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I had just finished the sports page of the newspaper, when I noticed Megan. I mean, at that time I didn’t know her name was Megan. She was sitting all alone by the smeared window, watching the people strolling down the street and the rushing cars, spraying water and mud on the pedestrians. She had dark, wavy hair; full, sensitive lips; small childish nose and the most wonderful sparkly, blue eyes I’ve ever seen. Megan was wearing a black turtleneck sweater and tight boot cut jeans and the contour of her breast tickled my imagination. Sitting across the table of a beautiful, lonely girl was the best medicine I could ask for, after last night. I have to admit, I wasn’t in my best shape for an accidental love encounter, not at least after the binge yesterday. I was drinking with a few buddies of mine until two o’clock this morning and had to wake up at five to go to work. The heavy clouds of my hangover hadn’t cleared up just yet and I still had this pounding headache despite the two seltzers, I forced down my throat a while ago. A cup of black coffee helped me see the world in better colors, but worsened my stomach cramps. On top of my physical misery, I was just fired – third time in the last month. I was a delivery guy for a small courier company and today I was an hour and a half late for my morning dispatch. My sloppy, heartless boss - a guy named Ivan kicked me out because it was my second late arrival since the beginning of the month. Ivan, kind of reminded me of my father – always busy, always running errands and always going straight home to his wife and kids after the end of the shift. I bet that Ivan, exactly like my dad never had fun in his life. Now, my father is a slightly different story – after the divorce, he married a young chick who had an apartment in Madrid and he went with her to Spain. His new wife was twenty something years younger than him and was smoking hot but she couldn’t stand me – especially after I came drunk one night and puked on their new, fancy couch. My dad loaded me on the first bus to Bulgaria the next day and promised to wire some dough every month as soon as I don’t show up there any more. My mom didn’t stay home knitting either - after the divorce, she found a job in Edinburgh and shortly there after, married a nice, freckly guy with pink complexion and a charming smile. Mr.McIdden was really a cool dude and we went drinking together several times but one time I dragged him into a massage parlor – the “happy ending” ones and my mom decided that I was a bad influence and offered to send me money as soon as I don’t visit them too often. I took the offer without any doubts because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. She isn’t a nagging person like dad who will nag just about everything. He will never stop harassing me about dropping out of the university, about my “incapability to hold a steady job”, and especially for being always late. “You will be late for your own funeral”, he liked to say and would turn his head away in disguise when I used to reply that it is physically impossible to be late for your own funeral, but in case I die I would need money to pay for the ferry transport. My dad had never heart about Charon or any of the Greek dudes and would just look away then, hiding his frustration. It may sound strange having such a weird family, but I enjoyed the final configuration – I was living alone in my grandma’s apartment after she passed away last summer and didn’t have to work too hard because I received a check every two weeks from mom and dad.
I looked at the girl again. She caught my interest, smiled and turned her eyes towards the street again. I gained some confidence and walked to her table.
“Excuse me miss, I noticed you are alone. Do mind if I buy you a coffee or something?” I mumbled. I have never been too good at picking up small talks with strangers.
“I haven’t had any breakfast or lunch, I should say”, she smiled at me with her pearly whites.
“I can use some coffee too… if you don’t mind”, she added.
I certainly didn’t mind. Her voice was smooth and sexy and her blue eyes were smiling at me. I dragged a chair and sat on the table.
“Alex”, I shook her hand. It was warm and silky.
I ordered scrambled eggs, pancakes, orange juice and coffee. She finished her breakfast quietly and lit one of my cigarettes.
“That was very kind of you”, she blow the smoke away,” I hadn’t eaten anything in two days”
“Are you on a diet? “, I demonstrated my stupidity.
“On a diet?”, she laughed, “No, I’m traveling around the country. I sleep where I find a place to crash and eat when I can afford eating. It’s been kind of tough lately”, she said.
“Traveling – that must be interesting”, I was trying to keep the conversation going.
“It is very interesting”, the girl nodded. “I was a third year art student when I decided to travel”
“How did you make this decision?” I usually chat with chicks without paying much attention to what they have to say but this sounded intriguing.
“Well, half of my class were annoying morons and the other half turned into busy, boring, young parents. All they are doing now is changing diapers and flipping picture albums. Sorry – not my cup of tee”, Megan smiled, “Then, I decided to pack and go.”
“Go where?”, I couldn’t’ believe that I had just met a soul mate. I hated screaming babies and boring parents too.
“Nowhere in particular. Just traveling around the country, may be around the world. Like Kerouac, you know. This way I can always meet new and interesting people”, she paused for a moment “like you, Alex”.
This got me off balance. Women had called many names – a pig, a moron, and a drunk, but “interesting” – never.
“You can sleep at home tonight”, I hesitated briefly, “in case you have no other place to go”
“You live alone?”
“My mom is in Scotland and dad is in Spain”
"You are my hero, Alex", she gave me one of her charming smiles again.
I paid the check, picked up Megan’s military green bag and we hailed a cab. She didn’t say a word during the ride. We took the elevator to my apartment and I let her in.
“What a cute place”, she was a good liar, or just trying to be polite. My apartment was everything but cute and it looked like grandma was still alive – wallpaper all over the place, lacy tablecloths and a large oak chest in the dining room. Only, it didn’t smell like cookies but more like dust, cigarettes and cheap wine from the last night party.
Megan dropped her bag on the floor.
“I’ll take a shower”
“The bathroom is at the end of the hall, to the right”, I said while trying to empty the ashtrays and hide my socks in the closet. I had just finished with the housekeeping when Megan came out of the bathroom with her head wrapped around with a white towel.
“Can I crash in the bedroom? I spent last night on a bench at the railroad station. It was rather cold”, she shivered and closed the bedroom door. I picked up a beer from the fridge and dropped on the couch. After all the crap I’ve been lately, finally my luck stroke on. A drop dead gorgeous girl just took a shower in my own apartment and was sleeping in my own bedroom. Besides she had no place to go tonight. This got me thinking about tonight. I drank a few more beers and must have fallen asleep on the couch when someone gently touched my shoulder. I rubbed my eyes and saw Megan wearing one of my old tee shirts and ragged, bleached jeans. My clothes looked kind of baggy on her frame but she still looked pretty damn hot.
"Sorry, I have to put your clothes on, but mine are in the washer. Do you want me to fix you something to eat?” she smiled at me.
"Sure”, I was wondering what I had left in the fridge.
I went to the bathroom, washed my face and brushed my teeth. When I came back to the kitchen, Megan was looking for groceries in the refrigerator. She leaned down to pick up vegetables and I noticed a small tattoo just above her crack. She took a lettuce and a cucumber and closed the door. I kind of bear hugged her and kissed her neck from behind. She didn't resist and I started kissing her ears and kissing her neck some more. She put the vegetables on the counter, turned around and put her tongue in my mouth. I pulled down her jeans, well - my jeans so to speak and we had the most incredible sex standing up in my grandma's kitchen, just next to the refrigerator.
"You don't waste your time, do you?” she smiled at me on her way to the bathroom, after I was done.
"I'll go buy some groceries. Be back in a while"
I brought bread, ham, cheese and wine and Megan made sandwiches. We ate on the sofa watching TV, drinking wine and talking. Then we made love again.
I was living in a dreamland during the next two months - we went to the movies, drank until dawn in different bars, and took long walks on the beach. I personally hate the winter sea but Megan loved to walk on the sandy beach in a gloomy day; she would cuddle into me and we would share a joint while watching the waves and the gulls squeaking around us. Sometimes I felt she had something to say but I never asked her and she never said it. My favorite times were, when we just stayed at home, making love and drinking wine. I enjoyed playing with her hair after sex; Megan usually put her head on my chest and let me play with her hair, while trying to blow the cigarette smoke away from her face. The few moments I hated were, when Megan dragged me into some funky dance clubs and made me dance until the morning. I suck at dancing and I would rather sit in the corner enjoying my drink while Megan was dancing with the crowd. She was really good at that too - her body was vibrating with the music, her hair would glitter under the neon lights and her booty would make all the guys around looking at her like bulls on a leash. Few dorks tried to hit on her but she always came back to me in the corner and sat on my lap. I was quite proud that the prettiest gal in the club was actually my chick. But the best thing about Megan was the sex. We did it everywhere and quiet often too. Shame on me, I am a quick shooter, but Megan never joked about that and instead, she waited for me to cool off and always gave me a next chance and sometimes a few of them. I had three girlfriends until I met her and had never considered my self a womanizer, but Megan made me feel so good in bed. Life was wonderful again and the checks from my parents made it even better. I almost started thinking about going back to that phony business school; I dropped out of last summer.
My perfect life was over one Tuesday morning, when I woke up around noontime and saw Megan packing her things in the old, military bag.
"Megan, what's going on sweetie?” I thought she was pissed me about something stupid.
"I'm leaving, Alex"
"What do you mean - you are leaving?” I was still standing in my underwear, holding a toothbrush in my left hand.
"I'm moving back with my ex - Tony. I never told you about him. We were together for three years, Alex. We had an argument and I left. Now, he wants me to move back with him."
I couldn't say a word. I just stood there, watching her pack.
"You've been so wonderful to me, Alex", Megan continued, "I will always love you as a friend", she said as she walked out of the front door.
"Bye, Alex", she sent me a kiss and ran down the stairs.
I threw the toothbrush, scrambled somehow to put a tee shirt and a pair of jeans and darted out of the apartment. I came out of the building out of breath and saw Megan sitting in a black sports car.
"Megan, come back", I started banging on her window. She kept looking straight like she didn't notice me.
"Megan!” I screamed in anger and desperation.
The car opened and a burly, muscular guy came straight at me. Without saying a word, he grabbed my tee shirt and almost threw me inside the building. I banged my head onto the brick wall.
"Listen, you jerk", his beady, piggy eyes were piercing through me, "leave Megan alone!”
"She is my girlfriend now", I shouted in his face.
I felt his big fist on my belly and I bended over, gasping for air. Then, he landed a perfect knee on my face that broke my nose. The blood started dripping down on the cement floor. He hit me one more time on the jaw and I fell on the ground.
"If I see your face no where near her, I'll kill you!" he snarled and kicked me in the kidney on his way out.
I crawled to the elevator, went home and locked the door. My nose was hurting badly and I had a terrible headache but I didn't want to go to the hospital. I had just lost the only woman I cared about and the last thing I wanted was some balding, nearsighted doctor to mess around with my nose. I put an ice pack on my face, pulled down the curtains in the living room and laid on the sofa. I spent the day drinking vodka and looking at the ceiling taking a few bathroom brakes. The whole week went by the same way; I stepped out of the apartment just to pick up the money from my mother and to buy some more vodka, beer, and cigarettes. I left the curtains down day and night, finished all my food supplies and was living on chips, cheerios and beer. I had lost track of time but it was a little more that three weeks when the phone rang. It was Megan.
"Alex, can you come to the hospital, right now", she was crying on the phone.
I immediately took a cab and rushed to the hospital. Megan was admitted as a patient in the trauma ward and she started crying once I walked in to the room. Her face was all bruised and her left eye was swollen shut. She had a cast on her right arm.
"Megan, what happened to you", I screamed in horror.
"Tony beat me up. The doctor said I had a concussion".
"I'll kill that bastard", my face turned beefy red.
"Alex, I'm pregnant. He called me a slut and then got mad. He said the baby was yours", she started sobbing again.
I didn’t say a word for a while. I couldn’t be more shocked if my dead grandma had just walked into the room.
"Is he right? I mean is the baby mine and everything?" I asked.
"I don't know Alex", she said quietly.
"What do you mean by that?” I yelled at her for the first time I have known her.
She didn't say anything, just looked at her blanket like the answer was written over there. I am a slow learner, but this time I got it pretty darn quickly. I wasn't the father. She was trying to hang on with me to until she got out of the mess. This was the first time I was really mad at her.
"Good bye Megan", I slammed the door behind me. I sat on the stairs in front of the hospital and lit up a cigarette under the "No Smoking" sign. I remembered her last words when she was leaving my apartment: "I love you as a friend". Every idiot know what this means -the end of the relationship. She never planned or wanted my baby. "What was next on the agenda - staying with me until Tony comes to pick her up and beats me up in between?" I walked down the street to the "O’Neal’s Irish Pub" and ordered scotch and ale. I stayed until the bar closed and the last thing I remember was the bartender and some other guy shoving me into a cab. I had no clue how I got off the cab and crawled on my couch but I woke up with the worst hangover in my life. I puked, shaved, had a shower, and drank some coffee. Then, I drank some more coffee and just stared into the street from my balcony. Finally, I decided to go back to the hospital. I would ask the doctor to run a paternity test, just to be sure. “Then, if the baby is mine, I'll take Megan home with me, if I'm not the father she can either have an abortion or go to hell”, I was thinking. Proud of my rational mind, I got on the street and hailed a cab. I could barely stand the driver - annoying, old fossil that smelled like sweat and cabbage He kept talking gibberish all the way to the hospital. Once we approached the hospital area he switched the topic from the war in Afghanistan and the local politics to his peptic ulcer and diabetes. I was ready to donate a kidney to get rid of the old fool but to my disappointment we got stalled in traffic on the way to the hospital visitor’s parking lot. There was a large crowd, police cars and an ambulance. I paid the cab, jumped out off it and tried to make my way through the crowd. I couldn't go too far because there was a yellow "Do Not Cross" line ahead of me.
"What's going on?” I asked a chubby middle-aged woman holding a bag of oranges.
"Horrible tragedy, young man", she replied.
"It's a hospital for Christ’ sake. Tragedies are supposed to happen here. ", I couldn't hide my frustration.
"This is different", the woman whispered in my ear. "A girl was killed in the hospital this morning - stabbed six times", she lowered her voice even more, "Her boyfriend found she was fooling around with someone else and killed her. This is what I call "a crime of passion." She stopped talking then she pulled me again.
"And you know what's even worse? - The girl was pregnant"
I tried to look through the crowd. I saw a covered body on a stretcher. Suddenly, the people around started talking loudly and pointing towards the hospital entrance. Three cops were dragging a handcuffed man who was spitting, cursing, and fighting with them. It was Tony.
"Look!", the woman shrieked in my ear while pulling my sleeve, "that's the killer"
I turned my back away and left. My father was right about one thing - I was late for my own funeral.