My Little Boy - Chapter 36
The rain was unnecessary and unappreciated irony of the whole damn world. Honestly, it pissed me off, the little bullets coming so hard that was nearly physically impossible to be outside and not under some type of shelter.
Now I’m stuck in some kind of Asian restaurant that smelled so strong of spices when I just want to go home and scream into my pillow. Was that so much to fucking ask? Isn’t that the least I can get in this whole damn mess?
The rain truly was like bullets, bouncing off the roof and the walls and the glass door so loud it was hard to hear yourself focus. Even so, I could still hear the faint music being played through a shitty stand-alone speaker and occasionally pick up a foreign language being bitterly tossed around in the back behind me.
I try not to look down at the little pitted table. I knew my phone was resting face down but I also know that she has texted me twice in the half an hour since I’ve left her house. Every time my face gets caught in the face ID the message preview extends down and I have to slap it away to avoid reading anything. If I did, I don’t know if I scream or cry. I didn’t want to do either. Ever.
Realistically, I should do something. I could call my mom and ask if dad was loyal. I could call Barkley and ask if he’s ever worried about this with his fiance Rey. I should call Billy to come to pick me up and get me drunk off my ass. I should text Jorge to see if he knew where to find someone to take my mind off her -it.
However, my mind keeps fizzing away like a shaken soda can. Instead of worrying about my car still parked in front of her driveway, ten blocks away, I watch as the rain makes the quickly forming puddles bounce back into the air with its force. Alternatively of processing my relationship being so brutally over, I survey all the different types of objects and art hung around the walls of the small Korean restaurant.
The text messages or wondering what the Korean on the drop-down banner read? Banner
The times she so quickly had to go to work or help her roommates or the clearly hand-painted, likely the child of the owners, fan displayed open above his table? Fan.
Maybe I just can’t physically focus on her or the past six months or my emotions or truth or anything. I kind of thing I’m in some kind of prolonged shock. Tomorrow morning, at three in the morning when Billy finally puts down his headset and goes to bed, I’ll realize everything is true. I thought I was going to love her, I thought she was going to love me. Six months is an awfully long time to pretend to have a forever.
Did I want a forever? I want hard vodka and a romcom.
I guess I was so focused on the delicate details of the fan (and my existence in the universe) that the mere voice popping up out of nowhere had me literally jumping out of my seat with a very embarrassing shriek. Instinctively, I twist around fast and unfortunately see a dude trying his hardest not to laugh -and his hardest not being much. In the corner of my eye, I can see the only other people, an older couple already seated for their meal when I bolted in, looking at me strangly.
“Shi-sorry, I don’t mean to scare you,” But the boy’s shoulders were still moving with silent laughter so I don’t bother taking the apology to heart, “My bad,” He smiled (smirked), “Are you waiting on someone?”
Fuck, why haven’t I realized before how so many people in my life toss around superficial apologies? Is this self-actualization? Is this the shitty lead-up to my own rom-com?
Hesitantly, I my head no.
“Okay, then,” He casually gestured a hand to point behind me, to the side of him, before leaning forward and talking again in a softer tone, “I’m just here to get an order. I absolutely understand that you’re just in here because it’s raining cats, dogs, and men out there but my mom and Halmeoni do not run this business of morals. Unfortunately, I need you to order something -anything, even a coke- or we’re going to have to ask you to politely leave.”
“Really?” I peered up at him with a lifted eyebrow but the boy didn’t budge.
It was hard to tell how old he was or even if he actually worked here other than him using a word I can’t comprehend and definitely came from the back seeing his lack of wetness. His raven hair was long enough for a majority of it into a little bun at the back of the crown of his head, with some small pieces having already fallen out onto his face. His skin was ungodly, like the kind Barkley and Phara -nope, just Barkley would kill for. Downturn eyes view me with no particular sense of pity or sympathy.
“Coke is a $1.99. If you order it, you can stay here until the electricity cuts out. I’ll even keep you company. Next person to come tell you won’t be as nice looking or nice in general like me.” This boy has to be playing me because he ends his little ‘warning’ with a small smirk and a shrug of his shoulders. Pale but defined collarbones peak out from his drooping shirt collar.
Why is this day so horrible? I just want to sleep and call someone -anyone.
“Are you…blackmailing me?”
The pounding of the consistent rain outside made ironic background music for this, yet again, an unprecedented situation of the day.
The boy leaned back up, shifting his shift further up his shoulder until the peak of skin is covered up again, “Technically, yes. But it’s not really my fault, it’s genetic. I’ll be back with your coke in a sec.”
I twist around in my seat to watch him disappear through the swinging door that separates the parlor from the kitchen. At this point, officially, I’m just stuck in a state of shock because I merely twist back around, jaw still a little loose, and stare at the rain again. It’s 4:30 in the afternoon but I’m so tired.
7:42 AM: Try not to cry in the locker room after working out because I don’t know if I can save my motivation to keep playing football like Dad expected me to.
8:09 AM: No more milk -fuck Billy.
9 AM – 3 PM: Flipping greasy, artificial burgers. Some with artificial cheese added on top.
3:15 PM: Ready to rant to Phara so she can agree, laugh, and peck my lips in comfort.
3:45 PM: Phara gives me big, sympathetic eyes as we sit nearly knee to knee on her burgundy couch as she tells me in person that she’s been cheating on me for the past three months; because ‘it’s only right that I see her face pity me that I’m just not good enough.
4:22 PM: I’ve walked and I’ve walked in some type of daze that I don’t notice the rain until it’s coming down painfully and I have no choice but to duck into a little Korean restaurant I’ve never seen in a part of town I’ve never seen.
4:35 PM: That boy with dimples adorning his smirk gives me the ultimatum of buying something to consume or possibly drown.
Again, I don’t hear him until he’s popping up right beside me. This time I don’t jump as much as the boy slides into the seat across from me with a cup of orange soda after placing a cup of coke and ice in front of me. Uncomfortable with a stranger sitting across from me with an expecting look, I pick up the cup and take a hesitant sip of the carbonated drink.
“You okay? You’re pretty spacey, I keep spooking you,” He sets his elbow on the table the rests his chin in his palm after tilting his head. Curious puppy dog eyes blink at me, the kind that seemingly fit his personality but not the response I could give, “It’s a little funny but…”
Still uncomfortable but unsure I could shake him away without knowing when I could leave the restaurant as a whole, I merely shrug, “Tired. If you work here, shouldn’t you wear an apron or something?” He looks down at his loose black t-shirt and jeans.
“The main reason waiters wear an apron is to keep their pad and pen in it. This place isn’t exactly the most bustling joint in town so I prefer to use my memory. And I do all sorts of jobs so I don’t really need an apron that bad. What have you been thinking so hard about?”
We’re playing twenty questions. I’m really playing twenty questions with my waiter. Fuck, I shouldn’t have woken up. Or maybe this whole day is the dream? Am I going insane?
“Hard day. Do you always sit and chat with your guests?”
He lets out an amused snort, his nose wrinkling in a way that makes him look more innocent than I know he probably is, “Are you kidding, my mom and Halmeoni -my grandma- would beat my ass with a frying pan. My sister’s in charge today and it’s not busy so I’m milking it. Besides, you’re one of the few customers my age and you look like you’ve got a lot on your mind. Am I bothering you?”
Despite how weird and awkward and unnerving and confusing this whole encounter has been, I hesitate with an answer. Technically, yes he’s bothering me. I don’t know his name, he’s already extorted me to buy a coke, and he’s interrupting my pity party. But, he’s also ‘nice’, distracting me to waste time until the rain stops, and he’s kind of amusing.
So I shrug again, murmuring, “I guess not,” around the rim of my cup.
He breaks out in a big grin, his dimples deepening, “Good! You look like you could have used the company anyway. I’m Daniel but I prefer Danny. My grandma owns this place,” He taps the table to emphasize what he was saying.