The Forces of The Universe (Parts 1-5, Revised Edition)
Editor: Samantha Ashley Mandeville
There is a moment in your life when all the possibilities are sitting in front of you, and you find that whatever vehicle you’re traveling in is stuck in neutral. This is the story of that time in my life.
From the time I graduated high school until the time i graduated college (the ten-year plan, we’ll get back to that later), I went from committed relationship to committed relationship with barely any time to breathe in between, let alone be a happy, single man. Til my 28th birthday I never realized how good life could be as a single young man, or how incalculably terrible.
It was my 28th birthday. I showed up late to my own party at my local hot club, carrying two trays of my own cupcakes. After being in the bar for approximately 48 seconds, I’d had the bouncer buy me a shot, got kissed by a stranger and had a beautiful girl on my arm while headed towards the large gathering of my friends
Of course I glossed over two key facts. One, that the stranger who kissed me was a gay man named Larry who was also celebrating his birthday and felt like sharing some of his excitement with me as well. And Two, that the beautiful woman on my arm was, in fact, very much taken. And this very fact about her had often proved very problematic for me in past instances like this:
“We should hang out more,” she’d whisper.
“Totally! I know this great local diner. I’ve wanted to take you there since we met!” I’d reply, my hand firmly on the bar, trying to push myself up so I’d have just that slight bit of height advantage I felt like I needed to feel more attractive.
“I’ve been attracted to you for years...” she’d whisper.
“I totally feel the same about you! I’ve wanted to tell you since I first saw you!" I’d reply, my hand firmly on her on her waist, trying to position myself so the light hit my eyes at the right angle, giving them a more attractive glimmer.
“I want to take you home,” she’d whisper.
“Totally! I’ve wanted you since the second we met!” I’d reply, my hand placed softly around her neck, trying to pull her in for a kiss, but knowing that as attractive as we found each other the forces of the Universe around us would not let us get together.
The Forces of The Universe
“Kevin, come on man, you know better!” Jim said, stopping my hand from sliding any further down her back, or higher up her legs, or...
“Stop it already! You two are like cats in heat together when you’ve had more than two drinks” Nicole said.
“Three Drinks” We said in unison, leaning in for a kiss but once again having our friends, the Forces of the Universe, stop us. They were my two best friends, but sometimes their best efforts to correct my life would drive me to fits of mild rage.
“Did it ever occur to you two for a second that maybe Kaitlyn doesn't want to be in this relationship, and maybe I’m the one she is supposed to be with?” I said.
“No,” Jim, Nicole and to my surprise Kaitlyn all said in unison.
“What?” I replied, as shocked as I was confused.
“Kevin, I love you...”
“Yes! Proof right there! You said it! You hear that Universe?” I glared at Jim and Nicole, their beady universe eyes as unflinching as the blackness of the Cosmos they controlled.
“But...” Kaitlyn continued.
“See!” The Universe echoed, as always in unison.
“Don’t get cocky yet, she hasn’t finished!” I retorted.
“But...I love Mark too, and I’m...usually happy with him. I don’t want to screw that up.”
“Then why is your hand on my thigh?” I said.
“Damn it, Nicole, you were supposed to be on Kaitlyn duty!” Jim whirled on his Universal counterpart.
“How am i supposed to control those arms? That woman moves like a banshee!” Nicole, who had very little knowledge of Irish mythology, snapped back at Jim.
While Jim and Nicole started to collapse the celestial body of their relationship into a black hole of insults, I looked down and saw Kaitlyn’s hand had not moved from its precarious position on my thigh. I gazed into her eyes and saw only one thing, the Universe. Collapsing. Or was it expanding?
Metaphysicists believe that the Big Bang may have happened many times, only to be followed billions of years later by the Big Crunch. Eventually the mutual attraction of all matter eventually causes the universe to contract, causing it to collapse into itself and possibly creating another Big Bang. Or, leading to the end of all things, and as this moment passed before me, I saw only two probable outcomes.
The Big Crunch
“You always do this. Every time we really need to focus you just choke!” Jim raised his voice to Nicole.
“Oh please! Don’t you start with me young man, I will choke you right here!” Nicole raised hers right back.
“Oh, wouldn't that be a nice change if you did something I wanted for once!”
“That wasn’t what I met, and that fetish is just...weird!”
“Erotic Asphyxiation is a very common sexual desire! And I only want to do it with you because I love you!”
“No, it’s because it’s the only thing you couldn’t get your kinky ex-girlfriend to do to you!”
“It was not the only thing!”
“Are you BRAGGING?”
“Maybe...Maybe I am,” Jim said, the wavering confidence in his voice obvious.
“You want to know what I did with my ex-boyfriend? Hmm?”
“I let him.” Nicole said, with growing certainty.
“You let him what?”
“You know exactly what I mean! And I kind of liked it too.”
“You liar! You said you would never do that!”
“I said I would never do it with YOU!”
“Why not me?”
“Because I loved you!” At this point the emotion in Nicole’s voice had overtaken the strength and control she normally had. She lowered her head, her auburn hair with dyed red streaks covering the tears that lined her pale face, as it began to flush red.
“Loved?” Jim said, well aware of the past tense in Nicole’s comment. Jim was a tall and handsome man, but the fight with Nicole had made him seem frail. His lanky limbs dangled at his side, his normally spiked red hair seemed to be the start of a fire that was engulfing him to his soul. They were as two suns, being pulled towards each other despite the obvious ending of their pending collision.
“Loved.” Nicole said, her sun spotted face growing more red as outbursts of sobs echoed from her.
“Are you breaking up with me?” Jim said, red with rage, humiliation and unfathomable sorrow.
Nicole nodded, and The Universe collapsed on itself.
The Big Bang
There was nothing but her hand on my thigh, the rest of the bar was emptiness. We existed as a single entity alone in a see of darkness.
“Why haven’t you moved your hand Kaitlyn?” I smiled.
“Because I don’t want to,” she said, her voice somewhat pained. She was beyond beautiful in that moment to me, she was everything and i was nothing next to her. She could be overlooked by some, dressing down to hide her looks from those who would otherwise be at once smitten by her. She wore her dark brown hair up to show her face, but her full beauty shinned when she let the elegant strands flow. She was everything I wanted, especially when she was wearing her glasses. Smart, sexy and self-assured; centered and ready for whatever was ahead of her.
Then there was me. Next to her I was nothing. My looks described by some as above-average dorky cute, and by others as full blown handsome. I can’t really describe myself, so let me ask my friends for a second:
He’s smarter than he gives himself credit. Really liberal, like...he makes me look conservative, and that's just...scary.
Beautiful eyes, like...just beautiful, they’re like a deep blue ocean. I could get lost in that ocean.
His eyes are okay, but Nicole says I have the best eyes. She likes my baby brown eyes.
He has the best eyes, such a cold blue that they could make you shiver.
They say that brown eyes are a sign of intelligence, but Kevin is pretty smart too. Granted, he is no substitute teacher, hell it took him ten years just to get his Bachelors.
He is so SMART! It took him ten years just to get his Bachelors because he wanted to take classes in everything. He ended up with three degrees: Theater, Astronomy and Political Science with a minor in Philosophy. I could listen to him talk for hours.
He’s a little talkative at times. I mean, I like the guy but, come one, who honestly wants to listen to Astronomy metaphors all night?
He told me when he had a more than two (Correction: Three) drinks one night that my face was as beautiful and mysterious as the Simulacrum in the Eagle Nebula...I still have no idea what he was talking about, but it was sweet.
Kevin is...well, he’s very handsome, in that kind of way that you don’t really notice at first. It kind of creeps up on you, maybe over a couple years. Or Maybe that’s just because he’s gotten more attractive as he’s gotten older. He doesn't look old mind you, he still gets carded everywhere we go together...
Why the fuck are you asking me this? You stole my (EDIT: REMOVE LATER)
The Big Bang *continued*
Not sure why I did ask Mark that, maybe he was just forwarded in the email. Anyways, I asked a lot more people what they thought of me, and I got some very interesting, heartwarming and heartbreaking answers. We’ll get to the others responses when you meet them.
“Kevin, I can’t leave Mark. I’m sorry but I just can’t,” Kaitlyn said. And unfortunately for me she wouldn't have to.
She took her hand off my thigh as she turned to go, but before her hand got far I grabbed it and spun her into me. Colliding in a kiss I felt an explosion of feelings rush over me, ecstasy pouring out of every inch of my body. After a long passionate kiss we separated and then I felt a great surge of a much more intense feeling, and then I saw stars. Then I hit the floor.
I’m sure there is some world where the two possible outcomes to the evening I pictured could be mutually exclusive, but in this universe only one of them could play out fully.
I stumbled out of the club in a mix of confusion and bliss, till I saw something that made my stomach cringe. Jim sitting on the sidewalk alone, sobbing uncontrollably. The rain had drenched him to the core, but he sat feet in a storm drain, seemingly trying to let his body get sucked down into the gutter.
“Dude, what the hell are you doing?” I asked.
“I’m waiting for the Ninja Turtles to show up,” Jim simply stated.
“What?” Confusion, I’m sure, flickered across my face.
“Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo, come on man, you know this! I just saw Splinter scurry by so the rest of the gang has to be on the way!”
“What the hell are you talking about?” I said, a moment before i noticed the “Splinter” that Jim was referring to, an incredibly large rat that was indeed scurrying about the drain near Jim. Splinter seemed uninterested in finding a team of young turtle proteges to change into a crime fighting team, but did however have an interest in the discarded pizza boxes nearby, so Jim’s theory did have some validity.
“If he’s just a rat in this world than so am I...” Jim finally said, after I spent far too many moments analysing the theoretical possibility that the rat near my feet was in fact a potential trainer for a team of mutant turtles.
“I don't understand.”
“If he’s just a rat in this world, than so am I. If he is the rat from my childhood comic books than none of this is real, and I’m just in some horrible nightmare that I can’t seem to wake up from!”
“We’ll if it’s a dream than you must have to pee really bad,” I said, indicating the rain, trying to lighten the mood.
“Nicole broke up with me,” Jim said, holding back another one of his unbearable sobs.
“Jesus...” I couldn’t think of another word, Jim and Nicole had been a couple since before I met them. They were the epitome of everything I wanted, the Perfect Couple and my two best friends. If they weren’t together my whole world was going to change, in a way i had never conceived it would have to.
“Tell me I’m dreaming man...please, just tell me I’m dreaming,” Jim said, completely breaking down. I knelt down in the gutter with Jim, the water sloshing over our shoes as i put my arm around him.
“I can’t tell you your dreaming Jim.”
“Why?” He asked, and for a long moment i considered my answer very carefully.
“Because...because it’s not your dream.”
Then I Woke Up
My head was throbbing, and as the stars started to dissipate I realized that I tasted blood in my mouth. I looked above me and towering over me was...
“Mark, stop it!” Kaitlyn shouted, holding her scorned lover back from doing me any further damage.
“You son of a bitch!” Mark broke and lunged for me, but at this point my friend the bouncer made his presence known. Dave was born to be a bouncer, he was built like a brick house and as Mark swung towards me as I tried to stand, Dave grabbed his hand and crushed it as hard as he could.
“Your going to be leaving now.” Dave said to Mark, who moaned in pain signifying his agreement.
Mark stumbled out of the bar, cursing my name all along the way and tossing over bar stools to further emphasise his already clear point: he was not my biggest fan.
“You alright?” Dave asked me, and truth be told I wasn’t entirely too sure. Then Kaitlyn put her arm around me and helped me steady myself.
“I think...” I looked into Kaitlyn’s eyes. “I think I’m going to be alright.”
"You might be, but your buddies a wreck." Dave pointed outside, where I saw Jim sitting alone.
"I'll go talk to him," Kaitlyn said, moving to the door. I nodded and moved towards Nicole. I was about to speak to her when Cat, the DJ, called her up to sing.
"Up next is Nicole singing a little Melissa Etheridge!" Cat said over the microphone, and Nicole slowly walked her way up to the mic. The music played as Nicole just swayed a little to it, before finally walking out the back exit of the bar. I moved after her but for some reason Cat stopped me.
“Let her go.” Cat told me.
“Why?” I was confused.
“Because Jim is out there waiting for her,” Cat pointed and I saw Nicole and Jim in a deep conversation, seeming to reconcile. I saw things starting to smooth over and realized I had my own problems to attend to. I turned to look for Kaitlyn but she was gone.
“Who are you looking for?” Cat asked me, her soft hand’s touching my shoulder. I’d always found Cat attractive, but I never thought she was into me. Now that i have her thoughts on me I guess I can compare what we thought of each other...
I always found Kevin attractive, but only after two drinks. I’m sort of the opposite of a two-beer-queer, I turn straight once I’ve had two drinks.
Cat had short hair, glasses and seemed to be more interested in the women at the bar than me, which is probably what made her so attractive to me. She was elusive, the one woman that despite being there every week I could never manage a second glance from her. Except for that one night...
Kevin had short hair, glasses and seemed to be more interested in the other women in the bar than me, which is probably what made him so attractive to me. He was the regular I had who despite my attempts at flirtation, never seemed to want to engage in more than simple chit-chat. Except for that one night...
That One Night
Sometimes in life you have nights where everything is a blur, a whirlwind of pictures and emotions, but no real clear idea of what truly took place. Cat and I did not have a night like that, our night was much...much different.
Come to think of it, I remember almost every detail of that evening, it was like something out of a movie. Unfortunately, I didn't find out till the end if it was a Comedy or a Tragedy...
The Bar was empty, a cold damp night with most at home with those they loved, cuddling close. Me, I was cuddling closer to my drink than ever before, the mist of my breath forming a fog on my whiskey glass (Author’s Note: Does a Film Noir intro count as Tragic? Research later).
"Are they ever going to fix the heat?" I asked Dave, who was helping Cat set up her equipment.
"We can't afford it, there are too many Children starving around the world and we have to donate all of our expenses to them. Hell, I haven't taken a paycheck for six months, did you see that Documentary...
EDIT: Yeah, no I can’t do this, the night didn't start off like that at all. Hell it was a great night up until... well, why don't i just let the story tell itself.
The Bar was packed to the brim, every time you took a step you'd bump into another hot, sweaty body. It was so hot that clothes were being simply peeled off at every turn, women walking around in their bra's with no sign of stopping their dancing.
"Hey, are they ever gonna get the AC fixed?" I asked Dave, who was attempting to stop two girls from taking off anymore of their clothing.
"It's called Hot Club for a reason!" Dave said, not amused. The realization of that fact dawned on me.
"This is the greatest...night...of my life!" said Jim, who was dancing in between a shirtless Nicole and a shirtless Kaitlyn. I looked down at my half-empty scotch and realized I hadn't actually taken a sip so why was it...
"I had a sip while you were ogling your friends," said a sensual voice to my right, I turned and saw Cat smiling at me. It was a smile I had never seen from Cat, but one that I did recognize very clearly as a flirtatious glance.
"You owe me a scotch," I said, my voice only slightly showing my interest (Cat's Edit: The minute he realized I was flirting with him his voice went down an octave. By the way, did Kevin Mention I’m his co-editor?)
"You owe me a dance" Cat said, pulling me up on the dance floor. And while we were dancing amid the hot mess that was the aforementioned hot club, I felt Cat pull off my shirt. It was the strangest thing, there was a mass of half-naked bodies all around and I still felt awkward once my shirt was taken off. This particular feeling was immediately forgotten as soon as Cat took her shirt off as well.
'What is happening?" I asked her as she pulled me in for a kiss, and there in the midst of a mass of bodies dancing I realized...
EDIT: Wait, this is the Intro to the story, it’s the middle! I owed her a dance because, well I was the reason the club was so hot. That’s why i was asking about the air conditioning! God, now I remember...you see, this is how it started...