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The proposition, p.7
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       The Proposition, p.7

           Jessica Schlafer
I laughed, nervously, "I have no idea, I don't know anything about cars. All I know is that it's cute."

  He laughed, Ben was staring at me like I was a meal. Neil seemed like he was falling asleep.

  "I don't know how to drive,” I said.

  "I got a stick shift you can drive, baby," Ben said, leering.

  "You don't know how to drive? Really?" Dmitry asked.

  "No, I grew up in cities with great public transportation and I never learned how to drive."

  "What cities?" Dmitry asked.

  "I grew up in New York and I went to college in Boston."

  "Ahh, a fellow New Yorker," Dmitry said. "I'm from Brighton Beach. Where you from?"

  "I'm from the East Village."


  "You're pretty far from home,” Dmitry said in a way that made me uncomfortable.

  "She's with me," Nick said, putting his arm around me.

  "Nick, I really think we need to get going."

  Nick reached toward the booth to get our coats when Dmitry held up his hand and said, "Why're you running out so soon? You didn't even get to finish your pie."

  "I'm really tired," I said. "I think I just want to get back and get to bed."

  "Sit there and eat your pie," Dmitry said through gritted teeth.

  "Excuse me?" Nick said, turning his glare toward Dmitry. "I don't believe I heard you correctly."

  Dmitry shoved Neil out of the way and also rose to his feet. "Oh yes. Nick, you heard me just fine. I told you to sit down and eat your pie."

  The two men stood, face to face for a really long time, staring each other down. I started to pull Nick toward the door, trying to ease our way out of the restaurant.

  Dmitry started to laugh, "Hey man, you know I was just playing with you. Take your girl and get out of here. I got this for you."

  Nick was tense and never stopped looking at Dmitry. He reached out a hand to me, which I gladly took, and we walked out of the restaurant.

  Neither of us said a word until we were in the car. "I really wanted that pie," Nick pouted.

  I couldn't help myself, I laughed. "Oh my God! I'll make you a pie!"

  "Hmphf, it's not the same," Nick pouted.

  "Nick!!" I playfully slapped his arm. "What just happened?"


  Nick got serious, "Abby, they're testing us. I'm pretty sure they're suspicious as to why I have a serious girlfriend, all of a sudden. They just want to see if it's real."

  "Oh," I said. "What do we have to do?"

  "I don't know," he sighed.

  We drove to Nick's house. When we parked, I noticed a car in the street with two men just sitting inside. I stopped Nick and motioned with my head. He nodded and pulled out his phone. I could see him texting and then my phone beeped.


  I laughed and kissed him on the cheek, then I sent him a text.

  His read, "ARE WE SAFE?"

  He laughed out loud, "Of course, you're hilarious."

  He then picked me up, threw me over his shoulder, and carried me in the house, locking the door behind him.

  He sent me another quick text, "HOUSE MAY BE BUGGED, WATCH WHAT YOU SAY."

  I got a chill, I felt so uncomfortable. I sent him "HOW WILL WE KNOW?"


  I nodded and sent, "PLAY ALONG, THEN."

  He nodded.

  "Sooooooo, Nick, wanna make out?"

  "Hell yes," he said, pulling me to the couch.


  We started kissing while we were standing and eventually we were sitting on the couch. He had his hand on my behind and gently lifted me so I was on his lap, straddling him. I could feel him getting excited, as was I, when he put on the brakes.

  "Shit, Abby, I think I left my wallet in the car," he said breathlessly. "Baby, I'll be right back."

  I ungracefully clambered off his lap, practically falling onto the coffee table behind me. I waited inside for about 15 minutes before Nick came back.

  "They're gone."

  "Oh," I was a little disappointed. I was enjoying our little show. "Does that mean..."

  "Oh no, remember what I said before." I nodded. "Let's watch a movie, babe."

  "Okay, I'll pop the popcorn. Don't you dare pick something where everyone gets shot!"

  "Aww, come on," he mock whined to me.


  "Nick! You know I hate those!"

  I heard him throw himself on the oversized leather couch while I waited for the popcorn to finish popping. When I came back into the room, I snuggled next to him and watched a horror movie through my fingers.

  By the time the movie was over, I was completely terrified and could barely make it to the bathroom by myself. Nick picked another movie, this time a comedy, for us to watch. It wasn't very good or very funny, but it did the trick of making me forget about the horror movie. Toward the end, I was beginning to feel sleepy and started to doze off.

  "Abby, do you want me to take you back to Paul's?"

  I shook my head.

  Nick laughed. I was really beginning to enjoy his laugh.

  "Come on, sweetie," he said, leading me to his bedroom. I saw the clock said two A.M. "Let's go to bed."

  He gave me a tee shirt to wear to bed. I quickly slipped it on and crawled into bed. Nick climbed into his side and shut off the light. I think it was six seconds before I fell asleep.

  The next morning, just like the night before, I woke up to Nick holding me. This time, though, he was already awake.

  “Hey,” he said.

  I stretched, “Hey.”

  “Did you sleep well?”

  “Oh yeah, this bed is great. My bed in Boston is just a glorified futon.”

  Nick laughed, “I take sleep seriously.” He paused and thought for a minute. “Abby, can I ask you a personal question?”

  “Um, sure.”

  “You talk about how much you love Boston but then you always follow it up with something crazy like that your bed was garbage. Were you really happy there?”

  I had to think about that one. I rolled onto my back and took a deep breath. “If I’m being completely honest, then no. I love the city, don’t get me wrong. It’s got a great night life, the people are great, the sites are amazing. There’s always something to do.”


  “But, I was very alone there. After I graduated, I couldn’t get a job anywhere. I worked for a little while as a waitress, but the restaurant closed. And you know my major was English writing arts, so it’s not like companies were knocking down my door. So, I decided to go back for my Master’s. I didn’t have a job, but I was able to take out thousands of dollars in loans, like a lot more than I needed for school, and used that to pay for my shit apartment and whatever I needed. Then I got really depressed and stopped going to classes.”


  “I don’t know, I guess it got too much for me to handle. I don’t know. Then Paul called and asked if I wanted to come out here. I had almost run out of money and I was living on ketchup packets, Ramen noodles, and tap water. I just felt like things were spiraling out of control.”

  “Jesus, Abby. I had no idea.”

  “No one did. No one does.”

  “You’re not gonna tell anyone?”

  “No, why would I? Everyone would just worry and all that nonsense. I just want to make it on my own, you know? I’m here now, anyway. Maybe I won’t go back. Or, if I do go back East, maybe I’ll go back to New York.”

  “Didn’t you know anyone in Boston?”


  “I dated this guy the whole time I was in college, we lived together. The day after graduation, I had gone to the airport with my parents and when I got back, all of his stuff was gone from the apartment and he left me a note.”

  “What the fuck?”


  “Yeah, he said he got a job in San Francisco and he didn’t want me to go with him. ‘Thanks for the good times,’ all that.”


  “Yeah, and most of my friends graduated and left to get jobs, so, I didn’t know anyone.”

  “I’m so sorry,” Nick whispered, touching my arm.

  “Thank you.”

  “That really pisses me off that that guy did that to you.”


  “Me too, I took loans out in my name to help him when he couldn’t afford his books.”


  “What the fuck, Abby?”

  “I was young and stupid and in love.”

  “And I don’t like the idea of you alone in a big city like that.”


  I laughed this time. “No one does. My parents paid my cell phone bill after Jake left and I wasn’t working. My Dad sent me a Taser and was about to make me take a self-defense course.”

  “It wouldn’t hurt.”


  “I know, I kind of liked the idea.”

  “Where’s your Taser?”

  “Still in Boston, in my safe. I couldn’t fly with it. Can you imagine?”

  “I think you should stay in Portland.”

  “I’d need a job.”


  “You could run one of Paul’s dry cleaners.”

  I shook my head, “And a place to live.”



  “And I’d like to finish my Master’s at some point.”

  “Go to U of W.”

  “You can’t solve all my problems by waving a magic wand. I’m also about $83,000 in debt.”

  Nick had the nerve to look shocked. “How in the hell…”

  “Nick, seriously? I took out loans to pay for school.”

  “You’re being paid for this,” he said.

  “I know. I was gonna use that to pay down my loans.”

  “I see.”

  “Nick,” I said, climbing out of bed. “I really like it here. Maybe I will stay. I just haven’t made that decision yet. A lot of it rides on how things go with you guys.”

  “I understand,” he said, also climbing out of bed. “Just think about it.”

  “I am every day.”

  Nick took a shower while I got dressed in my clothes from the night before. Once he had emerged, he drove me back to Paul’s house and said good bye for the day. He said he had some business and he probably wouldn’t be around all day.

  I would be spending the day alone again.

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