I’ve hidden myself in the children’s section of Barnes & Noble. I can feel the storm of salty tears that are about to break free from my tear ducts. I’ve been holding them captive, waiting until I found safety. Am I safe?
Ring, ring, ring. I’m desperate for my mom to pick up her phone. The tears are beginning to tease the surface of my lackluster brown eyeballs. “Hey, honey. What’s up?” She greets me from somewhere across the city. A flurry of gleeful cheers fill the background.
I lose it. The tears come pouring out as do my sputtering words. “M-m-m-mom,” I stammer.
“What’s wrong?” She’s frantic.
“What happened? Where are you?” She interrupts me. I can hear the panic in her voice as I manically sift through the faces walking about Barnes & Noble looking for him.
“He just freaked out. I didn’t know what to do.”
“Where are you?!”
“I’m hiding in Barnes & Noble in the kid’s books.”
“Stay there. I’ll be right there.”
No more than ten minutes later a white sedan pulled up and parked; emerging from the vehicle, my saving grace––my mom.
So, what happened? Why was I hiding in the children’s section of Barnes & Noble and who was this guy that “just freaked out”?
His name was “Skeleton Bones” Jones. He was about 6’7” and other than that towering characteristic, there was nothing special about him. We had met at a mutual friend’s art show when Jones purchased me an adult beverage. He wasn’t overly flirty nor was he eye-catchingly (yes, I made up a word) good looking. Just as his cliched name suggests, Mr. Jones was just your average guy, nowhere near my typical type of disgustingly good looking douche bag. He asked for my number and I gave it to him.
There wasn’t a frazzle of excitement in my body as he recited my number back to me. In all honesty, I don’t know why I gave it to him. It wasn’t like I was looking to date anyone. I was in the midst of one of my I-hate-guys-temper-tantrums (which never last long), but I gave him my number anyways…I know, I don’t get me either.
He set a date for us the following week at the “best” sushi restaurant (his words, not mine) where we drank flat beer and hot sake. I was just as unimpressed by the food as I was by his conversation. There was no magic in his eyes, his hands shook abnormally and his skin was alarmingly dull…like he belonged in a box six feet under. We finished our meal, he paid the bill and he drove me home.
There was something odd about the towering skeletal frame of Mr. Jones but come to think of it, there was something much more overwhelmingly unsettling about his presence. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but he made me itch with fear. Hushing my inner voice, I accepted a second date from him thinking that maybe I was being too judgmental with the lad.
Inevitably, our second date arrived. He wanted to take me to a movie (of my choosing) and then dinner, switching around the serendipitous order of the dating tradition of dinner and a movie. I chose The Danish Girl. Now, anyone who knows me and knows me well, knows my abhorrence of tardiness. I will say it once more: I HATE when people are late for plans.
Well, Skeleton Jones was late. Very, very late he was. Late to the point of we were going to miss the previews. There was still the chance of making the opening credits when he finally arrived at my house. Alas, the gods had something else in mind. Ole Jonesy boy decided that we HAD to get an adult beverage for the show. “I’m okay,” I insisted.
“No, I insist,” he hissed.
“I just don’t want to miss the opening scenes.” I felt as though I was begging.
He shot me with his darting eyes and hovered his emaciated tremoring hand towards mine. “Don’t worry, we have plenty of time,” he choked out. For some reason, call it common sense, I highly doubted him.
True to his word, we stopped at the CVS on the opposite side of the strip mall which also housed the theater. Already, I was over everything. I was over the movie, the date and especially him. There was something off-putting about him yet I still couldn’t pinpoint it. He had this frantic, unnerving energy like someone who was coming down from something…something heavy and undoubtedly illegal. The ghastly creature that was Skeleton Jones decided on a bottle of Evan Williams Bourbon (which is absolute shit). He paid, we walked out, he shoved the bottle of bourbon in my purse (this was unsolicited) and we rushed over to the theater.
He hadn’t even bought the tickets yet, so of course we were further delayed. Then we HAD to stop at the concession stand to purchase the largest Coke they had. I was NOT a happy camper. We had missed the whole beginning of a movie that I very much so wanted to see. But that monster didn’t stop there––Nope! He talked through the ENTIRE movie.
I know what you’re thinking and yes, someone did shush him and you know what he did? That animal whispered a cacophonous whisper, “people need to mind their own FUCKIN’ business,” then slurped up the sloshing bits of bourbon that remained. Once he drank the cup dry, almost finishing half of the bottle all by himself (since I don’t drink nasty ass shit), he shook the melted down ice that was left in the cup to rally up an even bigger raucous. I sank and prayed that it would all be over soon. I even thought about sneaking out of the theater and just leaving him there but something about him scared me too much to do even that.
Thank God! The movie ended, the credits rolled, the lights began to flicker on but we were locked to our chairs since Hoodlum Jones decided that he was going to “say something to that dick that was sitting in front of us” (a.k.a. the man who had shushed him). I bunkered us to our chairs since I wanted to see all of the credits…No I didn’t but I also didn’t want to be part of the circus that Jonesy was about to unload.
Eventually, we left the theater. I was hoping with every molecule of my being that he would just drive me home and I would never have to see this monster again. But again, one can only hope and dream when they’re in a complete nightmare.
Bonesy decided we were going to eat dinner. We walked down the sidewalk to a Peruvian restaurant where he ordered more alcohol and where I also decided to drink some (liquid) courage. The first drink was drank, then the food came and then the second round. He did all of the talking but it wasn’t real conversation, it was more of him telling me how much he hated a countless concoction of people. This wasn’t like your basic bitch hating some girl that she was jealous of, it was a hatred that pierced through his otherwise empty eyes. I felt too cheerful with glass number two of wine to take him seriously. So somewhere in his never-ending story, I interrupted him with a chuckle and a, “I’m still waiting for your psychoses to come out.” Oops.
He stopped dead. If looks could kill, I wouldn’t be here today to tell you the tale of Mr. “Skeleton Bones” Jones.
“What did you say?” He grinded the words through his gnashing teeth.
So I repeated myself, but this time like a scared little girl who had just said, “fuck” to her mommy for the first time.
“Why would you say that? What would make you say that?” The words scraped through his yellow fangs.
I had unknowingly struck a chord with him. I could feel the panic creeping out of my adrenal glands. He ranted on, waving his hands through the air to enunciate each and every offended word that slithered out of his mouth, leaning over the table like he was going to swallow my innocent soul whole.
Under the table I dug my hands through my mess of a bag, searching for my phone. Frantically I searched and searched and searched, never taking my eyes off of the loose cannon that sat across from me. And then––I found it! As the terrible man that sat in front of me tried to flag down the server, I texted my mother and then my friend but no one responded.
My mind was racing. What was I supposed to do? Honest to god, I feared for my safety. All the while that he was tracking down the server, he kept ranting. And ranting. And chastising me for what I had said. I didn’t mean anything by it but based off of his reaction I would deduce that it was quite possible that he was…well, INSANE.
No one had responded. The bill was returned and I could feel the tears of panic rising in my throat. What was I supposed to do? The skeletal giant jerked himself out of the booth and began stomping toward the door. I followed from a safe distance behind him hoping that maybe he would just forget about me. His steps were like three of mine. He was halfway into the parking lot when I was only making my way out of the door. He didn’t seem to notice. I began to turn my body in the direction of a more populated area and then like a rabid werewolf, he swung back around. “Are you coming or not?”
I stopped. “Oh, um. I have a ride,” I lied.
“So you’re going to be like that?!” He shouted. His whole frame was shaking. I shrugged. I didn’t know what else to do. He’s going to smash my face in with his colossal hands and throw my body into some unmarked grave, I thought.
The tears were there, stuck in a glob in the back of my throat. I fought them back with all I could. Show no weakness. Scream. Kick. “You know what?” He interrupted my thoughts. “Whatever.” He stormed off.
I waited until I could only see the back of his head and I ran into the bordering Barnes & Noble. I kept checking behind me, checking to see if he was following me. Safe, I whipped out my phone, called my mom and barricaded myself in the children’s section knowing that mothers with children are the scariest of all beasts and would beat the shit out of any “Skeleton Bones” Jones that threatened their babies.
And that was the SCARIEST date of my life.