which was quite good. "What kind of tea is this?"
"Raspberry tea I found in some little market with a lot of ethnic food." She giggled. "I love it. Continue?"
"In short, I found out that she slept with my old roommate from college, took some LSD, and everything in between."
She sipped her tea daintily. "That sounds SO horrible." She got up and grabbed a Tupperware that was sitting on the coffee table. "Would you like a cookie?"
"Sure." He took a round, cream colored cookie with ridges and a hole in the center. These were regionally known as spritz cookies, and that cookie was really good. "These are some of the best spritz cookies I've ever had."
She laughed. "My grandma taught me how to make them before she died."
"So, are you feeling better?"
"I still feel ugly and unloved, but I am better." This was a hint.
She extended her arm and ruffled his hair. "I think you're adorable."
He smiled. "So, how long have you had a crush on me?"
She stopped smiling a little bit. "I don't have a crush on you."
He wasn't crestfallen, but he was disappointed. "Oh. I thought you did."
"No, sweetie. I'm a lesbian." She smiled.
He opened his eyes a little wider. "I don't have an issue with that, but I never would have guessed."
"Oh, I thought it was obvious when I was talking about my girlfriend and clubs in Minneapolis." She gave out a tinkling giggle.
"I thought you meant a FRIEND, not a romantic partner."
"Oh no, Bo! I meant my girlfriend, literally." There was a knock on the door. "That must be Dani!" She opened the door to reveal a very pretty blonde girl with short hair, freckles, and large eyes who reminded him of old pictures of Twiggy. She was wearing a peach colored maxi dress with flowers at the neckline. "Bo, this is Dani! Isn't she a doll?"
"She's quite pretty." Bo smiled. "Are you guys going to go clubbing tonight?"
"We could," said Dani.
Emily had an evil, calculated smile on her face as she thought. Bo was probably a little hurt to find out that she was a lesbian, but she was just trying to be neighborly. He needed some payback. "Bo... come here." Bo walked over, and she whispered in his ear, "If you want, I'll let you watch me hook up with her."
He chewed it over, and got a Cheshire smile on his face. "You would?"
"Of course! You're my neighbor!"
He laughed, sat back on the rice mat, and let them sit on the couch and start to make out. If there was one thing that he knew from these past five days, it was that one should never turn down an invitation to watch lesbians go at it.