The Lisping Barista and the Geeky Guy nurse their wounds

The Geeky Guy had seen a bottle of hydrogen peroxide around the house, somewhere. He was looking in all the possible places without resorting to asking his sister or going downstairs, where his sister might speak to him. He moved the broken electronics that were blocking the linen closet door: TVs, flat and bulging; phones, cordless and corded; radios, big and small; fishing boat sonar processors; VCRs; laptops; printers; fax machines; scanners; barometers; GPS receivers; CD players; woofers and sub woofers; all the treasures he had picked up on garbage day and said he’d fix. They were all in the way now. He had found the greatest treasure of his life, shot her, brought her home, and needed to fix her; but he couldn’t find the damn peroxide.

She said it was OK, she’d heard it wasn’t good for wounds, she’d just use soap and water. She said she didn’t need a hospital, it wasn’t that bad, it had only grazed her. She said she was glad he came, thankful he found her, sorry she hit him with a baseball bat. No, she’d rather not go to the hospital. A doctor was unnecessary. She didn’t have insurance. This was the perfect place to hide. Chai Latte would never find her here, in this house. No one would come to look for her here, it looked haunted, and no one would suspect she was with him, the Geeky Guy. He needn’t worry. It was fine. He should be doing something for his shoulder.

But it wasn’t fine. The peroxide wasn’t in the medicine cabinet, either. Nor, in the bedroom. Nor any other place you would or wouldn’t expect to find it. He came across some ancient gauze his parents had bought twenty years ago for an occasion just like this. There was some first aid tape, so old it lost its stick. There was some disinfecting stuff you sprayed; but not the peroxide. What was the use of having peroxide if you couldn’t find it when you needed it, when you shot the girl you regarded as your wife and she was sitting on your bed in your bedroom, where no girl had been before, bleeding into the sheets.

The sheets were none too clean to be bleeding into, she thought, as she sat bleeding into them. The Lisping Barista was never one to be too fastidious, but she had limits to the grodiness she could accept. She looked around. She wasn’t the most organized person in the world, but she had never seen anything like it. He could barely open the door to squeeze in the room. From there to the bed there was a path where you couldn’t put two feet side by side. Even the bed was partly covered by electronics. A desk had soldering equipment, a bright light, bins of screws, screwdrivers, and pliers, but no peroxide. The room was more of a workshop than a living space. She was relieved when the Geeky Guy, later, after he had given up on the peroxide and dressed her wound, said that she couldn’t stay where his sister could find her. She would have to hide in the attic.

It was a major project just to get to the attic door. The door was right there, in his room, behind boxes, piles of laundry, and a garbage can that hadn’t been emptied in ten years. He, with a bad shoulder, and she, with a a bullet hole, together moved the objects, as if they only had two good arms between them. At last they could open the attic door, and they went up the stairs, brushing back the cobwebs, and seeking the chain of a single, bare light.

The house on High Street had been in the Geeky Guy’s family since it was built in Victorian times and, since the family had never left, the attic accumulated the detritus of generations. Dusty furniture. Hat boxes. An old daguerreotype camera with a black hood. Trunks that hadn’t been opened in a century. Paintings that only briefly saw the light of day. At one end of the attic a window was broken and allowed the entry of starlings. Though the dirty window at the other end, a streetlight shone. A dressmaker’s dummy produced a headless silhouette against the light that caused them both to come up short. The Geeky Guy thought it was the black ghost of his mother, come to reproach him for clashing with his sister. The Lisping Barista thought it was his sister, who was known to be otherworldly creepy. When reason took over, they cleared a space on the floor, and made a bed out of some old dresses.

Once the Lisping Barista threw out the whalebone corsets and arranged a bustle to serve as a pillow, the crude mattress wasn’t half bad. The attic was as crammed with junk as the rest of the house and anything they disturbed would precipitate bouts of sneezing. On a scale of luxury, the attic couldn’t compare to the soft bed, multiple pillows, and fine thread Egyptian cotton sheets of Chai Latte, but the Lisping Barista felt safe with the Geeky Guy, even though, less than an hour ago, he had shot her.

The Lisping Barista, being who she was, as soon as she got comfortable, began to get amorous. The Geeky Guy, being who he was, was unprepared for this. He could play the part of Knight in Shining Armor to a T; but, when it came to sex, he was lost at C. As usual, she was more than willing to make up for his hesitation with her stimulation, but a problem began to arise.

It seems that, when one is shot, or hit on the shoulder with a baseball bat, it doesn’t hurt so much at first. Adrenaline, endorphins, shock, crisis, surprise, and relief take over. Then you get busy looking for the peroxide. It’s not until later, after you bring your love home to stay and after you make a bed for yourself out of silk dresses, that it starts to hurt; and, when it hurts, it hurts like a son-of-a-gun.

They discussed a solution. The Geeky Guy would go to the hospital and have someone look at his shoulder. He would say that he had engaged in some sort of a construction project in his house and a beam fell on it. He would get it x-rayed, have them sling a sling, and above all, bring back plenty of Oxies. On that last point, the Lisping Barista was insistent. Percosets would do if they wouldn’t give out Oxies, but he had to come back with something. Don’t act like you want them too much, don’t ask for them by name, but don’t leave for home without them. They needed Oxies enough for both of them and she wasn’t going to go to any hospital where Chai Latte would find her and the cops would start asking questions about why she was shot. She couldn’t go, so he had to and bring back the Oxies. Like she said, Percosets would be fine and even Codeine would be better than nothing; Fentanyl would be lovely. And she was going to need them more than he because, after all, it’s a more serious thing to be shot than to have a tap on the shoulder, but don’t tell them it was just a tap on the shoulder. Tell them it hurts and you can’t sleep, and you can’t do anything, because of the pain, so they give you plenty of Oxies.

The Geeky Guy said that’s what he’d do and she made him practice saying it. My shoulder hurts so bad. It’s a ten on a ten point scale. I’ll be careful not to abuse them. I don’t want to get addicted. Ow! Eww! Damn it, that hurts! Thank you. Is that going to help?

It was a good thing that the Lisping Barista made the Geeky Guy repeat his lines. He wouldn’t have known what to say. Moreover, he wasn’t paying close attention. His mind was on the headless dressmaker’s dummy in the attic and on the bodiless head of his mother that had been tossed on his lap.

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The Geeky Guy is married

In his mind, the Geeky Guy was already married to the Lisping Barista. No marriage license was necessary. That’s just a piece of paper. No ceremony had been held. That’s just for the relatives. There was no reception, no ring, no gown, no honeymoon, no corsages, no awful gowns for seven bridesmaids, or ill-fitting tuxes for seven groomsmen. They’d just be a waste of money. In his mind, there were vows; but they were never spoken. Anytime the Geeky Guy tried to say anything to the Lisping Barista his throat got small, his head began to whirl, and his heart took up tap dancing. But, no need. Vows never need be spoken when love is involved. Vows, paper, and ceremony just get in the way when two spirits are joined. Love is an understanding, fireworks, a little bit of chemistry, people on the same page, tuned into the same frequency, with a certain amount of simpatico. Love is commitment; and, boy, was the Geeky Guy committed.

The Geeky Guy was most certainly married to the Lisping Barista, in his mind; but it was a secret marriage. No one knew; not the general public of the town of Kenilworth, nor even the best customers of the Epiphany Cafe. Rabbi ! never blessed the union and the Town Cop never questioned it. The Therapist Emeritus never analyzed it because the Geeky Guy never told her. One couldn’t be sure whether the Lisping Barista, herself, his very wife, his better half, the love of his life, knew she was married to him. She might’ve, but they never talked about it.

His sister, the High Street Witch, didn’t know; she, especially didn’t know. The Geeky Guy was on the outs with his sister, with whom he lived, over nothing less than this association with the Lisping Barista and his impetuous purchase of the Epiphany Cafe. He and his sister lived in the same dilapidated house, stuffed full of newspapers and electronic discards from the neighborhood, but they seldom saw each other, much less spoke to one another. It was easy to avoid seeing someone in that house, a maze of clutter. It was easier to avoid speaking; for having a long-established routine, the business of the household didn’t require much consultation. It wasn’t easy to feel the icy chill of sisterly disapproval, though, and the implication that, if their parents had been alive to see it, they would have had something to say.

The Geeky Guy knew he was married to the Lisping Barista because she was all he ever thought about. From the time he woke up in the morning to the time he went to bed, she was in the front of his mind. From the time he went to bed to the time he got up again, she might as well have been at his side. Like some wives, she had never been to his workplace; although he had pictures of her, snuck by his iPhone, appearing in a slideshow on his computer. Whenever he wanted, and he wanted to quite often, he could toggle back and forth between her photos and his spreadsheets and CAD programs. Unlike most wives, she had never set foot in his home; but they spent their time together most of the other hours of the day. The Geeky Guy spent every available hour at the Epiphany Cafe, nursing his cappuccino, watching his wife work. No one thought this was unusual. As the owner of the Epiphany Cafe he had a right to the comfortable chair by the potted plant, with a low table close at hand, and a good view, both of the cafe directly and the street through the plated glass window. No one thought he was married to the Lisping Barista because he rarely ever spoke to her, except a few words pertaining to the business of the cafe.

The Geeky Guy had to be married to the Lisping Barista, even though they could never be seen kissing or touching each other. Plenty of kissing and touching occurred in his imagination, and, being the kind of guy he was, he might not have kissed or touched in public, anyway. They never even looked into each other’s eyes, but the Geeky Guy seldom looked directly at anyone. He was a geeky guy, after all.

Most would scoff if they heard the Geeky Guy was married to the Lisping Barista in those terms. No kissing, no touching, no sex. No cohabiting, no talking, no pet names, no sweet nothings whispered in any ears. But there were also no arguments, no broken china, no visits by the in-laws, no shattered promises, and no tragic misunderstandings. It was a better marriage than most conventional marriages. If only every marriage went so well.

The Geeky Guy was most certainly married to the Lisping Barista, in his mind, and, in his mind, he believed she felt the same about him. After all, the Lisping Barista did say yes to him when he asked her out on a date. He only had to ask once and she had an answer right away. She drove him in her car and they went to hear a band she picked out. He met her friends. They kissed and groped and she had put a very private part of him inside a moist part of her. In doing so, they had performed almost the very consummation of marriage.

So, the Geeky Guy considered himself married to the Lisping Barista. That’s why he couldn’t understand why she continued to go out on dates. Oh, the Geeky Guy knew about the dates. It might be said, he had gone on them, as well. He followed behind, at a discrete distance, when she visited Gillette’s Castle with the Weather Beaten Man in a Cowboy Hat. He paid the admission fee and looked at them looking at the painting of the actor and builder of the castle, William Gillette, famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. When the tour guide had caught them kissing, he had caught them kissing, too. He followed them as they fled, hand in hand, through the woods and into the cave. Peering from behind a tree, he saw again the white flash of her breasts and a pink nipple, before they were covered by wide hands not his own. He was even there to see them leave the cave; the Weather Beaten Man with a Cowboy Hat had the embarrassed look of someone who had seen something he wasn’t supposed to see, and she had the look of someone who had seen him see it.

The Geeky Guy was not present when the Lisping Barista had been evicted from her apartment. If he had been, it would’ve gone quite differently. She wouldn’t have had to stand naked in front of her neighbors. Oh, maybe for moment, but he would’ve been there, taking off his shirt and covering her with it to spare her the shame he would’ve seen on her face. She wouldn’t have had to spend the night in her car. None of that would’ve happened; or, if it did, it would’ve been the kind of story they laughed about afterwards.

The Geeky Guy did see her get picked up by Chai Latte and taken to his house. He watched from across the street as people arrived and left the drug dealer’s place. He saw the bedroom light go on and the two pass through the doorway. He witnessed her smile at someone as they left in the room.

When he was at the Epiphany Cafe, watching the Lisping Barista, the Geeky Guy heard her talk. She would go on, to anyone who would listen: Chai Latte, this, and Chai Latte, that. No one could be better than Chai Latte. She was glad she gave Chai Latte a chance. No one understood what he was really like. She didn’t know what she ever did before meeting Chai Latte. Then, one day, the ultimate happened. The way things were going, it had to happen. The Lisping Barista failed to come to work. She had done so before when she was hung over, or sick, or slept late; but, this time it was for good. In her place, Chai Latte had sent a note. She wouldn’t be coming anymore. She was his.

Was this any way for a wife to act?

The Geeky Guy was confused. You’ve got to remember, dear reader; that the Geeky Guy did not know as much about women as you and I probably know, even though we are likely to not know much, either. The only thing he knew about women, he got from his sister – a strange bird, too – and a pair of books left over by his parents.

And so, the Geeky Guy went to those books. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Sex was not very helpful unless he needed to know the number of days in a woman’s cycle or the exact placement of her fallopian tubes. When it came to the expectations a husband may have of his wife, it was as vague and non-specific as the section that failed to describe how the penis penetrates the vagina.

The second book, Kenilworth, by Sir Walter Scott, was much more helpful. In this Victorian romance he found, not an exact match to his particular plight, but one that was pretty darn close. The heroine, Amy, had run off with a cad of a man. The hero was in pursuit. Since the Geeky Guy figured himself as the hero, and not the cad; he knew what he had to do. He would do what the hero did in the book. He would confront the cad, in this case, the drug dealer, with the point of a sword. The Geeky Guy didn’t have a sword; but he had something better. He had a handgun his parents left in their nightstand.