There is a time in every guy’s life when the only answer to his problem comes in a bottle. It is a Sunday, and the only place serving beer at eleven a.m. is Hooters. I hope that the neon glow of orange-ass spandex is able to help me see the brighter side of things, but I’m doubtful.
They told me I have forty minutes. My girlfriend and her mother are getting manicures. In forty minutes, I’ll pick them up and escort the grand matriarch back to her Middle America suburban mansion. We’ll sit in her living room, and then… we’ll tell her.
Melissa is pregnant. Mother Goose has a shit storm coming her way, and judging from the few times I’ve met her, I have a pretty good idea how it’ll go. Her lips will scrunch and wrinkle and she’ll act as if we had just presented her with graphs and statistics. It’ll be very businesslike. She won’t say the word abortion. She will ask if we are going to “take care of it.” Melissa will put a hand on her stomach, a new habit of hers, and she’ll say she wants to keep it. This was a choice I wasn’t exactly a part of.
I take a seat at a table in the corner. In front of me are four overweight guys, all wearing polo shirts tucked into jeans. They’re eating fried pickles and laughing loudly. They pump their fists at the television. It’s the first Bears game of the season. I pretend to be interested.
My waitress, a ninety-pound redhead with eyes caked in black and a metallic pink mouth, steps up to my table. “Can I get you a drink or something?” I order an Amstel.
Twelve minutes later I order a whiskey on the rocks and another beer.
Fourteen minutes later I order just another whiskey. And some fried pickles.
My waitress comes back and I realize she has the most perfect tits I’ve ever seen. They look so soft and I just want to lay my head on them. Instead, I check my watch. I should’ve left five minutes ago. I order another beer and consider my options.
Four months ago, the word future meant a nine to five job, and a bank account that was finally somewhat stable. I was planning a trip to California right after my college graduation, two long weeks to relax before being dropped into the “real world.” Now there is nothing but this baby, a repercussion of one drunken night spent in the arms of a girl who had eyes like melted chocolate.
After we found out, Melissa and I tried to get to know each other a little better. She told me how her dad had left when she was fifteen, and how she never forgave him. I thought it probably would’ve been easier if she hadn’t known him at all, but I kept that opinion to myself.
The pickle eating polo shirts are flirting with their waitress. They have it easy. They don’t know how lucky they are.
My waitress returns with my beer. “On the house,” she says. I ask her how she’s been doing. I stare at her chest and don’t realize that I’m slowly leaning forward in my seat. She doesn’t seem to care. Instead she tells me the bullet point version of her life story. “And like, my dad just doesn’t get it. He’s all, ‘I’m giving you five grand and you better go to beauty school and get yourself a career!’ Like, chill out! I’m only twenty-four!” I tell her that her dad doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Most dads don’t.
I will not be one of those dads. Melissa is the one who wants this baby, not me. A girl behind the bar winks at me as she pours vodka into a martini shaker. She has oily blond hair and I think about what she would look like on her back.
I feel my cell phone vibrate in my pocket. I look my waitress in the eyes and think about fucking her. I look at the pickle eaters and think about being one of them. I think about Melissa, and how she will react when I tell her what I know she doesn’t want to hear. I quietly ask for my bill and a glass of water.
Emily Schultze is currently earning her BFA in Fiction Writing at Columbia College Chicago. Her work has appeared in literary journals such as The Cadaverine Magazine, By The Overpass, and is forthcoming in Hair Trigger 34. She has been shamelessly cheating on her hometown, Brooklyn NY, with Chicago for the past three years now (and she’s liking it).