Chapter 4: The Pop Rocks and Coca-Cola Fish - Part 4

When Harrison gets to California, he’s busier than before and our phone calls become shorter. When he calls me just as I'm getting ready to go out with Stacey, Mary and Mary’s friend Barb, then, I figure it’s just the usual check-in.

“Jackie!” Harrison’s voice bright and happy, something it hasn't been for a few days.

“Hey Harrison.  I didn't expect you to call this evening.  Didn't you have an all-day event to be at?  A big book conference or something?” I put the phone on speaker and struggle to get on slightly-too-tight jeans.

“Uh, yeah.” A long pause follows.

“What?  Things not go well?” I ask while I put in my earrings.

“Oh, no.  It was fine.  So, what are you doing this evening?”

“Going out with the usual girls. I think Jane is going to be there too, but I think she's coming alone.”
 
“Well, maybe I should let you go.  I hoped to talk a little longer, but I don't want to keep you from your evening plans.” His voice had gone from bright and happy to intense and somewhat urgent.

“Here, I have a few minutes, so we can talk for a bit. I miss you a lot.  Do you miss me?” Once again I forget my own needs and give him all of my attention.

“Sure. Um, I'll let you go and call you later, then.”  He hangs up.

That was odd, I think as I grab my purse and head out the door.
That evening I find out what had been on his mind. While sitting with my friends at a bar in Johnson City, I get a Facebook chat message alert from Harrison.  It says: “Hey.  Found someone else.  A nice woman who has been traveling with me.  Sorry.  TTYL.”

WHAT?

“What is it?” Stacey asks as I sit a bit dumbfounded staring at my phone. “Something go wrong for Harrison?”

“He just dumped me,” I feel stunned.  This doesn't make any sense. I recheck my phone.  Nope, I'm not imagining this.

“He did what?” Stacey asks, leaning in.  “He dumped you with a CHAT message?  You have to be kidding!  Here, let me see,” and she takes the phone from my hand. 

“What a SHIT!” she immediately says loudly.

Mary and her friend Barb hear Stacey and lean over the table.  “What’s happening?” Mary asks. 

“That shit Harrison just dumped Jackie!” Stacey repeats in her loud, increasingly angry voice. “What a coward and … and a SHIT!”

“Oh my gosh! Why?” Mary asks, taking my phone so she and Barb can read the message. “He found someone else?  Did you know he was looking for someone else?”

“Are you kidding?  Even with his commitment busters I thought everything was going fine – really fine recently.  I know that during the book tour we've had trouble communicating, but both Harrison and I have been busy and I thought…” my voice trails off.  “I’ve been taking care of his cats and everything,” my voice just above a whisper.

“What a SHIT!” Stacey says again.

Jane nudges Mary for my phone and reads the message. “What a FUCKING shit!” Jane picks up my empty glass. “Here, I’m going to get you another drink.  You need to get angry and I know you – there'll be no anger until you get good and drunk!” 

“Jane!  What are you thinking? And you want to be a sex therapist?” Mary argues, “Jackie doesn't need to get drunk!  That’s the last thing someone should do – turn to drinking when she’s broken-hearted or in shock.” Barb nods sagely while Mary decisively waves away the bartender.  “Here, Jackie, let’s get out of this bar and go to my house.  You need to have some quiet space, be with your friends and be able just to absorb what happened.”

“You are all so great,” My mouth has gone to cotton and my throat tightens as the message Harrison sent starts to soak in. “I think I should just go home by myself instead.  I want to take a shower and then curl up in bed and go to sleep.”

“Are you sure?” both Mary and Stacey say in unison.  Barb starts getting coats together. Jane shakes her head in disagreement but pays her bill to leave.

“Yeah, I'm sure,” and right then I know I want to be alone so I can cry and scream and feel all of the shock.  I also want to talk to Harrison and have him tell me that it isn't true – that he doesn't really mean what he wrote and that he was only joking or teasing or … or confused.  My chest hurts and it is all I can do to keep myself from completely sobbing as I walk out of the bar, Mary and Stacey on both sides of me holding my arms as if I will faint. Barb and Jane follow behind. Everyone’s talking but I'm not listening anymore. On my way home, I begin to cry so hard that I can’t see very well and my sleeve gets damp from wiping my running nose. What in the world?  What didn't I do to have him choose someone else?  Please let there be no police out tonight. 

As soon as I am inside my house, I fall into a chair and try to call Harrison.  I let the phone ring twice but chicken out and hang up before his voicemail picks up.  How can I talk to him with my voice sounding so gurgly?  I'll never be able to keep my upset from weeping all over the phone.  Damn it.
I start to write him a text message instead. “Got your message.  You found someone else?  What does that mean?”  It sounds whiney to my ears.  I hit send anyway and turn the phone off.  I get into the shower and stand there with the water pouring over me until the hot water runs out.  Damn, damn, damn! I scream in my head. This doesn't feel like I have been in a relationship only about just having sex with a “friend.”
A month passes when my chance to really let him know what I feel comes.  Harrison is to read from his latest novel at a monthly university series that features local authors.  The evening has an open microphone opportunity just before the main author’s presentation and I decide to take advantage of that.  It will be one of those times when Harrison will fully understand the message behind my words, and it will be very satisfying watching his face. Since it will come before his reading, I will one-up him as well.

Ironically, the series is held at The Cup o’ Java Spot, site of our first date. I arrive early so I can be sure to get my name at the top of the list of open-mic readers. I write my name on two lines just to make sure I have enough time. I take a seat to the side, my folder in my lap.  I've made sure to wear the burgundy blouse that emphasizes my breasts and the tight black jeans that show off my butt and legs. My hair has the right balance between chaos and order, and my makeup is done the way he always likes. Harrison will remember what he’s given up. 

People start to sit around me, and I smile at the thought of what I'm going to do.  My pieces are mean – honestly meaner than I truly can maintain later - but I just know reading them will be very cathartic.

“Psst,” someone hisses behind me.  I turn to see that Mary and Stacey have come too.  Jane and her current sexual conquest, a tall young man with a French accent supposedly from Martinique but maybe from Chicago, slide into the next couple seats.  “We're here for emotional support,” Mary whispers. 

“Yeah,” Stacey says more aggressively, “We're here so you keep your nerve.  I can't wait to hear how you're going to screw Harrison-shit!”  Stacey had latched onto that one word with Harrison and hadn't let go throughout the whole month. I'm touched at how angry she’s been.

“Thanks,” I whisper.  “I won't back down now.”  Nope, there isn't any letting him off the hook at this point.

About fifteen minutes later, Harrison enters with the tall blond twenty-something woman from the tour. Of course he'd chosen a recently graduated M.F.A. student.  The couple sits towards the back, Harrison confidently shuffling through the pages he holds.  He’s wearing the same tan jacket he wore for our first date, although this time he wears a black polo shirt and black slacks. Tres cool, Mr. Allard. Within a few minutes, the host comes to the front of the gathering. 

“Our first - and second - reader tonight will be Jacqueline Connolly, a local writer who usually writes human interest news stories but is trying her hand at poetry tonight.” Poetic justice, I think to myself.

I walk to the microphone, my stomach a little nervous in anticipation.  I set my folder on the podium, clear my throat and look around.  Harrison is pointedly not looking my way. That'll change soon.

“These pieces work together as a view of a particular type of relationship. They also are some things I wrote for a special person.  They're somewhat raw, but I hope you'll bear with me.”

I reset my papers and begin:
“On Waking on a Summer Morning.” I allow a brief pause.

“I woke this morning / My body warm and soft from sleep / And memories swept over me. / Memories,” I read slowly, enunciating each word, “of the taste of your mouth your eyes your face / Your chest your cock your cum.” 

I pause again and look up. “Of the feel of your arms around my body, your mouth on my breast, / Your tongue on my lips … and lips.” I stare pointedly in Harrison’s direction. “Your body pressed against me; my hair falling on your body, / against your thighs, against my cheek.” 

I take a breath. “Of seeing your eyes your arms your legs your sweat your pleasure.” Most of the audience members smile - some knowingly - and Harrison’s eyes are now squarely on me.  “Of the sound of our breathing our laughing our moaning our whispers / Our bodies against and within each other.” 

Draw this out and make him remember, I think to myself. “Of the smell of your sweat and my sweat, of my perfume and your skin / Of the sun warmed arms and legs and breasts / Of our sex…” I look down at the page, “And I wipe away the dream and face the day.”  

I let out my breath completely, a bit in relief and a bit in satisfaction.  I look up and in the midst of the audience’s applause and sounds of approval, I see Harrison’s frown.  Just wait, I think as I shuffle my paper.

“This next piece is more of a prose poem than anything else.”
“How Do You Like It?” I clear my throat and my voice takes on an inquisitive tone. I read at a slightly quicker pace.

“You asked about men burying their faces between my legs.  But what’s your pleasure when it comes to women giving you head?” I look up and see some people tense. I concentrate on the next part and just focus on feeling assertive.

“After a woman has held your eyes as she puts your cock into her mouth, what do you want the most?  Do you enjoy it most when she’s slowly licking the shaft, running her tongue around and up and down, as if catching the drips from the ice cream cone, coming up for quick swirls around the head – a short suck with mild pressure – and then returning to the shaft and those long, slick, slow licks?  Or is it the deep throating that you prefer – thrusting your cock deep into her mouth and feeling not only the warm wetness of the roof and back of her mouth, but also that flickering of the tongue – little movements around and over your cock – that remind you that this isn't her cunt you are invading?  Or maybe a combination of her hand, wrapped around the base of your shaft, making short, insistent tugs and her thumbs running up the side while she focuses her mouth on your head – lips wrapping around the edges and her tongue flicking back and forth, a gentle pressure applied as she sucks all the while?” 

Over the course of our relationship, I've moved well beyond ice cream cones and chocolate-covered bananas. My confidence is strong now and I half read and half talk directly to Harrison.

“And what about when you come?  Do you like it when she swallows it all, sucking it down like sweet cream, glancing at you blatantly while she does it?  Would you rather she swallow some of it and then let the rest dribble out of her mouth, maybe dripping it back onto your abdomen for her to lick up afterwards?  Of course, maybe you prefer to have her pull back just as your cum shoots forth, she directing that hot, thick whiteness all over her upper chest and down her breasts, and afterwards, when you are lying there spent and a bit out of breath, she leaning over you to have you lick off her sticky wet nipples?” 

My voice gets sultry. “So, what’s your pleasure?  When’s the best for you?  (Are you breathing?)”

I send Harrison a look of exaggerated innocence. This time the audience is quiet for a moment before tentatively clapping. 

“This final piece is shorter and really a rant.” I clear my voice, feel the adrenaline help bring out the anger.

“The Lesson.” I pause, take a breath, and read loudly and without a break while my voice gains sarcasm as I go:  

“I want to thank you for giving me so many experiences.  You have, for example, given me the full experience of fucking.  Physically, mentally and emotionally, I feel completely fucked.  While the physical fucking was fun, I have to say that it’s your emotional and mental fucking prowess that truly give you bragging rights.  I can't imagine many men will screw with a woman’s mind and heart like you.  After building up a real closeness, building intensity by confiding secrets and engaging in fervent love making – such an artful touch – you completely destroy the caring facade when you abruptly walk out.  Brilliant!  I can't think of anything that fucks with a woman more than throwing her faith and belief in you back in her face.  Wow.  I'm completely in awe of your abilities to give someone the whole fucking experience.  I am forever indebted to you for this unforgettable education!”  

I finish, bow slightly, and pull together my pages. “And that’s it.”

The applause is a mix of enthusiastic support and more tepid uncertainty. My friends are standing up wildly clapping.  Harrison’s face is white with either embarrassment or rage – I can't tell which – and I know I have triumphed.  I walk over to my seat to retrieve my jacket, and I glance briefly at my friends. They all give me a thumbs up.  As the host introduces the next reader, I leave the coffee house.  I don’t need to stay for Harrison’s reading since I know my barb has hit its target.  I might hear from him after this performance, but I don't care. I've won.

Written by Jackie Connolly

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