I tapped him on the shoulder and when he turned I hit him with everything that I had. I brought the punch up from the boot tops with all two hundred and five pounds behind it. I felt his nose crunch and the blood flew and when his hands went up to his face I sunk my fist into his gut and got a loud "oof" out of him as he doubled up. One more smash to the side of his head and he went down to the ground. I debated kicking the asshole a half dozen times, but then thought:
"What the hell, he got the message."
I turned to Darcy and said, "I think I broke his nose. Maybe you can kiss it and make it better" and then I turned and walked away from the woman who was wearing my engagement ring and the man who had been my best friend.
It had been a birthday party for Darcy's sister and it was being held at Barney's Roadhouse. We had pushed a bunch of tables together and we were drinking and dancing to the live band and everyone was having a fine time.
We had been there a little over two hours when something caught my eye. My girl Darcy was dancing with my best friend Mark and while that in itself was nothing new what caught my attention was when his hand slid down her back and came to rest on her ass and she didn't push it away or say anything to him. Then I noticed Mark's leg pushing against Darcy's leg and again she did nothing. The two of them had my interest by then and I moved so I could keep an eye on them while appearing to talk to the others at the table.
The music stopped and it was seconds before they realized it and broke apart. They came back to the table, and though sitting on opposite sides and four chairs apart I caught them constantly looking at each other. The next set I danced with Darcy and as I held her I asked:
"Everything all right?"
"You seem a little distant tonight. Like your mind is someplace else or you have something weighty on it."
"It is just your imagination baby; I'm okay, honest."
We stayed on the dance floor for three songs and then went back to the table. A couple of minutes later Mark asked Darcy to dance and I kept my eye on them. Once again they danced close and his hand ended up on her ass. This time Darcy must have said something because he quickly jerked it away and cast a quick glance my way.
Half an hour later Darcy got up to go to the bathroom and a minute or so later Mark got up and headed toward the bathrooms. I'd seen enough that night that my suspicions were aroused so I waited a couple of minutes and then got up and headed for the johns. Mark wasn't in the bathroom and since we would have passed each other if he had headed back to the table that meant he must have gone out the back door.
As I reached for the door handle I suddenly realized that if Mark and Darcy were up to something my coming out the back door would alert them and give them a chance to split apart and then tell me that they had just come outside to get away from the cigarette smoke and get a breath of fresh air.
I went back through the bar, went out the front door and then, moving as quietly as I could I circled the building. When I came around the northeast corner of the bar I saw them. They had there arms around each other and were kissing. They were so into each other that they never heard me come up behind them.
I had just finished putting everything of Darcy's that was in my apartment into trash bags when I heard someone at the front door. The key going into the lock told me that it was Darcy. I didn't look up from what I was doing as she came in, but I said:
"You are just in time to carry this shit away. I was just getting ready to toss it out into the parking lot."
"Can we talk about this?"
"No. I saw enough tonight to tell me all I need to know."
"It wasn't what you think."
"It doesn't matter Darcy. I saw what I saw and it was enough."
"You broke Mark's nose and dislocated his jaw."
"He's lucky. I should have kicked him half a dozen times and broken a rib or two."
"I've never seen you violent before."
"Sometimes it is good not to see things. Now will you please just take your stuff and leave?"
"Please Rob, I made a stupid mistake. I had too much to drink and I wasn't thinking clearly."
"Yeah? Well it is a good thing that I caught you making that kind of mistake before marrying you rather than after."
"Please Rob, it didn't mean anything, honest."
"Once you said yes and put my ring on Darcy you were supposed to become a one man woman and that one man was supposed to be me. You just showed me that I can't trust you. Just take your stuff and go."
Tears were running down her cheeks as she started to take off her engagement ring. "Keep it" I told her. "I don't want it around to remind me of you. If you keep it Mark won't have to buy you one. Consider it my wedding present."
She picked up her two trash bags and headed for the door. She opened the door and turned to me and said:
"I'm sorry Rob. I love you; I really do love you and I didn't do what you think I did."
And then she was gone.
She called me the next day and asked me if I was ready to talk with her and I hung up on her. She made a half dozen more attempts, but I always hung up and eventually she finally gave up.
Over the next month Mark made a dozen attempts to get me to talk to him and I finally told him that if he came within arms reach of me I'd put him in the hospital for a month and he finally got the message and stopped calling. Eight months later Darcy and Mark got married. I had to laugh when I got the invitation. Maybe I was supposed to be the 'something old.'
As a geologist working for an oil company I got to travel quite a bit and some of the trips were lengthy. Shortly after Mark and Darcy's wedding I was sent on a trip to Alaska to investigate the possibility of developing a new oil field. It took me out of town for almost eleven months and since I didn't have anyone to come home to I stayed the entire eleven months up in that area. When I did take some time off I went sight-seeing in either Alaska or Canada.
Did I think about Darcy on the cold nights? Yes I did. I thought about her a lot. I had loved her with all my heart and had been certain that she felt that way about me. We had met by accident - literally. I hadn't been paying as much attention to my driving as I should have been and I backed into her car in a parking lot. She wasn't around so I put my name and office number on a piece of paper and stuck it under her windshield wiper. Three hours later the receptionist buzzed me and told me that there was a woman there to see me.
"She says you are expecting her."
I checked my calendar and didn't see any appointments for that afternoon, but I wasn't doing anything important so I told Fran to send the woman to my office. Two minutes later my office door opened and in walked the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. If there is such a thing as love at first sight it is what happened to me right then.
"Mr. Ellison? I'm Darcy Miller and I'm here to take you up on your offer."
"My offer? I'm afraid I don't understand."
"Oh? Wasn't that an invitation to dinner that you left under my wiper blade? Although I do think that running into my car is a little extreme as a way to meet me."
"An invitation to dinner?"
"I suppose that it was probably just meant as a way for me to get in touch so you could give me your insurance information, but I saw the look on your face when I walked in so I chose to treat it as an invitation to dinner."
It was all a little too fast for a guy like me, but I wasn't brain dead so I finally managed to get myself together enough to say:
"Are you free tonight?"
She was and three days later when I walked her to her door after a date she gave me a kiss that left me weak in the knees and then she took hold of my tie and pulled me into her apartment.
"I don't know if you felt what I felt when I walked into your office," she said, "But your facial expression said you might have and I don't want to wait for another dozen dates while you try to work yourself up to trying to get me into bed."
We lay there holding each other and relaxing in the warm afterglow of magnificent love-making and I asked:
"What size ring do you wear?"
"My ring size? Why would you want to know that?"
"I want to buy your engagement ring in the morning and I need to know the size."
"Are you proposing to me?"
"Hey, you are the one who didn't believe in wasting time. I'm just following your lead."
"Five and a half."
We set a date, but before it could happen there was the night at Barney's.
It wasn't until I returned home that I found out that Mark and Darcy's marriage hadn't lasted all that long. It turns out that Mark had a hidden side that no one knew about. He was abusive. After the fifth time he had sent Darcy to the hospital emergency room she decided that she'd had enough and she smacked in the head with a cast iron frying pan and while he was in the hospital with a fractured cheek bone she moved out and filed for divorce.
I found all this out while I was having dinner with my cousin Richard and his wife Dee.
"Are you going to call her" Dee asked.
"Good lord no! Why would you even ask?"
"Because in a way you are responsible for what went on between the two of them."
"How the hell could that be? I haven't even been here for eleven months. Hell, I was gone out of town before they even got back from there honeymoon."
"Every fight they had was over you."
"Oh come on Dee; both of them were out of my life for a good eight months before I even went to Alaska. How the hell could I have been a part of their problems?"
"Mark is a loser Rob. You either overlooked it or accepted it because he had been your best friend since third grade, but he is a loser. He can't hold a job and he can't do anything right and every time he came home after getting fired or quitting or screwing something up Darcy would shake her head in disgust and say something like:
"And I lost Rob for this."
"The last time he sent her to the ER they were in the Elks club and he had just lost another job. It is unclear whether he quit or got fired, but he was whining about how the foreman had it in for him and Darcy told him to stop whining like a kid and be a man for a change. Mark made a smart remark that she wouldn't know a man if one bit her on the ass and she said:
"That's where you are wrong. I had a real man once and I fucked it up."
"Throwing Rob up at me again?"
"On his worst day he was five times the man you could be on your best day."
"You bitch!" Mark screamed and back-handed her so hard that she fell backwards in her chair and hit her head on the edge of the next table. It knocked her out and she was rushed to the hospital. Two days later she used a frying pan on him. From what I hear she hasn't been on a date since she moved out and filed for a divorce."
"That's all very interesting, but I believe I'll take a pass on saying hi to Darcy."
"Haven't you ever made a mistake Rob?"
"I've made some doozys, but the thing about mistakes is that you are supposed to learn from them and what you are supposed to learn is how not to make the same mistake again. Darcy was a mistake and I won't repeat it."
And I meant it.
I missed Darcy and there wasn't a week went by that I didn't think of her half a dozen times. I still carried her picture in my wallet, but I had no intension of seeing Darcy or even talking to her on the phone. She was history and even though I could not get her out of my mind she was going to stay history.
But sometimes what you want to do or don't want to do just doesn't mean a thing in the grand scheme of things.
It had been a long day at the office and I stopped at Ernie's Sports Bar and Grill to tip a few longnecks and relax. I stopped at Ernie's because I was seeing Juanita, the waitress. We'd had a thing going for about a month; nothing that was going to go anywhere, just good bed buddies. I was sitting in a booth sipping my beer and watching the Rockies/Giants game on the big screen TV when the Juanita set another beer in front of me.
"Compliments of the lady at the end of the bar."
I looked over at the end of the bar and I almost said, "That's no lady, that's just Darcy" but I didn't. But I didn't refuse the beer either. Darcy took the fact that I didn't refuse the beer as an invitation to join me and a couple of minutes later she slid onto the seat across from me.
"How have you been Rob?"
"I've been okay."
"How was Alaska?"
She was silent for a couple of seconds and then she asked, "Have your feelings toward me mellowed any?"
"In what way?"
"Do you still hate me?"
"I never hated you Darcy. Was I disappointed in you? Yes I was, but I never hated you."