Obsession is the Devil, Part Two

“The story starts off with Hauro, that’s the main character, chained up on a ship. He awakes from unconsciousness unaware of how he had ended up on the ship in the first place. Crewmen are running past him left and right. He tries to ask them where he is or how he got there. No one pays attention to him. He notices two other prisoners. They are trying to escape, but the shackles are too tight. Hauro asks them what is going on. They say the ship is sinking, and everyone needs to hurry off or go down with it. Now Hauro has to figure out how to survive long enough to get his questions answered and remember how it was that he came to this horrendous circumstance.”

“Then what happens?” responds an eager listener no older than ten.

“Well, you have to buy my book to find out!” Tristan replied.

“That’s stupid,” another kid shouted out.

“Then ask your parents to buy it for you.” Tristan flashed the front cover to all the kids, “It makes a wonderful bedtime story.”

“Whatever, I’m gonna go play again. Anyone else who wants to play tag with me, let’s go,” one of the older kids said as he got up and headed back to the monkey bars.

All the kids followed, except for one.

“It was a good story mister, but I’ll just wait for the movie,” said the lone kid as he too fled to join his friends.

Tristan had to chuckle at such a silly notion. A movie? Bah! A movie! Oh, lordy. A movie. Huh. Tristan rolled the thought around in his mind, thinking, who would I get to play Hauro? The Rock? Mmm, too tall. Bzzzt. Bzzzt. The vibration from his cell phone broke Tristan’s thoughts. Taking it from his pants pocket, Tristan read Quinn’s name across the screen, tapped the power button to end the vibrations, and returned the phone to his pocket. Seven days, seven calls. No texts. No voicemails. Tristan was well-versed in Quinn’s modus operandi when it came to communication. She always wanted to talk to a real person, never letting it up to a text message or voicemail- those could be deleted without ever hearing what needed to be said.

Tristan sat on the park bench thinking of his plans for the day. B-o-l-o-g-n-a. No plans. Nada. He thought of ways to inform the masses about his book. The park bench was just one bad idea on his laundry list of bad ideas. The day before, he literally went to the laundromat where people were alone and waiting for their unmentionables and mentioned his book to them as nonchalantly as he could. The people’s reactions were a mixed bag. Some politely declined, some declined in strings of profanities, and one person thought the book belonged…

Tristan’s mind stopped again. His eye caught something he had not beheld in over a year and a half: Emily. She was walking in the park on the same trail that would pass his bench. And, she was not walking alone. Tristan saw Emily holding hands with a man. He was tall with short hair and a stubbled chin. He was dressed in jeans and a white button down. She wore a short blue sundress. Tristan immediately realized what he was wearing, cargo shorts and a red Marvel t-shirt. Comfortable and full of character to him, it was the exact uncouth dribble Emily worked so hard to remove from her boyfriend’s -no, former boyfriend’s- wardrobe. Tristan panicked. His breathing increased. His palmed perspired. He thought about leaving; just get up and walk away. She was far enough that his own unkempt facial hair might prove a worthy disguise. He stood up, turned abruptly, and paced forward. Only making one complete step, Tristan stopped when he heard his book hit the ground. While planning his exit, he forgot the book was laying on his lap. Now he would have to decide:

1) He could forget the book, keep walking, and maybe Emily would pick the book up. Maybe she would read it. Maybe she couldn’t put it down. Her new boyfriend would get upset at all the free time she would spend reading Tristan’s words. He would put down an ultimatum, but she refused to put the book down long enough to listen. Days later, when she would finish the book and realize that her current boyfriend had left, she would also come to the realization that she was completely wrong about Tristan. She would call him up, express her undying love to him and his book, and they could pick up right where they left off.

2) He could turn around and pick up the book. Lord knows he can’t afford to just let books lie around willy-nilly. He could explain the book to Emily, she would be impressed, ask to borrow his copy, which she takes home, reads, and so on, ending in a Tristan/Emily marriage too.

“Excuse me, sir? You dropped your book.”

Tristan turned around, his body responding to her commands like they were still dating, his ears perking up and muscles tensing, regardless of the lack of an actual command. Old habits and such.

“Tristan? Oh, my goodness. Tristan!” Emily and company walked up to Tristan.

“Hi, Emily.” Tristan heard the words leave his mouth, his gaze centered on the book in her hands.

“Tristan, this is Brock.”

“Tristan. Hi. Great to meet you.” Brock immediately followed getting the upper hand on Tristan.

Tristan was still unable to get a response out.

“Brock here works for his father’s real estate company. We were just on a walk to see some new apartments that’ll be available soon.”

“Yeah! We’ve got some killer condos just going up. Could get you in one super cheap,” pitched Brock flicking out his business card always at the ready in his breast pocket. “What business you in?”

Emily tapped Brock with the back of her hand indicating to him to step down from the sales-persona; this guy was a lost cause.

“So, uh, reading in the park huh?” Emily changed the subject seemingly to hurry the encounter along. Before she let him finish, she flipped the book over and read the front cover before handing it back to Tristan. “Reading…your book?”

“Isn’t that a little pretentious to be carrying around your own book?” Brock chuckled.

Tristan took the book from Emily. He noticed a new ring on her left ring finger as the book exchanged hands. His heart jumped.

“You actually finished it?” Emily asked.

“Yeah. Just a couple months ago.”

Brock tried to read the title upside down, tilting his head like a big, dumb bird. Pigeon, Tristan thought. Tristan and Emily both looked up at him.

“Rogue One? Isn’t that a Star Wars thing? Dude. Did you just copy Star Wars?”

Tristan just tilted his head in response, both sarcastically and sincerely unsure as how to take that comment.

Emily ignored Brock.

“Did you find a publisher?”

Tristan lifted his eyebrows in surprise to Emily’s inquiry. Why was she asking so many questions? Why does she care? Does she care?

“No. I published it myself.” Tristan replied thinking it would impress Emily.

“Self-published? You mean you couldn’t find a real publisher.” It wasn’t a question. Brock kept talking. “What? You sell like five copies?”

This last comment elicited a small chuckle from Emily and a quick response, “Oh, I’m sure Quinn helped you, right? That little bookstore of hers still open?”

Emily’s laugh sobered Tristan’s mind; he tried to manage his labored breathing. That patronizing little…that’s all Emily was. He felt badly for Quinn and realized the whole conversation was everything but sincere. He tried to collect some semblance of dignity and chose his next words carefully to create a quick and slightly salty exit.

“Yeah, actually, I was just leaving because I had a voicemail from her saying my last box of books just sold. So, goodbye now.” Tristan walked briskly through the couple, breaking them up. This would have been a great time to walk to Quinn’s. Damn. Tristan headed back to his apartment, the only thing he had left.


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