This is a very brisk bit because a lot is happening, and I feel like not having the initial rambling hurts it. I think, ideally, if the piece weren't already getting overly long, I'd break these out into three separate sections. But, it may actually work better this way. The loss of the narration shows that Sam is focused on something for probably the first time in the entire plot. He moves from step to step in rapid succession, racking up a series of small wins.
Sam's plan is pretty simple. He thinks Mortimer the Mechanic is Rusty, Lucy's boyfriend. Mortimer is really dating Fiona, but Sam thinks that he is two-timing them. Hence, his elegant plan to get the two of them in the same place at the same time. Good intentions, the road to hell is paved with, etc. Fiction below, table of contents is here. Below is a quick random people, random places.
Today at the grocery store, a helpful young woman stopped me as I was in the line. "Excuse me sir, you forgot to pick up milk."
This was a reasonable comment for her to make; I had cereal, but no milk. Instead, I was planning to mix the cereal with yogurt. You know, like granola? I thanked her and explained this. She wrinkled her nose and said: "That's weird."
It very well may be weird, but I don't care. It's worth trying once.
* * *
“Yeah, sometimes Kenny just loses things,” I said into my cell phone as I walked into the garage. “You know how it is after a long night, right?”
“I can’t say I’ve ever had so long a night that I’ve forgotten where I put things,” Peter said to me. If you forget what your kid is allergic to man, I’m sure you’ve lost your keys.
“Look, just saying, could you grab us an extra pair of tickets? Or put our names on The List,” I asked. I even enunciated the words The List in uppercase. I had always wanted to be on The List, but I’ve never been an important enough guest anywhere to warrant that sort of special treatment. This Saturday might be all the difference though.
“Look, it’s a little late to get you the tickets again; I’ve got plans tonight and tomorrow,” Peter said.
“I could come by your house and pick them up; I’d love to see Christine and Junior again,” I said. I never told Kenny I wouldn’t preemptively twist the knife a little. Best for him to just think we were as dumb as a pile of rocks.
“Ah, no, no, no. I’ll have your name on that list,” He said. “I’ve got to go, I’m at the office between meetings.”
Then he hung up. I wanted to imagine it was a terrified hanging up, followed by some swearing. Maybe he’d look himself in the mirror and realize what he was doing. Either way, we were on The List. The first phase of Kenny’s plan was complete. The second phase was going to be a bit more delicate.
“Morty,” I shouted at the pair of coveralls and boots I saw sticking out from under some sad little sedan.
“That you Sam?”
“Look, man, I came by to apologize for being a bit of an ass lately,” I said, hopping onto the hood. “Let’s bury the hatchet.”
He pulled himself out from under the car and wiped his hands on his pants. “I didn’t really notice.”
We shook on it, a perfectly reasonable way to have ended this for some people. But not for me. Next I pulled out two tickets from my chest pocket. “To prove I’ve got no hard feelings, here’s something I won at work.”
It was a half-truth. He took them from me and then tucked them into his back pocket. “Tickets?”
“To a fancy dinner,” I said. “That new girl of yours’ll probably like a chance to get all dolled up, eh?”
“She has been on my case saying we never do anything nice.”
“Yeah, she may have mentioned it at work. Look at me, helping you out of a jam with her.” Mortimer thanked me again and patted me on the shoulder. As I walked out the door, I started the third phase of our plan.
I called Susan. My heart jumped to my throat when she answered. “Susan, about that call last night, I’m real sorry about that.”
“It’s OK Sam; Kenny’s an interesting guy to talk to. You two must have all kinds of fun,” She said. I could hear the car’s radio slowly dial down.
“Look, about this Saturday, if you’re still free to come, I was just saying not to listen to Kenny about bringing anyone else.”
“I wasn’t going to,” She said. “I’m kind of interested in that friend.”
I winced and blushed at the same time. Here she was, a genuinely nice girl, and I was going to ruin it all by telling her I had lied to her. But, it would have to wait until Saturday. “That’s great. Did Peter give you your tickets yet?”
“No, I hadn’t actually called him.”
“That’s OK. I’ll handle it,” I said. “What are you doing today?”
“I have an interview and then I have to deliver our magazine,” She said. We shot the breeze for a few more minutes before she had to go. I called Peter’s office and gave my name to his assistant, who forwarded me to the person in charge of The List. The man on the other end was a tired sounding sad sack, and he’d already heard from Peter. He told me exactly what I wanted to hear: Sam and Kenny were down with neat little +1s by our names. Susan was going to be my +1 until I told her what an ass I was.
The only question, I thought to myself, was whether Lucy or Fiona would be Kenny’s +1. It was a good plan, and the first three phases were done in just a few neat hours.