Friday, April 9, 2010

Remember Me

A short story from the archives. We once shot it as a video and I can only picture those two actors in my mind as I reread it now.

"Remember me?"

The voice stings me, penetrates my spine, but I simply continue tapping the carton in my hand, let a single cigarette drop out. I light it carefully, deliberately. The smoke trails from my mouth as I finally reply.

"Sure."

I can feel her straddle the barstool beside me even as I avoid turning my head.

"Since when do you smoke?"

I take a long drag, then finger my drink. "A while." The ice swirls slowly, melting amidst the warm scotch.

"I get it," she says. "It's a Bogart thing, right?"

I finally summon the strength to look her in the eye. Blue steel, solid, penetrating, taking me in, thin lips upturned slightly in that way she does so well.

"You look better with short hair," I mutter as I return my gaze to the watered down drink in front of me.

"Thanks." She snatches the fedora from my head. "You look better with long hair. And without the hat." She drops it onto the bar.

What was she doing here? Didn't those angry promises mean anything to her? I tried not to think, tried not to remember.

"I see your nose has healed," she says. "It's almost back to its normal size."

I finally flinch, my nose tweaking in remembered pain. It all starts flooding back. The words. The broken paintings. Her arm pulling back and my precious cordless phone flying toward me.

I force myself to take another sip of scotch, another drag from the cigarette during the long, cold silence. I will not look at her. I refuse to react. Not this time.

I feel the hand on my jaw, try to resist as she turns my face to hers. I meet her steel gaze.

Her mouth opens, ready to spit words at me, tear it all open, finally and definitively. The last word. A few months late, but what the hell. It was just something she needed to do, I guess. To finally close the book on her nightmare life with me.

But I beat her to it: "I have always loved you."

I pull my head away, down the remaining scotch and toss a few bills onto the bar before I make my way toward the front door. I hit the street running, realizing already that tomorrow, first thing, I'd have to buy a new hat.

6 comments:

peggy said...

I really, really liked this. You packed so much in so little. Taut writing.

Great last line too.

ThomG said...

Neil, this was really, really good. Loved the pacing and the ending was top-notch.

Just wondering, and it's a small thing, really, but can a cordless phone be precious? Especially in this day and age when fewer and fewer people have land lines? For me, the word stuck out in an otherwise great read.

That Neil Guy said...

I agree with you completely, Thom. It's a word that betrays the fact that this story was written back in the mid-nineties. Maybe I should change it to something else. iPad...?

ganymeder said...

Maybe Android phone instead of cordless phone? I didn't notice it til pointed out in the comments, but then again it could just be that this story is set years ago. What's cool about it is that you don't really need a time period because the characters are sort of timeless. Great story.

mazzz in Leeds said...

Very good pacing here.
It had a sort of noir feel to it which I liked.

Gracie said...

Hi, nice to meet you. I love the noir feel of this story, too. Very clean and very emotionally charged. Really good story.