Searching for Swimmers–Chapter 1

Jason Purdue swallowed his shot of Tezon and skipped the lime. Now that women were present, the cheap shots of bourbon had been upgraded to expensive shots of tequila. What the fuck did Jason care? It was his birthday so all of the drinks were on the house, aka on Ross, although Jason and Ross were such regulars, that due to the celebration, a few of the drinks were actually “on the house.”

            Jason smoothed back his wavy brown, gray tinged hair, leaned back in his chair, and did his best not to audibly sigh. He didn’t care what the women thought or what Ross thought for that matter. He was just trying not to be a horrible wingman. Ross had repeatedly chastised him for chasing women away and tonight Jason was trying to comply with Ross’ wishes.

            In a word, Jason was average. He wasn’t a particularly attractive man—neither ripped nor flabby, neither tall nor short; but he wasn’t unattractive either—full head of hair, nice eyes, no facial scars, plus, according to Ross, he had the aloof attitude required to attract women. Jason didn’t buy that, but it didn’t matter because he didn’t give a shit either way.

            “Isn’t that right, Jason?” Ross asked.

            Jason snapped back into the conversation. “I’m sorry. Is what right?”

            “That I’d still be a Formula One race car driver if it wasn’t for that horrible crash that nearly killed me two years ago?” Ross’ eyes pleaded with Jason to back up his lie.

            “Oh yeah, sure,” Jason said with disinterest. Again, he tuned out the conversation. The two women who Ross had managed to corral to their table were both attractive. Maybe not centerfold material, but Jason knew that type of beauty didn’t really exist beyond the newsstand. Still, to Jason, all women had physical attributes that made them beautiful. Sometimes it was as obscure as a wrinkle in a smile, or a unique, if awkwardly placed, birthmark. Other times it was pronounced, large shapely natural breasts or a firm bulbous ass. Both of these women were younger than him so, from a purely physical standpoint, it was a plus. One was blond, the other brunette. Neither had standout physical features, yet both were slim, and based on appearance alone, were suitable mates. Of course, Ross was only looking for a mate in the strictest definition of the word. For a change of pace, Jason considered playing the role of the pickup artist, but then quickly decided he had no interest, none at all.

            “So, what is it that you do? Are you a former race car driver too?” the blond skeptically asked.

            Ross nudged Jason from his catatonic daze. “Me? No, I’m a program coordinator.”

            “Oh? What is that exactly?”

            “If you ever figure it out please tell me. Apparently, it means doing bullshit and taking bullshit. So, do you like bullshit?”

            “We all have to deal with bullshit,” said the blond.

            “Absolutely. Bullshit may not be what our society was built on, but it certainly has become our number one commodity.”

            “And what would you prefer? A society of pure honesty?” Her laugh was tinged with sarcasm.

            “Yeah, not possible, but at least it would sort through some of the riff-raff.”

            “How so?”

            “Well, on average, there are about ninety to ninety-five suicides a day. If we had a society of pure honesty, I bet we could triple that number in the first week alone. And two hundred and seventy less people a day, well, it’s a start.”

            “Wow, Ross, your friend’s cheerful.”

            “You should see him at an abortion clinic,” Ross joked.

            Ross’ remark silenced the conversation, and Jason couldn’t help but laugh. Ross didn’t need him to sabotage the situation; he was doing just fine on his own. The roll of her eyes made it clear that the brunette, Diana, was disgusted by the remark, whereas the blonde, Robin, seemed to act disgusted if only for her friend’s benefit. Jason used the silence to flag down the waitress. He was off the fancy tequila and ordered a shot of Wild Turkey and a Titan IPA. To his surprise, Robin made the switch with him.

            “So, Robin. That is your name?” Jason asked.


            “What are you after in this conversation with us?”

            Robin hesitated, a bit unsure of how to answer the question. “I guess what everyone is after, a good time.”

            “Well, I’m pleased to hear that a conversation with us is a good time,” Jason said and paused to take his recently arrived shot. “Well, it’s that or the free drinks.”

            Ross punched Jason in the arm. “Uncalled for, man.”

            “No, he’s right. Honestly, it’s a combination of the two. Some might like to come to a bar and get plowed,” Robin said, her eyes directed at Jason. “I enjoy meeting new people…and getting plowed.” She took her shot of Wild Turkey. “If the drinks are free, all the better. More than anything, I like the conversation to have something from a fresh perspective.”

            “See, Ross,” Jason said, “we have a rapport going here. This Robin, she’s smart, savvy. That, and we have the getting plowed thing in common. So, does your friend also enjoy conversation?” he asked Robin.

            Diana looked like she’d prefer a jail cell with electrified walls to her current situation. On the surface, her French bun, tweezed eyebrows and full glossy red lips made her appear the more attractive of the two. Her wardrobe from purse to skirt looked as if it came straight from Vogue Magazine. She was the culture’s image of perfection. However, Jason preferred more natural women, like Robin, who wore her hair in a simple ponytail and had no more than a touch of mascara and clear lip-gloss on her face.

“I get bored by drunk asses who just want to fuck me,” Diana said.

            Jason laughed. “Really, me too. Rest assured, I don’t want to fuck you. Don’t know if I can say the same about this guy,” Jason said, gesturing to Ross.

Ross just smiled, as if to say, I’m guilty, you caught me.

            Diana took Jason’s recent comment about as well as she took Ross’ about abortion, but Robin’s sly eyes smiled. “Since we’re talking honesty here, is that because your end game is to fuck me?”

            “Robin, while I’m sure you are more than fuckable, I don’t want to screw you either.”

            Ross threw his hands in the air then flagged down the waitress.

            Robin leaned forward with a seductive stare. “Really?”

            “Really. I mean—you are lovely—beautiful. The fact that you are even willing to converse with me at this point in our conversation makes those slight wrinkles at the edges of your eyes vanish. But what would really be the point?”

            “Come on Jason,” Ross was pleading for him to stop.

            “I’m not saying that I would sleep with you…but the point? I don’t know, a good time?”

            “Ah, a good time, the answer that everyone gives, especially younger folks. Let me ask you this, could I give you a better time than you could give yourself?” Jason queried.

            “Wow.” Robin leaned back in her chair and smiled. “Hmm—maybe.”

            “But in your estimate, what shot do I stand against yourself?” Jason leaned in, “Fifty-fifty, thirty-seventy?”

            She gave him a once over. “Twenty-Eighty.”

            “Damn. Especially with chances that low, why take the risk?”

            “Well, there’s always that twenty percent chance.”

            “There’s also a twenty percent chance you’ll contract herpes. What’s the chance you’ll contract love?”

            “You never know with that.”

            “What’s the percentage chance that, if you do contract love, it will be felt by the other party; and if it is actually met by the other party, that it’ll last?”

            “No one can calculate those numbers.”

            “Exactly. Why take the chance?”

            “Because of the alternative.”

            “What, a life free of nonsense?”

            “No, a life absent of love.”

            “Oh, you’ll still have love. You love your mother, right? You love your girlfriend there. Love is there. It’s all around us, but romantic love, nah, just a mediocre moment.”

            “You can’t honestly believe that.”

            “How could you honestly believe the alternative?”

            “There’s no reasoning with you.” Robin laughed in disbelief. “You’re like one of those fundamentalist crazies. Think you have all the answers.”

            “I don’t even begin to pretend that I have all of the answers, just the facts. You can make up your own mind. I know that I have. Just because I’ve made up my mind doesn’t mean I’m ignorant.”

            “I didn’t say ignorant, just short-sighted. Some woman must have really fucked you up.”

            Jason’s eyes flashed with anger. He took a gulp of his beer then leaned into the table, his elbows firmly planted. “Years of Lifetime movies, rom-coms, and soap operas have blinded you to the point that you think picking up some middle-aged guys in a dive bar might lead you to the happily-ever-after you’ve been yearning for since you got your fucking Barbie dream castle when you were five.” Jason shot up from his chair. “I’m getting another drink,” he said. He then strolled over to the bar, a lazy limp in his step.

            “You know, Ross, your friend is really fucked up.” Robin swallowed the rest of her beer and slammed the empty glass onto the table.

            “Birthdays make people crazy,” Ross responded.

            “True, but they don’t normally make people assholes!” Robin stood up. “Come on, Diana, time to move on.”

            “About time,” Diana said and stood up.

            “Ah, Robin, Diana, don’t let Jason spoil our evening,” Ross shouted at their backs. “How about another round before you go?”

            “Good luck,” Robin yelled as she passed Jason and stormed out of the bar.

            Ross slid up to Jason with an unusual mixture of disgust, disappointment and pride on his face. “Shit, Jase, you’re killing me.”

            “You’re killing yourself. Should’ve known better. Leave me out of your one-night stands.” Jason took a shot and chased it with a beer.

            “I know, I know. Just thought maybe you might actually want to get laid on your birthday.”

            “Ross, I’m thirty-seven. I don’t need to get fucked, I need an exit strategy.”

            “Exit strategies should be reserved for the morning after and maybe to end a wartime occupation, not for the end of your life.”

            “I’m sorry. I tried, I just couldn’t—”

            “But, they were hot?”

            “Yeah, they were hot.”  

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