by Madeline Laughs
Barney hit the Enter key again and sent his fourth private message in Fiona’s direction. He was starting to get angry. Why wasn’t she answering him?
Fiona don’t pay that asshole any mine! He’s just being a jerk! Where did you go? Are you mad at me?
He waited and still she didn’t answer. Was she in a private chat with someone else? Was she mad at him? She could be. She was always getting mad at him for something, but he was used to that and knew how to bring her back around. Where the hell was she?
Then he watched as her Online light went dark on her icon. She had signed off! What the hell?! She signed off without even responding to him? She had never done that! Not even when she wanted to rip him a new one! “Stupid bitch!” he yelled at his computer. He threw his keyboard to the side on the sofa and blew a big puff of air from his lungs.
That old familiar feeling was crawling up his spine now. That feeling of being abandoned. He didn’t like it and he sure as hell didn’t appreciate Fiona making him feel this way.
He surveyed the plate of rib bones and half eaten broccoli on the plate in front of him on the coffee table. His robe was stained on the front where he had dripped barbeque sauce as he gnawed the bones while typing. The plate was now covered with globs of congealed meat fat and melted butter from the broccoli he had hardly touched. He constricted his belly and belched. He could taste his dinner again.
He pounded his chest with his fist. Great, he thought, I’m getting heartburn. He kept a small plastic tub right under the sofa at his feet. He leaned forward and pulled it out to pick from the jars of pills he kept there looking for an acid reflux or an antacid. The effort of bending brought forth a fresh burp and he winced at the smell of his own stomach contents.
Finding what he needed he popped it in his mouth, sat back and chewed the minty chalk. At least something going down that hatch was a little fresher now. He sat there watching Fiona’s screen icon and willing the green light to come back on, but nothing happened.
He reached for his keyboard and clicked on Carol’s icon picture to send her a private message. If Fiona wanted to play possum then he’d look for his fun someplace else. Screw her.
Barney: Hay Carol! What are you up to?
Carol: hi barn! not too much. what are you doing?
Barney didn’t like the fact that Carol never used her Caps key. It made it hard to read her comments. He fumbled in the pocket of his robe for his reading glasses. Why did he have to pick the one woman to chat with that was going to make him work so hard just to keep up with the conversation?
Barney: Big Day at the popo station today! I took out another meth head! Bullet to the brain! POW! Another one bits the dust!
Carol: oh wow! that’s scary barn!what happened?
Barney: Dude was dealing and had one of the biggest labs this side of the states and I busted his sorry ass! Made it on the news!
Carol: that’s incredible? which station? i can google it and watch it!
Uh-oh, Barney had just bragged a little too much.
Carol: i just pulled up your local news station but i don’t see the clip. was it on another station?
Now what was he going to do? Playing dumb always seemed to work for him. He had no idea Carol would want to watch it! He brought down the menu with his Bookmarks and looked for his local news sources. Clicking on one he liked, he perused the latest news looking for anything that even vaguely compared to the big lie he had just told. Finding nothing he went back to his chat window and winged it.
Barney: I dunno where it went. Maybe they pulled it to protect my identity. I’m mostly undercover ya know.
Carol: oh bumming out! i wanted to see you in action! i think cops are sexy!
Barney: Well you’ll just have to be happy talking with the real thang instead of watching it on the news then!
He pulled up his music video files and popped a nice Lynard Skynard music video into the chat window.
Barney: A little music to chat by!
Barney imagined Carol bopping and grinding to the old rock tune as they chatted like this for another hour. Then she signed off saying she had to get up for work the next morning. Carol was okay he guessed, except she had red hair and two kids. She was good for his ego, but he would never date her in real life.
He laughed softly. Date in real life? What was he thinking? He hardly left his apartment anymore. How was he ever going on a date with anyone?
He muted the speakers on his computer and listened to the soft patter of his neighbor’s footsteps upstairs. He could faintly hear the music she was playing. He laid his head on the sofa back and stared at the ceiling. She must be doing her laundry. All of the apartments had the same floor plan and he could tell that she was moving back and forth across the floor from her living room to the laundry closet area.
He remembered the day she had moved in about three years ago. In all that time he had only seen her a few times. She was so pretty. Tall, skinny, athletic body with long brown hair. He had watched her through a slit in his blinds that whole day and longed to be able to open his front door and welcome her to the neighborhood. He didn’t dare though. What did he have to offer Miss American Beauty? “Hi there! I’m Barney your local resident homebound loser! Welcome!”
He sat there like that, watching the ceiling and listening to her tiny feet and her pretty music until he fell asleep.