A Short Story Written by P.J. Lowry
Published by P.J. Lowry at Shakespir
Copyright 2016 P.J. Lowry
Thank you for downloading this ebook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be reproduced, copied and distributed for commercial or non-commercial purposes.
If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy at Shakespir.com where they can also discover other works by this author.
Thank you for your support.
When Craig Greene woke up that morning, he was chipper and ready to take on the world. He usually didn’t wake up this ready but for some reason he was in good spirits as he hopped into the shower to start his day. After cleaning up and dressing for work, he left the apartment with a hop in his step. Craig assumed he might have been excited to meet his brother for breakfast, but that couldn’t have been it. He had been meeting Alex for breakfast at the food poisoning cafe for at least a year now, so there was no way his brother’s weekly meeting was the cause for his excitement. He couldn’t pin it down but refused to let the mystery spoil his good mood, as he trotted out to the small cafe, where Alex was already waiting for him. They had called this place the food poisoning cafe because on a few occasions, Craig had literally gotten sick not long after eating there. Then there was the toast incident, where Craig grabbed his brother’s hand while he was trying to eat toast because he saw green spots on the bread. Despite their run ins with stuff that would warrant being shut down by the health board, the two brothers refused to eat anywhere else. They knew the owner and refused to stop supporting their friend and his dream. They almost felt like celebrating the day the chef was replaced, which significantly cut down the risk to their well being as well as improved the quality of the tots served with breakfast. When Craig sat down at the table, his brother could almost immediately tell there was something different.
“Are you okay?” Alex asked, somewhat worried.
“I’m fine,” Craig replied, smiling like a complete tool.
“Did you get laid last night?” Alex then guessed, “And I mean with a woman.”
“No,” Craig said as he suddenly wished that were the case. “I happen to have a girlfriend, but she was visiting her mother.”
“I said woman,” Alex said, grinning at his own comic brilliance. He was always making fun of Craig’s girlfriend who was considerably shorter than the two of them.
“I don’t know what it is,” Craig said, sighing. “I just feel like today is going to be a great day.”
“Good, then you can buy breakfast.” Alex suggested.
“It’s my turn anyway,” Craig said, refusing to let his brother spoil the mood.
“Nice of you to remember,” Alex added, “I hope you don’t mind I already ordered. You get the same thing all the time anyway.”
“I don’t mind at all,” Craig said, still smiling. “It’s all good. But I’m going to get some tea, so I’ll be right back.”
As Craig got up from the table, he left his cell phone on the table and strolled up to the counter to get a cup of tea to go with his breakfast. As he was standing there, someone from another table hopped quickly out of his seat which was ten feet away from the table where Alex was still sitting. The young man walked over slowly strolled over to the table, acting as if he was walking to the same counter where Craig was waiting to order his tea. At the very last second, the young man grabbed the cell phone off the table and bolted for the door. Alex didn’t see the snatch coming until it was too late and couldn’t believe someone was swiping the phone right off the table. As the incident was occurring, Craig just happened to turn back to look at his brother and watch the theft occur right before his eyes.
“Hey!” Craig called out, “That’s my phone!”
Both Craig and Alex bolted out of food poisoning cafe, running after the man who managed to get a very healthy head start and was flying down the street at top speed. Alex was the only one who had a chance to run after him but it was no use, the kid was just too fast as they watched him run away with Craig’s prized smart phone.
“I can’t believe that just happened!” Craig called out, gasping for breath.
“We’ll take care of it,” Alex assured his brother, “Let’s get back to the cafe.”
While they walked back to the cafe, Alex called the police and they were at the cafe before they were since the station was just a block away and the cops loved coming down there for coffee so they were in fact killing two birds with one stone. The owner of the shop felt terrible about what had happened, but not enough to comp their meals. They didn’t care and filed a report with the officers before eating their breakfast. Craig’s mood was definitely shattered as he felt like someone had taken away a vital limb, like an arm or a leg. He felt naked without his phone, which was the worst feeling he had ever had in years.
“We’re on the same phone plan,” Alex told his brother, “So I’ll call the provider when I get to work and I’ll shut down the phone. It’s also insured so I’ll get a new one delivered to you as soon as possible.”
“Thanks, I guess.” Craig said, unable to eat.
“Look, just get your ass to work.” Alex said as he left money on the table to cover the bill. “Let me take care of this.”
Craig took his coat and left food poisoning cafe with the most rotten feeling he had in years. Walking around without the smart phone in his pocket made him feel lighter, and it was upsetting him a great deal. Several times while walking to work he tried to grab his phone to check the time. It was something he didn’t quite understand how often he did until he couldn’t do it anymore. Things were even worse when it was at the office, as he checked for his cell phone even more and was reminded each time that the phone was gone, which was upsetting. A few hours into his shift, he got a call from Alex, which was weird taking on the regular phone.
“Hello?” Craig said as, answering the phone.
“He bro,” Alex replied, “Just got off the phone with the provider, the phone is shut down. Your account is frozen until further notice, which makes your smart phone a very expensive paper weight. Your thief can’t do anything with your phone, so no unwanted long distance calls. The company said none have been made so far so I think we really dodged a bullet here, bro.”
Craig didn’t have the heart to tell his brother, but they dodged a very big bullet. There was no password on his phone, the thief could have accessed it at anytime so the fact that no long distance calls were made at all before shutting down the service was very lucky indeed. He let out a huge sigh as that part was over.
“So when do I get a new phone?” Craig asked.
“You’re due for an upgrade anyway, so there’s next to no charge.” Alex informed him, “I’ll grab you after work and we’ll hit the story to pick out a new model. Shit like this happens, bro; just go with the flow.”
“Doesn’t mean I have to like it,” Craig countered.
“No, you don’t.” Alex agreed, “But you’re handling it like a champ. Just get back to work and I’ll pick you up after.”
“All right,” Craig said, “See you then.”
As he put down the phone, he could tell there was a little activity in the hallway. Some juicy gossip was flying around but he didn’t have time for that. Losing his phone and talking to police made him late so Craig skipped his break to catch up and get ahead of the day’s work. As he was doing that work, one of his friends from the office down the hall knocked on his door.
“Hey, Andy,” Craig said, looking up from his monitor.
“I know you’re busy,” Andy said, grinning, “But I just wanted to come by and say congratulations.”
“Okay,” Craig said as he had no idea what he was talking about. “Thanks.”
“You’re a lucky man, Mr. Greene.” Andy said, still grinning, “You and Sandy are going to be very happy. Don’t forget to send me an invite.”
“An invite?” Craig repeated.
“Yeah, Jenny and I better get an invite to the wedding,” Andy said as he thought Craig was pulling his leg. “I got to get back to work. So proud of you man, congrats on your engagement, buddy.”
Craig waved as Andy left the office and then immediately went onto facebook to look for clues. The first thing he did was look up Sandy Wiseman, which was his current girlfriend and according to Andy his fiancé. When he got to Sandy’s facebook page, there was the source of all his woes. She had made a status update less than two hours ago, about an hour after the incident at food poisoning café;
OMG! Craig proposed to me! Maybe not the way I would have preferred, he did it over text… but who really cares? I’m getting married! He sent me sweet messages all morning, saying he wanted to spend the rest of my life with me. I’ve been waiting for this day for so long … I’m the happiest person in the world! I’m engaged!!!
Craig stared at the screen with a blank expression on his face. “Oh shit.”
Craig had always been that guy on campus that would hear about everything last; the bottom of the gossip pecking order. Yet to be the last guy to find out about his own engagement was a new low, even for him. He continued to stare at the screen and suddenly the work he was doing wasn’t as important to him as it was less than five minutes ago. He didn’t know how to respond. He couldn’t contact Sandy, because he didn’t have her number memorized. Craig attempted to get back to work, hoping that ignoring the problem would make it go away, but that strategy was an epic failure. It was about an hour later when the cavalry came running into his office, as the only other person who knew what was going on arrived. The moment he saw the engagement announcement on facebook, Alex had left his own job citing a family emergency and had come to straight to Craig’s office. He could tell by the look on Craig’s face that he had already seen the announcement.
“You’ve seen it,” Alex said as he walked in and closed the door behind him.
“Yes, I have,” Craig confirmed, “And so have all my co-workers on this floor. I wouldn’t be surprised if the partners from the top floor come down soon to extend their congratulations since everyone else has already.”
“Relax bud,” Alex said, trying to calm him down, “I can’t imagine what you’re going through right now, but I’m here to help.”
“No, you can’t!” Craig said, as he was beginning to lose his temper. “What kind of loser proposed to his girlfriend of two years by text message?”
“I get it,” Alex said, nodding in agreement, “Only a total douche, a royal class turd would pop the question like that it like that.”
“And that’s what I am now, a total douche,” Craig said as he sank his head into his hands, almost on the verge of crying. “I will forever be the guy who was too chicken to propose in person.”
“But that wasn’t you!” Alex reminded him, “So why aren’t you telling anyone this rather important timbit of information?”
“What makes you think I’m going to tell anyone?” Craig then asked.
Alex’s face was one of shock and disbelief. “You’re not going to tell anyone? Not even Sandy?”
“What am I going to tell her?” Craig countered, “I’m sorry you’re all worked up about spending the rest of your life together, but that wasn’t me. Just ask anyone out there, any attempt to retract a proposal is a dumpable offense. If I don’t handle this just right, I could lose her. She’s been talking to me about commitment for what seems like forever, which would make any attempt to retract it hurt even more. Even if I try to tell her the truth, she might think I made up the story to back out.”
“Damn,” Alex confessed, scratching his three day beard, “I never thought if it that way. If she thinks you’re making excuses to back out, your shit is going to be all over the front lawn by daybreak. This is kinda fucked up, bud.”
“You think?” Craig asked, with a pound of sarcasm. “Whoever this creep is, he must have read the texts Sandy and I had been exchanging and replied to them. We’ve been talking about commitment and taking things to the other step for a while now.”
“You were?” Alex said, somewhat stunned by the revelation. “I had no idea!”
“That’s just the beginning,” Craig said, sitting back down on his office chair, “Sandy accused me of having cold feet. To be perfectly honest, she was right. I’ve been scared to take kick things up a notch.”
“Holy crap, dude,” Alex said, sitting down on a chair in front of his brother’s desk. “Is there any way this could get worse?”
Craig looked back up at his brother. “Why did you say that?”
Mere seconds later, there was a knock at the door.
“It’s open.” Craig called out.
As the door swung open, things suddenly got worse. Mr. Jones, who happened to be the partner who runs Craig’s division, came walking in and he closed the door behind him. Normally Mr. Jones doesn’t close doors unless someone is about to get in trouble and he doesn’t want anyone else to hear the chewing out that was about to occur. This wasn’t going to be good.
“Who’s this guy?” Mr. Jones asked, gesturing to Alex.
“Alexander Greene, Sir.” Alex said as he jumped to his feet and shook his hand. “I’m Craig’s younger brother.”
“This is Mr. Jones.” Craig said to help his brother, “My boss.”
“It is such a pleasure!” Alex said, doing his best to sound amazing to meet him. “Craig has said so my about you. I am honored to finally meet you!”
Alex was in full kiss ass mode and his goal was to break the old man’s momentum so whatever he was coming to talk about would have less impact. Craig’s younger brother minored in brown nosing and to watch him in action was like watching a fine ballet at the city’s music hall. It left some people in complete awe.
“Thank you,” Mr. Jones said with a smile as he shook Alex’s hand. “The pleasure is all mine, I assure you. I assume you’re here to congratulate him.”
“Yes!” Alex said as he playfully patted the boss man on the shoulder. “This guy has no idea how lucky he is. Not only is Sandy a fine lady, but she is also a stern woman. Not only will his production value increase over the coming years, but I assure you his attendance will be spotless when she’s running things.”
“Wow, that’s sounds impressive.” Mr. Jones said as he suddenly had more reasons to be impressed. He always valued Craig’s work so the idea that he would become more productive after marriage sounded pretty good for the firm. “That was actually why I came down here. I’d like to see your phone, Craig.”
“Why would you want to see his phone?” Alex asked, confused.
“Because of what Sandy said on facebook,” Craig answered, “If what she said is true I’m in violation of our strict no texting rules. Despite my private office and higher stranding, I’m not immune to the rules.”
“That’s correct,” Mr. Jones confirmed, “She said you were talking all morning. If you were texting her all day, how were you able to get any work done today?”
“That’s a fair question,” Craig said, thinking about how to answer his request, “But at this given time, I don’t have my phone.”
“You don’t have it,” Mr. Jones said, looking a little stern, “Or you refuse to hand it over?”
“Sir,” Alex said as he stepped in, “my brother is telling the truth, look.”
Alex pulled out a piece of paper and handed it to Craig’s boss. It was the police report that they had filled out earlier that morning at the cafe. In the report it has all the details of how Craig’s phone had been stolen and he was no longer in possession of it. His boss looked at the report and then back at Craig. “You phone was stolen?”
“Yes, it was.” Craig confirmed, sighing deeply as he was no longer in trouble.
“So if you don’t have your phone,” Mr. Jones said as he was piecing things together, “Who was texting your girlfriend?”
“The thief,” Craig replied, “He’s the one the proposed, not me.”
“Oh dear,” Mr. Jones said, seeming a little faint. Alex noticed this and helped the partner into the chair he was sitting in earlier.
“I know,” Craig said, “This is quite the predicament we’re in.”
“Indeed,” Mr. Jones concurred.
“When you arrived,” Alex said, “I was just telling Craig that he should be honest and tell her about the theft as soon as possible. Don’t make her wait and rip it off like a band aid.”
“No,” Mr. Jones said, as he seemed opposed to the suggestion, “He can’t do that. That would be a terrible mistake.”
“How?” Alex asked.
“I had a cousin that one tried to call off an engagement, about two weeks after he proposed.” The boss explained, “She didn’t take it well. When my cousin woke up after telling her, he was in the hospital with a concussion and a missing tooth.”
“Ouch,” Craig replied, cringing just a bit, “that had to hurt.”
“Women wait for this question their whole life,” Mr. Jones continued, “If you withdraw your proposal, you can kiss the relationship good bye.”
“We were discussing that as well,” Craig informed his boss, “But as you can see, I was not using my cell phone during company time. The police report proves that and if it’s not too much trouble, I would appreciate if this information stayed between us until I can talk to my … fiance about it.”
“Of course, Mr. Gray,” Mr. Jones said as he stood up, “I will keep this between us and I wish you the best in whatever game plan you select.”
“Thank you, Sir.” Craig said as he stood up and shook the boss’ hand. As Mr. Jones left the room he called out a last moment congrats to Craig to make everyone thing that as the only reason he was there to speak with him. It was a nice touch that kept the story out of the grape vine for the time being.
“Holy crap,” Alex said as closed the office door again, “What are you doing to do? Sandy is going to kick your ass if you try to take that back.”
“I know,” Craig agreed, “And she has a mean right hook, too.”
“And you have a glass jaw,” Alex reminded him, “You’d be down like Spinks inthe first round against Tyson. Two shots my friend; Sandy hitting you and you hitting the ground. I don’t know what you should do. If you tell her the truth, you risk losing someone you really do care about. If you say nothing, you might be pushed into an engagement and wedding you weren’t quite ready for. This is totally messed up!”
Craig sat back down in his office chair. “I have no idea what to do.”
“I have a question,” Alex said, sitting back down as well. “Do you love her?”
“What?” Craig said, looking back at him, “Of course I do!”
“Would you ever willingly hurt her?” his brother then asked.
“No,” Craig answered, thinking about what he just said. It was true that he would never want to hurt Sandy, because he did in fact love her. So right then and there, the path he had to take suddenly became a lot more clear, “I’m going to have to take the credit for this proposal and ride the wave.”
“Don’t worry buddy,” Alex said, as he slapped an open hand into the desk, “I’m going to be here for you ever step of the way. But not right now, I gotta get back to work. Let’s meet after work to get your new phone, okay?”
“Okay, sure,” Craig said, nodding to his brother. “Thanks for your help.”
“Anytime, bro,” Alex said before bolting out the door.
Craig sat there at his desk and spent the better part of his day thinking about the proposal and what it might be like to just go with it and accept Sandy as his wife. The more he thought about it, the more he actually liked the idea. While it wasn’t the most ideal way to propose nor was it very romantic, Craig thought the best course of action. He did love her and didn’t want to love her and if that meant marrying her to prove it, then that was exactly what Craig Greene was going to do. He was going to take credit for something he did, because he loved that woman too much to break her heart. He had been talking to Sandy about getting hitched for quite some time, so Craig wasn’t going to take this as a punishment. He was going to accept it as fate giving him a push towards what might be the right direction his life was meant to take. After he got the new phone, Craig was determined to see Sandy start the new chapter of their life together, regardless of how they got there.
The rest of the day dragged on and on for Craig. He didn’t have a watch, like who wears one anymore, honestly? So when the day was finally over, he skipped over to the mall to the store where he originally purchased his phone. Alex was already there and looking at new models. He had already explained what had happened to the clerk working in the storefront and his brother was also right about him being due for an upgrade. So with a new contract and fifty bucks, Craig was able to get a newer model. He considered this a moral victory given all the tragedies that had occurred so far. It was nice to catch a break before he went home to face Sandy. It was the longest bus ride of Craig’s life. He was so concerned about the talk he was about to have with his new fiance, that he was too distracted to look at his new phone. Craig was so nervous about speaking with her that he got off the bus a stop early to have more time to think when walking home. As he finally walked in the door to their apartment, Sandy came rushing to the door to greet him.
“I’ve been texting you all afternoon!” she called out, “Why haven’t you been answering.”
Craig took a deep breath and pulled the new phone out of his pocket. “I don’t have your number on my new cell yet.”
“When did you get that?” Sandy quickly asked. “How much did that cost?”
“Not much,” Craig answered, “I was due for an upgrade but considering what happened to the other, a lot was covered by insurance.”
“What happened to the other?” Sandy then quickly asked.
“Well, I was walking back from the bathroom,” Craig started as he had been rehearsing it the entire ride and walk home, “And I slipped on a floor that had just been waxed. I was carrying my phone at the time and it fell out of my hand. The elevator doors were open cause the crew were fixing something and the phone slid right through the doors and fell four floors to the bottom of the shaft and shattered into a million pieces.”
“When did that happen?” Sandy asked, shocked from what she had just heard.
“Just before lunch,” Craig answered, “Around twelve.”
“I was so concerned,” Sandy said, putting her arms around Craig’s shoulders. She leaned over and gave him a soft kiss. “We’ll have the rest of our lives to laugh that off, now won’t we?”
“I guess so,” Craig said as he smiled, “Can I burrow your phone?”
She looked at him weirdly. “What for?”
“Just want to grab a few numbers to program them back into my new phone.:” Craig replied, “Saves me the time of looking it up online.”
“Sure,” Sandy said, pulling her phone out of her pocket, “Dinner is almost ready, I’m making butter chicken.”
“My favorite,” Craig noted.
“I’m aware of that,” Sandy said, handing him her cell, “Get that done in five minutes and then wash up for supper.”
“Will do,” Craig said as he watched her walk back into the kitchen.
The truth was he already gotten most of the numbers he needed from Alex, what he really wanted to see was the text messages that were sent from his stolen phone that morning. He wanted to see what was said between Sandy and the thief, just in case she questioned him about it during supper. He looked up his number and then started to read the texts. As he suspected, Sandy had texted him first to start up another conversation about commitment. They had this discussion before, but this time the person with his phone was more willing to discuss it. Craig read everything that was said a few times, that way if Sandy asked about it he wouldn’t be caught like a deer in the headlights. Then he tossed in a few numbers on his own phone to back up his excuse before taking off to the bathroom to wash up. As he walked back into the kitchen, he could smell the amazing food she had just cooked. There was rice, with orange butter chicken beside it, along with some hot Naan bread and even a bottle of white wine.
“I don’t know if I deserve all this,” Craig noted, taking a seat at the table. “After all we went through today,” Sandy said, as she couldn’t believe how modest her fiance was being, “I think you deserve it.”
“Thanks,” Craig said, as he waited for her to sit as well. He also placed her cell phone back on the table on her side. “Thanks for letting me life a few numbers, it’s amazing how we don’t memorize phone numbers anymore.”
“I know, right?” Sandy agreed, sitting down on her side of the table. “I talked to my mom about this a few times. She always reminds me of how she had every number memorized for all her friends.”
“We also will never know the satisfaction of slamming the phone down angrily,” Craig added, taking his first bit of supper, “I think we’re missing out there. Hitting disconnect just isn’t the same.”
“Well, what do you think?” Sandy said, watching him as he ate his food.
“It’s fantastic, as usual.” Craig said, smiling.
“Can I ask you something?” Sandy then asked.
“Anything,” Craig said without looking up. He knew where this was going and he just had to ride it out.
“Why today?” Sandy asked, “We discussed this so often but this time you just stepped up. What changed?”
Craig put his fork down and paused for a moment. “Something happened to me earlier today; something that scared me. It made me look back at everything I had done so far and suddenly the excuses I was making began to look weak when staring at them from a distance. I began to think of the big picture, so I asked.”
“What happened earlier today?” Sandy asked, sounding quite concerned.
“It’s still quite fresh,” Craig said, getting all choked up, “I’d rather not considering we’re at the table.”
“I’m sorry,” Sandy said as she resumed eating herself.
They sat there at the table, eating silently but for different reasons. Sandy wanted to talk about the conversation they had and Craig wanted to talk about anything but their conversation. Finally after eating quietly for a few moments, Sandy decided to bring something new up.
“I’m sorry for posting the engagement on facebook,” Sandy started, “I was just excited and t never occurred to me that we might have wanted to tell our parents first before telling the world.”
“It’s all right,” Craig replied, “I’m happy to see that you’re excited. I would actually be concerned if you weren’t.”
“Well,” Sandy said, putting down her fork. “I’d like to ask you something.”
“Sure,” Craig said, trying to win as much brownie points as he could, “I’m all ears, fire away.”
“I’d like to have an engagement party.” Sandy said as she seemed excited, “Nothing out of hand, just friends and family. No more than twenty. It will be a small thing with food and wine, just to celebrate and announce for those who don’t know yet. Are you okay with that, Craig?”
Craig thought about it but it didn’t seem think that was a bad idea. Have the people they care for there to celebrate, have a few drinks. “Sure,” he said, smiling back at her. “Sounds like a great idea. What time were you thinking?”
“Just after work,” Sandy answered, “I have tomorrow off so I’ll be able to clean up while you’re downtown.”
“Just don’t invite too many people,” Craig said to her, “Just friends and family and nothing else.”
“Sounds like a plan.” Sandy said as she stood up and took his hand.
“What’s going on?” Craig said as he didn’t know what she was up to.
“It’s time for desert,” Sandy said, leaning over to give him another kids. Craig had no idea what she was talking about until he realized that she was leading him off into the bedroom, where they would share a desert which was metaphorical rather than something they could actually eat. Craig had a wide smile on his face as she led him off to the room upstairs, where they would celebrate their engagement by making love.
The next morning, Craig wanted nothing more than to be at work so he could hide behind his desk, ashamed of how much he lied to Sandy the day before. Yet this was not possible for the young man, because it was Saturday. His desk would not be available to hide behind for another two days as his current work gig was of the Monday to Friday variety. To keep himself busy, Craig took a different approach and began to clean the apartment. Men were seldom yelled at when doing chores so Craig naturally assumed he would be safe from questions while cleaning up for the engagement party. He would be incorrect as Sandy came walking in while he was sweeping up the living room floors.
“Where’s my ring?” she asked, looking at him with a glare that Craig was afraid he’d have to get used to if he was going to marry her.
“I’m sorry,” Craig said as he stopped working, “The moment was so sudden, I hadn’t the chance to go out and get one. Maybe if you give me a chance to collect my sales bonus next week, we can go shopping together for one. Wouldn’t it be nice to find one you like? I have terrible taste. Just look at my wardrobe if you don’t believe me.”
“That’s a good point,” Sandy concurred as she remembered what hideous things resided in his closet, “We can look for one later.”
“All right,” Craig said, smiling, “Let’s get back to work.”
Sandy left the room and Craig went back to sweeping the floors. They spent the majority of the day cleaning up, preparing for their guests who would be coming around supper time. Sandy had invited her friends as well as members of both of their families to attend the party. While Craig was cleaning up, Sandy actually left the house to pick up food and even a few bottles of wine. She also grabbed some cheese, crackers and other goodies to create a few platters for guests to nibble on. Craig did his best to be helpful, as if he somehow thought he needed to build up as many brownie points as possible. Craig started to feel better when some people started to show up, but it was nothing compared to how he felt when Alex arrived. He had to work that day so he came over right after his shift was over.
“Alex,” Craig said, walking over to hug his brother, “So good to see you.”
“I can’t believe you’re going with it,” Alex said, as he was impressed, “You couldn’t believe my reaction when Sandy sent me the invitation.”
“I had no choice,” Craig said, taking his brother’s coat, “If I tried to tell her the truth, it would have been over. She’d never believe me.”
“You really must love her,” Alex replied, “because the old you would have ran for the hills and risked losing her. This is a big step for you, bro.”
“I don’t know,” Craig said, sighing, “I just keep thinking that something bad is going to happen and I’ll get burned.”
“Just work with it,” Alex said, putting a supporting arm around his brother shoulders, “I haven’t said a word to anyone, so if you haven’t told anyone…”
“Haven’t told anyone what?” A voice called out.
Alex turned around and smiled, “Hey Dad.”
Craig also smiled, “Dad, Mom.”
“Son,” the old man replied, handing Craig his coat.
“Hope you’re not talking about the engagement,” their mother said, “That cat is already out of the bag.”
“Not quite,” Alex replied, “Some people still don’t have facebook.”
“None of whom were invited to this party.” His father retorted.
“Good point,” Craig said as he left with the coats.
Over the course of the next hour after his parents arrived, many more guests started to arrive. They also seemed very excited about the theme of the party which was Sandy’s engagement and impending wedding. Sandy couldn’t stop talking about it with her friends and family members and while she still had no ring to show off, Sandy still enjoyed herself and was beginning to enjoy the idea of being engaged to someone. The event was going rather well, Craig noted as he kept to himself and tried his best to fly under the radar. Then there was a loud knock at the door. Craig quickly walked over to the door and opened it to be starting at two men in uniforms: police officers.
“I’m sorry,” Craig said as he looked at them, “Is the music too loud?”
“No Sir,” the officer replied, “We’re looking for Craig Greene.”
“That’s me,” Craig said as he looked at them. “Is everything all right?”
“We just need to speak to you for a moment,” the other officer said, “Can we please come inside?”
“It’s a little crowded in here,” Craig replied, “Maybe I should come out there.”
It was at this point that Sandy came up to the door and discovered who was at the door. She looked over at her fiance for an answer.
“Craig,” she started, “What are these officers doing here?”
“He’s not in trouble, Ma’am.” The first officer replied, as he could immediately tell that Sandy was wondering that. “We just need to update Mr. Greene on a police report he filed with us.”
“What happened?” Sandy asked, as she was eager to know what this was about.
“Mr. Greene’s phone was stolen.” The second cop replied, “We’ve been having issues in that neighborhood, and especially at the cafe where you were eating breakfast that day.”
“What’s the update?” Sandy asked, clearly now controlling the dialogue.
“We apprehended the suspect,” the first cop answered, “So not only is this thief behind bars, but we raided his home and recovered over a hundred phones, including yours Mr. Greene.”
The officer pulled out the phone and held it up for Craig to grab. Before he could reach out for it, Sandy snatched the phone from the officer first.
“When did this theft occur?” she asked, her mood starting to darken.
“Yesterday,” the second cop answered, “Around eight in the morning.”
“Thanks for your hard work guys,” Craig said to the two officers. “We really appreciate your efforts.”
“It’s our pleasure.” The second officer replied, “We’ll be on our way. Have a good night and enjoy the party.”
The two officers walked away from the apartment and Craig could have sworn he heard one of them softly laugh as he was walking down the hall. After he closed the door he looked over at Sandy who was still holding the phone. She wasn’t impressed and her face was actually starting to turn red.
“For a phone that fell down an elevator shaft,” Sandy started, “This cell phone is in remarkable shape.”
“I doubt that’s the part that’s going to piss you off.” Craig said as he waited for the real bomb to drop.
“If your phone was stolen,” Sandy continued, “Who was talking to me at nine-thirty yesterday?”
“That was the man who stole my phone,” Craig told her, “It wasn’t me.”
“That means you didn’t propose to me?” Sandy asked.
“No,” Craig finally admitted, “I didn’t.”
“How could you do this?” Sandy screamed at him.
It was at this point that the guests at the part realized there was a massive fight going on between the couple whose engagement they were there to celebrate. Some friends and family members came into hallway to see what was going on. Alex came out and when he saw the phone in Sandy’s hand, he knew exactly what it was about.
“Why did you lie to me?” She asked him.
“I was afraid.” Craig answered.
“Afraid of what?”
“Afraid you’d dump me!”
“For telling the truth?” Sandy said as she was cornering Craig.
“No,” Alex said as he stepped in, “He knew that if he tried to tell the truth, you’d dump him for trying to back out of an engagement you’ve been pressuring him to do for quite some time now.”
“I’m not pressuring him!” Sandy said as she didn’t like the fact that her brother was sticking his nose in.
“Yes, you were!” Craig said as he decided to finally stick up for himself. “I knew how much you wanted this and since I do care about you, I chose to go along with it rather than upset you, or even break your heart.”
Sandy was now crying. “So you wanted to start a marriage based on a lie?”
Craig took a step closer and took the phone from her. He looked up the text conversations and then showed the screen to her. “The only person who was lying to you was yourself. Look at these errors, the terrible spelling. When have I ever used the word Bae before? Any idiot could tell this wasn’t me! Yet he was telling you want you wanted to hear so you ignored the clear signs and just went with it. You want to be engaged so bad you’d say yes to a total stranger!”
“That’s not fair,” Sandy said, trying to fight back.
“What’s not fair as thinking that I would be stupid enough to propose via text message!” Craig roared at her, “Give me a little credit to pop the question a little better than that! That has to be one of the pathetic proposals I’ve ever read and you said yes to it. Are you that desperate to get married?”
“I’m not getting any younger,” Sandy retorted.
“Neither am I,” Craig replied, “But did it ever occur to you to confirm this was real rather than running off to facebook and gloat about it as soon as human possible? Of course you didn’t, because you were so obsessed with getting hitched, having the grand love story that you didn’t care if it was real or not. Your friends are all getting married, having kids and living the life that you want it so bad that you’ve been pushing me around to the point where it was suffocating just to come home! And then when you seem to get what you want, look at the ridiculous post you made on facebook. I’m getting married … I’ve been waiting for this day … I’m the happiest person in the world. For someone who wants to find a life partner, you don’t mention me at all. There is no I in a relationship, it’s supposed to be about us. We are happy … we have been waiting for this day … we’re the luckiest people in the world. Instead all you do is talk about yourself! Are you in love with me at all or just in love with the idea, the concept of being in love?”
After Craig had finished firing at Sandy with both barrels, there was a long silence in both the hallway and the living room where he party was taking place. Rather than answer anything Craig had asked her, Sandy opened up the main door and left their apartment. Her parents and her sister followed her out the door and didn’t even say a word to Craig as they left. Craig then slowly walked back into the living room, where close to twenty people were speechless to what had just happened.
“There is a very good chance the engagement is off,” Craig said to the group that was afraid to speak, “which means this party is as well. Good night, everyone.”
It took about twenty minutes for everyone at the engagement party to eventually clear out. When it was all said and done, four people refused to leave the apartment, which were Craig’s parents and his brother Alex. Their mother took the leftover food back into the kitchen and started to tidy up while Craig’s father sat down on the couch with a might sigh. He looked up at his oldest son with a look that showed disapproval. Craig knew this look because he was a regular receipt of it.
“Was your phone really stolen?” their old man asked.
“No Dad,” Craig bitterly answered, with extreme sarcasm, “I paid off two cops and bought a brand new phone just so I could make myself look like a complete ass in front of all my family and friends just so I could get out of an engagement.”
“Seriously,” Alex said as he pulled the police report out of his pocket. He had brought it to the party just in case someone needed to be shown it, “This is the report we got from the cops yesterday and I was there when it happened. It was actually stolen.”
“And this guy was the one who proposed?” their father asked.
“Yes,” Craig replied, “I had no idea it happened until she posted it on facebook.”
“I see,” the old man said, “Why couldn’t you go home and correct it?”
“She would have dumped me.” Craig replied, “She has already accused me of stalling and being afraid of commitment. If I tried to tell her my phone was stolen, there’s no way she would have believed me. I might as well have started to pack my bags right then and there.”
“You know what son,” their father said, huffing himself off the couch, “Your job isn’t to lie to people to save their feelings. Your job is to be the best person you can be. If they can’t handle the truth, that’s their problem. If you withhold that truth from people and even lie to save their feelings, that’s not right. Moral people don’t lie and if anyone that makes you feel compelled to lie whenever you’re around them, then that is not someone worth being with. If someone is unwilling to accept the truth because they’re unpopular, then that person isn’t someone anyone can depend on to be a reliable spouse or parent.”
“Wow,” Craig replied, looking back at his old man, “I never really thought of it that way before.”
“Is that the kind of marriage you want?” his father continued, “walking on egg shells for the next thirty to fifty years just because you don’t want to rock the boat? What kind of life is that?”
“No,” Craig replied without hesitating, “It’s not.”
“It doesn’t get any easier from here,” The old man said, “If she can’t handle something right now, what will she do when there are grandbabies running around?”
“You also had a good point,” Alex said, stepping back into the conversation. “You were not in the picture. This was the Sandy show. That’s not the kind of person you want to get hitched to.”
“I do love her,” Craig interrupted, “So please don’t even try to give me the plenty of fish in the sea or you can do better lectures… because there isn’t and I can’t.”
“I know that,” Craig’s father replied, “If you didn’t care, you wouldn’t have tried to spare her feelings. You would have dumped the fold hard truth onto her and broken her heart into a million pieces. You care enough to put up with all this, so I can only imagine what kind of husband and father you’ll become. Your motives were pure, but your follow through was sub-par.”
“Understatement of the century,” Alex said in full agreement with his Dad.
Craig’s mom returned from the kitchen with a pot of tea and few mugs. After she placed it on the table, she sat back on one of the chairs and relaxed.
“What do you think Mom?” Craig asked. He respected her opinion just as much as he did the old man’s. It was also the perspective the conversation had been lacking up to this point.
“Well, I don’t like to listen in but it was hard not to,” his mother started, taking a deep breath. “I did agree with a lot of what you said. A lot of women these days are too much in love with the idea of getting married than they are of the person they are getting married to.”
“Oh,” Craig said, somewhat surprised, “Thanks, Mom.”
“However,” she continued, “Your deliver needs a little work.”
“You were a little harsh,” Alex agreed, “and that was in front of everyone too.”
“Damn,” Craig said, as he couldn’t believe what happened, “I really screwed things up here didn’t I? There’s no way she’ll take me back after this embarrassment.”
“I’m not sure, dear,” his mother replied, “but what she needs right now is space and some time to think about what you had to say. You both have a lot to apologize for so you should all take the time to think about what you want to say so your next encounter isn’t as combative and uncaring.”
“If you love this woman,” his father added, “I suggest you act like it.”
“Wow,” Craig said, absorbing all that truth, “Thanks for not sugar coating it for me. I had a right to be upset, but no one has the right to be cruel. I feel terrible.”
“That’s normal,” his mother said, as she patted his knee, “We’d all be worried if you didn’t feel terrible about it.”
“It’s getting late,” his father said as he stood up, “Clean this place up, so if she comes back the joint will look nice for her.”
“Good idea,” Craig said as he liked the old man’s thinking.
“I’ll stay and help,” Alex offered.
“Thanks bro,” Craig said as he and his bother walked their parents to the door. Once the two had left and walked down the hall to the lift, Craig turned back to face his brother. “Did you really mean that?”
“Of course not,” Alex said as he grabbed his coat, “Let’s hit a bar and get some shots. First round is on me.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Craig said as he grabbed his coat as well. As they walked out the door, Craig pointed in the other direction. “Take the stairs, so we don’t accidently bump into the folks.”
“Roger,” Alex said, watching his bro lock the door. “What if she comes back?”
“Then she can clean up,” Craig answered, “This thing was her idea.”
“Good point,” Alex concurred, “Let’s get fucking smashed.”
Craig had gone drinking with his brother until the bar closed later that night. He came home and intentionally crashed on the couch, just in case. The place had been in the same state Craig had left it in, but wasn’t going to take any chances. He was so blitzed that he could have slept soundly in the floor as long as he had a good pillow. He didn’t wake up until noon the next day, as someone was kicking his leg to wake him up. He slowly stirred from his slumber to look up and see a familiar face staring down at him. Craig groaned as he sat up and rubbed his forehead which was pounding from the hangover he clearly earned. After taking a moment for his eyes to adjust to the light that was naturally shining in from the windows, Craig finally spoke.
“Good morning,” he finally slurred.
“Afternoon,” Sandy corrected.
“Not surprising,” Craig said, groaning as he got up off the couch. “Alex didn’t bring me back from the bar until four am.”
“Why were you out drinking until 4am?” Sandy asked.
“Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do,” Craig replied, looking back at her, “When the woman you love walks out the door?”
Before Sandy had a chance to respond, Craig walked out of the living room and into the kitchen. He grabbed the water filter and filled a glass and quickly downed it, and then filled it again. He looked back at her holding up the jug, shaking it to indicate he was offering her a glass of her own.
“Okay then,” Craig said, putting it back in the fridge.
Sandy stood there at the doorway to the kitchen, hoping that Craig would keep talking but he was too hung over to form a coherent thought. She seemed hesitant to talk but mustered up the strength to do so anyway.
“If it wasn’t you who proposed,” she started, “Then why did you go along with the story and act like you had?”
“I was scared,” Craig replied, “I was stupid and scared, which in itself is a deadly combination.”
“Scared of what?” Sandy asked.
“Of losing you,” Craig said, putting his now empty glass down, “I was afraid that the truth about my phone would be seen as an attempt to take back to the proposal. After all the talks we had, I thought doing that would end things between us. I was caught between a rock and hard place, so I went with it.”
“So you were willing to marry me,” Sandy said, trying to figure this out, “because you didn’t want to lose me?”
“Pretty much,” Craig confirmed, “When I saw your facebook post and realized what had happened, I racked my brain for hours trying to figure out what to do. I knew that if I told the truth, you would be embarrassed, humiliated even, and I loved you too much to put you through that.”
“It’s sweet to hear you say that,” Sandy said, “But the only reason you should want to get married is because you want to spend the rest of your life with that person.”
“What makes you think I don’t?” Craig countered, “Maybe there are some perfectly good reasons for my stalling?”
“Such as?” Sandy asked.
Craig took out his new phone, and loaded up a website. Once he logged into the site’s account, he passed the phone over to her. When Sandy looked at the small screen, she quickly realized that it was Craig’s bank account, and the current balance caused her mouth to gape open.
“Five thousand dollars?” she said, looking up at him.
“I’ve been saving up half of my bonuses.” Craig confessed, “What I’ve been dumping into our joint account was only half of what I was really scoring on my monthly scores. I was saving up for something big.”
“What were you saving up for?” Sandy asked, still shocked by the number she saw in his separate account.
“A few things,” Craig replied, as he turned away from her. He reached into one of the cabinets and grabbed a box, the one marked date breakfast bars. “Would you like one?”
“No thanks,” Sandy answered, with a disgusted look on her face. “Those things are horrible. I would never go near those things.”
“I know,” Craig said, smiling back at her. “That’s what made it the perfect hiding spot for this.”
He reached into the box and then pulled out a smaller box that was hidden inside. There was no mistaking what kind of box it was, as the black velvet case was the kind you would use to store jewelry inside it.
“How long has that been in there!?” Sandy asked, shocked again.
“A few months,” Craig confessed, “Just waiting for the perfect moment.”
“And the money in the account,” Sandy reminded him, “What was that for?”
“I was going to book a trip to Bermuda,” Craig replied, “I thought it would nice to propose to you at the beach, at sunset.”
Sandy couldn’t believe how much work Craig had been putting into what was going to be a very romantic proposal. She covered her mouth to hide half of the shocked look on her face. She couldn’t believe how mean she had been to him all those weeks, telling him that he was noncommittal while all that time he was saving up to do something big for her. She felt terrible about what had happened.
“You were right,” Sandy finally said, “I was so obsessed with becoming married like my friends that I forgot the thing that was most important.”
“And what was that?” Craig asked.
“Being true to the one that you love,” Sandy answered, “to treat them with respect and dignity you would want from them. I’m so sorry.”
“I’m sorry too,” Craig said, trying to take his share of the blame, “I’m sorry I didn’t trust you to be mature enough to handle the truth. I should have respected you enough to tell you what really happened and dealt with it together. I also should have not yelled at you in front of your friends and family. The moment things got intense we should have excused ourselves and continued the conversation in private. I’m very sorry about what happened last night; I should have handled that better.”
Sandy walked over and gave Craig a tight hug. It was the moment Craig had hoped would happen but was afraid he had screwed things over too much to get. He held here there in the middle of the kitchen, not wanting the hug to end but eventually he let go of her. The both smiled and Craig wiped a tear from her cheek before leaning over and kissing the woman he loved. After they kissed, she had a really weird look on her face that he couldn’t figure out.
“What is it?” Craig asked.
“Can I see it?” Sandy asked, giggly as a school girl.
“Well,” Craig said as he was playfully pausing, “it wouldn’t be very nice to show you the box and then just put it away. I wouldn’t have brought it out of the breakfast bar box if I had no intention of using it.”
With that Craig opened the box to reveal the rather impressive ring that resided within it. The actual stone wasn’t enormous by any means but it wasn’t tiny either. It had a really nice glitter to it, which made it the perfect choice. Before Sand could say anything, Craig dropped down to one knee and held it up for her.
“Doesn’t take a mind reader to figure out what I’m going to say next.” Craig told her, smiling.
“That’s true,” Sandy agreed, “But part of me still wants to hear you say it.”
“Sandy,” Craig started, “I’ve loved you for years, right from the first day we met at that arts exhibit when I offered to buy you tea and you accepted. We’ve had our ups and downs and there’ll be a lot more of both in the coming years, but there’s no one else on this planet who I would rather take them on with. Will you marry me?”
“Yes!” Sandy squealed with excitement.
Craig got back up to his feet and placed the ring on her hand. He kissed her again one more time and gave her another huge hug.
“Wasn’t that better?” he asked her, fully aware what had just occurred was a million times better than being asked via text message.
“Just a smidgen.” She confessed before kissing him again.
While Bermuda was a great idea, Sandy came up with another thing to save up for that was a lot more mature than a week in a beach paradise. After saving his entire bonus for the next several months Craig had over fifteen thousand dollars, which was more than enough for a down payment on a house. He really liked the idea because starting a marriage and eventually a family in an apartment downtown wasn’t ideal. It took a while to smooth things over, but one everyone realized what had really happened, it was a story for them to laugh at for hears to come. When the wedding invitations went out, everyone was even more excited about it after the false start. The next summer, Craig was standing in the middle of a Church, watching as his beautiful bride walked down the aisle towards him. Sandy looked spectacular in the large white dress and while many people cry during their weddings, not a single tear was shed between them during the entire ceremony. It was a sign of how committed they were to one another, that this wasn’t a sad occasion but one to be happy about. Everything went off that day without a hitch to get in the way. While photography was a royal pain in the ass, it was the same for everyone else. The reception was a small gathering, no more than fifty people but it was a grand time had by all. When they finally got into the limo to take them off for the wedding night, neither of them could believe the day was finally coming to an end.
“That went by rather quickly,” Craig noted, slouching into the leather seat.
“Did you eat very much?” Sandy asked.
“Not really,” Craig confessed, “I was talking so much, dancing and all that stuff that I barely ate a thing.”
“Me too,” Sandy confessed, “I’m starving.”
“Excuse me,” Craig called up to the driver, “Mr. Driver!”
The window between the back and the front sections rolled down slowly.
“Yes, Mr. Greene?” the driver asked.
“We need to hit a fast food place for a burger, stat!” Craig called up.
“There’s a great burger place up the street,” the driver replied, “But it doesn’t have a drive in. I can wait for you if you’re that hungry.”
“Thanks,” Craig called back, “That would be perfect.”
Despite how odd it looked, Craig and Sandy walked into the small burger joint wearing the exact same outfit they had been wearing all day to order something to eat. While he had taken off the bowtie, the tux was still looking rather spiffy, and Sandy was still in the big white dress just without anything on her head.
The person at the counter looked up at them and smiled. “I guess congratulations are in order?”
“Thanks,” Craig said before making his order. They didn’t get anything out of the ordinary, just two burger combos and milkshakes instead of sodas. Sandy asked Craig to order a strawberry shake, so she could steal some sips when she got tired of the chocolate shake she ordered for herself. Once they had sat down and started to eat the rather impressive homemade burgers, Craig couldn’t help but chuckle.
“What is it?” Sandy asked, “Did I stain my dress?”
“No, not that,” Craig replied, “The people are looking at us like we just left the chapel of love in Vegas. It’s hilarious.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Sandy said as she took his hand with hers, “The best part is that I get to share this moment with you.”
“That’s always been my favorite part as well,” Craig said, nibbling on a fry, “To share a whole whack of firsts with the only person I love more than I love myself.”
“That’s a powerful statement,” Sandy confessed, “Considering what a narcissist you can be sometimes.”
“Is that so?” Craig said with a shocked look on his face. He was tempted to throw a French fry at her but decided not to get too childish.
“I’m not embarrassed,” Sandy told her husband, “Are you?”
“Not in the slightest,” Craig said as he looked back at someone staring, “Hey there! Having a good time?”
Surprised that they were so friendly, many people started to speak with the happy couple and even take pictures with them before they left. It was almost like having a second reception with complete strangers. Stopping for burgers in their wedding outfits was just another of many more stories they would share with their future children, along with the stolen cell phone that pushed them both in the right direction in their lives. Rather than being obsessed with marriage and what everyone else was doing with their lives, Craig and Sandy were obsessed with one another, which was the way it should always be. In the years to come it would be that obsession that would get them through the hard times and celebrate when things went as planned. They would both honor their vows, never parting until death came to claim one of them many, many years later; a love that was true right to the very end.
Craig Greene was coasting through life, trying to make a living and be true to his girlfriend Sandy. Then one morning while eating breakfast with his brother, Craig's cell phone is stolen and everything is turned upside down, even the relationship with the woman that he loves. Craig is now forced to make a choice, whether or not to lie to the woman he loves to spare her feelings or bite the bullet and tell the unpopular truth. Ether way, Craig has a bad feeling about this.