Getting Over Edie Ch. 02bynerd4music©
Author's Note: Sorry, guys. It's been a hellish four months. I was working on my thesis for my Masters and it was devouring my free time. But now that I'm finally finished with school I'll have plenty of free time to crank out chapters. Enjoy and thanks so much for your extreme patience! Happy Reading, n4m.
Why the fuck did everything hurt?
Because loneliness and alcohol was a dangerous mix.
Grady struggled to open his eyes. His lids were heavy and it felt like tiny shards of glass were poking his eyeballs. Hangovers hadn't been this epic since Blackout Thurdays during undergrad.
Lifting his head wasn't even an option; instead he stayed still, trying not to focus on the queasy rolling of his stomach.
He was too old for this shit.
Drowning his sorrows wasn't going to improve his situation; he needed to snap out of his funk, and soon before it consumed him.
Feeling brave, Grady turned his head. Fuck. It was nearly three in the afternoon. Apparently he didn't sleep, so much as take a mini-coma. His throat was raw and dry as sandpaper. Rolling on his side, Grady eased himself up slowly.
"Fuuuuuuck," he groaned. His head weighed a ton. He shuffled to the bathroom, his pants sagging uncomfortably. Sleeping in jeans wasn't a good idea. He felt completely disgusting and disoriented.
Peeing was a Herculean task. It took everything in him to stand upright. He flushed and quickly washed his hands, splashing water on his face.
The cool water felt fabulous against his skin and he took a few sips before glancing at his reflection. The water helped. He almost felt human.
Grady peeled off his outfit from the night before, stuffing the jeans and shirt into the hamper in the corner of the bathroom. Clad only in grey boxer briefs, he eyed his reflection with utter disdain. Fuck, he really let himself go.
Edie used to love his body, his muscles, how much bigger he was than her. She was almost as tall as him, the perfect model height. She said being with him made her feel small and safe. She would snuggle up close on the couch, the crown of her head fitting perfectly in the crook of his arm.
She was the perfect fit, the missing piece of his puzzle.
And now she was gone.
Grady turned from the mirror, from bad memories and headed back to his bedroom. The day was already done for. No use in staying up. He was about to slide back under the blanket when his cordless rang sharply.
Grady was tempted to let the machine pick up, but decided otherwise. It might have been someone important if they were calling his apartment.
"You have some SERIOUS explaining to do, kid" a voice rasped through the speaker.
"Shit" Grady swore. "Nell?"
Grady couldn't gauge her voice. She sounded kind of pissed off, but he wasn't completely sure.
"Look Nell, I'm sorry. I completely forgot about the article due today--"
"Forgot? Is that your excuse? So that's the reason I got this convoluted piece of ramble emailed to inbox at four-thirty in the morning? Because you forgot?"
Grady was completely confused. What the hell was she talking about? "Wait, what? What email?"
He heard Nell suck her teeth in exasperation. He could only imagine the look on her face right now, perfectly lipsticked lips pursing in irritation, white frame glasses perched on the edge of her beautifully hawkish nose.
"How much did we imbibe last night, kid? You do remember sending me an email containing your latest Go-to-Guy piece, right?"
"Uh, of course" Grady covered. "So what do you think?"
"I think you've got a solid article on your hands. It's a little rough, but with some editing it'll be another hit. You'll have every woman in New York eating out of the palm of your hand."
Great, he thought bitterly. That's exactly what I want. "So you like it," he said.
"I wouldn't go that far. It needs to be redone and the cursing needs to be cleaned up. But it's not entirely a wash. I look forward to the new draft by midnight. Maybe you should stay in and stay sober tonight. Get some real work done."
"Will do, Boss Lady."
The line went dead and Grady sighed with relief, but relief was quickly replaced by confusion. What the fuck was Nell talking about? Unless he drunk-typed in his sleep there was no way in hell he wrote and emailed an article last night, especially in his condition.
Grady padded down the hallway, his socked feet sliding slightly on the wood floors. Bringing his computer to life, he promptly ignored the screensaver and immediately opened an internet window.
He typed in his Gmail info, bringing up his email account. Sure enough, there was a message in the 'sent' folder addressed to Nell.
Grady clicked the message and opened the attachment.
"When I was younger, girls scared the living daylights out of me. They were taller, smarter, and faster. I didn't know how the hell to compete on their level. I was the short, chubby kid with the unruly hair and the mouth full of metal. I was thirteen years old and the only experience I had with the fairer sex was nightly dreams featuring the most badass vampire slayer with a rich girl's name.
My fear was partly derived out of fascination.
I've always wondered about the mysterious world of girl: the way they could spend hours primping and preening to end up looking effortlessly beautiful, how all those lotions and potions made them smell so damn good, or how just a flip of their hair could whip my boy-hormones into a frenzy and send me searching for the closest notebook.
But most of all, what eluded me was how none of this seemed to faze them. Girls simply have no idea the power they hold over men, how just a look can resort us to drooling, dumbstruck jackasses tripping over one another, desperate for their time.
Needless to say I eventually grew into my looks.
I grew about seven or eight inches, lost the baby fat, and packed on some muscle. The girls took notice and I received a great deal of attention. Despite my superhero transformation, I still retain some of the goofy awkwardness of my youth.
A beautiful woman can send me right back to that husky, braces-wearing goofball: stuttering and stammering in my efforts just to be close to her awesomeness. That's how it was with her. When I was with...well, we'll call her E.
I suppose I can blame the whole mess on REO Speedwagon and Paddy's Pub. Paddy's is famous for two things: the beer brewed on site which I'm pretty sure is laced with crack because of its beery goodness, and Saturday night karaoke.
Paddy's karaoke is New York's own version of American Idol. Each week vocal hopefuls step up to the mic, showing off their singing chops. The best singer is voted by round of applause, winning a hundred bucks and bragging rights for the week. Paddy's on Saturday night was a tradition going back to college when my buddy Benny and I were fortunate enough to score fake IDs.
She wasn't the kind of girl you'd normally see in a place like Paddy's. Most of the girls in the bar were pretty, cute post college grads and office girls. Not unfortunate looking by any means, but nothing spectacular. But E, she was more than that. She was a fucking knockout, the definition of my thirteen-year-old boy fantasies brought to life.
When she stepped on stage, I wasn't sure what to expect. She was stunning; the kind of girl who's so smokin' it makes your mouth go dry. I had to down my whole pint to hydrate my throat. As she stepped up to the mic, I prepared myself for a rendition of some crappy 90s pop song that would make my ears bleed.
We all know THAT girl: the drunk chick at the bar, looking as if she stepped off the runway, feeling like she can control the entire room even if it means getting up on and acting like she can sing. Most chicks like that can barely carry a tune in an eight-ton bucket but assume they can get away with it simply because they've got a pretty face.
But when the REO kicked in and she opened her mouth, I knew there was more to this caramel beauty than her tall stature and killer legs. She was fucking OUTSTANDING. I was never a huge Speedwagon fan but she could've sung the McDonalds menu and it would have been the sweetest melody.
E won the contest that night. I bought her a beer and we talked. Three hours later we were drunk, laughing like old friends, and flirting like teenagers. She gave me her number and two days later we had a first date. For the next sixteen months I got swept away.
What can I say? I was caught up. She was wildly beautiful, daring, and a little dangerous. Being with E, I was finally privy to all the things that dazzled me about women when I was a boy.
And then I realized that beneath that lip gloss veneer, there's nothing special at all...just multiple layers of bullshit and insecurity.
Looking back, I can't really pinpoint exactly what went wrong.
But what I do know, what I can tell you...having a front row seat to The Love Implosion Tour is one of the most painful experiences imaginable. There's nothing like watching love burn and fade away right in front of you to really put things into perspective.
Things end, and suddenly you're questioning everything. Was it something I did? Did I drive her away, or was it something else...an unforeseen outlier hidden in the background, waiting for the chance to rear its ugly head?
I call bullshit. Love doesn't just end. It doesn't just fade away. It dies. My love didn't go out in a blaze of glory, all heroic with guns firing and all that jazz. No, it was murdered, hunted and gunned down.
True, this could just be the rant of a bitter and broken man. I won't lie and say things haven't been painful because they've sucked beyond the telling of it. I don't want you to read this and go "poor baby".
No, what I want you to take away from this column is this: You can't simply stop loving someone. It doesn't happen that way. You don't wake up one day and go "What a glorious day! I think I'll have pancakes and then break up with my boyfriend of sixteen months. I've decided I don't love him anymore!"
But then again, that's exactly what she did.
Okay, so maybe he needed to write more articles under the influence. Reading his honest words made him cringe, but it felt...oddly therapeutic. Talking about Edie never felt right. The story lodged in his throat, the words heavy and foreign, the concepts and plotline embarrassing him into painful silence. His boys were his boys, but talking about feelings and shit like that just didn't feel right.
Although he didn't think sharing this story with millions of readers was such a healthy option, at this point in the game he didn't have much else to lose.
Grady glanced at the clock on his desk; it was a little after three. It would only take him an hour or so to edit and polish his article. He got to work.
Two hours and four cigs later, Grady stretched languorously. He was meticulous, anal, and kind of picky but it paid off. He finally had something he was sort of proud of. It still felt weird to be sharing all of this with the world, but he pushed past those feelings. It was time to man up.
He was emailing the article to Nell when his cell phone chirped with a text message. It was from Tony. "Grabbing a bite later. Come out and get some eats."
Grady didn't know if he was up for that. Writing completely wiped him out. He already resigned himself to a quiet (and sober) evening at home...but honestly, spending another night trapped inside his head with his depressing thoughts didn't sound like such a good idea.
As if sensing his torment, his phone began to ring in his hand. He answered it quick to cut off the Speedwagon. "Yeah Tone?"
"Come on, man. You need to get out of the apartment."
" Yes Mom. Anything else?"
Tony chuckled. "Don't be surly. It doesn't become you." He paused for a moment. "I'm worried about you, Grady. I know you don't want to talk about things but at some point you gotta start letting shit out. I'm not trying to get all up in your shit, nor I am going to fuck with you like Benny. But I want you to know...I'm a great listener."
Grady was touched. "Uh...thanks dude. I'm just...not right now. I'm really not in the mood for dinner or conversation. Can we rain check it?"
"No problem, man. I'm going to check out this band tomorrow night at the Ballroom. Show starts at midnight. Let me know if you want to come. I'll put your name down at the door."
"Thanks man," he replied even though he had no intention of going. "I'll talk to you later, dude."
"Alright. Oh shit! I totally forgot to tell you. I take it you haven't talked to Benny today."
"Nah," he said as he lit up another cigarette.
"Why you ask?"
He could tell that Tony was trying not to laugh.
"Well...he hooked up with Stevie."
Grady thought for a moment. "Stevie...whoa! You mean your girl's friend? The ballbuster?"
Tony was openly guffawing now. "Yup. Needless to say there was an extreme amount of alcohol involved."
Grady grinned. "Oh I bet. I'm surprised he's alive to tell the tale. That chick looks like she eats guys for fun."
"I hear you. From what he told me this morning, it seems like it was a very...interesting experience. I just figured I'd pass it on, just in case you want to give him shit. He definitely deserves it."
"No worries, Tone. He's gonna hear from me sometime soon. I'll talk to you guys later."
Taking a long drag of his cig, he couldn't help but chuckle. His stomach rumbled and Grady groaned. He hadn't eaten since yesterday afternoon, which probably explained why he got so drunk last night.
Grady placed a call to Leo's. It was a local joint, a hole in the wall restaurant known for its marinara sauce and fresh-baked breadsticks. He supposed he could have had the food delivered, but picking it up gave him an excuse to get out of his apartment, even for a little while. Grady stubbed out his cigarette before standing up and stretching.
He was still in his underwear. Grady shook his head; pathetic didn't even cover it. He was getting ridiculous.
By the time he rummaged through his closet, it was time to pick up his takeout. He was in the bathroom, trying to tame his unruly curls. With a sigh, he admitted defeat and shoved a black Mets cap backwards over the mess.
The late January wind was cold, but at least it wasn't snowing. Grady pulled his gloves on as he stepped out onto the sidewalk. The sun was setting, casting brilliant shades of reds, gold, and orange across the New York skyline. There was something peaceful in that moment before the sun goes down.
People overlook sunset, never really taking the time to stop and appreciate the blending colors, the beauty in all the elements mixing together. He took his time, walking at a leisurely pace. One of the things he loved about the city was the anonymity; you could be surrounded by thousands of people and still feel completely invisible. It was a brooder's dream.
By the time he reached Leo's the sun had long bedded down for the night. The city seemed to stretch from its slumber, anticipating the bright lights and excitement a Saturday night on the town offered. Grady was drawn to the flashing bulbs of the Leo's Italian Eats marquee, the neon sign a shiny beacon of the foodie goodness inside.
Grady pushed into the restaurant, the tantalizing aroma of Italian spices and simmering meats making his stomach grumble even more. The shop was cozy and warm, with several red and white checkered cloth covered tables placed around the intimate dining room. The lighting was low, with white tea candles decorating each table top. The perfect place for a date.
He used to bring Edie here. She would groan at first, wanting to go dancing or out to some schmancy trendwhore place downtown. But her complaints died down once she tasted the pasta primavera or the braised beef tips with tortellini.
She never actually ordered food of her own, just a salad. But the portions were so big she always ate from his plate. She resisted at first, but he knew she couldn't resist the delectable eats.
"Come on, baby" he cooed, attempting to lift the fork to her lips. They were sitting at their favorite table, the one closest to the window.
Edie loved sitting near the window. She said whenever people walked by, she wanted them to notice how hot her boyfriend was.
"No Grady. You know I'm on a diet!" She moved her face away from the fork, trying to push his hand away.
"Baby, you don't need to be on a diet. You're fucking beautiful."
"You wouldn't say that if you saw these younger girls. They are the size of toothpicks. I feel like a walrus."
Grady chuckled. He loved it when she got irritated; her accent became stronger. "I only see you, Edie. Now come on. You know you want some."
She tried to look mad, turning her face away but her eyes glanced at him, taking in the puppy dog look. Smiling, she opened her mouth and accepted the food.
She moaned and his body responded to the sound.
"Mmm, it's so good."
"I told you," he said absently, watching her tongue snake out and lick her lips. He reached out, stroking her cheek. "Let's get the check."
"Why? You haven't finished eating."
His blue eyes glinted wickedly. "I'm kinda hungry for something else."
She laughed. "Okay. But get a takeout box. We're going to work up an appetite."
"Hey! Dude, you going inside or what?"
Grady shook his memory clear, snapping out of his daydream and back to reality. His bulky frame blocked the entryway. "Say what?"
The woman behind him sucked her teeth. "You're blocking the way. Are you going to move your ass or am I gonna have to move it for you?"
Grady whipped around, the 'fuck you, lady' on the tip of his tongue when he bit the insult back.
"Me," she replied. "Now will you get the hell out of the way? I can't shut the door unless you move and I'm freezing."
It was the girl from last night, the friend of Tony's girl. He couldn't remember her name. Something completely odd. "Don't I know you?" he asked. He stepped aside, allowing her entry.
She eyed him warily. "Jeez, how drunk were you last night. I'm Arden. You know, Gemma's friend?"
Ahh, Arden! That's it. "Sorry. Didn't quite catch it last night. I was a little preoccupied."
"Yeah. I could tell." She gave him the once-over.
"You look like day-old shit."
Grady should've been offended, but oddly enough he wasn't. "I feel like it too."
"Alcohol will do that to you."
"So what are you doing here?"
"I live six blocks up. Came to pick up some dinner on my way home from class."
He glanced at her outfit. She was wearing black yoga shorts, bright blue leggings under thick purple slouchy socks and a yellow pullover hoodie. She looked like a walking box of Crayola crayons.
"Uh, what kind of class are you taking?"
"I teach a dance class at Madame Dauphine's Dance studio. It's on the corner of this block."
"Ahh, gotcha. So you're a dancer?"
Arden nodded. "It would seem so. You know, you don't have to make polite chitchat. I know you don't like me."
Grady was taken aback. "What? Who said I didn't like you?"
She shrugged off his inquiry. "I have a knack for reading people. I just get that vibe from you. Actually I get the feeling you really don't like anyone right now, most of all yourself."
He could feel himself getting irritated. Who the fuck was this girl? "Uh...well I'm glad that you and your knack have decided to judge me. You don't even know me, lady."
She rolled her brown eyes. "Listen, I'm not trying to start an argument or rile you up. I'm just stating facts."
"Well what kind of fucking fact is that? I don't even know you; why the fuck would I even have an opinion about you? And as for that other thing...you don't know shit about me or my life."