A science fiction story about the end of the world, true love, destiny, beauty, heroes, and everything else.
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Enrique Iglesias, Hero
The Book of Carrot
Book One: Principal Virtues
Chapter One: Love is a battlefield
Episode Two: Love hurts
George, John and Hachi waited at the Cretulescu Palace entrance of Cismigiu Park. Anca was meeting them there. Anca’s cousin, Cristina, and one of her girlfriends were waiting for her at La Biblioteca – the last karoake bar in Bucharest.
John was doing things on his tablet computer. Hachi was sniffing tree trunks. George was bored.
“Mixing some video of Hachi for his blog.”
“How many subscribers do you have now?”
“One million – more or less.”
“That’s EPIC! One million subscribers. You’re up 100k in a week!”
“So how much money are you making on that?”
“I dunno – maybe, 5k a month.”
“Oh man – buy me the alien infiltrator uniform!”
“My dad would flip out and your dad would rage all over you. My dad’s people manage the money.”
“How about a K-9-3? Buy me enough gold for one or two.”
John ignored him.
“Oh come on – have a heart!”
George grabbed John’s tablet and held it over his head.
“I think this thing is aerodynamic; maybe we need a test flight…”
“OK! You can have your fucking K-9-3!”
George brought the tablet down on John’s head – not so softly.
“Buy your own fucking drinks,” John grumbled as he turned around to leave.
“I didn’t mean to drop it on your head that hard. I’m sorry,” George apologized as he spun John around and put the tablet in John’s hands.
“Do I still get the gold, bro?”
“I’ll think about it.”
“Are you still buying the drinks?”
“Only if Cristina is the hottie you say she is.”
“Oh – she is. I lust her, bro. She is USDA Prime Lusty. Trust me.
But I don’t know if she’s into robbing the craddle – she’s 24, she’s got a degree, and, soon, she’ll have a job.”
“Stay calm. Maybe, she’s like her cousin, bro.”
“Who are we talking about?” Anca asked impatiently.
Anca’s stilettos clicked on the pavement as she approached – George admired her form-fitting dress that stopped some centimeters under her buttocks. Anca was a MILF: black hair, blue eyes, 5-8, 100 lbs, 34-24-30 – even if she was only a few years younger than George’s mother.
“I was telling John that he might have a chance with Cristina – if she likes robbing the cradle. Like you do.
“Our arrangement has nothing to do with a personal preference for young and stupid, sweetie.
I just don’t have time for a real man,” Anca replied as she walked by and down the steps into Cismigiu Park.
“John- ditch the Dr. Who scarf,” she added.
Not looking back, she asked the boys if they were coming along.
John, George and Hachi reluctantly followed Anca down to the duck pond, around it, and a little ways more to La Biblioteca.
Anca, George and John went into the bar. They squeezed through the maze of tables and chairs and found Cristina and her girlfriend at a table next to an ancient tree trunk. The bar was built around the tree.
Anca exchanged kisses with Cristina and her friend. Then, she introduced George and John. Actually, Cristina had seen George before but Anca had never introduced them. Cristina’s girlfriend gave Cristina a look that communicated their mutual, unamused observation that George and John were boys – not men.
Cristina is a hottie, John thought to himself.
Like her cousin Anca, Cristina had black hair and blue eyes. But Cristina’s dimensions were perfect. She was a 10.
Cristina, however, wasn’t going to let the school boy issue get in the way of her celebrating the passing of the national exam to practice pharmacy. She grabbed a passing waiter by the arm and ordered three Coronas. John nodded discreetly at the waiter and the waiter nodded back in understanding.
John and Cristina’s eyes met for an instant and they both felt something. Just like heaven.
Cristina’s girlfriend, however, interrupted their moment of rapture by whispering in Cristina’s ear.
“I don’t like Dr. Who,” Cristina blurted out.
Only losers fan Dr. Who. Like my ex-boyfriend. He is a total loser!”
“How about that tall, dark and handsome guy over there – the one playing with the BMW keys?” suggested Cristina’s girlfriend.
Cristina looked at the guy (perhaps, Indian or Italian) and she noticed three thick, gold rings on his right hand.
“I bet one of those gold rings is a wedding ring,” Cristina said.
“Do you think so? Hmmm… I don’t mind,” her girlfriend replied
“You’re such a bitch!”
“Oh – I know!”
The three women laughed just as the waiter brought them Coronas, a bottle of whiskey and Mai Tais – the Mai Tais were courtesy of the man with the three gold rings. The waiter looked at John and shrugged helplessly.
John and George poured the whiskey and texted each other on their phones.
“No woman, no cry – bro!”
“I don’t know about that.”
The waiter appeared again; he handed the microphone and a computer pad to Cristina. Cristina tried to give them back to him, but the waiter insisted.
The rule at La Biblioteca was that if the microphone comes to you and you don’t sing, you leave.
Cristina selected Whitney Houston’s song, I look to you…
John was overcome with sudden emotion. But he didn’t even like the song. And Cristina’s voice was ok-ish.
John gasped. His eyes filled with tears. He couldn’t breathe.
John took a deep breath, drained his glass, filled it again, and threw more whiskey into his stomach.
While she sang, Cristina noticed a tear slip from John’s eye. And she felt a tear slip from her right eye. She wiped hers away.
John let the tear drop roll down his cheek – as if he didn’t give a fuck who saw it.
John knew this meant something. He didn’t know what, but all this emotion that he was feeling, it was a sign. It was as much a sign as wars, famine, epidemic, earthquakes, tribulations, and false prophets are signs. As much a sign as love, kindness and gentleness are signs.
It would play out.
John turned his attention back to George who was trying to catch up with him on the whiskey.
Cristina handed the microphone and computer pad back to the waiter and she chatted with her cousin and girlfriend.
Meanwhile, John showed George a video of Hachi; George exploded in laughter when he saw Hachi pan-handling on Venice Beach (California).
Hachi barked at a police officer who was standing nearby. Finally, the police officer put a dollar in Hachi’s can. Then Hachi sneezed and the police officer put another dollar in the can.
Of course, the scene was especially funny because Hachi stood next to a sign that read, GOT BACON?
George’s laughter got the attention of the women. He hit replay and handed John’s tablet to them. They thought Hachi was adorable and the scene made them laugh.
“I always wanted a white chow chow,” said Cristina.
John couldn’t hear her but he knew she was talking to him. He leaned over the table and she repeated herself.
“Do you want to meet Hachi?”
“Really?! Is he here?” asked Cristina.
“Yeah, he’s outside. Come outside and say hello,” John shouted over the music.
Cristina nodded her head and they both made their way to the door.
Outside La Biblioteca, Cristina introduced herself and held out her hand – “Hi, I’m Cristina.”
John took Cristina’s hand.
They both felt the gentle electric shock like when you walk across a carpet and touch a metal door knob.
Without thinking about it, John pulled her close to him and kissed her. Her lips were soft as clouds. They both felt it: weightless, breathless, and forever.
“Creep!” she shouted at John as she pushed him back – just as two guys walked by.
She had felt something she never felt before. It was wonderful.
But Cristina needed to process it – she needed to know if this could go somewhere special. She needed evidence and guarantees, promises and something more than the strong feelings she wanted to give in to.
One of the guys turned and came to Cristina’s rescue. He was a six foot three hulk and when he pushed John – John moved backwards a few feet.
John also tripped and fell back on the grass.
“Cristina, I’m sorry…”
“I don’t see a chow chow! But I do see a creep.”
The hulk put his arm around the back of Cristina’s waist. Then he escorted her back into the bar.
Hachi came running to John just as Cristina went into the bar. He licked John’s face as John lay there in the grass looking up at the sky.
She’s the one, he thought. And she thinks I’m a creep…
George was laughing when he came out looking for John. He saw John laying in the grass.
“She’s the one, George, and she thinks I suck.”
“I heard you tried to shove your tongue down her throat when she told you her name. You’re one sick bastard, bro.
”Is that what they do in America?”
“What the fuck were you thinking?”
“I don’t know.”
“Are you going to get up?”
“Do I have to?”
George stretched out his hand to help John up, John grabbed it and jumped to his feet.
“The thugs took our table, but I got the bottle.”
George held the bottle high and proudly. Then he passed it to John. John took several big gulps and handed it back.
When John and George had finished the bottle, they went back into the bar. There was no place to sit or stand, so the two joined others who had hopped up and sat on the bar top.
John sent a bottle of champagne to Cristina’s table with “I’m sorry” written on a note taped to the bottle. When Cristina got it, she turned the bottle upside down in the bucket.
“Ouch!” said George as the two watched her do it.
“I think it’s time to log out- bro.
Just then, the waiter appeared and tried to hand John the microphone and computer pad. John pushed them away. The waiter insisted and looked to the door.
George hopped off the bar top to go, but John felt dizzy – just long enough for the waiter to put the microphone in John’s hand.
John recognized the fateful moment – he would let this play out.
He slipped a $100 bill into the waiter’s hand and he told him to play Radiohead’s Creep.
The waiter turned the lights out and a spotlight shone on Cristina at her table and John standing on the bar.
Cristina wanted to run. She wanted to kill John. But she loved it too. This was how falling in love was supposed to be. It couldn’t have been more perfect.
Cristina didn’t have the guts to look at John. If she looked at him, she’d lose it. She’d lose control and melt.
John sang off key. His voice cracked. But he sang the song with all his heart.
When the lights came back on, the crowd cheered but Cristina didn’t even look John’s way. John jumped off the bar top and went out to get some fresh air. He was crushed.
Had he lost his mind? He felt like he was standing at a train station and the train was pulling away.
“You really want to get hurt,” the hulk said to him from behind.
John turned around to meet the hulk’s fist with his face. John went down. Then the hulk put a steel-toed boot hard into John’s ribs. His work done, the hulk walked back to the bar. John’s nose was broken and he spat blood.
Some fights you can’t allow to be counted as a loss. Even when your down. Even when you might not be able to get up.
Like in the death match. Marko had him beat. John’s health was down and he had stamina enough for three moves. After that, Marko would have laid out some serious smack down on him. John took a chance with the axe – 1,000 to 1 against him.
Of course, this was different. This wasn’t about the hulk. This was about Cristina.
It was about everything, John thought to himself.
This wasn’t just a game. If he lost tonight – he would lose Cristina, forever.
Forever and always.
John cried out as he got up.
He stood up because a thing that is meant to be, must be.
Because when you let destiny slip between your fingers, you lose something that truly belonged to you.
That’s what his father had told him. More than once.
Like when you don’t do the right thing and you could have done it, but you know it’s going to hurt – so you don’t do it. Or you’re afraid and you don’t do it. Then you spend the rest of your life, empty and full of regret.
John went back into the bar. Every breathe he took – hurt.
“What happened to you?” George asked.
John asked George to get the microphone when it was free. At the moment, someone was singing, Unchained Melody. John thought it was a perfect lead in to the song on his mind.
At Cristina’s table, things weren’t going so well. The hulk had his arm around Cristina and her friend.
The waiter brought the three women another round of Mai Tais from the man with three gold rings. Then the hulk greedily slammed Cristina’s drink and belched. Cristina was not amused by the pig.
The microphone came to John, the lights went out, the lighters lit up, and the spotlight fell on John’s bloody face.
He repeated the last line of the Unchained Melody:
God speed your love to me…
Then John sang, Enrique Iglesias’ song, Hero. He sang it well. He sang it in the right pitch.
As John sang the last words, he spit up blood.
The lights came back on and the crowd stomped, banged their beer bottles, and chanted for more. Cristina still wasn’t looking at John directly – she was watching his reflection in the window.
John involuntarily spat up blood as he saw the hulk put his arm around Cristina. He put the microphone down and George helped him walk out of the bar. Hachi met them outside and whimpered in sympathy.
Cristina threw the hulk’s arm off of her and stood up just as John walked out of the bar.
She felt as if the train had left the station. She was standing there on the platform watching happiness slip away.
Cristina’s heart pounded harder and harder. She couldn’t breathe. Her hands were wet with perspiration.
“What’s wrong?” asked Anca.
“I’m so stupid…” Cristina shouted as she pushed her way to the door.
As John, George, and Hachi walked away slowly, Cristina shouted out after him.
“Who the hell are you!”
Cristina wasn’t starting an argument. But John was making her feel things she had never felt before. She didn’t know how else to ask why he was the one.
Hope had awakened in her. It was real – not just as a possibility but something completed, unbreakable, and everlasting. Like a circle with no beginning and no end.
At the same time, she also felt despair as she had never known it. As she saw him walk out of the bar, her chest tightened. She felt as if her life was about to shatter into a thousand pieces.
John, George, and Hachi stopped and turned around.
“I didn’t want to embarrass you.”
I’m sorry that I embarrassed you, Cristina.
It was out of my hands. Because destiny is like that. It will bid us to give it our all – however much the fool it makes of us both…”
Cristina’s heart raced as she heard the word, destiny.
Hope was solidifying. It was exceeding her expectations and imagination. But she needed more. What did he mean by destiny!?
“Who the hell do you think you are coming into my life like a falling star!”
The hulk appeared and tried to take Cristina’s arm but she shook him off. George slipped on steel knuckles.
John turned back around. He walked slowly forward and further away from Cristina and the hulk. Hachi growled at the hulk.
“Hey, I’m talking to you!” Cristina shouted again.
“Who the hell are you!”
That’s not what Cristina wanted to say. She wanted him to stop. She wanted him to talk to her. She had all these emotions, wonders, and happiness and he was walking away from it all.
Oh – God! I don’t even know his name, Cristina thought to herself. Did Anca even say it?
Why are you walking away!? she asked him in her heart.
Maybe, John had walked away because she was standing beside the hulk.
Cristina ran after John.
“Please don’t go without telling me who you are,” she shouted in tears.
Meanwhile, the hulk tried to kick Hachi. Hachi sunk his fangs into the hulk’s calf.
When the hulk doubled over in pain, George hit him in the chin with the steel knuckles. The hulk went down.
“Please don’t go away…”
George grabbed the wallet out of the hulk’s back pocket, but it was empty.
“Loser!” George said to the unconscious hulk. He threw the wallet into the bushes.
“Who am I?” John asked softly – he stopped and slowly turned to face Cristina.
Next Episode: God speed your love
All Rights Reserved by Stan Faryna
20 September 2012