You’ve seen the photos on Facebook. There she is, smiling with another guy on a catamaran. You’ve never seen her so happy. You can tell it’s a catamaran because that’s the kind of boat that jerks have.
Who is this guy? You click the link to his profile. It says he’s from Boise. Nothing good ever came from Boise. Of course his name is Tyler, because that’s what all terrible people are named. Yes, even Hitler, it was his middle name. Adolf Tyler Hitler.
He’s been liking all of Sarah’s status updates. They must be serious, then. And what does this event invitation say? They’re both at a show in a bar only a few blocks from your apartment, a venue you and Sarah used to go to all the time. You grab your coat.
At the bar you order a beer and scan the crowd. You spot them up front, next to one of the speakers. You always hated standing near the speakers. Tyler casually leans against one for support, as the band dedicates its last song to them. They smile and kiss.
After the show you follow them, waiting for the right moment to confront her. They head towards the cafe where you and Sarah had your first date. That’s when it hits you: they seem to be visiting all of the spots that ever held any deep meaning to your relationship. As the maître d’ seats them, it starts to rain. You find shelter across the street, underneath the awning of the closed laundromat you and Sarah used to go to.
A cold wind rattles the laundromat’s shutters and lashes you with rain. You squint through the storm, into the warm restaurant. He feeds her a bite of cavatelli with browned sage butter and sausage, your favorite dish. You can’t make out what they’re saying. Probably something stupid, about catamarans being a superior kind of boat.
They leave the cafe and head to the carnival where three years prior you and Sarah shared your first kiss. The rain stops and a vivid rainbow stretches over the ferris wheel as they board. They kiss at the very top, in the same spot where you realized you wanted to spend the rest of your life with her.
A crowd gathers below and applauds. The Commodore, a feared local politician, happens to be standing in front of you. Despite being an ugly man known for his ruthless pragmatism, something about the scene on the ferris wheel stirs him, and causes him to regret the careerism that allowed all the people he ever loved to slip from his life. His aides roll their eyes as he gives an impromptu speech, “marveling at the miracle of a new love forming in a cynical world filled with so much adversity and pain.” Then, sobbing, “Mabel, my dear Mabel, oh God.”
He collapses backwards into your arms. The crowd around you screams. You hear one person yell about calling an ambulance, as another points at The Commodore’s stricken face and grimly shakes her head. You whisper into his ear, “I gotcha. I gotcha.”
One of his aides helps you carry the old man to his limousine. It reeks of bourbon. You lay him across the back seat. While you feel for a pulse the aide orders a Choco Taco at a nearby stand. You scream at him for the car keys. He shrugs and tosses them over, and seconds later you peel out of the carnival parking lot. You’ve never driven so fast in all of your life, nor with such purpose.
You almost drive straight through the entrance of the emergency room. You stop the car on the sidewalk. You put The Commodore’s arm around your shoulder. White foam from his mouth wets your shirt. You drag him through the automatic doors. The lobby has the unforgiving lighting of a chain pharmacy. The nurse at the front desk jumps up and shouts something into a phone as other people in the waiting room scatter in all directions.
Two orderlies rush in with a gurney, and once he’s lifted on it they violently pound his chest. Your last sight of The Commodore before he’s wheeled away is of his dress shirt being cut open with scissors, his body looking small and weak underneath his suit.
You sit in the lobby waiting for news. A junky sits nearby, scratching his forearm, saying, “I dunno man.” A reporter shows up and asks you a few questions. You ask him if the story will run on the front page. “Nah, kid, probably not. I do the real estate section.”
Later you go to the vending machine and buy two Whatchamacallits. You share one with the junky and watch the replay of a Knicks game. “They might have a chance this year.” “I dunno man.” The game turns to the nightly news and you watch a report about a beautiful new love being kindled at a local carnival. The tiny news scroll at the bottom briefly mentions The Commodore being hospitalized for loneliness. Nobody from his family visits; you wonder if any of them are still alive, and what his first name is.
You walk home at sunrise, after the nurses cart the old man away with a sheet over his body. You think about how Sarah would get a real kick out of the story, if she ever speaks to you again.