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most romantic

Updated: Jan 26, 2021

by

WRDSMTH



"What did you get her?"


"Nothing."


"Bullshit."


"I swear. Not a fan of this day. Whatsoever."


"It's not about you."


"It's a made-up holiday."


"Doesn't matter what you think. It's what she thinks. And what she wants."


Perched on a stool at The Well, leaning forward, two stacked fists supporting my head above the cherrywood bar, I shift and glance at my best friend and day-drinking companion. My chin remains on top of my fists, but I still deliver a look of annoyance.


"Or what she expects," he adds.


"I'm broke."


"Says the guy who just bought himself two six-dollar beers."


I straighten up, spin on the stool to face my friend. "Whose side are you on?"


"Yours. And I'm rooting for you to come away from this day with your girlfriend still by your side."


"Whatever."


"Good luck with that. Just be sure to gift-wrap that attitude of yours before you get home. I gotta head out."


My friend leaves. “Et tu beers, Brute?” I call out as he magically disappears through the sun-drenched doorway. I simultaneously think about what to get her and nod to my real best friend -- the bartender – in turn, ordering myself another round of procrastination.


“It’s just me now.”




By the time my eyes are squinting to adjust to the now setting sun, I realize I’m late.


“I hate this day.”


I turn the corner and come face-to-face with a felony in progress. Maybe it’s a misdemeanor. I don’t know. Maybe it depends on the mood the cop is in on that particular day. Who knows? Regardless, I stop to watch a street artist in action, finishing up a new piece he created with spray paint and stencils. I’ve seen his work around town through the years. First time seeing him live in action.


“Cool.”


He glances over his shoulder, assessing me while tossing cans of paint into his backpack.


“You write that?”


“Yep.”


“Nice.”


“You ever get caught?”


“Please don’t jinx me. Not today.”


Today. Ugh.


He finishes packing up and without looking back, Houdinis into an alley.


Nice trick.


I stare at the piece, magic hour still making me squint.


I pull out my phone, thumb at the screen, open the camera, raise my arm, and frame up a photo.


Click!


Just then a police car pulls up. Cop gets out – just like in the movies.


“Did you paint that?”


“Do I look like I painted it?”


“Did you see who did?”


“Fucking snitches get fucking stitches,” the beer in me says – out loud.


“What?” the cop says as he takes a step toward me.


I run – just like in the movies.


I hear his footsteps pursuing, then slowly fading behind me, but I never break my stride as I bolt homeward. On my way, I pass a drug store, a candy store, and a florist.




Breathing heavily, I enter our apartment.


“What happened? Are you ok?”


“I got chased. By a cop!”


“For what?”


“For over ten blocks.”


“What happened?”


“It’s a long story,” I pant.