Excerpt from “The Falls,” a short story

September 16, 2009 at 3:39 pm | Posted in Writing: Stories | Leave a comment
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THE FALLS

 (Published in The Sun)

      On our way to the Maumee River Trail, my boyfriend, Lenny, asks me if I want to go to Albany with him in two weeks. He has found a really cheap Airstream trailer for sale on the Internet and wants to check it out.

      “It’ll be fun,” he says, adding that we can stop at Niagara Falls on the way back.

      “Niagara Falls!” I say.

      For two years I have derided him about his only previous visit to this so-called majestic place: Lenny’s brother Stanley came up from Arkansas to go to a NASCAR race, and Lenny and Stanley ended up going not only to the race, but also to Niagara Falls.

      It’s not so much the fact that they went to Niagara Falls that bothers me, although I would have liked it if Lenny and I could have seen the falls for the first time together. It takes away from the moment when one of you has seen a landmark before. Also, the first time is the most memorable, and you want him to remember being there with you. And besides, as I have reminded Lenny again and again, Niagara Falls is for honeymooners. Why would he want to go there with, of all people, his brother Stanley, an unmarried man who considers women only a slightly higher form of life than meat?

      But that isn’t what really bothered me. What bothered me is that there are only three reasons single men go to that part of Canada: hunting, gambling, and strip clubs. Stanley and Lenny don’t hunt or gamble.

      As soon as Lenny had gotten back from Niagara Falls, I said, “Did you go to the strip clubs, Lenny?”

      Lenny said he was just trying to be a good host. That he went for Stanley. That he did not really care for that sort of thing.

      “Did you get a lap dance?” I asked.

      He said no, but Stanley had. And Stanley had offered to buy Lenny a lap dance, too, but Lenny had refused.

      “But you watched Stanley get his lap dance?”

      And Lenny said, “Yes.”

      I asked if he’d watched the shows, the naked women, and the woman who gets into the glass bathtub, the one I’d read about in some of my freshman boys’ essays.

      Lenny said he had seen all of that, yes.

      “And you enjoyed it?”

      “Not really.”

      “You’re lying,” I said, even though I did not think he was.

      And he said, “Well, yes, I did enjoy it some. I’m a man, and I’m not dead yet. But I’d have been just as happy not to go.”

      “Oh, so you did enjoy it?”

      He said it wasn’t like that. He did not like it that much.

      “Then why did you go?” I asked.

      And he said, “For Stanley.”

      This is how the conversation always goes, around and around. So when I say to Lenny now, “Niagara Falls!” Lenny rolls his eyes as if to say, Here we go again.

      But today I am feeling generous. Today I think, Let it go. Just let it all go. Today I feel a need for tenderness. So I say, “Guess what: I will go with you.”

      The light reenters his eyes, and he says, “It’ll be a good time.” …

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