Chapter 2: The Set-Up
“Of course he’d be running late,” Sara exclaimed as she turned her phone off and stopped short of slamming it on the bar top, turned and smiled at me, saying, “But, we’re here to celebrate you and Max is going to have to catch up to us, right?”
I returned the smile with a little smirk and offered, “Well, I still think I bother him and make him nervous…”
“Oh, that’s nonsense…he loves you just like I do and he’d do anything you asked!” Sara responded with a playful nudge in my side. She had been with Max for several years now – neither one pushing or rushing towards marriage, but gladly being committed without the title of commitment. I met Max when Sara brought him to my wedding – my somewhat unconventional wedding in which Sara played the part of my best man. Max had always been good to her and I never understood why he never proposed, but they both seemed happy and I was not going to be putting my nose into their business, regardless of the fact that Sara routinely offered her unsolicited opinions to my own relationships – her many attempts at setting me up with this woman or that woman and expressing to me what she thought of the different women I had dated. Her feelings about Michelle – now, officially, my ex-wife at the end of the court hearing earlier in the day – had fluctuated over time. When I first met Michelle, Sara was excited for me, but after time she began to be more and more concerned about our relationship and even tried to talk me out of marrying Michelle a week before the wedding. After I refused to hear it, Sara left it alone until I called her about Michelle leaving me. It was at Sara’s prompting that I moved to Seattle.
Sara called out to the bartender for a couple more beers, since we had finished our first one. As the bartender dropped them off, Sara excused herself to use the restroom and I took a moment to look around the bar. I had not really noticed the stage settled off to the left of the bar, but it looked like it was set up for some live music tonight. Finding myself hoping for some good music tonight, I began scanning the room seeing if anyone might be available. I mean, this was really the first time I was officially free to date anyone. Sure, I had gone on a few dates with women Sara tried to get me to consider, since it was obvious my marriage was over, but I had not really been interested. Maybe, I was still dealing with the pain of a failed relationship. I certainly questioned my self-worth over the past several months, how could I not.
Overall, the bar was a smaller one. It consisted of the bar-top and stools where Sara and I were sitting. There were several round tables, standing high with bar stools in various areas around the inside of the bar. The stage had a small dance floor in front of it and just past that was an area with pool tables, dart boards and various games that you might see in a cheap sports bar. Truthfully, this place was kind of a dive, but the kind of place Sara and I would have found eventually – she just happened to know about it and thought it would be perfect for tonight. I was pretty satisfied.
After a few minutes, Sara came back from the bathroom and sat down on her stool. She picked up her beer and brought it to her lips and I thought I detected a grin beginning to form and then I noticed she was looking at me from the corners of her eyes.
“What, did you do…?” I began to question her, “You better not have…”
She interrupted with a giggle and, “Shut up. You worry too much. It’ll be fun! I Called a friend of mine to meet us here, but he couldn’t make it…”
Now it was my turn to interrupt, “Good! I told you I didn’t want to meet any more of your matches for me. I’m telling you, that last woman would have killed me!” I exclaimed and then squinted me eyes and peered at trying to figure out what her game was going to be, “And what do you mean ‘he’…?”
She began to explain herself, “Sweetie, you need to get out of yourself! You have been so wrapped up with that bitch of a wife of yours and you haven’t given yourself any chance to open up to someone…anyone…loving you!” She put her beer back on the bar top and turned her chair to face me, and she put both of her hands on my shoulders and looked at me intently, “Shawn, you’ve never even given yourself a chance to see if a guy would make you happy – especially, since the girls I set you up with didn’t go anywhere. Maybe it’s time you open up about your sexuality and give yourself a shot.”
‘Fuck, Sara!’ I thought, as my eyes shot wide open and I looked around hoping no one heard her say anything about my sexuality. Sara is the only person that absolutely knew the extent of my relationships, sexual partners and ultimately that I am bisexual. Others suspected, some people I have mentioned it to – like therapists – but I was not out and Sara, of all people should have known! I looked back at her intently, with some mild anger flashing through me.
I pulled back from her and said, “What the fuck are you doing?! You know I’m not out!”
And then her shit eating grin flashed at me and I could see she was taking great pleasure in my lack of comfort, “Do you see any girls in here? I mean, other than me?” She took a long slow drink from her beer as I glanced around. It was still early, so not a lot of patrons were in the bar, but it became readily obvious that there were no women; only guys were in the bar. I hadn’t noticed before, but there were two men sitting at the other end of the bar, obviously chatting- up one another.
I was shocked. I must have been too wrapped up in seeing Sara, and trying to relieve myself of the mental anxiety of making my divorce official. I put a hand over my mouth, and muffled in a voice just over a whisper, “I can’t, fucking believe you…”
Sara, in her ever mischievous way, smiled even larger than before, “Well, believe it. I asked Max to swing by and pick Darrin up, since he’s like you – a broke car.” And then she winked and kissed my forehead and followed up with, “Relax! Don’t I always take care of you like you’re my own sister!”
From the Beginning: Chapter 1