Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Have One--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

Friday, May 3

     “Hey Brenda, hope your day is going well,” Golf Guy texted. “We should probably reschedule. Now raining and colder over here. Are you okay with that?”

     “Yeah, that’s fine. Do you have a date or just want to get back to me?”

     “What is your Monday or Tuesday like?”

     “Monday afternoon is good. Tuesday is bad.”

     “K, I will get back to you about Monday.”


     I rode BlackJack.

     “How’s your writing going?” Golf Guy texted.

     “Rode my horse. Did you freeze today?”

     “Yes, it was pretty cold today. How was riding?”

     “Rode inside. I want to see you do the splits.”

     “It’s not pretty.”

     A text from Tom popped up. “I’m gonna stay at Dad’s until Thursday.”

     I drove home from the barn intending to write but laid down for a short nap. At seven, the time Jody was picking me up, I woke up.
     “Shit,” I muttered. I bolted for the bathroom and began brushing my teeth. The doorbell rang. I ran downstairs and let Jody in.
     “Sorry, I just woke up. Thought I was going to nap fifteen minutes but went long. Let me throw a different shirt on.”
     Jody and I headed into town for First Friday. We walked into a chiropractor's office to meet Jody’s friend, Little Kit, munch appetizers, and listen to acoustic guitar.
     “Mitch wanted me to tell you he’s two doors down having drinks with two women,” Little Kit told Jody. Mitch, Jody’s stalker ex, and Little Kit have been friends since grade school. We left the chiropractor and headed for Chili U where Jody and Little Kit wanted to drink. We passed the restaurant Mitch was in and Jody slowed down and looked through the window.
     We sat at the bar at Chili U. The church ladies from last First Friday were there again. Ann walked over.
     “My ex calls me all the time telling me he wants to get back together,” she slurred. “I tell him there’s no way. Not after what he did. I just found out about two more affairs. He had five. He says he’s taking me back to court to change the settlement. I tell him, ‘Fine, see what happens. I’m so much happier without you. I’m going out all the time.’ We’re fighting a lot.”
     “Why do you engage? Why do you tell him what you’re doing and how you feel?”
     Ann looked at me and shrugged.
     “I don’t want JB knowing what I’m doing, and I have no interest in him. I keep our conversations brief and on what we have to discuss.”
     Ann nodded. “I should do that.”
     “I’m excited about my new life. Get excited about yours. You have a do-over. You don’t have to worry about him cheating anymore.”
     “But I’m lonely,” Ann said. “I don’t want to wind up alone.”
     “How do you feel about looking over his shoulder the rest of your life? He had affairs with five women. You think he’s going to change? You won’t find someone nice if you get back together with him. And not to be a bummer, we’re all going to die alone.”
     Ann looked deep into my eyes and smiled. “There was a reason I was supposed to run into you tonight.”
     Ann gave me a big hug, plopped down on a stool, and began flirting with a dude who looked like George Lopez. Jody was flirting with one of three guys who had southern accents. I felt my phone vibrate.

     “How are you?” Golf Guy texted.

     “Getting a sore throat from talking in a noisy bar. How about you?”

     “I coached baseball practice, then grocery, now doing some work emails. Not very exciting.”

     “It’s nice being with friends, but I don’t know about this bar thing. Got your kind of night planned for tomorrow.”

     “You seem very nice.”

     “You, too.”

     I asked one of the southern guys where he was from.
     “South Carolina,” he said.
     “I was horseback riding in North Carolina last fall. Maggie Valley. It's gorgeous.”
     “Gorgeous but really redneck,” he laughed.
     “I was in Asheville, too. I could live there.”
     “Yeah, Asheville’s gotten really popular. Real estate’s gotten high, but you can still find places just outside it. I’m Mike,” he said, extending his hand.
     “Brenda,” I said, shaking his hand.
     “Hey,” Ann shouted at Mike. “You told me your name was Tim.”
     “Yeah,” the Mexican said. “You’ve been calling yourself Tim all night.”
     Mike shifted uncomfortably. Ann pulled a large plastic freezer bag full of oyster crackers out of her purse. “These are delicious,” she said, shoving the bag in front of Mike and me. “Have one. I bring them when I go out drinking. You have to see how good they taste.”
     “I’ve had oyster crackers before,” I said.
     “Not like these.”
     “Oh, I’m pretty sure I have.”
     She shoved the bag closer to me. “Have one.”
     I took a cracker and popped it in my mouth. Mike looked at Ann disgustedly.
     “Forget about him,” Ann said flipping her hand at Mike. “He doesn’t live here.” She turned and started talking to Lopez.
     “She’s having a rough time,” I told Mike. “She’s usually not like this.”
     His face softened and he nodded. “What did you think of the food at Cataloochee Ranch?”
     “It was good. They put out a huge spread every night: ribs, steak, chicken, a big table full of homemade pies and cakes.”
     “I wouldn’t think someone from Chicago would like the food there. Not fancy enough.”
     “We’re known for pizza and hotdogs.”
     Mike laughed.
     Jody walked up behind me. “Hey, you want to go?” she asked.
     “Sure,” I said. It was almost eleven. “Nice meeting you,” I told Mike. “Bye Ann.”
     “Hey, you don’t want to talk to this guy either,” Ann said pointing at Lopez. “He’s married. He’s one of those guys.”
     I shot Lopez a disgusted look and left with Jody.
     “The guy I was talking to told me he didn’t want a relationship,” Jody said on the way home. “He said he’s separated but won’t divorce his wife. He wants her to have health insurance. He offered to take me for a motorcycle ride.”
     I felt subtly sad about the night and was glad to get home and into bed. I plugged in my phone and saw Golf Guy had texted.

     “Sounds like you had a fun night.”

     “It was fun,” I lied. “But weird.”

     “I’m glad for you.”

     “Feels strange having every other weekend to myself. But I’m liking it.”

     “Glad you had fun.”

     “Going to watch ‘Sons of Anarchy’ with my dogs now.”

     Golf Guy sent me a picture of his son with his dog. I sent him pictures of Sammy, Sully, and BlackJack.

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