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  • Michelle Halliwell

Lonely Guy Book Story

Joe sits alone at the bar reading the text message. “Meet you there at 7.” The time in the upper right hand corner of his iPhone says 9:30. Joe sighs whiskey fumes.


“Another round of daiquiris!” a guy ten years younger says, before kissing his laughing girlfriend.


That the ethanol in his bloodstream burns his veins like battery acid doesn’t stop him from finishing his shot of Jack, inhaling the fumes bubbling up from his upset stomach, then hacking like a chainsmoker. The blushing blonde woman with voluptuous curls sees him, her already big eyes widening impossibly wider. Joe looks away. Unsure if he’s paid his tab, he stumbles out into the freezing night, the visible vapor blowing from his lips like wintery smoke.


Staggering and only barely not falling, he enters the coffee shop. If an Al Qaeda cave had the misfortune of being decorated by a boomer liberal, this coffee shop would be the regrettable consequence. Joe slurs an order for black coffee and stumbles to the darkest corner to hide.


He blinks, trying to focus on the young lady he hadn’t seen a second ago. Her black hair and lavish eyebrows suggest sweetness somehow, like a nurse who is exactly two pounds overweight. Joe falls in love at first sight as she turns the page of her book. “No! Our book!” he realizes, squinting through his whiskey haze to read the words “Failed Liaisons by Joe Jones.”


“Hey. Excuse me,” Joe says to her with great concentration.


“Yes?” she says, looking up.


“How do you like the book?”


She shrugs, biting her lip.


“I’m the one who wrote it,” Joe says with a proud smile.


She closes the book, stands up, tossing her purse over her shoulder, she hands the book to him, and walks out.

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©2019 by Michelle Halliwell