Charlotte Raby

Fiction


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O'Brien's Horizons

by Charlotte Raby
Originally published in the Writer's Exchange E-Publishing ezine

Mick wandered the docks with one aim. The summer dusk had chased away
pert mothers with baby-strollers, replacing them with shifty-eyed people
who leaned against walls and ducked into doorways. He needed a drink.

Drinks.

Today, Jessica had nixed their decade-long relationship -- via her Blackberry -- citing his nonchalance toward commitment, just after Mick had lost his job for his - in his boss' words - "blasť attitude." Now, with a tug on his choking tie, his shirt stuck to his sweaty back, Mick searched for a not-too-seedy bar.

What the hell. He had freedom now, in the way Joplin defined it. Yeah. And perhaps after a few drinks, he'd be loving it. Speaking of which. Here was a spot that looked good enough: couple of bouncers, one on each side of the double doors, arms crossed, sporting gargantuan muscles and dark glasses. Plus, the sign above the door indicated it was Irish, which always boded well. O'Brien's Horizons. Good name.

One of the bouncers looked at his watch. "You're late."

Mick smirked at him. "Hey, thanks, buddy. That makes me feel truly wanted." He shook his head at the guy as the other one opened the door for him with a look of pure hard-ass. The door shut with a tight, final sound behind him, as he waited for his eyes to adjust to the dim lighting.

Just as his vision cleared, the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen took his hand. "There you are! I was beginning to worry."

She led him to a tiny round table with cushioned chairs. Although the small oval room had a low ceiling, it sparkled with lots of chrome. "It's almost time," she said.

Mick noticed how soft her delicate hand felt, the innocence in her eyes, and her sweet dimpled face framed with curls. Now he understood. The way she and every other woman in the joint were draped in clinging sheer togas meant that this was no regular bar. This was a gentleman's club of the highest order, and well worth every penny of his last paycheck. Of course, he had probably used up his lifetime allotment of luck, being mistaken for the poor sucker who was supposed to be here. What the hell, he'd go for it. With anticipation, he stroked the top of her hand with his thumb.

Her pure voice soothed him, as she cradled his hand under her chin. "We're going to have the grandest time."

Someone set a couple of fruity drinks in front of them. Uncertain, he pulled some through the straw onto his tongue and realized that this was now his favorite drink. He could only smile, bemused. It would be cool to have a wife like this sweet, docile creature.

"It's so meaningful. For all of us." She motioned to the others, seated at private tables, engaged in intimate conversations. "Tonight, we'll start over and do it right."

"That's sounds wonderful." And Mick meant it. For tonight at least, everything really would be all right. He started to introduce himself. "I'm --"

"Shh." She put her finger onto his lips. "We'll have new names."

"Oh." He kissed her hands in gratitude while she somehow became even more beautiful. And then it dawned on him: he had fallen in love with her.

A man appeared from the darkness where the two side walls curved together. "Good evening," he said.

"Good evening, Mr. O," replied everyone but Mick.

"Tonight, we embark upon a magnificent voyage. One that most men only dream of."

Although impressed, Mick wanted him to stop, in case the sex didn't measure up.

"In a moment, our craft, which has sped these last thirty minutes under the sea, will dock at my San Aquila space launch pad."

What the --? Mick tried to stand, but found himself strapped into his slowly reclining seat. He gripped the woman's hand. "Yes, everyone, clasp hands with your spouses," Mr. O continued, lifting his arms, "as we shed the failures of this world, and rocket toward new Horizons!"

Mick looked into his new wife's adoring eyes and shrugged.

"Ah, what the hell."

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