Games of the Stage

Games of the Stage

A Story by Sam Ammons

Who believes in soulmates anyway?

     The late afternoon sun cast its wan golden light through the front bar room windows. A cloud of cigarette smoke drifted past the glass carried by the movements of the lone waitress bustling from table to table bringing beverages and food. Adam let the door leading to the outside close behind him. Mulligan's was actually a combination bar and restaurant seen in shopping centers across the country.
     "Hi, Adam," the waitress said on her way to the kitchen.
     "Hey, Crystal. Can I get some quarters for the pool table?"
     "Sure. How much do you need?"
     "Four dollars should do it," he said handing her the folded bills. Crystal dug into her apron and handed him the change.
     She nodded, disappearing into the kitchen.  He shifted the book bag on his shoulder as he turned toward the room with the pool tables. An assortment of people sat at four tables in the bar. They weren't seated close together for there were at least three empty tables between any two parties. They adhered to some unspoken understanding as to not violate each other's space unless it needed to be done; unless the bar was full of people. Adam noticed a family of four seated in a remote corner of the bar. Bemused, Adam watched as the mother scolded her son in a hushed voice after the boy started blowing into his milk through the straw which caused bubbles to ebb over the side of the glass. The older daughter laughed, but the father gave his young son a stern look, leaving the reprimand to his wife. Two tables over was a woman whom Adam knew. He waved hello to Lori. She returned the wave between feeding her infant daughter with one hand while wiping her child's face with the other. They graduated from high school together, but he lost touch with her for quite some time. They had been friends. Close friends, but at a distance. Both afraid of the connection they felt for each other. Adam secretly believed they were soulmates, but no one believes in that sort of thing, right? How do you explain the unexplainable?
     Adam felt hope whenever he saw her. To look deep into those amber apple eyes, and feel pure joy just to be with her. Anything was possible in that moment. Anything could be accomplished even when it was thought to be impossible, or had absolutely no chance of succeeding, with Adam and Lori together. Adam and Lori just needed faith. The world just needed to have faith in them. But it wasn't to be.
     She had moved to upper state New York with her boyfriend who attended college to pursue a business degree. Six years later, he was graduating with a job in a computer manufacturing firm already waiting for him California, and a fiance whom Lori never knew existed. She returned home pregnant, and immediately started at the local university studying business law.  She took a short time off from college to give birth to her daughter, and returned to her classes with renewed determination. The last two groups were a young man and woman, on their first date Adam surmised, after noticing the almost embarrassed way they spoke to one another, and the last table with young men hot into college, and well into their celebration. Adam reached the bar, and noticed a person sitting there for the first time.
     "How are you doing, Gloria?" Adam asked walking up to the woman. Gloria was a regular at the bar. She sat at the same corner of the bar, with the same drink in front of her. Gloria's raven hair flowed down her back, and she stared at him with azure eyes.
     "Pretty good," her usual answer, "Care to join me?" Gloria gave him her ivory smile.
     "No thanks," Adam declined smiling back, "Maybe some other time." She nodded and took a sip from her drink, not surprised at his response.
     "One of these days you will," she promised, "They always do." She turned then, and stared through the wall at the other end of the bar. Adam stood silent a moment before continuing into the other room. There were three large tables in front of the door with a jukebox in one corner, and a large screen television in the other. Two pool tables sat at the far end of the room with hanging lamps dousing them with light. Adam walked to the jukebox first, and after depositing a couple of quarters, it sprang to life with a soaring guitar riff as Godsmack's Bulletproof kept beat with his heart. The volume level was lowered because families were the usual patrons at this time of day, but in a few hours the bar would be overflowing with people. The music wasn't even loud enough to vibrate the bones in his body.
     "Finally! Some music!" Adam heard from the other room. From one of the celebrators, he decided. He walked to a pool table, and unceremoniously dropped his book bag into one of the chair lining the wall. He slid the quarters into place in the pool table, and pushed the slide in so the machine could take his money. The sound of the pool balls being released was his reward. Adam racked the balls on top of the table in the usual position, and after carefully choosing a pool stick which wasn't warped, he took his first shot. The cue ball cracked into the flat pyramid of balls, sending each one this way and that leaving only three in their original position. One ball dropped into a pocket. Adam enjoyed this game. He didn't so much as do the complicated geometry associated with sinking a ball as much as he saw the angles on the table. A bit of luck and experience was more responsible than any computations. The table was almost cleared of balls a short time later.
     Adam didn't notice her until she came into the room and sat on a chair next to his book bag after hanging her purse on the back of the chair. She didn't so much as sit in the chair as the chair rose up to seat her. Her hair was a pale blonde, and she looked at him with green apple eyes. It took him a full ten seconds to realize he was staring into those eyes, half bent over in mid-shot. She covered the moment by taking a sip of her soda water, but she never broke the gaze.
     "Hi," Adam said after finding his voice.
     "Hi," she said.
     "My name's Adam," he reached out his hand.
     "Evelyn," she said lightly grasping his hand with her own. Adam was entranced with her alabaster skin, but only held her soft hand a millisecond too long. She didn't seem to notice.
     "Would you like to play?" Adam gestured to the pool table after noticing the scent of flower petals and blossoms whispering from her.
     "Sure. Why don't you finish up first, then we can play," she said smiling.
     Adam nodded, continuing with his game. He made his shot sinking two balls into pockets with one shot.
     "Nice shot," Evelyn complemented him.
     "Thanks," he said, "I haven't seen you here before?" It was more of a question than a statement.
     "No. This is my first time coming here. I must have passed this place a hundred times on my way to class."
     "You go to the university?" Adam gestured in the direction of the college.
     "Yes. I'm majoring in English. What about you?"
     "Screenwriting. I started working in the industry about a year ago when I won Imagine Impact 4, then I won Disney's Creative and Talent Development contest a few months later. I'm working for them now. For the next year at least. Working my way up the latter as it were," he said smiling up at her from his game.
     "You didn't start college after graduating?"
     "No. I had to work afterward, and my father passed away a short time later__"
     "I'm sorry," she said interrupting him.
     "Thanks," he quickly pushed on, "Anyway, I really didn't have my mind on my homework then," Adam paused linging up his shot, "and if I started college right away, I would probably fail all my classes at the start anyway, so I waited a few years before trying to start something I probably wouldn't finish."
     "And now?"
     "And now I've started looking at the rest of my life," he shrugged with his shoulders while leaning over the table. "It's time to put the past in the past, live in the here and now, and plan for the future." She nodded in agreement while he sank three balls in quick succession. Evelyn looked in the chair beside her, and picked up a book which was sliding out of Adam's bag.
     "Moby Dick?' she asked.
     "Yes," he said with a hurricane sort of sigh. "I've got a term paper due on Monday, comparing Melville and Shakespeare and their viewpoints on tragedy and revenge.
     "Any luck so far?"
     "Some. I've read them both at least." Evelyn laughed a silvery cascade kind of laugh.
     "That is always a good start," she sighed to herself then and put the book inside his bag. "I've never had much luck with friendships, relationships, or love myself."
     "Oh?" he asked standing upright.
     "My ex-boyfriend," she explained, "he never seemed to care about me. He never wished me a happy birthday, no Christmas car, not even a phone call most the time. I was just one in a long line I suppose. I gave it seven years before finally giving up on him."
     "He sounds like an idiot to me."
     "What do you mean?" she asked in a neutral tone, but there was fire in her eyes.
     "I've always believed that it only takes five minutes to show someone you care," he said, "but it takes years to show them that you don't." The fire evaporated as fast as it appeared. Evelyn smiled.
     "Words of wisdom. He wouldn't let it go after I told him that we should see other people. I guess he couldn't believe that I finally got wise to his maneuvering."
     "He's an adolescent. What do you expect?" he chuckled. Evelyn gave him a questioning look. "Men need women a lot more than women need men. Always have. Always will. Something like a man's favorite pair of underwear. Full of holes, but we keep them because we're too lazy to throw them away, or we're afraid that somehow they're the last pair we'll have for some reason."
     "That is an interesting analogy. I've never heard someone make a comparison between women and a worn out pair of underwear that men don't want to get rid of," she laughed.
     "Bad example I guess," he thought a moment. "What I mean is that men and women are afraid to be alone, and when we find someone to be with, even it's the wrong one, we don't get rid of them when we know we should. That women, that women that's seen us in our worst times, with our butts hanging out of our worn out underwear, those are the ones who should stick around. Those are the relationships worth working on, worth working through, because connections like that don't come around very often. Maybe even once in a lifetime."
     "Is that what men want? Just to be with someone? Just anyone?"
     "You men sex?"  he laughed. "All males of the human species want to have sex from the moment they hit puberty. What separates men from the adolescents is that young men want to have sex with as many women as possible and that is it; men can wait for a friendship to build into a relationship."
     "And they can have a relationship with anyone?"
     "Most can," he chuckled. He looked back to the pool table. There were only three balls left on the green felt, and Adam decided on his shot, leaning down with his pool cue to end the game. "But it isn't a relationship with just anyone, like I said earlier. Me personally? I want to be happy with whomever I'm with."
     "Is that all? You just want to be happy?"
     "Being happy means," he began, making his shot. Two balls fell into corner pockets, while the cue ball tapped the third ball, and made it shoot across to a side pocket. "Being there for each other in good times and bad. Telling each other the truth, and not jumping to conclusions, or judgement for the truth. There has to be a willingness to communicate on the part of both parties. Are you ready to play?" Adam asked her, gesturing toward the pool table.
     "No," Evelyn smiled, rising from her chair. "Why don't you and I have something to eat instead? Maybe I can help you with your term paper." Adam stood transfixed.
     "Sure," he said after leaving the pool stick on the table, abandoning the game. "So, what interests you about English?" Adam asked her as she led the way to a table. They seated themselves amid the pool table, ignoring them for good.

© 2019 Sam Ammons

Author's Note

Sam Ammons
I originally wrote this 20 years ago, and only made a few detail changes. It's pretty much the exact same that was published in my college literary magazine. If you like this story or any other of mine, please recommend them to your friends and others. Thank you for your support.

My Review

Would you like to review this Story?
Login | Register

Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Added on July 11, 2019
Last Updated on July 24, 2019
Tags: Relationships, Lost Love, Dating, Soulmate