I failed to make a fool of myself this week (at least that I’m aware of), so it’s time to go back to using the imagination a little. The result is some flash fiction.
IRVING, ZELDA, AND HORACE
Irving liked Zelda. Zelda liked Horace Hastings Miffin. Horace Hastings Miffin liked Horace Hastings Miffin.
At least that’s the way things seemed to me when I met the trio of UNM underclassmen at The Bongo. The Friday night crowd, mostly kids from the U, carpeted the place wall-to-wall. Brew in hand, I plowed through the hubbub, punctuated occasionally by laughter and a strident voice, in search of a seat. The only unoccupied chair I spotted was the extra one at their table. After asking permission, I sat down. My fingers on the cool, glossy Formica tabletop contrasted pleasantly with the warm humidity of the tavern.
The lay of the land became clear during introductions when everyone stuck to first names except for Horace who gave all three of his. When people do that, I wrack my brain trying to figure out if they’re someone I ought to remember or if they’re just striving too hard to be memorable. Within three sips of my beer, I knew Irving was Zelda-struck, Zelda was Horace-struck, and Horace was struck by all three of his appellations.
They were a squirrely bunch—squirrely-looking and acting. But somehow they fascinated me. Irv wore ragged dungarees—not the kind with expensive, deliberately placed holes—while Zelda wore a peasant blouse and skirt, probably from Gap rather than Wal Mart. Horace Hastings Miffin was all buttoned up.
Unwilling to put up with all that malarkey, I told him to his face he was gonna be HHM to me. I got the feeling he kind of liked that. Put him up there with MM and JFK and luminaries of that ilk. Little did he know that in my mind he was already relegated to a hhm… you know, a hum.
While I was sipping and absorbing the atmosphere, Irv asked Zelda to dance. She shook her head and claimed Hum had already asked her. From the look on his face, that was patently untrue, but he manfully rose to his feet and assumed a robot-like stance while she fitted herself into his outstretched arms. Then they were off like two wind-up toys. Old Irv’s eyes followed their every step.
“Where you from?” I asked through the lingering residue of Zelda’s perfume. Or maybe it was Hum’s cologne.
Huh? What? Umm…Clayton.”
I savored the flavor of yeast and hops and alcohol on my tongue with another draw on my brew before prying facts from him while he watched Zelda. “What year you in?”
“Huh? Uh, sophomore.”
“What? Oh, liberal arts.”
I mentally rolled my eyes. “Zelda your girlfriend?”
“Huh?” Then he snapped to my question. “Oh, no… well.”
“But you’d like it that way, right?”
His ears lit up our semi dark corner of the club. I expected him to say “aw shucks,” but he fooled me. “Wouldn’t mind. But she’s pretty independent.”
“Independently stuck on old Horace, I’d say.”
“Naw, that’s just…. Well, maybe.”
“You gotta be more aggressive, guy. You want her, go after her. Cut in on the two of them. Right now would be a good time.”
“I couldn’t do that.” He paused for a long moment to scratch the tip of his nose. “You think I could?”
“I could, if I wanted to. Which I don’t. So can you.”
“I can, can’t I?”
“First, you have to stand up. Then charge.”
By the time he managed to get to his feet, the song was half over. “Robin’s Egg Blue” by Kenny Keeback and the Four Kennies. Too much alliteration for me. He made his uncertain way to the couple but hesitated before making his presence known by tapping her on the shoulder. Her not him. Fortunately, no one took that as a sign he wanted to dance with Hum. The couple parted—he rather eagerly, she less so. As Irv awkwardly shuffled across the floor with a pouting Zelda in his clutches, Hum made his way back to the table.
He sat and fixed me with a stare as a wide grin split his fleshy lips. “Thank God, Robert.” He winked. “Now we can have some time together… alone. It is Robert, isn’t it?”
“Bob,” I corrected automatically as an old Jimmy Durante expression my father used to quote flashed through my head.
What a revoltin’ development this is!
Hope you got a giggle or two out of this story… or perhaps a memory or two. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com. Oh yes…thanks for being readers.
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