So I have not given up on my last story, but I am giving it some more time to rest. Tonight I met David Leavitt, who is a huge inspiration for me as a writer. He read a chapter from a book he is working on, and in it there was a quote of “Three into Two won’t Go” which is apparently a reference to a movie. I thought it was a quote from Lewis Carrol’s Alice, but I don’t think I am right. Anyway, it got me thinking about a story. I started it tonight, and although it is a slow beginning I am wanting to just set the scene. I hope to continue writing this story, but who knows. Maybe if someone thinks it deserves more exploration. Comments?
The moment before I knocked on their door was the last time I was alone. I remember it so clearly. It was May of 2004 on a sunny spring afternoon just outside Newport Tennessee. Tommy and Art’s house resembled an English Tudor style home, with large stones all around the first floor of the house, and exposed beams on the upper level. The front door was made oak and had eight small geometric squares placed symmetrically two by two down it. In the center was a faded bronze door knocker, which I looked at for a few minutes pondering whether to announce myself as having arrived or to simply turn away.
Newport was a little over 3 hours drive from my dorm room at Vanderbilt, and, although I had already graduated, the room was still mine till the end of the summer. I stretched my arms above my head, exhausted from the drive, but I was almost convinced to simply turn around and go home. I knew why I had come, but I did not know if I could tell them that. Instead I had decided to veil my true reason, and had invented and rehearsed the perfect reason for me to call on them without notice. I was simply up for the weekend, having come to see an old friend of my parents, and that I had hoped to call on their offer for hospitality if I was ever in the area. I would see where that night took me, and I was certain Tommy and Art’s behavior would give me my answer by morning. Then I would have to decide whether or not to stay or go.
The door knocker seemed so too harsh for me to announce my presence, and although I always seemed to bruise my knuckles when I knocked on doors, I always felt it was a more polite to do so. I rapped on the door four short times, and felt the sharp pain flare in my knuckles for a few brief seconds. I looked down to examine them, and once the door opened I saw the faces of love of my life.
I had first met Tommy and Art in October. I was in a production of “Company” at Vanderbilt, playing the lead. I had worked so hard the previous summer preparing for the auditions. I knew each line and note even before the first day of rehearsal, and yet when opening night came I was still nervous. It was a magical night, and after the show was over I still remember the applause. My friends and family roared louder than the rest of the entire audience when it came time for me to take the final bow. However, I knew no one the next night of the show, and yet when my final bow came I heard a slight raise in volume, and there they were. Art and Tommy where clapping so furiously their arms waved as fast as hummingbirds wings, and it was then that I knew I had truly done well in the show. After the show Tommy and Art had come up to me like many of the other audience members and congratulated me on a job well done. I smiled and thanked them for their vigorous applause, and shortly retired backstage to reset my props and gather my things. I am normally the last actor to leave the theatre, not for any good reason, I just generally take my time hanging up costumes and such. It is because I take such a long time that I almost screamed when I saw that Art and Tommy had waited for me in the lobby.
Art stood up from the bench, with a big smile radiating underneath mop of red hair on top of his head. Art’s smile, I would learn, was his default expression. It was as if Art had never known sadness in his life, and therefore could so no reason not smile at any given moment or any given occasion. It was an infectious grin, which I found myself mirroring as he approached. Once we were face to face I saw that Art was a little short, but, although had a slight frame, his voice was so loud it practically pierced through walls.
“Hey, we were wondering if you’d like to go out with us tonight.” Art said with his sweet hint of a southern accent.
“Oh…well…I have a matinee tomorrow, but I guess so. What did you have in mind?” I replied. I had never had an audience member ask me to dinner before.
“We just thought we might grab a bite somewhere. Do you know anyplace open late?” Art asked.
“Café Coco is pretty decent, and it is open 24 hours. Is that alright?” I asked. Café Coco is where I went most nights, so I figured it would be easy to bail if these two guys were freaks.
“How about the Saucer?” where the first words I ever heard out of Tommy. His suggestion was gruff and it seemed more like an order than an invitation.
“Umm….sure. That’s downtown right?” The only thing I knew about “The Flying Saucer” was that it was famous for beer and girls. At least that was what the guys my Freshman year said about the place. Neither of those two things held any interest for me, and the suggestion had me questioning if Art or Tommy were of interest either.
“Sure is.” Tommy confirmed.
“I need to go back to my room, but I’ll meet you there.” I said, wondering if I would actually do it.
“Oh sure. Do you need any help?” Art said flashing his smile again.
“Thanks, but I think I’ll be alright. I shouldn’t be too far behind you.” I said as I passed by him and headed towards the door.
“Alright. Well here is our number, in case you get lost.” Art said pressing a piece of paper into my hand.
I walked to my dorm room and as I opened the door to my tiny single I still didn’t know whether or not I could stay or go. I sat on my bed and stared at the script at the note:
Tommy and Art
The show had left me drained of emotion and hungry. I closed my eyes, and just as I had resolved to stay in my stomach gurgled with complaint. It seemed that despite what my brain was telling me, my body had another agenda, and with that I found myself arriving just a few minutes later than Tommy and Art had.
“Hey, have you been waiting long?” I asked.
“No not at all. We had a terrible time finding parking. Well let’s go in shall we?” Art said. Tommy held the door for Art and I, and we grabbed a table toward the back. The Flying Saucer had lived up to its reputation. Amidst a sea of frat boys and scantily clad waitresses were tons of empty beer glasses and loud conversations. Thankfully the back of the place had recently been vacated by a party of 15 so I didn’t have to yell my order at the waitress.