The analogy I used to describe their difference in size was that of a titan to a pixie. Gathered around a table full of half-empty pitchers of beer and baskets of cheese fries, we’d joke about scenes of his cock splitting her in half; a massive elephant trunk punch to her reproductive system. I imagined she hung on to him like a bull rider; grasping mightily on the reigns — stuck in that desperate moment of holding on and falling off. When we asked them how they got along in bed, they blushed; and she said something like, “Oh you wouldn’t believe.” I think the rest of the women at the table secretly wished their men to be bigger or their vaginas to be smaller. “It is never about size,” said a woman at the table.
What occurred is this: they, the titan and the pixie, were spending a quiet, lazy Saturday morning in bed; playfully kissing and generally doing what two lovers do in a bed, on a quiet and lazy Saturday morning. He curled his arm behind her neck and placed his other hand on her thigh and in a quick jerk he tried to bring her on top of him. His effort broke her neck. As she lay astride his body, her eyes looked at him with confusion. Her heart rate slowed and she struggled to take a breath. He had heard hundreds of pop sounds from knees and legs to understand the sound he had just heard from her was a serious injury. He moved from under her and laid her gently on top of the bed. He began to cry and scream as he fell to his knees beside her. She was grasping for air as he enveloped her hand with his and beat the pillow beside her with his other. She died a minute later and he remained on his knees for hours; holding her hand and petting her head.
It was the 911 call, some hours later, which led the police to suspect foul play. It was a mess of thing to have to listen on the news. In his confused and saddened mental state, he drank the first unopened bottle of vodka he found; chugging it like a can of cheap beer on a Panama City Beach hotel balcony during Spring Break. He filled his stomach with half a dozen Percocets and drank some more. After this desperate moment he called 911 and incoherently tried to explain that he had just killed his wife. He never mentioned it was an accident. In his stage of grief he wanted to be punished, he wanted his own death. Accident or not, he was to blame and he hated himself.
The prosecutor filed charges of manslaughter, and they put together a case against a man; broken by years of football head injuries, affected by suspicion of her infidelity, emotionally conflicted by years of steroid abuse; and enraged in a brief lonely moment with her, by, possibly, something she said to him that pricked his jockboy ego; intending to be rough with her as payback, he broke her neck instead.
None of this were true, however. The Titan I knew was soft and good-hearted. Sure, he’d taken lumps during his football years. And sure, he’d taken enhancements to bulk up. But none of this contributed to her death. Nor was she ever engaged in an outside relationship. They loved one another dearly. While we made our sexual jokes about them, we also admired their insatiable commitment to one another. Personally, girlfriends came and went in my life. I could never get it right. When inevitably newly single, I would find myself sitting across from them in a restaurant booth, as they would explain to me what I had just done wrong. I took mental notes, creating, in a way, a Titan and Pixie guidebook to building a successful relationship.
I came to know him, the Titan, during my freshman year of college. We were randomly assigned roommates in Gucker Hall. He played football, but faced a red-shirt season due to the fact, as he was told, a surplus of availability at his position; offensive tackle. He accepted the red-shirt to mean he simply wasn’t good enough. This designation fueled him. That freshman year he bulked up. His commitment to the lift and to practice was akin to the zealously of the religious-wild. Stacks of supplement tubs and bottles crowded his desk. When I’d stumble through the door at late hours, he’d be sitting by lamp light reading the spiral-bound playbook. I rarely saw him through the week. On Sunday mornings, we shared breakfast in the dining hall, so he could listen to my drunken weekend stories. He vicariously lived the first-year college experience through me. I often embellished my stories to him as he would listen intently.
Against a frat house’s chipped paint concrete block wall I was engaged in a deep make-out with a girl I met just an hour or so before. She wore black knee-high stiletto boots, a silver mini-skirt and a loose silk blouse with a bralette underneath. She was thin, almost 70’s model chic, and wore dark red lipstick, which she continually applied. Her eye shadow streaked across like faded horizon storm clouds and her straight black hair pulled back and banged. We made out, desperately, like two lovers during an end of days bombing raid. It was sloppy and painful, yet neither of us stopped when our jaws ached. My hands rubbed all over her thin body, not wanting to stay in one place too long, and mostly, with nothing to grab on to. She kept one hand behind my head and the other moved across my chest, as if she thought it was bench-press chiseled. She repeated to me the phrase and question, “I like to be bad. Are you a bad boy?” After a few minutes I became annoyed at her repetition, and wanting to get her out of the frat house and into my dorm bed, I stopped making out and fondling her, put my hand on the fire alarm handle next to her head and pulled it. “Oh yeah, I’m bad,” I said to her. While none of the party-goers seemed to be hurried by the fire alarm, the girl lost her mind on me. She slapped my chest and called me a dumbass. She screamed at me that her father and uncle and brother and ex-boyfriend were all firefighters and that the innocent pull of a building’s fire alarm sends them all out to work unnecessarily and they risk their lives everyday so I can still have mine. She then went through the halls and pointed a finger at me to all the frat boy dicks that I was the one that pulled the fire alarm and I should get rightfully pummeled for my action. In the next moment I was running out the front door, chased by angry frat boys wielding wooden paddles and broom sticks. I was sure they would trip over each other’s leather boat shoe tassels and cry out when their knit pastel polos fell spotted with grass stains. I hid in the dumpster of a neighboring sorority house. I sat on bags full of the mostly soft, sometimes sharp and all soiled waste basket collections a mansion full of college-age girls produce in a trash cycle’s time. My feet kicked up a sack of used pregnancy tests. I felt sorry for the girl that needed ten or so tries to get it right. I hoped she was having the baby.
The Titan laughed with a mouthful of scrambled eggs and toast that squeezed the inside of his blonde-stubble cheeks.
He laughed often. I could never determine if he found true humor in the instances that brought forth his rollicking, sometimes taunting cadence of laughter; or that he had just been sequestered as a farm-boy for so long that all the new-fangled jokes, anecdotes and instances he heard and witnessed, were just so dang ponderous and silly that he couldn’t help but laugh at the suburban slickers’ folly. Regardless, I found him to be a great audience for my own bumbling diatribes and freshman experiences. I had never met an actual knee-slapper before him.
Atop is big round head, he kept his straight blonde hair buzzed. Forever buzzed, I was quite sure he’d never had any other style of haircut. Both practical and frugal, it was a hallmark of farm-owner parents. Forget the frills, just buzz your damn head and get out there and work. He often covered it with a camouflage ballcap. He wore t-shirts and hoodies year-round. He owned one dress shirt and tie that fit him like a smaller brother’s hand-me-down. While he was a large human, much larger than me, he still carried along an adolescent chubbiness; the result of years of hearty family dinners combined with coaches’ wives-made meals and snacks; subconsciously persuading him to add girth so as to anchor another successful run for state. And combine that with an unheralded ability to consume entire large pizzas (he shied away from vegetable toppings, so I knew if I ordered delivery with any combination of vegetables, he would order a pizza to himself and I would not have to ration my pieces) and the Titan ate himself into a scholarship.
By the start of sophomore year he measured to the proportions of a competitive player. The country-boy paunch was gone and in its place rope tight fibers of a man ready to push and pull a hundred other men just like him. Toe to toe, helmet to helmet, doggedly loyal to the play until the whistle signal stopped the action like a cry of surrender from the enemy general. Football is the nearest resemblance to a series of ancient battle maneuvers as we may see in modern life and he was as ready as he had ever been. He cut the sleeves off his t-shirts.
While he ran with other football players, linemen mostly, and I ran with my fraternity brothers, we remained good friends. We met up for battles of video games, fast food dinners; he showed me how to squat with more than an empty barbell. I showed him how to shotgun a can of light domestic beer. When he found the time to get out of the gym and into a bar, he joined me.
On a Wednesday in March, we went to the quarter beer night dump of a bar to get a head-start on the forthcoming week of Spring Break. He was in a celebratory mood, as he finally found time to revel in the finish to the season as the starting left tackle. He was garnering professional buzz. People he’d never met were telling him what he needed to do with his future and greeting him with envelopes; which he politely declined. He met a local steakhouse owner, who told him that he could he eat for free anytime he wanted if he simply explained to the manager that the steak was over-cooked. “Steaks get over-cooked. It happens. And it has for about thirty years.” The Titan did not decline his offer. He ate steak dinners once a week.
At the bar, and though he was in a good mood, he remained subdued as we stood in a circle among a mix of our friends; each not knowing the other well enough to be jovial; all with both hands holding little plastic cups of beer; and drinking from them mightily and often to quell the awkward, unfamiliar air of the circle. All around us kids milled about and moved through the bar, everyone catching glances of the opposite sex, seeking perhaps a chance night-time encounter after their eyes meet. An energy fogged over the bar; the excitement swirling with the hopes of trips to Fort Myers, Panama City Beach, Punta Cana, Cancun and all places beachy and south. The Titan and I were both headed to PCB with the group of friends that stood in the quiet circle. As the Titan and I talked, trying to pry conversation among them, his gaze diverted to a spritely shot girl making her rounds among the cheap beer chugging guests. She attempted to cajole them into little beaker shots of colorful liquors. Red-headed sluts, black Jaeger bombs, green and red wounded turtles, amber buttery crowns and green Washington apples. She held them in a plastic rack above her shoulder like a supper club desert waitress tempting diners with thick layered cakes, chilled custard pies and various coco sugar dusted confectionaries. I never told him, or anyone, that I saw the moment when they locked eyes. Time stopped in that moment for them. That millisecond moment when two subconscious decisions are made in regards to their future together. It would take a million seconds of conscious decisions to become the truth, but the foundation began, right there in that wet-floored campus dive bar, as she carried her plastic rack of cheap shots confidently and slightly seductively toward the Titan and our awkward circle.
She wore short jean shorts, a pink bar t-shirt with the logo in the upper left corner and the slogan on the back; “Need a shot? Atta girl.” (A blue version read, “Need a shot? Atta boy.”) She had the shirt, a couple sizes too large, pulled into a knot just below her rib cage. A belly button ring adorned her stomach. I wasn’t sure if he had ever seen a girl with the piercing. Abruptly, before she could introduce herself and her wonderful, colorful rack of liquor, he dumbly stuck his stubby forefinger into her belly button. King Kong squeezing Faye into oblivion. She reeled back a bit, sucking in her stomach to reveal lightly toned abdominals. A playful look of confusion stretched across her face.
He said, “That hurt?”
“Yes!” She exclaimed. “I don’t think you know your own strength. I’m a little girl, you’ll have to be gentle. You can’t just go poking me.”
Finally, our circle came to agreement in resounding laughter at her remark.
His pale face reddened and in an instant wrought with the frustration of misinterpretation, then sprang into sudden good humor as their eyes remained locked and smiles broke across their faces.
“Can I put you in my pocket and take you home?” he said with big-man cockiness.
I bowed my shaking head, thinking what could have been so great for him had just ended with a piss-poor (and literal) pickup line.
“If you want to take me home,” she said after popping a small bubble of gum, “you have to get me off the clock. I’m not off the clock until I sell all of these shots.” She made a sweeping movement with the shots to him, like they were her lustful hips moving away from him and to the dancefloor. She might have made the same movement with her hips, I can’t be sure, as I became stupefied that the moment remained alive.
“How much?” asked the Titan.
Whatever followed that night between them will forever remain a locked memory. The moments shared by two people newly in love are their memories only. No one gets a peek. He never told me what unfolded, and I never asked–aside from the initial prods of sexual conquest. He politely declined to inform me about much of anything that happened after they left the bar together much earlier than any of us did. He would simply say, “It was a great night. Best of my life.”
The following week, we again found ourselves in a circle; this time on a beach, passing a beer bong among us, the awkwardness all but vanished away with sunny drunkenness. A bikini-clad girl from Ferris State jumped into his arms like a scene out of a modern Beach Blanket Bingo. He could have escaped with her in his arms to his room, or hers, or any number of the throngs of lust-hungry, relaxed women who over-populated in flip-flops and airbrushed t-shirts the drab little vacation city. Women and men begged, silently, overtly and all other ways for hook-ups with each other. One day strangers, the next day nude partners. The Titan turned away all advances with a polite hand. He deferred to his phone and calls with last-week’s shot girl, as I often referred to her then. He declined to engage in the drunken debauches we all found for ourselves. He opted for day games of volleyball, shuffleboard and bags. Night trips to beachside bars, where he continued moderate consumption and not-single wingman availability for myself and others. In a moment of frustration I yelled at him for being staunchly conservative with his Spring Break; partly upset he would not return to a Holiday Inn room with the friend of an Ohio State girl I had been smoothing; partly for realizing he may have found a woman he will spend the rest of his adult life with and thusly will continue his college streak of not having as much fun, seemingly, as I or anyone else.
“You are in college, big man. You need to let loose a little. You just spent the past year busting ass to get yourself into a position of quality playing time on the field. Now you are in a position to have some quality playing time on this field. Look at the poon tang that surrounds you. Look at the revelry. No one judges you for this. This is the time you are allowed in life to make frivolous memories with frivolous girls. You will never see any of them again.”
“It’s risky, little man. I’d rather not see any of them show up at my doorstep nine months later.”
“You’re a stubborn dickhead.”
He punched me in the shoulder so hard it made my hand go numb well into the night. I did not go to the Holiday Inn room with the buckeye girl, but left in a fireman’s carry across his broad shoulders, after I refused to leave the bar for putting my crotch into the butt of a waitress; attempting, possibly, to dry hump my way into free drinks and a story to tell tomorrow of a local lay. Instead, I woke up underneath the patio furniture outside our hotel room. I was covered in a hotel blanket. Big Man was sitting above me, talking on his phone.
“Yeah, he decided to sleep outside. I threw a blanket on him.” I could hear her high pitched-voice through the phone. He laughed in a way I had not yet heard. I was slightly jealous I hadn’t gotten a laugh out of him like that. I looked up through burning sunlight and the slits of the vinyl outdoor chairs to see him blushing. Inebriated slumber often leads to brief, stunning, waking moments of clarity. Cars and busses merging into the same lane to form a bright shining convoy of an A-ha realization. I had an A-ha there beneath the patio furniture, staring up at him with squinted eyes. The man was madly in love. He could not be stopped.
Junior year we went on a double date. I had found a girl; a drink- crazed, good-time, dark-haired, half-Jewess from Winnetka. I met her in a Greek skit show. She sang like a little Cher; with marvelously small-lunged power vocals. I pined for the skit to feature her in black leather chaps and fishnets; to find some use for her to hold a French-tickler crop. (A fantasy she readily obliged in private. I punch walls now in mad envy of whomever she has partnered or married.) I often sang horribly to her re-mixed David Gates lyrics; “because the shots you do my good-time girl, will bring me drunk to you.”
We went to the steakhouse the Titan often frequented for his free meals of “over-cooked” Porterhouses, creamed horseradish potatoes and grilled asparagus.
I commended him for not wearing a ballcap. He wore a university polo; the ribbed short sleeves squeezed mightily against his mid arm muscles. A simple silver cross hung from his neck in between the buttons of the polo. His buzz cut was fresh and he smelled of Acqua de Gio; which was new for him. Freshman year if he bothered to smell of anything it was Arm & Hammer. I realized in this moment – as we took our seats and he pulled the chair out for her to sit down in, and I merely looked over and nodded to my date – that although we were peers, friends close in age and generational experiences, he had greatly surpassed me in the growth into manhood. In that moment I looked up to him, the way I might if I had an older brother. He was lean. He was happy. He worked hard. His girlfriend was a knockout. He had all that I thought that I also wanted.
She had an air of confidence about her. It was as if she knew something we all did not. Her face rested in a dimpling smile. She wore a pleated skirt that night, and I watched it bounce along with her steps. It reminded me of a golfing Tinkerbell.
It was during this dinner that I adorned her with the Pixie moniker. She was unaware, at the time, that I had given her the nickname. My nicknames typically went ungiven. They existed for me as a mental Rolodex to file away for the people I met. My date for the evening was the Winnetka Wonderwoman.
I chide myself now, for not keeping count of the number of times the Titan and the Pixie looked at one another and smiled or laughed. The number of times she placed her hand softly on his wrist; the number of times he leaned over to her, draping his hulking arm behind her and whispering into her ear, creating within her abrupt miniature eruptions of giggles and reddening cheeks. She had a way of pulling her lips inward, attempting an effort of polite resistance to the eventual brief bursts of silly laughter.
“What have you got him on?” I asked her.
“Well I don’t know,” she responded with a perked eyebrow. “Hasn’t he always been like this?”
I thought then of our year as dorm-mates and couldn’t remember a moment of his interactions with a girl.
“To be honest,” I said before I finished a glass, with an uncouth gulp, of Syrah the Wonderwoman had picked out, “I’ve never seen him with another girl. The strongest relationship I’ve witnessed was with his tubs of workout powders. And the playbook. I think Z seventy-two Nebraska Royal was his last crush.”
He gave me a censuring eye, before relenting and conceding the mild barb.
“She was on three.” He said quietly and looked at the Pixie. She burst into little giggles again. The Wonderwoman gave me a subtle eye roll and drank her glass of Syrah in a feign attempt at liquid suffocation.
After dinner, we all went for drinks. It was an adult thing to do. We went to a graduate student bar; one known for table-full conversations of epicurean topics. Rather than the typical place where the clamor of students yearning to be seen and drunk was only slightly over-whelmed by the volume of the jukebox’s playlist of sing-a-long songs. We sat a high-top table near the bar. We started with individually ordered cocktails, except for the Titan, who ordered a Bud Light. The Winnetka Wonderwoman ordered a whiskey sour and a round of Royal Flush shots. Since the end of dinner she had been gripping my arm tightly, unevenly, yearning for shots of liquor.
We talked of football, class and summer plans. They held hands nearly the entire time, letting the hold rest upon the top of the table. I could see the Wonderwoman stare at it, like an obscene bloated tumor. She could talk with her eyes, the Wonderwoman, they were large round globes of discern. I often understood her eyes’ language as saying; “What is with that?” and “I want another drink.” I saw her eyes stare at their hands and suddenly felt a tinge of embarrassment.
“What will you be doing this summer?” I asked the Pixie.
“I have an internship in Chicago. It’s with a marketing company. I’m looking forward to it. Chicago is really quite lovely in the summer.”
“Yes it is,” the Wonderwoman quickly agreed. “Where will you be living?”
“I’m not sure. The company is downtown. I think the apartment is north.”
“Oh Chicago in the summer is good time. Trust me. They will be tons of people to meet. And bars and grills outs. I’m excited for you.” She turned to the Titan, “You’ll have to keep an eye on her. So many guys running around in Chicago in the summer from all over.”
He blushed and made a chesty laugh. “I’m not worried about them.”
“That’s what the guy I was dating last year said!” She blurted out and looked over at me. “But let me tell you, I was in Chicago last summer-”
“You’re from Chicago.” I said. “You’re always in there.”
Her eyes told me to be quiet. “Yes, but I was twenty-one last summer and I wasn’t staying with my parents.”
“You lived with you sister.”
She squeezed my hand. “Anyways, I met a guy from Spain,” she emphasized the word Spain like it was some far-off place of exotic grandeur. “And we did the city all over. Ha! In more ways than I can tell you.” She finished her statement with a finishing gulp of her whiskey sour and left the table to order another.
The Titan and the Pixie both looked at me with concern.
“Well, she seems like a lot of fun.” The Pixie said.
I laughed. “Yeah, I guess.”
“I know you are not looking for anything serious with her or any of these girls, but don’t get yourself so far in that you have a hard time getting out.” The Titan nodded along.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“You have a way of..” she began.
“…You have a way of getting more involved with the women you date, than you should be.” The Titan finished
I laughed again. “I can’t help myself.”
The Pixie’s eyes were focused on the Wonderwoman, who stood at the bar with her hand on a man’s shoulder. They put back the shots he had bought her.
“She certainly likes to drink.” The Pixie trailed off as the Wonderwoman walked back to our table. She had a look of glee on her face.
The Wonderwoman lived a few blocks from the strip of bars, where we had finished out the night. The Titan and the Pixie had gone home after the graduate bar, as they had a movie night planned. One of her choosing; One Fine Day; and one of his; Remember the Titans. They gave big hugs before they left.
On the walk back to her place, we were staggeringly drunk. We leaned against one another with arms wrapped around each other’s waist. We recollected the hours past with stammering laughter and slurred words. “Your friends suck,” she blurted. “They – they love each other too, too much. It sucks. Makes me want to vomit!”
“I think it is awesome.”
“I don’t. Makes me sick! Oh lets show everyone how much in love we are! Oh let’s hold hands the entire time! Oh let’s look into each other’s eyes and… barf! They fucking suck!”
I let go of her and she fell to the sidewalk.
“What the shit?” She screamed.
“I’m sorry,” I said as I reached down to help her up. “I didn’t know you would fall.”
“What the shit!” She screamed again. She smacked by hands away. “You knew! You knew! You fucking looooveee your friends so much, you hurt me!”
“I didn’t, I didn’t know…”
“Fuck you, mister. You can take your friends and shove them up your ass! Leaving me here on the sidewalk. That really fucking hurt.”
I stood for a moment, swaying in the lamplight, my shadow moving around her as she struggled to get to her feet alone.
“Don’t help me. Don’t touch me. Don’t come near me again.” She stood finally and pushed me; and I fell from the curb into the street and on my ass.
“Ha!” she cried. “Serves you right!”
I rolled to my side and watched her walk away. She took her heels off and let them dangle in her hand. Her steps were deliberate and pouted. Like a child rebuffed of a want. I pulled myself over to the curb, beneath a car’s front bumper. I rested my arms on the curb and head on my arms. I woke up a few hours later as the sun rose.
During his senior year, the Titan pancaked Michigan’s star defensive tackle four times. Nobody got past him. Big number 78 blocked his way into the All-Conference’s Second Team. And when he was drafted into the pros I rejoiced that he had made it so far. I was eager to sit down on Sundays and watch someone I actually knew; not just a number and a name on the back of a jersey. He gave me a vested interest. I had insider information to unveil to all the bar-top sports fan bullshitters. Football was the nation’s athletic unifier/divider and I had a friend up there blasting through high resolution television screens, getting his name called through a million household living rooms. It made me feel more American. The audience that watched him stand up a defender, miss a block or get flagged for holding didn’t see the history of the man’s life; moments I shared. They didn’t see the man himself; only what he did within the frame of a camera. For most, he was simply a man to curse out if he performed poorly. “Who is that guy? Number 78?”
In the middle of his six year career as a professional footballer, he lived and worked in San Diego. They married there during an off season. A beach-side wedding, San Diego had been a top destination for their wedding before he had ever considered signing his brief contract. They put down a deposit on the location years before. I remember the Titan informing me in a text message: “We had to make a reservation for a wedding there in two years. Party of 300 please. Beach side table.”
I was delighted to be asked to usher. I was allowed a plus one. My girlfriend, nicknamed Baby Charley, of four months and already moved in, caught the invitation from the mailbox before I could. I had an elaborate lie in place as to why I was not allowed a plus one. “The wedding is a small affair. Close friends and family. They are a frugal people. The wedding party, unless married, isn’t allowed a plus one. I’m sorry I already asked them if I could bring you, but the head count was set years ago when they made the reservation.” A bad lie, I knew, regardless the lie was extinguished when I came home to an excited Baby Charley with the golden card-stock invitation in her hand and the thought of attending a big beautiful beach side wedding fizzing around in her mind like a champagne-drunk daydream. “Yes.” I said with subdued excitement. “We’re going to San Diego this summer. Yay.”
Baby Charley, an apt sobriquet I thought, for her given name was in fact Charley. Baby, came for a few reasons. During the first few weeks of our modern courtship — trips to standing-room only taco and tequila joints; late night whiskey and chicken bars; cheese fries and craft beer corner-store cozies; late Sunday morning mimosa flutes and eggs benny farm to table brunch spots; selfies all along the way; couch cuddling amidst hours-long T.V. show marathons — I was mad for her. I called her baby every day. To her unblemished pale twenty-something face; to her stone-blue eyes; to the remarkable statue of a female figure draped with wild blonde hair that walked away from me to the shower, to work, to home, to the store, forever onward baby, I will follow you! I wanted it ingrained within her spirit that she was my baby in all ways considered. “Yes, baby.” “Anything for you, baby.” “Do you like that, baby?”
This senseless adoration wore off rather quickly. When she moved in with me during the third month, I discovered her deep need to conceive. In a moment of post-coitus exhausted honesty, she confided to me, that for the greater part of her life, all she has ever wanted was to have children. Multiple. She asked me what I thought about her dream, I replied, “Kids are jerks. They will just be adults one day. You won’t be having children. You will be having future adults. Adults are mostly assholes.”
Baby Charley was also prone to tantrums. If I, or the world, or whatever forces existed that provided people with the granting of silly material wants did not provide her with her wants, something was thrown, broken, slammed on a counter and vehement cursing preceded the inevitable phone call to her parents. The want arrived shortly after.
My remembrances of their wedding are an altogether separate piece of exaggerated drunken details. I kept myself highly lubricated. Beginning with miniature bottles of Jameson in my carry-on for the flight west; to the bottles of wine at the rehearsal dinner and the numerous shots and bottles of beer during the final unmarried night out the Titan took with us in the Gaslight district; to the myriad toasts of Champagne and the open bar pillage of the reception; and finally to the two Bloody Mary’s on the flight home, both drank and held to my forehead like a cold compress in an attempt to quell the riotous hangover and disbelief that Baby Charley abruptly left me for the taught, pumping flesh of a professional tailback – whom I discovered in the ladies room, behind her.
I left the ladies room in a daze. Although I had yearned to be free of her, becoming an unmarried cuckold was a devastating end. After a double order at the bar, I found the Titan and the Pixie standing together in the reception tent. They were taking handshakes and hugs from guests. I interrupted a conversation to tell them the news.
“Baby Charley is banging the Fucking Tailback in the bathroom.”
“Right now?” She asked, with a curious look to me and then in the direction of the ladies room.
“Yes. Right now. I went to find her and she was in there and he was behind her. His bare ass was pumping away. She liked it. I don’t know if they saw me. I left.” I buried my face in the black silk lapel of his white tuxedo. I cried. He patted me on the back of the head. She came over and hugged me off of him.
“I told you not to bring her.” He said reproachfully. “You said you wanted it to end, that you couldn’t be with her anymore and I said don’t bring her here. It won’t end well.”
“I know, I know,” I said through dumb sobs. “She found the invitation, I couldn’t lie.”
“Aww,” The Pixie said to me, letting go of the hug. She put her hands on my shoulders and looked me in the eyes. “You have to be free of the idea that you need someone else to make you happy. You have to find happiness within yourself first, dear. Stop saying ‘I love you’ to women that don’t love you.”
“How do you do it?” I asked though a sniffle. “How do you two make it look so easy?”
“There’s no one word or way that sums us up.” The Titan said. “It’s a lot of words and ways.”
“Stop searching for it,” she said. “Let go of it and it will come to you.” Her eyes pierced mine. I could hardly look at her. “And try not to make a scene. This is our wedding.”
“Yeah,” he followed. “Too many dudes here can hurt you. I will talk to him, let him know what he did. Try to have some fun, though. There are enough single woman here for you to get over her.”
“That’s not what we want him to do,” she said to him.
“Well, I don’t know…” he replied.
I felt, briefly, I was in the company of my parents.
“Stop drinking,” she said, taking the double glass from my hand. “Get over yourself and move on.” It was as stern a command as she had ever given. I was upright like a private in formation.
“Yes ma’am.” I said.
Another couple walked over to congratulate them and they were whisked away from me. I stood in sorrow. The Pixie had left my glass on a table and I picked it up, drank it down and walked back to the bar.
As the wedding reception came to an end, we were all instructed to gather in a large swath of smooth grass beyond the reception tent and near the beach. It was late afternoon. The sun fell in scarlet and amber hues across the horizon. Ships, distant and near, floated along like toy blocks in a calm-watered bathtub. All unaware – the ships, the captains, the deckhands, the troll of tuna flailing net-caught and hopeless – of the individual moments collectively creating memories within the land-bound rented reception tent for the Titan and the Pixie’s wedding.
A helicopter sat in the patch of grass, encircled by chrome posts of red rope. The helicopter’s landing skids were adorned with “just married” streamers, the windows painted with the same along with initials and cupid hearts. The Titan had been taking pilot lessons and as the jazz band began a rendition of Always Be My Baby, the Titan and the Pixie exited the reception, wearing matching bedazzled WIFE and HUSBAND headsets. As the band’s singer, a broad-hipped middle-aged Latina, began to calmly sing the verses, I stood alone and cried. Baby Charley and the Fucking Tailback stood near the bar. They laughed, they touched and it made me sick. The moment was greater than me, however. My pathetic dalliances with love were mere pebbles to the granite block of the love-bond unionized and celebrated in the moment I was invited to attend. I began to clap as the tears poured from my eyes. I cheered wildly like a fanatic in the stands. The other attendees looked pitifully at me, as they caught sideways glances at my sad/joy ruffled mien. Nonetheless, they joined in with me and we created cheers worthy of a game winning touchdown celebration.
I was relieved to see the rotors begin after they waved and boarded. Buckled securely into their seats. The thought of the helicopter’s blades de-limbing or beheading them gave me great grief, and I vomited on my shoes. I carried on my cheering despite the mess.
The wind rush of the helicopter’s exit, blew away cocktail napkins and upturned the tails of the men’s sport coats as they watched the women fight against the bottom of their dresses. The chivalrous ones tried to help and hide their women against the eyes of all the stags, like me, attempting to find the last one remaining for a party-concluding romp in the bathroom, hotel room, wherever two drunk, joy-exposed spirits can combine and embrace their bodily expressions. To be crudely frank, I was simply hoping for a bj in the port-a-potty of the construction site across the street.
As the night began to hide from us the daylight experiences of glee and toasts and tears and cheers and provided for us a new starting point for experiences altogether separate and undoubtedly darker, more sinister than before, as that is the way the nighttime likes it, I sat on the curb of the reception building and smoked a Camel Wide. I watched the jazz band pack up their van with the encased instruments and bits of gear. The Latina singer came forth draped in a silk shawl, her hips held by a red-sequined dress. She walked in worn tan espadrilles while she let her performance heels dangle from her hand like a favorite, but fading toy. She bristled against a brisk Santa Ana wind.
“You sing like an angel,” I blurted out to her.
“Gracias,” she replied. I could see her eyes regard me with pity. “Why are you out here alone?”
“I don’t know. I’m a creep I guess. My date, my girlfriend,” I said with finger quotes, “banged the Tailback in the bathroom. I saw them.”
She emitted a low, pitiful “Aww.”
“Now, Latina angel, I am too drunk to arouse any single lady left on the dance floor.”
“Do you have one of those for me?” She asked.
I gave her one, as she sat down on the curb next to me. She wrapped the silk scarf around my hand as I tried against the wind to light her cigarette. She took a light initial puff, exhaling in thin streams through elegant nostrils.
“You are not a creep, gringo. You look pathetic. No woman wants to go to bed with a pathetic man.”
“Ah,” I gasped. “I know. I can’t help it.”
“Yes you can, gringo. You stand up and wipe yourself off. You face the world, you look in the face of all the cheating women of the Earth and tell them that you are no clown. You are tall, you are strong. To hell with them gringo.”
“Wow. You are ferocious, Latina Angel.”
“I have been like you before. And I can tell you, it is no place to be.”
“You are right. Would you like to go over to that port-a-potty across the street there, and give me a bj? I have cash.”
She smacked me hard across the face. Spitting Spanish curses at me, before the trumpet played stood me up, just to shove me down, and repeated this until I was in the street among the passing cars, the swerving headlights and horns. I looked down at my vomit-stained wing-tips and walked away into the night. It gave me a great sense of comfort and fearlessness to know that the Titan and the Pixie had been whirled away to a destination of continued gaiety and love. That their story-line continues upward, without climax or end. I smiled to the sparse stars I could see. I put my hands in the air in phony victorious praise, as the cars continued to swerve and honk around me.
If the Titan and the Pixie knew that my outcome to their wedding was of such a sorry result, they surely would not have invited me. Rather, told me to stay home and take care of myself, while they would have had the entirety of the event recorded; even saving a bit of the cake. They were the best of us, as the saying goes, the ones we all look to for hope, for compassion; for the love lost on others is returned by them. I loved them dearly.
He plead not guilty, I assume, under the duress of his legal counsel and family. I knew, however, he wanted to accept the penalty; to bear the burden of his clumsy, reckless size. He had accidentally killed the love of his life and he didn’t see a justification for a non-admittance.
I was eager for the opportunity to let the jury know this as well. But I was never given the chance. His defense team had assembled a cadre of gentlemen for character witnesses. All with much better, more established reputations than myself. I was told that a jury simply would not take me seriously.
I sat in the gallery on the opening day of the trial. An old man reporter sat next to me. His bald, spotted head was flanked by a half circle of patchy unkempt white hair. He wrote furious shorthand in a pocket notebook; licking the tips of his thumb and forefinger before madly flipping the pages to fill with more ink smeared scribbles. I wondered when finished if he had to run to the wire and dictate it all to the office; and why he wasn’t using an electronic device, and briefly if I had been transplanted back in time. That would have been nice. I would have much preferred to travel back in time; perhaps I could wait until the moment right before the Titan killed the Pixie. I would have sprang from the closet or bath or laddered to the bedroom window and stopped him from that fateful movement. “Take it easy, big man!” I would yell. “Remember, she is a little girl.”
When the prosecutor stood to begin his opening statements, an anger quelled over the room. Hissing, tapping, tongue-clicking, the sound of sneering brow lines and jawbones cracked and creased. He swayed just a little bit as he stood; like a bashful, smiling snake from the hole, just before he attempts to swallow alive an entire family of peaceful mice. I hated him. With his thinning black hair slicked back and a pinstripe suite one size too big, he looked to me like a man just off the used-Audi sales lot.
As he talked, I struggled to listen. His words morphed together into one long soliloquy of gibberish; an actor’s phony plea to a disbelieving audience that this man was in fact a killer and should be punished as such. That all the years of football and charitable work didn’t measure up to a hill of beans when a murderer he is considered.
“Here is a man,” the prosecutor blabbered on, “out of the league now almost a year. He is facing pressure to return to his fading career and the paychecks they so desperately need as the medical bills, the mortgage and the car payments pile up. He is facing pressure to conceive a child, as they continue to see fertility doctor after fertility doctor. He has visited neuro-specialists, therapists and was a regular at a local gun club. His dead wife told a group of friends over dinner shortly before her barbaric death that the gun club was his ‘stress release.’ Who feels that kind of stress? He was going there three, sometimes four times a week. Shooting shotguns, and rifles, and handguns of all sorts. He would post on social media a picture with a “hand cannon” with the line “need this at home.” Why would he need a so-called hand cannon at home? He has been quoted on a sport radio program, here a local one, we will play you the audio later, that he quote, ‘has a hard time remembering where he put his keys, his wallet, and sometimes forgets what day of the week it is.’ Now, this happens to all of us from time to time. Who hasn’t misplaced one of these items, or even have to be gently reminded by a coworker or a loved one that it is indeed only Thursday, and gosh dangit it’s not Friday. But then the defendant would later go on to tell a story about an argument with his dear, lovely wife that resulted in a recliner going through a window after she informed him that she had found his keys, where he had left them on the dining room table. You ever thrown a piece of furniture through a window, when the person you love finds your keys? That is not the action of a man incapable of murder. That is not the action of a man, as the defense will tell you, so drenched in love that he would not harm a pretty little hair on her pretty little head. No. It is the actions of a man, prone to violent outbursts –”
As the prosecutor spoke, I realized I wasn’t aware of any of the events he mentioned. I had not spoken to them much since their wedding. I felt lost, sitting there in the gallery. I questioned my own whereabouts and actions for the past half-decade. And why I wasn’t there for them. Maybe I could have eased the great burden he was under with my intoxicated form of life comedy. The prosecutor had cast doubt on my staunchly uplifting perspective of the Titan. I hated him for it.
“This man, plainly stated, is quite a large man. A mountain of a man. A bull. A giant. This was a tiny flower of a little girl. A pixie to a–“
“Hey!” I stood and yelled. I was drunk. At the time, I filled empty bottles of water with vodka and carried them with me throughout the day. I preferred Fiji bottles, as I figured no one would question the type of person who drinks Fiji water to be a daytime alcoholic. That day, I was already through three bottles. I found a silent courtroom with eyes pointed at me, as I remained standing, unsure of what to say or do next. I met the Titan’s eyes. There was an over-riding sense of calm in them. Amber-iris still. Without words they commanded me to sit back down, shut-up and that the ever-lasting sorrow held within them was more painful than anything I would know. I apologized and sat down.
“Remove him please,” the judge commanded.
While I was removed from the courtroom, I was not removed from the building. The courtroom officer, in a heavily starched and ill-fitting uniform escorted me by the upper arm to the elevator, where I was left to exit on my own. On the next floor I found a bathroom and retreated into a stall. I got sick. Vodka and Gatorade had been the entirety of my diet for a couple days. I felt suddenly that if I were to die that day, my stomach cut open and examined by the coroner, the stomach contents of Vodka, bile and Gatorade would be noted on the report. I would die without even giving myself a proper meal. I wondered what sort of breakfast the Pixie ate before she died. Granola atop Greek yogurt with raw honey and berries, probably. She ate healthy. They had hummus dips and cauliflower crust pizzas at the wedding reception dinner. The thought of the reception dinner induced another round of heaves. I let sob-less tears mix with the vomit in the toilet bowl before flushing.
The old man reporter was washing his hands and combing the bit of ridiculous wild grey hairs when I exited the stall.
“Had a little too much to drink today, have you?”
“Bah.” I said to him. “No more than yesterday.”
“Hehe,” He laughed. “Been there.” He looked at me in the mirror like he had something urgent to ask. I cupped my hands for water and buried my face into it.
“Tell me something,” he asked. “Do you think he did it on purpose?”
“Absolutely fucking not,” I said, raising my dripping face. I gave him the meanest look I could muster.
“What makes you so sure?” He asked, unfazed by my snarl.
I looked at him in the mirror, as he turned to face me. Soberness eased into me for a response.
“I’ve never been so sure of anything before in my life. I believe in them. Still do, actually. Despite it all. Those two, I call them the Titan and the Pixie, are the best two lovers I’ll ever meet. You ever meet someone who inspires you? Motivates you to achieve a little more out of your life than you were originally planning? Someone who makes you want to find the best parts of yourself, and go out and make those parts flourish in the world? As long as I knew that the Titan and the Pixie were out there, basking in the glow of each other’s affection, loving, living a life in each other’s company, then I was ok with my own life. They gave me comfort. Hope for the future. Mine. Humanity’s.”
“That’s a pretty lofty regards for a couple. Which one were you in love with?” He asked, with a snicker.
“Listen, old man, I was in love with them both. Take that as you want. I didn’t want to make love with them or to them, I was simply in love with their…being. The presences of ‘they’. Together forever. You know, you ask some pretty shitty questions, journalist. Why do you take notes the old fashioned way, anyhow?”
The old man laughed. He looked in the mirror and smoothed his dumb fucking hair again.
“Sometimes,” he said as turned to leave, “you can’t turn away from the things you love, no matter how painful it is to move on.”
He exited as the drunkenness returned and I yelled, “Oh shut the fuck up, with your worn-out wisdom. Old man journalist.”
I left the restroom and flipped my white undershirt over the maroon Henley I wore. It was a cheap incognito attempt to get back into the courtroom. However, when I saw the double doors of the courtroom, I tightened up and found an empty chair in the hallway.
As the last few members of the gallery entered the courtroom, I glanced inside to give myself a visual of the room, and perhaps to see how the Titan was holding up. I questioned my intoxication when I saw a makeshift bed by the jury box.
From the outside of the room, I could hear the trial begin and move through the paces in muffled voices and murmurs. I closed my eyes and imagined the movements; synchronized and rehearsed like a Greek tragedy. The Prosecutor – the villain. The Titan – the hero. Piqued in epic verbal battle until the moment they meet and draw swords. All other members; the defense team, judge, jury and bailiff sat in quizzical silence until it was time for their blocking movements and delivery of lines. I felt a great sense of shame. I was drunk and weak, perhaps the Titan’s biggest champion and there I sat, outside the courtroom. Banished from the Hero’s most important scene.
I leaned forward with my hands between my knees. I felt another surge of sickness, but held it back with will and a belch. From what I could discern from the tone of the muffled voices, the trial had taken a turn. The gallery was restless. They moved in their seats, they spoke in both hushed and plain tones. The gavel cracked through the courtroom like a strike of lightening through a meadow of restless sheep. I sat upright. I could hear the prosecutor’s voice, false and conniving, explain how the Titan’s movement in bed that morning was not by shear accident. That the force in which needed to snap a person’s neck as cleanly and as fatally as he did to the Pixie, could not be achieved by a mere casual pull.
There was a silence, looking back, for what seemed like an immeasurable amount of time. The way minutes bleed into hours when time is spent waiting for impending doom. That gap of time begins and ends without so much a flicker of remembrance. It is simply and suddenly began and ended in a loop with no change, no hope, nothing. A light-less moment; life paused to prepare for the cry of “incoming,” the Earth-shaking rumble, the storm-wind howl, the crack-crack of artillery, the snap-pop of a little woman’s neck atop a bed.
I knew what I heard without seeing it. I had never heard a person’s bones break, I was never much for brutality. But that sound echoed through and out the courtroom’s doors and into the hallways, stairwells and elevator shafts distinctly and disturbingly accurate. The snack store clerk stopped counting change from the register. The janitor stopped ringing the mop head. The front door officer took her thumb from the metal detector button. All looked upward and around. Unsure of the origin of the sound itself, but sure of its meaning.
The gallery rose and cried and could not be silenced with the judge’s gavel. The doors were pushed open like a crowd exiting a room on fire, faces wrought with sickened disbelief. I fought through them like on- coming tide water. I needed to see the Titan; to see him smiling and slapping his knee. A “this could have happened to anyone” look on his chubby, rosy face. Instead, he was on his back, on the floor by the bed, his face contorted in angular madness. A team of officers and the bailiff put their knees and elbows into him. They moved up and down in waves as the Titan fought against them. The slick prosecutor sat hunched on the floor against the judge’s bench. His mouth hung agape, he resembled a doll just thrown by a child. A little woman lay limp on the bed, as a man and a woman stood over her with clueless faces.
The old man journalist caught my stare. He walked over to me, his spiral notebook was pitch black with scribbled notes.
“They asked him to show the jury how he had moved her that day.”
I looked at him, blankly.
“Damn crazy thing to do, they had found another little woman, another Pixie as you say, to replicate the original’s size.” He made an ugly click noise with this tongue. “Poor guy doesn’t know his own strength, I reckon. Or he had something to prove, I don’t know. That prosecutor there had his neck wrung by him something fierce right after. I’m not sure if he made it either. You should probably leave. This scene will ruin your sense of hope, no doubt. Let them live forever in your mind, buddy.”
I said nothing. In my final survey of the courtroom, the human destruction and chaotic moments created by the Titan moved in slow motion. I watched as the Titan continued to struggle against the collection of bailiffs and officers. His wrists and ankles were bound by zip ties; he continued to fight, however. He cried out. A cry loud and chilling; stricken with the agony of what he had done.
A hand pulled me back. The old man journalist followed after me. He said, “’Bound them in bitter chains when they had conquered them by strength for all their great spirit as far beneath the earth to Tartarus.’”