November 18

            Make something fast. And make it interesting. 

            John Ryder’s words in my head before I wake up. Once I do, I try to think of the most interesting thing that’s happened so far this month. 

            Cubs? Yeah. 

            Trump? Oh yeah. 

            Devil worship in Appleton? Hell, yeah. 

            Lexi sexy model texting me? Ding ding ding we have a winner in the yeah deparment. 

            Things have been so strange I haven’t even thought about her for a while. 

            But why? How does that just happen? 

            It’s like some forgotten plot point. 

            I text her just to see. Just to check and see if she’s real. 

            Just to make things interesting. 

            Is there another parade I can possibly meet you at? 

            The reply comes while I’m in the shower. I get out soaked with towel wrapped around me and pick up my phone. 

            No parade. But I’m visiting family on the south side. You can be my boyfriend for the night. To shield me from f’d up family. 

            This is definitely interesting. 

            You don’t have a boyfriend? I text. 

            Don’t be so sixth grade. 

            I laugh nervously. I feel like a sixth grader. OK. 

            I’ll pay you back by going out with you after the family visit. Deal? 

            Going out where? I write. 

            Wherever you want. We don’t have to go out. You just lead the way. 

            This makes me nervous. I’m not used to this. Plus, I have no idea if this really is that woman I was photographed with. What if this is one of those “catfish” things where someone else is luring me into their fictitious web? 

            Where can I meet you? I ask. 

            She gives me the address of a bar. Joey Odoul’s in Alsip, IL. 

            Five p.m. buddy she writes. 

            I have a hundred questions I want to ask but I don’t. I’m playing it cool. Keeping it interesting. Making things happen. And fast. 

            See you then I write. 

**

            So I have to figure out how to make some money fast. 

            I paid off all my debts but now have to figure out how to survive for the rest of the year. 

            BLACK FRIDAY. 

            Oh, yeah. It’s coming. 

            Time to come up with some sales. 

            Time to figure out what kind of deals I can get and what might actually bring people in . . . 

            Yeah, not interesting. 

            Mysterious sexy lady=interesting. 

            Black Friday deals for an indie bookstore=not so interesting. 

            Let’s focus back on mysterious sexy lady. 

**

            You find yourself at a bar looking and watching and checking your phone and typing and thinking in second person and you drink because God knows that’s what you do you drink and you do it well and just when you think she’s never coming she shows in some kind of hot designer tiny top and designer tight jeans and designer heels and they’re hot too and she nestles right up beside you and stares with a giant “hi stranger” and you finally remember her because of the voice. 

            “So you aren’t a dream,” you say. 

            Second person is so sexy. 

            “Who said I was?” she asks.

            The sweetest perfection to call my own. God she’s hot. Not a line out of place from head to toe. 

            “So am I still supposed to be a boyfriend?” 

            She nods after ordering some kind of vodka drink.

            “Will they believe me?” you ask. 

            She laughs after taking her drink and sucking it down. 

            “Is that a yes?” you ask. 

            “They believe anything I bring in with me, and half of it they hope to God they’ll forget,” Lexi says. 

            “Are you real?” you ask. 

            “Are you?” she asks back. 

            So you order another round and decide to get the sweetest injection of any kind. 

            One round. 

            Then another. 

            And confessions. And jokes. And confusion. 

            And you’re no better than when you started, no better knowing if she’s real, no better knowing why you’re standing next to her, no better trying to figure out why you’re here in the first place other than the obvious. 

            “Time to go and make an appearance,” she tells you. “At the most we’ll be there an hour.”

            “An hour?” you ask. “That’s all.”

            “That’s all I need you for,” she says. 

            You scan the glide of her neck and the skin on her chest and the rounding lines and the long figures. 

            “However long you need me is your call,” she tells you. 

            That deserves another drink which you call for right away. 

**

            The family visit doesn’t seem strange enough or long enough to ever recount once again even if you’re suddenly living a present tense point of view. There’s a mother and a father and brothers and sisters and in-laws and a whole lot more and they ask me questions but by then I’m pretty much feeling happy enough to make up anything they might want. I’ve become the world’s most interesting man because God knows I’m standing next to the world’s most interesting woman. I make them laugh and they pour me drinks and I tell them I’m someone else and they pour me more and Lexi watches and I can tell she’s impressed or maybe just amused or simply satisfied. I’m the boyfriend they thought she’d never bring home and I’m the guy who has absolutely no clue other than to make them laugh and keep filling my glass. 

            The world wears a different expression on nights like these, like some proud teacher encouraging you on though the only “on” you’re going to have involves drinking and sex. But sure, the mind is a fascinating place, and it’s imagining different things for you.       

            When Lexi and I leave, I’m not just walking with my arm around her, but I’m leaning against her and on her and she’s guiding me with her arm. I find it enticing but she probably finds it annoying. 

            “I’ll drive,” Lexi says about my car, climbing behind the wheel. 

            I slide into the passenger seat and then slide over further and start kissing her and find her not stopping and not hesitant and not shy. 

            “Want to tell me where you want to take me?” Lexi asks. 

            She’s not asking me where she can drive and drop me off. She’s not asking where I live. She wants to know what I want. 

            “Head downtown,” I tell her for some strange reason. “By the lake.”

            “Where by the lake?” she asks. 

            “Somewhere, anywhere, we can park,” I say. 

            By now subtlety is nonexistent. 

            We start driving down the suburban street and I see a liquor store. 

            “Hold on,” I say. “Let’s stop and get more to drink.”

            Mistake. 

            Big mistake. 

            But Lexi obliges my request. 

**

            I don’t drink liquor. I’m a beer and wine sort of guy. So naturally it makes complete sense that when we walk into the store and I hear Jane’s Addiction playing I walk right up to the gin and grab a fifth of Bombay Sapphire. Minus the tonic and minus the lime. 

            I guess I’m feeling bold tonight. 

            Back in the car, I turn up the stereo in my car and open the bottle and laugh. Lexi takes a sip and I laugh even more. Some Depeche Mode song plays and I laugh even harder. I laugh and sip and laugh and sip again. A recipe for disaster, one I’ve tried before, one I’ve tried again, one I swear I’d never sample again, but I swear the night is so warm and I’ve suddenly fallen in love and I’m being told I can do whatever I want to do so this really might be the most incredible night of my 

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