Sickboy is flying solo tonight and in the mood for a good brood. He takes a few halfhearted laps around Farmers’ Market before ducking into Tony’s. The poor sap has made himself scarce around the joint lately, a fact that has not escaped some of the staff and patrons.
First it’s Herc at the door.
“Sickboy, where the hell you been, my brother?”
As door guys go, Herc is a pretty mellow dude, always sporting a beard and beanie cap. He’s been a friend to Sickboy and never misses a chance to bust his balls about his drinking or his crush on Jenny. Herc is yet another fuckin’ Yankees fan. They’re everywhere it seems.
“I’ve been around, Herc. Just around.”
Sassy Cass is sitting at the bar sipping a martini. She’s a super-cute petite blonde who used to be a brunette until three months ago. Sickboy knows her from Tiny’s Tavern down on Voltaire where she serves up pints with a sidecar of sass.
“Long time no see, Sickboy. Where you been?”
“I’ve been around. Good to see you, Cassie.”
Next up is Chloe behind the bar. She sure enjoys giving Sickboy a hard time.
“Holy shit! Look what the cat dragged in. I was beginning to wonder if you’d ever come back.”
Sickboy is getting embarrassed now. All this attention is making his belly ache. A few Beam-n-Buds should take care of that.
An hour and a half pass by and Sickboy is marinating and making scribbles on a cocktail napkin. Chloe is intrigued and in the mood for some conversation.
“Whatcha’ got there, Sickboy?”
Sickboy hesitantly slides the note toward Chloe’s hand. She snaps it up and reads aloud, but just loud enough so that only she and Sickboy can hear.
Dear Women of the World,
You are God’s most special creation. I love every single one of you…but some more than others…and right now one most of all.
Sickboy would be blushing if he wasn’t already sporting an Irish sunburn, the kind that works its way from the inside out. Chloe pounces.
“Goddamn, Sickboy. You really are a hopeless romantic.”
Sickboy ducks the blow and fires back.
“You’re wrong there, Chloe. If there is one thing I have, it’s hope. As a matter of fact, hope is all I’ve got.”
Never do Sickboy or Chloe mention Jenny’s name, but they both know it’s Jenny Sickboy is talking about. He stayed away from the bar for months after hearing about Jenny’s break up. He had come to accept that her heart belonged to that boy, but now he would have to learn to swallow a much more bitter pill – Given a choice, Jenny will never choose Sickboy.
There isn’t a guy within ten miles of Ocean Beach who is not in love with Jenny. The minute word got out about the split the wolves started circling. Sickboy wanted no part of it. He’s got this empathy thing. He feels for the girl and wants to see her happy. He had imagined how tough things would be for her at the start and how much she would need her circle of closest friends, a circle which Sickboy had not yet been lucky enough to join. Stay the hell away from her, he had told himself. Sometimes love means knowing when to disappear.
Chloe can feel Sickboy’s pain. There’s a hint of understanding in her eyes as she prepares a double shot of sweet amber Beam for the patient.
“This one’s on the house,” she says in a succinct and clinical tone.
Sickboy breathes deep, and then he takes his medicine.