Post Mortem

We begin with the end
Hot tea, warm bookstore
Shake hands, part friends
I never promised
Neither did I
And yet I wanted so badly to make it work

The symbols all dance
The flowers, the card
The first kiss, your breasts
It all meant something
But not enough
And yet I wanted so badly to make it work

So we end with beginnings
New partners, new places
New memories, new dreams
Shuffle the deck
Deal ‘em right
And yet I wanted so badly to make it work.

David L. Cunix

Damn, it was like being seventeen again. The doubt. The signals. Mixed signals. He had owned a 1965 Buick Century back when he was seventeen. Sometimes it ran. Sometimes it didn’t. He never knew each morning when he turned the key whether that Buick would start or not. He never knew when he telephoned Carol whether this would be his last call, or not. He was definitely too old for this, but she was special, and he wasn’t ready to give up.

The good news was that they had only recently begun seeing each other. Three weeks. When the end came, as if something that never really started could have an end, it came painlessly. She was honest. She was positive that she could never love Jim. And since love was the only thing Jim wanted from Carol, there was little point in continuing.

Jim and I had breakfast the next morning. Over toasted cinnamon raisin bagels and cream cheese at Broadway Bagels he told me how he had kept the doors open. He didn’t love Carol. Never lost emotional control. Nagging doubts had held him back. But he was so close. Closer than he knew.

Their first kiss had been at the stroke of midnight at a New Year’s Eve Party. Their second was a few hours later when he confessed that he didn’t want to wait a year to kiss her again. He was romantic. Carol was receptive. Jim brought her flowers. She had forgotten how nice it was to have someone truly care.

But there was something wrong. Jim was not the most sensitive guy in Cleveland and yet he could tell, he could feel, that Carol was holding back. Maybe she wasn’t ready? Perhaps there were issues? No chemistry? Who knows? She wasn’t prepared to show her cards, so I had told Jim to hang in and be himself.

Jim and I are salesmen. We live to hear the word “Yes”. We die little deaths with every “No”. But the word that hurts us the most is “Maybe”. Maybe means that if you try a little harder and work a little more we will succeed. Jim, a black or white – yes or no kind of guy, hated the indecision Carol was feeling. Moments of passion followed by days of indifference were taking a toll on him.

The end came quietly. A soft voice admitting that there was no future. Half expected, Jim was able to choose his words carefully. No anger. Surprisingly, no pain. But Jim was disappointed. He really had liked her. He really did think she was beautiful. He really had wanted badly to make it work.