Since his girlfriend packed her bags, flicked him the bird and slammed the door, Lou Mariano has retreated somewhat from life on 'the outside'. His computer has become his friend, his living room, his comfort zone. He knew it was over, soon after it started. She'd been charming at first, good in the sack but boring as all get-up, self-absorbed and difficult to converse with. As a 'talker', conversation was right up there on his list of perfect female characteristics, along with natural breasts, slender build, good looks and height below 5' 10. These attributes made all the more attractive if she showed some athleticism in bed. Monique only ticked two of his 'boxes.' Good riddance to the bitch.
Now in his late 20's, Mariano had a bucket list of elements necessary to complete perfect woman. The longer he waited, the more unattainable she became, but he was determined not to 'settle'. This last foray into romance had soured him even more, no models, no foreigners, no crazy bitches who wanted 'exclusivity' and constant attention - and above all, no dumb cows that couldn't hold a decent conversation or engage in argument. Mariano loved a good argument.
There was however, no doubt that he was feeling a little lonely. The bed felt colder without her, TV dinners replaced the home cooking that she'd provided. His pantry was stocked with ready-made meals ordered online. There was little reason for him to leave the house.
As a Graphic Designer of some talent, Lou worked from home and loved the ability to wear his pyjamas until 3pm. To enjoy an unstructured day and still earn a healthy income was right up his alley. He wouldn't even drive unless absolutely necessary. Clients and friends came to him, six pack in hand. No Mohamed could move this mountain. He'd endured the rat race of advertising agencies for 5 years prior to going freelance, He hated the pretentiousness, the client interface, the pitch. Here, he could work creatively, avoid the business lunches and earn a lucrative income. Here, he could distract himself with social networking, blogging and home-spun workout routines between projects, or when his brain refused to get into gear.
It was one of these brain-addled days where nothing seemed to fall into place, and creativity eluded him, that he began cruising old school friends on Facebook.
"Jesus, she got fat!" He'd mutter to himself, "He's looking old? Christ his wife's ugly!"
Mariano was blessed with youthful good looks, perhaps the legacy of Mediterranean genes. His complexion was pure, swarthy and youthful, his body svelte and athletic. It hadn't always been that way. As a child he was scrawny and short-sighted. A little nerdy and outside the box. The only child of suffocating parents, he was coddled and smothered. Only after lasik surgery and leaving home did he come into his own and became more independent, self-reliant and more than a little vain. Yes, the next ex-Mrs Mariano would have to be something akin to a PhD with a Penthouse body.
He did a double-take when he 'found' Leisl Stensl.
"Wow! She's well maintained," he'd declared to the snoring dog at his feet as he clicked on her profile and selected "Photos".
"She's really in good shape. Pretty too. Used to have a massive crush on her but she was a bit young. Wore too much makeup as well, but she was gorgeous. She is gorgeous."
He enlarges each photograph of Leisl, the selfies, the portraits, the family events. Yep, she's slim, looks about 5'7 with dark glossy hair and a very shapely body. He ignores the many pictures of her embracing her younger brother and particularly hovers over the shot of her leaning forward, legs crossed, her hand on her chin, smiling seductively at the camera. Her fulsome breasts on display and tantalisingly shapely legs. He could imagine those wrapped around his neck!
"Great tits!" The dog remained unmoved by his master's enthusiasm. "Shit, I remember her. Used to look at her from a distance and think she was gorgeous. Doubt she'd even remember me."
"Friend Request Sent" . . . without more than a lascivious thought, and even though Leisl lived in another state, he was curious and his imagination began to spin.
Leisl Stensl: "Hi do I now you? Says on your psge that you went to Ivanho. Dnt rmemeber u :)"
Lou Mariano: "Hi Leisl. Yes, I was a mate of Joe Calvi when you were dating him. I used to have a crush on you. :P"
Leisl Stensl: "Srsly dont remember. Looking at your phtps now. Ur cute! don't have a PC, can I call?"This was great! She wanted to talk, the hot chick from his past, not only still 'hot', but available and wants to talk. Without thought of consequence, he sent her his mobile number. Within seconds his ringtone sounded.
Lou has a charm. An amazing, disabling charm. It's what attracts women to him immediately. His gift of the gab, his sense of humour, his ability to melt hearts with a quick embrace. He's particularly loquacious and amorous after a few glasses of red. And that first evening, he'd had more than a few. The pitch of his voice softened, he cooed into the phone. Told her he admired her in school, told her his life story, listened to hers. Her voice was sweet as she talked about music, her brother, her love of art. He flattered her appearance and the fact that she'd maintained her good looks. They spoke of past relationships. How hers had been disastrous and left her fragile. How his had been a waste of time, and left him resolved to seek out the perfect companion. It was a good call, a long call, and ended with her calling him 'babe' and him feeling aroused.
He'd masturbated in the shower after that, the vision of her inside his head.
Carl walked unannounced into Leisl's bedroom. She raised her left index finger to her mouth
"Shhh...Sorry, Lou, gotta go. I'll call you later. Bye babe. Love you!"
"Love you?" Carl's disapproval obvious. "Who's 'babe'?" Who does she love other than him?
"Carl, seriously, you have to knock before you come in." She slides to a stand from her prone position on the bed.
She puts her arms around his neck. "Relax, just an old friend from school. He just friended me on Facebook. He's nice. I like him. Kinda cute too, and single!"
An invisible barb penetrated his chest and Carl began to sulk immediately. "I thought you were passing on guys for a while. I thought we were enough for now?"
"Seriously. He's rad, he's cool. I like him. I deserve to be happy don't I? You're my true love! Just an impossible one."
Carl turned with an unexpected degree of impetuousness and slammed her bedroom door behind him yelling, "He'll be the same as the others, he'll fuck you and forget you!"
She ignored his temper and felt the emerging dampness between her legs. Yes, she remembered.
She just didn't get it. She called him 'babe' and convinced herself that he's the one. Even unmet, he's in her head, her thoughts. Their first conversation is constantly on replay "I had a crush on you. . ." all other words fell on deaf ears. He was just kidding, being sarcastic, of course he loves her. She chose to exclude all his negativity and warnings.
"Who's the looker commenting on your page?" Lou's friend asks.
"Damn. Some woman I friended. Used to know her at school, now she's just a vacuous nuisance. Drives me crazy. Look..."
Lou slides the windows on his Android, "13 missed calls, 5 messages and all before 7:30am! The girl doesn't get it. She's stupid. I can't abide stupid. And . . . tell you, there's something weird going on with her and her brother. She never shuts up about him."
"So? Just unfriend her." His friend's obvious solution lost on Lou. He might be a dick but he doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Doesn't want to anger the crazy bitch. She's already hung up on him, threatened to 'find him'. Best to keep this one on side.
"Nah, I'll ignore her. Give her enough rope, she'll hang herself soon enough!"
In an effort to quell the unwanted attention Lou began to set boundaries.
"Leisl, stop calling. I'm busy, leave a message and I'll get back to you."
For some reason, she was reluctant to leave messages. When she did, he would call.Their conversations short, sharp and disparaging. There were times he'd even bring her to tears but she'd return for more punishment.
"You're a lousy friend..." she'd sob before hanging up. Then, after a few days, she'd be back. Pissing on his page, calling his mobile. The last message sounded desperate and he caved.
"What's up?" Lou's voice pragmatic and to the point.
"Hey sweetie, I met your Dad today."
This is a new turn of events. His parents still lived in Melbourne, had for most of their lives. How the Hell did she meet his father?
"You what?" The sharp indignation in his voice goes over Leisl's head.
"Oh babe, it's not rocket science. It's called a phone book. I drove over and introduced myself. Told him about us and that I was going to visit you. I thought he might want me to take a few things up to Brissy for you. Such a cool guy, we had coffee and a long talk about you. He's so happy you have a girlfriend."
"You did what? Happy I have a what? Leisl, you, are NOT my girlfriend!"
Lou began to break into a sweat as she ignored his rejection.
"I'm coming to Brisbane. I'm coming to see you." The excitement in her voice elevating to a squeal. "Isn't that awesome?"
He's beyond shocked. No matter how disparaging he is to this girl, she's relentless, focused, determined. How's he going to get out of this one?
"Leisl, I'm busy that week, I'm busy for the whole month actually."
"Oh silly, you don't even know what week. I didn't tell you when." She breaks into a girlish giggle, "Now, what's your address?"
By now, he's thinking she's crazy, angry, possibly dangerous - capable of hurting him or herself and no way on earth is she getting his address. Still, better to keep her in the good books. A crazy crush can be a dangerous crush and he's had his share of vengeful women. He's seen those movies of jealous lovers and mad obsessions. No way she's getting the chance to put a knife between his shoulder blades.
"Er, I'm between houses at the moment, staying with friends. It's not a good time." Typically he doesn't lie but this one just blurted out.
He hangs up the call and strokes the stubble on his chin. "Shit. Shit! What now? Guess if she does lob, I can meet her for a coffee. Set her straight, tell her what's what. Eyeball her, make it clear that I'm not interested." The dog lifts it's head and passes an 'I told you so' glance, "Shut it you mutt!" The dog reverts to it's sleeping position and sighs.
How the fuck did it escalate to this? Just three weeks knowing this girl and she's all over him like a rash. Despite him calling her stupid, insane and begging her to stop referring to him as 'babe'. He recalls the horrible things he's said. Perhaps he took it too far. All of a sudden, she doesn't look so good.
He can't masturbate in the shower any more because of the image of her inside his head.
Posted for River of Mnemosyne Challenge No. 5
Continued in An Air of Evanescence