FUN WITH GIRLS II
By Christopher Patrick Kohls
Christopher Patrick Kohls on Shakespir
FUN WITH SATAN
Copyright © 2016 by Christopher Patrick Kohls
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
SEAGAL VS. VAN DAMME
In the middle of Amato’s Pizza in Toronto Eugene Maynard sat watching Mario jump his way toward Donkey Kong and the Princess while “insert coin” blinked on over the action. The conversation of the employees in the kitchen made him anxious. Eugene often felt anxious in public, but particularly in restaurants. Pizza Parlors and coffee shops were about the only places he felt even remotely comfortable, but the conversation behind him wasn’t helping. This place belonged to the employees. They spent eight hours a day here. He felt as though they thought him a trespasser, like he was invading their territory. He knew, of course, that this wasn’t true, but he couldn’t help how he felt. The other patron’s only made things worse. They were all in groups or pairs, and they all looked like the types that felt confident eating out and shopping. Eugene was sitting alone in the Pizza shop. He was expecting someone, but no one else knew that. Still borrowing money from his mother, Eugene never felt confident buying anything anywhere.
A girl walked through the door; she stopped and looked curiously at Eugene.
“Willamina?” he asked her.
“Eugene?” she asked back.
The two smiled and she sat down across from him. If she stood over five feet, it wasn’t much. Her top lateral incisors were turned completely sideways and she was an odd kind of chubby. Eugene had mostly known chubby girls, but Willamina was what is commonly referred to as pear shaped. Her face, neck and shoulders were relatively thin, but after that her body took on a bell form which only tapered in again below her waist and finally came to a narrow point near her ankles. Willamina, however, was extremely cute. She looked like a compact pear shaped Kate Beckinsale. In fact, she looked remarkably like her, and as she walked toward Eugene’s table Eugene began to think that he had got very lucky by this blind date. Her walk was not that of an ordinary girl, it was somehow elegant and confident. Under her perhaps imperfect figure was a remarkably fit woman. Eugene was anxious now for another reason. He didn’t want to foul up this date.
To Willamina, Eugene was like many of the men she’d been set up with. He was tall and skinny with light orange hair, fair skin and freckles. He had a large crooked nose, thin lips and bushy unkempt eyebrows. He hadn’t shaved in a while, but it didn’t matter as he couldn’t grow facial hair. Fortunately for Eugene, he had the biggest brown eyes Willamina had ever seen. He reminded her of Ichabod Crane, but Willamina liked Ichabod Crane.
Willamina had the unfortunate circumstance of having three older sisters, each of whom was gorgeous. She was the odd duck. No matter what diet she’d undertaken, which fitness regiment she’d employed, or how many pills she’d been prescribed she could not sort out her figure. That wasn’t her real problem, though. To the eternal dismay of her sisters and mother, she was a nerd. She was a whiz in math and science, indulged in obscure cartoons from the 80s, and, still at age 20, loved unicorns.
Just as Willamina took a seat across from Eugene the waiter came with the Pizza he’d ordered. As Eugene opened the box Willamina’s eyes lit up.
“The Sardina!” she exclaimed.
“Yeah, I debated whether I should get half Sardina and half Pepperoni or half Hawaiian or something ordinary like that,” Eugene replied, “but I concluded that, part of a date should be an engagement in new experiences, and furthermore, that those experiences should relate to the tastes and lifestyle of the other party, so that one might better understand the person with whom they are out.”
“Well, I love Sardina,” said Willamina, “and I’ve never met anyone else who does. Snow peas & anchovies isn’t exactly a popular combination.”
“True,” said Eugene.
“When were you born?” asked Willamina as she took up a slice.
“1985,” said Eugene.
“No, what month?” she clarified.
“Oh, sorry, I was born on May day, May 1st.”
“Really?” stated Willamina, suddenly very interested, “A Taurus.”
“Is that good?”
“I’m a Virgo,” said Willamina, flirtatiously.
The significance was lost on Eugene.
“I take it you’re not into astrology,” said Willamina. “No matter. To be honest, I’d rather you weren’t. It’s weird for boys I think. It’d be as if you liked unicorns or something.”
“Interestingly I’m a devoted student of astronomy, Ancient Greece, as well as many other historic periods and realms,” said Eugene, “I’m an avid collector of Ancient Greek and medieval artifacts, and though I’m not, as you suppose, a fan of unicorns specifically, I have read extensively about them. A few years back I bought a goblet from Denmark that is purported to be made out of the horn of a unicorn. If you’d like to see it, I’d be more than happy to show it to you.”
Willamina’s eyes were wide open. She was frozen with excitement and couldn’t speak.
“Would you like to see it?” asked Eugene directly.
As the date progressed the two found more and more in common. There seemed nothing to suggest any remote incompatibility. Finally Willamina took a breath. She would lay down the final test. Ordinarily she didn’t confess this particular eccentricity until well into a relationship, but Eugene seemed so perfect, she was convinced that he’d not mind. She suspected he was the man she’d been looking for her whole life. She suspected that he was “Mr. Right.”
“I have something to tell you,” said Willamina, “it’s sort of a confession.”
Eugene’s smile faded. He knew this was too good to be true. The possibilities raced through his head.
“I’m a 80s buff,” said Willamina.
The smile returned to Eugene’s face.
“I love the 80s,” Eugene exclaimed.
Willamina smiled too, but only for an instant.
“Yes, but, I’m a fan of 80s films.”
“Of course, the best films in history,” Eugene declared.
“But not Indiana Jones or Back to the Future or anything like that. I’m talking about the cheesy, horrible films.”
“No, I know,” cried Eugene, “I know just what you mean, the super-80s, 80s films.”
“Yes, exactly,” said Willamina, “but it’s worse still. It’s not just cheesy 80s films. I have something of an obsession for cheesy 80s action films.”
“No, way!” shouted Eugene, “I love 80s action films. They may be my single favorite artistic movement of any creative medium in history.”
Finally, a smile too spread over Willamina’s face. She was beaming.
“And I absolutely love Stephen Seagal!” she shouted.
Suddenly Eugene’s smile fell. He looked as if he’d been hit in the gut.
“What?” Willamina started, “What is it?”
She felt just as ill as he did. She realized that she’d said something horribly wrong.
“I hate Stephen Seagal,” said Eugene plainly, his upper lip curling compulsively.
The two just sat there for a moment, not speaking.
“How can you like Stephen Seagal?” asked Eugene, disgusted. Willamina didn’t say anything.
“There are just so many better 80s action stars,” Eugene continued. “There’s Chuck Norris, Dolph Lundgren, Jan-Michael Vincent. I mean, why couldn’t you have just said Jean-Claude Van Damme? I love Jean-Claude. Not only technically the best 80s action star, but also the best looking. Such style and charisma, all with a deadly roundhouse.
As he spoke Willamina’s eyes grew wide again, this time in fiery rage.
“Van Damme doesn’t hold a candle to Seagal!” she shouted. “Don’t tell me you’ve never seen the 1996 Tokyo demo video.”
“I’ve seen it,” said Eugene, “and it was clearly staged. Don’t tell me you never heard about the incident at the home of one Mr. Sylvester Stallone.”
The two looked at each other, both squinting a little. Finally, at the same time, they pointed at each other.
“You’re VanDamme101860!” shouted Willamina.
“You’re Seagal41052!” shouted Eugene.
Again they sat there in silence, staring. Neither could believe it. They were finally face to face with their arch nemeses on 80sactionstars.com. There were so many things that they’d have liked to say to each other in person. They’d each anticipated this moment for years now. Strangely though, it seemed anticlimactic. Something had deflated their outrage.
First Eugene began to laugh, then Willamina.
“Why are you laughing?” asked Willamina.
“No, I just thought that it was kind of funny,” said Eugene. “I never imagined Seagal41052 would be so attractive.”
Willamina stopped laughing.
“Why’d you stop laughing?” Eugene asked.
“You think I’m attractive?”
There was a long silence then. Eugene didn’t know what to say.
“You know how a lot of people say that there’s a fine line between love and hate?” said Willamina.
“I’m not sure I’ve heard that,” said Eugene.
“Well,” Willamina continued, “the general idea is that hate and love are both passionate emotions and therefore very similar. They are not really opposites but the opposite of both is indifference. I think, for the first time in my life, I understand that.”
Eugene gazed into Willamina’s Kate Beckinsalesque eyes. The bitterness that had developed over the past two years within both of them evaporated. It was all insignificant now, for both of them.
Six months later, Eugene and Willamina were married. The ceremony was held at a quaint church in the countryside in late spring. As the music started and the bridal party began their walk toward the altar, the usher went to shut the doors. At just this moment, outside the church, a tall man with stark black hair tied back in a ponytail ascended the front steps. Just as the usher was closing the front door the man spoke to him in a soft, whispered voice.
“Hold on a moment,” said the man, “I’m late.”
“May I see your invitation, sir?” said the Usher.
“Well, I don’t have one,” said the man, “but you don’t understand, I’m…” “I’m sorry, sir,” said the Usher. “This gathering is invitation only.”
As the usher shut the door, the man caught a glimpse inside and, for a moment, he thought he saw someone he knew.
John Treadwell checked his watch again, 2:47 pm. He’d been waiting behind the wall of the 76 station for a little over fifteen minutes. He was supposed to meet the old man at 3:00 but, unable to wait, had left a half hour before he had to. Today was the culmination of three months hard labor, working at the Burger King and doing odd jobs around the neighborhood, trying to save up to buy his first car.
John was seventeen with ginger hair and freckles. He’d always been an average guy, not popular, but not a nerd. He fancied himself a bit of a Richie Cunningham type, except he didn’t have a pack of friends or a Fonzie to get him out of trouble. He was a drifter in school, friends with everybody but not really part of any clique. He’d always pretended that this didn’t bother him, that he was cool being the average guy. Of course it did bother him. He wished, more than anything, that he was the popular guy in school though he’d never dare admit it, especially to himself. John donned vintage, 60s era shirts and jeans. He thought this differentiated himself a little from everyone else, made him a little more interesting, and it did. It precluded him from ever being Mr. Popular, but it was intended to. It helped give off that “I don’t care about being Mr. Popular” vibe he was so desperate for people to believe.
He checked his watch again, 2:55 pm. Perfect. He slipped out from behind the store and walked the half block to the old man’s house. He’d met Mr. Stringer at his work. John sold mobile phones and when the silver haired Mr. Stringer had asked John’s advice about which model and payment plan to go with, John had directed him to a competitor. Mr. Stringer only wanted the phone for emergencies, and the company John worked for didn’t have a plan for such limited use, at least not one with good value for money. Mr. Stringer and John got to talking after that and Mr. Stringer found out about John’s saving up for a car.
“You’re interested in a girl at school aren’t you?” asked the old man.
“Sorry?” said John, playing dumb.
“You want a car so you can take out a girl,” said Mr. Stringer. “I was your age once. I also wanted a car. Girls are powerful incentives. As the years go by you’re going to find that you’ll do a lot more to get a girl’s attention than just saving up to buy a car. You’ll spend fortunes, travel to dangerous, exotic countries, fight in wars… well, I’m not going to get too sentimental here. I’m sure you’re not interested. But listen, I have a car. I haven’t driven it in years. If you want it, I’ll make you a good deal on it.”
“How old is it?” John asked.
“It’s old, but it’s a classic, and it runs great,” said Mr. Stringer. “It’s called a Ford GTO Mk III. Look it up when you get home. How much have you saved up this summer?”
“About three grand,” said John.
“Three grand,” repeated the old man, scratching his chin. “I’ll tell you what. I’ll give it to you for two, that way you’ll have some money to take the girl out with.”
John smiled. He had finally given up denying that he was buying the car to impress a girl. Her name was Belle. John had been in love with her since the second grade. At that age he’d had no hesitation in letting her know it. He’d chase her around the school yard trying to get kisses. She never seemed to mind until one day she’d lashed out at him, telling him he was a nerd and that no one liked him and to leave her alone. It had crushed his little heart. Still, he never lost interest in her. He’d just kept quiet about it after that. He tried not to think about her, but he couldn’t help how he felt. Anything he did she was in the back of his mind.
John’s best friend, Frank, was the only one who knew about the secret infatuation. Frank was the one who first suggested John get a car to impress Belle with. John had wanted a car anyway, but Frank’s suggestion had really amplified his interest. He realized that if he were ever to have the slightest chance with Belle he’d have to have a car. If he were to impress her, he was going to have to get a really great car.
After meeting the old man and researching the GTO, John was beyond ecstatic. This was the car. He knew it in his bones. If anything was going to impress Belle, it was this car. The Mk III was a rare classic. The road version of the famous Mk I racecar, only seven were ever built. It was worth far more than two grand, it was worth more than John’s life. He almost felt like he was ripping the old man off, and a slight tinge of guilt soured John’s excitement, but not enough to stop him buying the thing. The car was probably pretty beat up anyway, maybe rusted over.
As John approached the house he saw the garage door opened. Mr. Stringer was in the garage wiping down the GTO with a cloth. The car was mint. It wasn’t just the car. Mr. Stringer’s garage was immaculate, a place for everything and everything in its place. On one bench and along the wall above it were countless war medals, badges, framed letter and pictures with presidents. Mr. Stringer was a war hero.
“John,” said the man. “Good to see you. Do you have my money?”
John drew a check from his shirt pocket and held it in the air. The old man walked casually over, took the check and passed over the keys. John’s heart began to race. He wasn’t sure whether it was because of the car, or because he was getting away with something, but he wasn’t going to think about it. He was just going to get into his new car and drive away.
He opened the driver’s side door and slid behind the wheel. He felt along the dash. It was beautiful. The old man tapped on the passenger side window. John leaned over and rolled it down.
“Start her up,” said Mr. Stringer.
John put the key in the ignition and turned it. It let out a roar and then settled, purring beautifully. He looked over at Mr. Stringer. The old man had an even bigger smile than John. John stopped smiling. The guilt suddenly struck him. He turned the key back and shut the car off. John took a breath.
“What’s wrong?” said the old man.
“I can’t take your car,” said John.
“You probably don’t know this, but this is a really rare car. It’s worth a lot more than I gave you. I’m ripping you off.”
The old man laughed.
“I know how much it’s worth,” said Mr. Stringer. “Remember when I asked you about what mobile phone to get and you advised me to go with that other company? You work on commission don’t you?”
“Yeah, well, I knew that, and I knew you were giving up your commission so I wouldn’t get ripped off. That kind of dignity is rare these days. One good turn deserves another I figured.”
“But that was maybe a hundred bucks I was giving up. This is thousands.”
“Your teenager, a hundred bucks is a big deal to you. Anyway, don’t think too much about it. Let an old man feel like he’s doing a little good in the world, eh?”
John smiled. He turned the ignition again.
“Now get out of here and pick up that girl,” said Mr. Stringer.
John nodded and slowly took the car out of the drive. After getting used to the machine John started playing with the dials. He put on the radio, opened and closed the glove box, and pushed in the lighter, just for fun. On the highway the car was sailing. It drove much better than his parents’ cars. Suddenly the lighter popped out. John chuckled. He’d forgot about it. He pulled it out to see if had gotten hot. He didn’t smoke, but it was nice to know that everything worked. As he drew it out the entire front panel came off with it.
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The "Fun With" series of short story books invites readers to explore odd and curious corners of our world, presenting ideas seldom investigated in contemporary literature, and cutting paths through this wilderness that are utterly unexpected. Fun with Girls 2 continues the tradition established in the first Girls volume, exploring the triumphs and pitfalls of romantic entanglements. Seagal vs. Van Damme peeks into the intimacy of a single blind date. Two desperately charming nerds, obsessed with 80s pop culture, meet for the first time. Will they find love, or will they be utterly incompatible? Spy Car follows a high school student as he buys his very first car, and tries to use it to impress a girl he has a devastating crush on. Psychomachia Again is an incomprehensibly titled story about a young man dealing with his own conscience, and the dilemma of trying to meet the right girl.