She hardly knew him when she answered the door. They met in creative writing class years ago. She was there to bare her soul, he to meet chicks. She never had another lover, kept his favorite chair in front of the television, no one else sat there since he left. It was a wound that needed closure.
“Would you like to hear my new story?” asked Charlene.
“I might as well,” said Rip. “The football game doesn’t come on for another half hour. All they have is pre-game bull crap anyway.” He made himself comfortable.
She sat down next to him on the arm of the overstuffed love seat and opened her journal. She knew he was only visiting her in Philadelphia because the Eagles were playing the Giants in the Meadowlands and the game was blacked out in the Big Apple. She began, “It was…”
“Never begin a story with ‘it was’,” he said. "It’s too passive. You told me that in the class. You don’t even remember your own rules,” he said.
“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times,” she answered in overly honeyed words. Bees make sweet nectar, but they have stings.
“You didn’t write that.” “No, Charles Dickens did. It’s the way he started A Tale of Two Cities.”
“You think you’re so damn smart because you majored in English, but that’s plagiarism.”
“No it isn’t. That’s not my opening. I’m just showing that you can start a story with ‘it was’."
“So what’s yours, ‘it was a dark and stormy night?’”
“No, that’s a cornball start. Mine is, “It was precisely 6:45 p.m. when Natasha activated the switch on the trigger mechanism for the nuclear device she had smuggled into the rotunda. The dignitaries would be entering for the Christmas Ball at 7 p.m. She set it to go off in fifteen minutes.”
“Oh, that’s better. It’s timed to go off at the start of the football game.”
“Yes,” she said, as she dropped to her knees and handcuffed his ankle to the leg of the love seat.
“Oh, right,” he said. “You expect me to believe you’ve planted a nuclear device under the cushion that will blow me up if I don’t leave before the game starts. Well, all I have to do is stand up, lift the chair, the cuff will fall off the leg, and I’ll be free.”
“Exactly, that’s what I want you to do. I could never get my hands on a nuclear device. It’s really an anti-personnel mine that you triggered when you sat down. It will explode when you stand up. Goodbye, macho man.”
She left by the front door.