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 By Chase Glantz

Ginny downed two shots of green liquor and pushed up her chest. “Man… this is something I’ll be able to tell my kids.”

            “You sure we want to do this?” Hiro straightened his tie. “We can jump out the fire escape right now. I mean they have our names and numbers, but if we bail, they’ll never know we were here.”

            “On second thought, maybe I shouldn’t tell my kids,” Ginny looked at Hiro in the mirror and smiled. “No way! I bought this bra specifically for this occasion, and I intend to use it. My boobs look way too good tonight. Besides, you know damn well I’m not looking for a date, a sugar-daddy, or anything else I can get off of Craig’s list. I’m here for you.”

            Not realizing he was holding his breath, Hiro let all the air out of his lungs. “For me to find love?”

            Ginny raised her eyebrow. “No, silly. Love doesn’t exist. I’m here because you needed to get the hell out of that house. I’m sick of seeing you like this. I’m sick seeing you moping in the laundry room, staring at your laptop, writing those dumb love poems. I can’t even sort out my thongs it bugs me so much. C’mon Hiro, it’s been six years. She’s not coming back. You know she’s not coming back. She’s…”

            “Dead as a fucking doornail,” Hiro looked at the floor, “I know.”

“Good boy.” Ginny pulled up the straps on her dress. “Now we gotta loosen you up… you ready to bump this before we go out and mingle with them crazy bitches or what?”

Hiro’s stared at the four strips of white powder, bit his lip, and gave one nod, “One to remember?”

Ginny grabbed a wrinkled dollar bill and rolled it. “One to forget.”

***

The lights dimmed, as a very skinny man donned in a pink suit, big moustache, and bad comb-over stepped behind the microphone onstage. His smile reminded Hiro of a Viagra commercial. The host raised his thin hand, straightened his tie, and spoke in a perky voice that sounded like Richard Simmons: “Why hello everyone. Please, ladies. Take your seats. Gentlemen, you have ten minutes apiece. At the end, we will ask each of you if you had any chemistry with anyone. If there’s a match, you’ll get a phone number. If not, better luck next time. No broken hearts. No hard feelings. So when you hear the gong,” he used a mini-mallet to tap a table gong onstage, “gentlemen, move along. Hahahaha,” the host laughed with a cackle that sounded like Alvin the Chipmunk played in fast forward.

Hiro cracked his knuckles and swallowed. The lights dimmed as scantily-clad women and thrift-shop suited men took their places. 

A beautiful brunette with a short black skirt sat down and smiled, “Pleased to meet you.”

Hiro could feel the sweat pooling in his underwear.

“Hey. Hiro. Name’s Hiro,” he said like he was reading from a script.

“Well hello Hiro. I’m Melinda. You seem super cute. What do you do?”

Hiro could feel his face flushing and his script spontaneously combusting as he stared at her brown eyes. Nervous, Hiro ditched his canned introduction, “What… what do I do? WHAT DO I DO? I do all sorts of things. I tutor children. I do income taxes for the underprivileged. I make smoothies at two in the morning in my underwear.”

Melinda smiled, “Smoothies huh?”

“Chocolate ones… with strawberries. Man, that sounds SOOO good right now,” he said, hoping she didn’t notice him wiping drool from the side of his mouth.

Melinda touched her neck, “Oh… that does sound good. Do you have any family? I have three brothers, so if you want me, you’ll have to have one mean right cross,” she said, shadowboxing.

Hiro’s eyes shifted over to her, “Oh boy, do I ever want you! I want you, I neeeed you… oh baby oh baby… WOOOO!”

“I love ‘10 Things I Hate About You’!” she said.

“Oh yeah, me too. Me too. Is it hot in here?  I’m real sweaty…real sweaty…” Hiro reached across the table, picked up his glass, and emptied his entire drink, crushed ice and whiskey, down his throat, “You’re beautiful. It makes my stomach do cartwheels.”

Melinda moved her chair back a little and gave an awkward smile, “Well, I don’t bite. And I’m not used to being told I’m beautiful either. Pretty, yes. Fuckable, yes. But ‘beautiful’?” she shook her head.

Hiro’s mouth fell open. “Whaaa? That’s bullshit. Bull. Shit. Bull… Shit-tah-tah- tah.”

“Hiro…” Ginny hissed from the table next to him, “Calm down. You’re yelling louder than auctioneer with his nuts in a vice.”

Hiro’s faced jerked toward Ginny, flailing a string of sweat across her nose and eyes.

“I’m fine,” Hiro hiccoughed. “I’m fine. She’s fine.” Another hiccough. “Ginny, you’re fine. Everything is FINE FINE FINE. I have to pee. Can I go pee?”

The smiley man came down from the stage, frowned, and rolled up his flamboyant sleeves. “Is there a problem here, folks?”

Ginny dabbed off her face with a napkin. “We’re fine.”

Hiro piped up, “We’re fine. FINE! She’s fine. You’re fine. I mean, you all could use a little bit of cardio, but you’re beautiful as you are,” Hiro squeaked, and pointed to the girl with coke bottle glasses, “So are you.” Even though he had trouble working his legs, Hiro stumbled over to the man in the velour track suit. “And you. Dammit, this whole room is beautiful. Why the hell are we trying to impress each other with these nasty suits and dresses? I say we go to 7-11, buy some Chunky Monkey, and get down to real lovin’: the kind of love that only happens between real people and REAL ice cream. I mean, who knows? One day you’re loving your life, loving your woman, and the next, you wake up with your arms wrapped around a dead wife coked-out of her mind. I mean, who does that? That cupid guy is a bastard. That’s not love. Love is in our secrets. Our ice creams and our seeeeecrets. Life is too GOD DAMN SHORT! I SAY WE STOP TALKING ABOUT DUMB STUFF, GET NAKED, TELL OUR SECRETS, AND EAT MUTHAFUCKIN’ ICE CREAM! WHO’S WITH ME?”

Hiro stood on the nearest table and gave a fist pump.

The entire room stared in quizzical silence.

A woman in the back gave an uncomfortable cough.

Seeing no reaction, Hiro shrugged, hopped off the table, and stumbled over to the bar.

With every eye fixed on his skinny frame, he grabbed a gallon jug of cranberry apple juice from behind the counter.

“I’m thirsty,” he said. The gulping sounds echoed through the room as Hiro began downing the entire container. Halfway through, Hiro twitched as two Taser needles stabbed his neck.

“SONOFA.-“

For a second, everything froze. Then, Hiro’s ears rang, cranberry apple juice spewed from his nose and mouth, and the floor rushed up to his face.

Hiro spent the next few days piecing together blurs of urine soaked jail cells, phone calls with “Uncle Morimoto: Attorney-at-Law”, figuring out how to pay his uncle with a “reverse mortgage”, and wondering how much of an ass he was to Ginny after she made his bail.

Finally, after three days of not exchanging more than pleasantries, Ginny handed Hiro a bagel. “You should eat something.”

“Everything still tastes like charcoal and blood,” Hiro said

Ginny brushed his face with her knuckle. “Well, at least you’re alive, and you shouldn’t be. Whatcha reading?”

Hiro put down the card in his hand. “I dunno… some old wedding invite my mom sent me the third time she got married.” Hiro held up the card and read with bravado: “With secrets, comes intimacy, and intimacy breeds closeness with God,” he finished and spun his hand in the air. “What a crock of shit.”  

Ginny’s brows knitted together. “It’s not shit. It’s true. You can’t know someone until you can bribe the tar out of them. That’s what trust is. And I know a secret about you and speed dating,” she teased.

Hiro’s chest let out a deep sigh, “You and twenty other terrified women.”

Ginny tried encouraging Hiro for the next ten minutes, but he wouldn’t hear a single word. Instead, Hiro continued piecing together scenes from his night of inebriation, mentally flogging himself for every mistake he made. Somewhere between cursing under his breath and using his tongue to peel the skin from the roof of his mouth, Hiro found Ginny’s soft brown eyes staring into his.

Ginny laughed a little. “Well… as long as you never see any of them for the rest of your life, you’re golden. And as for me, I’ll never tell another soul,” she winked.

Ginny’s big lips crinkled into an encouraging smile. It was beautiful.

Hiro let his head fall and gave a relaxed grin, “Yeah… at least you know.”

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