Like a peripatetic pinball, I shimmy to avoid the careless cyclist. Then I wobble off the curb like a drunken duck, look back, lick my embarrassment of minor metaphorical wounds, and see my dream girl yet again lump up into a maid of sand.
Oh, I know what the street-corner jobbies are saying, those perennial pundits of cool. They’re saying, it’s never too late, never too late. Just pick yourself up, dust yourself off…like I’m Fred Astaire and you’re Ginger whoosit.
And then these jobbies take a good gander at me, get my measurements, the cut of my sagging jib, look me up and down and reassess. They know.
Let her go, buddy. That’s what they’re saying.
But I can’t. I never did listen well.
This tale is thinning without a beginning.
Let me tell you about the Sheltered Moon Coffee House? Give me a moment to work up to it.
It is the late sixties. Vancouver is bustling with change. I am twenty-two, alternately pleased and mildly perplexed by the era.
I’ve spent the summer on a boom ground up the coast at Teakerne Arm and made friends with Conrad the Pork Pie Popoff.
Connie is from Ontario by way of a Saskatchewan Doukhobor farming community that sprouted up along the Good Spirit River. Late teens, he signs on with the Satan’s Choice. Circumstances dictate he disappear for a time and so he floats out west. Connie is now in his late-twenties. For the life of me I don’t know why he takes me under his smelly armpit of a wing.
The summer ends. He gives me a thrill a minute lift out of Lund and down the Sunshine Coast into Vancouver. I am starting my third year at SFU. He is killing time until it is copasetic to head down east.
Mid-September he calls me up and invites me to a party.
It turns out to be a fairly hard-core smoke-filled, wall-to-wall beer guzzling bikers and their cronies’ biker event deep in the plugged bowels of East Vancouver.
It’s a culture shockaroo. I can see no good coming from staying so I tell Connie I am going out for a saunter. Far from being pissed, he says, “I’m coming.”
We walk back to the city, past the Train Station, almost into Gastown. Low and behold if we don’t stumble across The Sheltered Moon, a little step-down hide-a-way, dimly lit folk-song dungeon off of seedy Hastings Street. We grab a table, listen to a Dylan wannabee warble when I see her, tie-dyed sack, pale blonde as bacon fat, twirling alone in the corner.
I am smitten. Connie is quicker.
“My heart’s a pitter-pattering, Billy-Boy.”
He’s quicker then seagull shit and sidles up to her, wraps his tentacles around her hippie charms and she is his prisoner of love.
No goodbyes; no sayonara. Nada.
I mope back home to my crib.
I’ve been a dumpee before and since.
This one stings to this day.
This my contribution to FRIDAY FICTION with RONOVAN WRITES Prompt Challenge #12 which asks the writer to conjure a holiday of sorts. Mine might best be described as a holiday out of sorts.