It was quite risible for me of how I got so familiar with this city within just three months. To be honest, I still had a lot to discover in the small place. After organizing my house completely, I finally dared to visit the eminent night club, which happened to be the only night club around this place.
During my first stopover there, I actualized that there were many familiar faces. The bartender greeted me after knowing I was the newcomer who succeeded to write a best-selling novel about city. It felt good, knowing that I assembled an esteemed position for myself at such a short time.
I went up to the billiard board. “Want to play?” A guy asked me. He looked like he was living his seventies.
“Sure sir. Eight ball?”
“I’m good at nine though, but let me tell you what, I’ll try eight ball. It’s been a long time since I last played.”
We had a good game. I was surprised how he beat me so quick. He surely was evocative and dexterous at this.
“I am impressed Mr.…?”
“Harrison. Harrison Smith”
“Nice to meet you sir. I am…”
“I know who you are,” he interrupted me. “You’re a wonderful writer.”
“Thank you Mr. Smith. It means a lot. What do you do?”
“I am a retired agent. I used to work with an employment recruiting agency.”
He seemed like a smart guy. It wasn’t long before we became good friends and played eight ball every week twice. Deep inside, I had this weird feeling, that people around avoided me. I bet, if I had gone to a smaller town now, I would have had fans screaming for my autograph. How come the friendly bartender, the famous ice-cream cart owner, and everyone started to kind of avoid me? People would call me crazy but it happened since I met Mr. Harrison Smith.
Nah. I’m just overthinking. I’m no God that they’ll always worship me.
One day, after our eight ball match and during our post game beers, he asked me, “If you don’t mind me asking sir, what’s your upcoming novel about?”
“Why would I mind? We are close. I don’t mind sharing it with you.” He laughed. “It’s a romantic novel. I never wrote one before, and I want to surprise my wife this time.”
“Romantic? Wow. At last someone reminded me of my days.”
“I mean…my wife…she doesn’t talk to me anymore. We hardly talk at the dinner table. But trust me when I tell you, we had one hell of a cheesy story back in high school!”
We had a laugh.
“Don’t take this the wrong way, Mr. Smith, but if it’s okay with you, I would like to listen to your story. I need to strengthen my novel plot and I haven’t decided on one yet. If I could take idea…”
“Say no more! I would love if you do that”, he rubbed a napkin against his beard to clear droplets of beer.
He continued, “Come to my house tomorrow. You, I, and my wife, will have dinner together. We will have a good time.”
I thought maybe when he would tell me about his story, his wife would remember it and perhaps it would make their bonding a bit more robust.
“8 o’clock tomorrow then sir. I will be looking forward to it.”
The bartender and two sheriffs overheard our conversation. Their clandestine smile surely hid something. “Crazy fucktard invites his gay friend over hahahaha!” – I heard one of those drunkards whispering into his friend’s ear. I wanted to punch his face, but this attitude of theirs flummoxed me.
“Is there something wrong?” I asked the bartender.
“No man. Just be careful.”
Careful? With what?
I left the nightclub as the bartender ignored my words with his egoistic trait, and went to serve another customer.
After giving it a long thought, I bought a bouquet of white roses and expensive champagne as a gift. I also wrapped one of my books, and hoped the gifts would give Harrison’s wife a good impression.
I rang the bell. Mr. Smith opened the door.
“Hello Mr. Smith!”
“Hello Mr. Johnson. Come on in!”
His house was old-fashioned. The floors weren’t furnished, there were old newspapers stuck on walls, and a weird smell seemed to disturb my mood.
“This is for Mrs….”
“Oh take a seat, sir! She’s seated right there. I will bring some steaks. You please be seated and stay put.”
He went to the kitchen. I could see the red hair of Mrs. Smith from the back of the couch. I sat on the couch on opposite of hers, and kept the gifts on the table. I admit, her hair was beautiful, and it made me a little shy to make eye contact.
It smells so horrible.
Finally, I took one of the newspapers from the table and decided to read it and start our conversation, being the headline of newspaper being a topic. There were flies. A lot of them. After a look at the torn, old newspaper, I was traumatized to read the headline. My legs started shaking. The headline of a twenty year old newspaper read-“Mr. Harrison Smith’s wife killed in a car accident.”
My heart pounded like never before. With my utmost level of courage, I looked to her face. It was a doll. As I heard Mr. Smith’s voice from behind, I remained stunned like a statue.
The next thing I remember is waking up in a hospital bed. “More morphine,” was the voice I remember as the memory of hospital was dizzy.