I had met Jake two years before. He was a junior in college, and worked at this fancy restaurant as a bartended. He told me that it was love at first sight.
The light was dim, and I was being escorted by a young man named Tim, who was the son of my father’s friend. Tim was also the most annoying person I had ever, up to that day, encountered. He thought he was suave and sophisticated, he even ordered our dinner in French. It would have been wonderful if we had been in a French restaurant. But the restaurant was Italian and I was very embarrassed for my dimwitted date.
He ended up spilling wine on his tie and, and excused himself for the restroom. I decided to go up to the bar, and order a drink.
I sat down on the stool, and was prepared to wait for my turn, but the bartender went past all the men waiting to get their orders, and introduced himself to me.
“Hello, I’m Jake. Can I get this pretty girl a drink?”
A man at the bar started yelling, “Hey. HEY! You know, I was here first…C’mon Jake, y’know I was waitin’.”
“Where’s your manners, Nelson? It’s ladies first. She’s a lady, and she’s going to be the first.” Jake said, smiling at me.
The other guys were mumbling, and sounding pretty annoyed, and I overheard one of them say, “Yeah…he’s got the hots fer her.”
I smiled, trying to look confident, and I said, in a voice as deep and sexy as possible, “I’ll have an amaretto sour.” I wanted to sound older than my seventeen years. It sort of came out sounding like I had a cold, however, because he looked at me and, smiling, said, “You should take care of that. It sounds nasty.”
He made up my drink, then handed it to me, “This’ll fix you right up. My treat.” He winked, then walked over to where the overweight man named Nelson was seated, “Okay, soldier, what would you like?”
I watched Jake for awhile, sipping my drink and thought of his voice, soft and gentle, asking if he could get me a drink.
Then, Tim was there, tapping me on the shoulder. “Nora, let’s go. I feel like taking a walk.” He smiled, the corners of his mouth all pinched up, making hm resemble Howdy Doody. He glanced at Jake, saw my drink, and threw down two dollars, “Let’s go.”
I left with him, but looked back to see if Jake was watching me. He wasn’t. He was engrossed in telling two steely looking men a joke.
It came to me as a surprise, when, a week later, Jake was waiting outside my school for me. He was propped up against the wall near the doors where I came out, his hands stuck in his pockets.
I wasn’t sure if he was really there for me, or if there was another girl he was waiting there for. So I walked by him to test the waters.
“Whoa! Hey, wait up!” he came up beside me. “Remember me? Jake. From the bar.”
“Ah, that’s right. You served me first.” I smiled, and tried to look confident.
“I never got to ask you your name. Your…uh…boyfriend pulled you away.” He eyed me carefully.
“That creep was not my boyfriend.” I said coldly.
“Ah ha! I knew you had better taste than that!” he jumped around to the other side of me, and put his arm around me. “Yes, you look too intelligent to go out on a date with such a fastuous person as he.”
“You know Tim?” I asked, forgetting about trying to appear cool.
“Nah, he just seems like a class one jerk. So, do you want to do something tonight? See a movie? Grab a pizza? Anything but go to a bar.”
After that day, we were inseparable. All of my friends thought he was the nicest guy in the world. All of them, except me. I knew all the secrets behind those dark, stormy eyes. It took me two years, but now I knew everything….I knew things about Jake that would make people shiver. Now I forced together with him by sin. We were sinners, he and I. I used to love him…now, In was terrified of him.
SOOOOO…interesting, interesting. I’m trying to place when I wrote this…I did have a boyfriend that frightened me when I was in my early twenties. I wonder if this story was possibly my way of getting my fears and confusion out on paper? Hopefully, as I delve deeper, I’ll have the answer to that question. But for now, let’s look at the story and its problems.
There really are so many. Again, my commas are little ants spilling all over the page. And it appears I understand where to place commas before dialogue when my character speaks, but not afterwards. But those are simple to fix. The more difficult parts of this are: If that restaurant was so fancy-schmancy, why do the men at the bar all sound like farmers? And why does Tim disappear to the bathroom for sooo long? And what the heck is “fastuous” doing in my story? Who uses that word in regular speech? I must have just bought a new Thesaurus that day.
Also, Good Lord, this entire scene is written in “telling” mode. PLUS, the conversations are so…NOT interesting. And apparently, Nora thinks of herself as her own friend. (You did catch that awkward sentence, right?) This story needs an overhaul. Pronto.
I met Jake by chance.
I’d been on a date with my father’s golf buddy’s son. I was single by choice. This guy was single by natural selection.
The date with Tim Bernstein the Third wasn’t my idea. I had hippy-girl sensibilities. He planned on a military career. The conversation was certain to turn awkward. But Dad wanted to make a good impression on his pal, so I more or less became a commodity. Anything for the Patriarch of our family. Especially one that equivocated “family” with “burden.”
Tim’s doughy face turned pink when he laughed, which was all the time. Even when nothing was funny. He had a crewcut, which only dorks wore, and I guess he figured he’d impress me by wearing a monkey suit, like maybe he wanted a reason to wear a tux once in his life since no chick would want to marry him.
But the worst part of Tim Bernstein the Third was his cigarette breath. Every time he leaned in to speak to me, the stale stench of nicotine wafted from his mouth. After the calamari appetizer, he looked me in the eyes. I swear he was going in for a kiss. I wanted to gag.
“I need to find the ladies room.” I tossed my napkin onto my seat and left. Then, I sat in a stall, holding back laughter. This Tim Bernstein the Turd actually thought he’d get a kiss. From me. I was hardly hard up for a date. Didn’t he get that I was doing everyone a favor here? The laughter turned to a sob, and soon tears set fire to my eyes. I was so sick of going along with things that made me miserable. I was seventeen in a few months. Old enough to have a job. Old enough to get married and have kids if I wanted. So why was I going on blind dates with gross guys and jumping at every chance to please everyone?
I spent a few more minutes feeling sorry for myself, and when the pity party was over, I left the stall, patted my face with cold water, then reapplied my mascara and lipstick. I was just going to have to tell this Tim dude we had nothing in common.
Composed enough to walk out with some dignity, I left the bathroom and headed for our dinner table. But Tim wasn’t there.
I glanced around, thinking maybe he’d gone up to the bar for a drink, or maybe he bumped into someone he knew. Maybe he’d gone to the little boys’ room.
I sat down, flustered, pretending that I was waiting for my date to return, pretending I knew where he was. I glanced up at the bar again, and caught the bartender’s eye. He smiled. Waved me over. I looked behind me to make sure he wasn’t motioning to anyone else. Mollified, I left my seat.
I stepped up to the bar. “Yeah?”
“Your boyfriend left.”
“The man in the blue frilly tuxedo. He got up and left. He even left you with the check.”
I shook my head. The Turd wouldn’t have left me. He drove me, I’d be stranded. “He probably stepped out for a cigarette.”
“Why didn’t he just light up at your table, then? We don’t keep ashtrays there for the decor.”
“I think he’ll be back, but thanks.”
I sat back down and noted the check for sixteen dollars. I pushed it closer to the Turd’s plate. And waited.
A half hour passed. My Coke was ice water. The calamari had gone cold. I looked inside my purse, but all I had was a five-spot. I couldn’t even afford to pay for the food we’d started to eat.
Oh my God. The Turd left me.
I dropped my head into my hands and tried to think what I should do next. I’d have to ask for the manager. Explain my plight. “Yeah, my date dumped me after the appetizer. I know he looked bad and smelled worse, but I’m still pretty miserable over it. Okay if I come back tomorrow to pay for the bill?”
Managers didn’t usually let anyone go home fed if they hadn’t been paid.
Someone tapped on my shoulder. The Turd had returned! I whipped around, but it was just the bartender from earlier.
“Hey, you okay?” he asked.
“I can’t pay the bill,” I whispered. I opened up my purse and showed him what I had.
The bartender sat in the Turd’s seat. “Don’t worry. I’ll cover it.”
“I-I can’t ask you to do that.”
“You didn’t ask. I offered. Listen, you’re better off losing him. The minute he walked in here, I knew he was an asshole.”
I brightened. “You did?”
“Hell, yeah. All puffed up like he was doing you a favor bringing you in here. I know the type. They feed off Daddy’s money. Think it’s impressing girls.”
“Not me,” I chuffed.
“Course not. Hey, I’m leaving work in an hour. What’s say we get you a real meal. Burger joint down the street.”
I laughed and looked him over. He actually was pretty cute. Tall. Brown, shaggy hair. Mustache. And big blue eyes so bright they probably blinded people in the sunlight.
“Two burgers?” he asked, upping the ante.
I grinned. “Yeah. Sure. That’d be great.”
“Great. Name’s Jake.” He winked and went back to the bar.
I didn’t even get a chance to tell him my name. But it didn’t matter. From that day, Jake and I were inseparable. Hardly ever saw us apart. People thought we made the cutest couple. And we really did. For a long time.
And for a while, I thought I was in love with him. But now, I was terrified of him.
So I kept the cliffhanger. But I made sweeping changes to the rest of it. I left out all other characters. They aren’t important to the story. And this time my MC used the bathroom and was in there a long time. So long, her date left. Which gave Jake the perfect time to sweep in and save this damsel in distress. It feels so much more natural. Plus, depending on how things go in this story, maybe he had something to do with Tim the Turd leaving. (That name came up unexpectedly. But it fits perfectly.)
So now I have set the plot in motion. We know Nora is with a man she is afraid of, but we don’t yet know why. Although, we might wonder if it has something to do with the person dragging something across the yard in the prologue. After all, why include that if it wasn’t related? We also know that she has a history of being “the nice girl,” which also must be important to the story, or why have her ruminate about it?
I’ve set up clues for what’s to come. Let’s see if, as a younger writer, I thought this out enough for everything to come together. Because right now, I have no idea what’s about to happen. Stay tuned!