Sunday, June 21, 2009

The curse


He said he would call the next day. That was May 28th.

Of course he did not call.

If he'd called, Jill would have something else to do.

At first, she called him.

"Hey, Erik, it's Jill. Just calling to see how you're doing. Call me."

"Hey, Erik, Jill here. Maybe you lost my number -- oh wait, you have caller i.d. Well call me. You know you left your Coldplay t-shirt here, right?"

"Erik, it's Jill. I see some woman's leaving comments about a quote 'great night' on your MySpace page. So I'll assume you're not missing or in a hospital. You said you'd call. Remember. I still have your Coldplay t-shirt. Remember."

She never heard from him.

And not only did he ignore her voice mail messages, he refused to approve the comments she attempted to leave to his MySpace page. He was acting as if she didn't exist.

Jill existed.

As Erik would soon learn.

That's what she told everyone.

She figured it would get back to him. In fact, she knew it would.

Two days later, Erik pulled into a Citgo for a cola, came back out and saw he had a flat tire.

He'd run over shards of broken glass.

He changed the tire himself, cursing the whole time.

No sooner had he hopped in the car and got back on the freeway then he "gas" light came on. Speeding down the off ramp, he squealed to a stop at a pump and was in such a state and such a hurry, he misplaced his credit card after paying.

"I'm sure it's in my wallet, I'm sure it's in my wallet," he told himself as he got back on the freeway.

Rushing to a meeting, he bumped into a small kid with a cup of water which, naturally, landed right on his crotch.

He dashed into the men's room, even aimed the hand blower at his crotch, but could do nothing to remove the wet spot. Untucking his shirt, he went to meet his client and hoped he would look casual and not slobbish.

Of course, the card wasn't in his wallet. He used another to pay for the meal and tried not to show how dejected he was from the client's underwhelming reaction to his pitch.

Back at the office, he took a call and, deep in thought, chewed on a pen.

As he hung up, Troy approached laughing.

"You got ink all over your mouth!"

He did. He wiped it off and told Troy all about his day, about how nothing was working out.

"This Jill, you think she's a witch?"

"She's -- she's okay," he said still rubbing ink off his face. "She's humpable. Once."

"No, a witch. You think she could have put a hex on you?"

Troy was a Twilight freak, actually weaning off Twilight and slowly hitting Ann Rice. Erik did not take him seriously. No one did, which was why Erik kept getting promoted and Troy was still entry-level.

Erik went clubbing, putting it all of his mind, scored, bedded down and did the three a.m. crawl home.

"How's it going?" Troy aske and then seemed disappointed that nothing strange had happened for a few days.

"It'll come back. That's how it works. When you least suspect it and all."

Whistling, Troy sauntered off while Erik shook his head.

He was scratching later.

Scratching his crotch.

With no relief in sight.


He went to the pharmacy and bumped into an old girlfriend . . . with her new husband. Who made a point to declare loudly, as they walked away, that she sure dated some losers back in the day, especially public lice boy.

That attracted a lot of stares.

Troy laughed at the story the next day and suggested Erik just manscape the problem away: "Can't live where there's no hair."

Sounded easy enough but he didn't shave. He used a depilatory all around and all over his hangdown.

And he caked it on and left it on too long causing a nasty and severe burn.

He had to step very carefully when dressed and stayed nude and ice packed when at home.

Troy, of course, found the whole thing hilarious and telling.

"Told you that witch was just laying low."

And she was or had been.

Bit by bit, over the next week, one thing after another went wrong.

His car overheated and by the time he pulled over to the side of the road, he already had a busted engine head. He chipped a tooth on a spare rib. He caught a nasty cold and then the cough syrup in his laptop bag leaked, leaked through the bag, leaked onto his pants, high on the legs, and he didn't notice until people were pointing and wondering why his pee stains were orange? His apartment was broken into (grabbed the flat screen TV and the PC). His stylist used the wrong number clipper on the top of his head necessitating that he take his hair down to a severe flat top. And, despite having been pierced two years ago, his left nipple ring got infected. Tony shook his head throughout and frequently laughed. But it wasn't until the boss told him he had two weeks to shape up or else that Erik finally got worried.

"What I do?"

"Only thing you can do," Tony said. "Go find that witch and apologize. Ask her to take the hex off."

So he went in search of Jill and finally tracked her down twelve hours later at the Hemlock Tavern.

She looked over as he rushed up to her.

"Jill, I'm so sorry for any pain I caused you, I should have called you back and I regret not doing so," Erik babbled not stopping for breath in what ended up being a three minute stream of words which circled around a theme of apology.

Jill waived away a few men as she allowed Erik to submerse himself in his apology.

"So do you forgive me?" Erik asked coming up for air.

Jill shrugged, nodded and accepted a drink from the man sitting at the bar next to her.

Erik waited for something more but Jill appeared done with him.

"So do you forgive me?" asked Erik, his voice rising several octives with each word.

"Yeah, sure," Jill said looking at him over her shoulder before turning away from him.

"So you'll take off the curse?"

Jill spun around on her chair.

"What are you talking about?"

"The curse you put on me, the hex. You said I would learn that you 'existed,' I got the message. So take off your curse."

"I didn't put any curse on you! I joined the gym and lost 25 pounds, thank you very much. That was my revenge."

Shaking her head, Jill spun back around towards the bar.

Erik stood there puzzled for about thirty seconds.

Then it hit him.

He had created the 'hex'. He was the one behind the 'curse.'

Things had started going badly and he turned it into something worse. He probably invited the bulk of the troubles with his own fears.

"We are our worst enemies," he told himself as he hopped into his car.

And it was true, he told himself, the human mind was powerful enough to invest itself in any belief and to prod it along.

As he continued driving, he relaxed for the first time in weeks.

"You will run into the truck. You will run into the truck."

Before a burning, tapered candle, Troy repeated the chant.
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