This ‘longer than normal post’ was written for OLWG#131
John Lee and Ashley had been drinking all day. It was mid-afternoon when Ashley picked up the car keys and announced that she was out of cigarettes. She was going to drive down the canyon to Leo’s Market and pick up another pack. She was gone a long time and when she finally came back in the front door John Lee was sitting on the rear deck finishing another beer. He asked her where she’d been.
“I had to walk back, honey.” She said.
“Something wrong with the Porsche?” he asked.
“Nope,” she giggled I traded the Porsche.
“You did what?” he demanded. She held out her hand, “Damnit, Ashley,” John Lee looked at her open hand; she stepped closer so he could see what she held. “You traded my Porsche for a bean? I knew you were gullible, but this is beyond anything I could imagine.” He sputtered and searched for words to hurt her. He looked for words to demean her, to make her feel small. Then he snatched the legume from her hand and threw it off the edge of the deck onto the slope below.
“John Lee,” Ashley cried, “the man said it’s a magic bean. He said it’s powerful and will grow whatever it is that your heart truly desires.”
“That’s bullshit, girl; and you know it. Get out of my house.” He stormed back inside and went to the kitchen. He yanked open the ‘fridge and pulled out another beer. He popped the top off the bottle and chugged it down. John Lee repeated the process seven or eight more times until he heard the front door open and shut as Ashley left. He went out to the front stoop and watched her as she dragged a small wheeled suitcase down the street. “Don’t come back either,” he shouted as she rounded the corner at the end of the block.
John Lee went on a bender that afternoon and passed out. He woke up early the next morning lying on the floor in the bathroom off the hall. Dried vomit covered him, his clothes, the pedestal sink, and the floor. It seemed that he had puked everywhere except in the toilet. “Damn.” It smelled horrible.
He struggled to peel off his tee-shirt. When he did, he used the shirt to wipe a path to the door. Then stripped off the rest of his clothes, started the shower and crawled inside, where he lay until the hot water ran out. He collapsed to the tile laid there for a while, letting the cold sluice off his body. Finally, he turned off the tap and padded to the linen closet for a clean towel.
“Ash?” he called out, “Ashley, what the hell happened last night? We musta gone total blotto.” John Lee made his way into the bedroom. Ashley wasn’t there and the bed was crisp. It looked like it hadn’t been slept in. He began to worry and listened to the silence as he stumbled down the hallway to the kitchen. “Ashley?”
She wasn’t there. He looked through the sliding glass door at the deck but she wasn’t outside either. The front door was next and he noticed, that his Porsche wasn’t in the driveway. He fell back inside, relieved.
She must have run to the store, he thought to himself. I’ll call her and ask her to pick up another case or two of beer. I could sure use a cold one right about now. His head was pounding so he grabbed three Tylenol from the kitchen as he looked for his phone.
After an extended search, he finally found it on the arm of the Adirondack chair on the deck. He picked it up and dialled Ashley. Her phone began to ring from inside the house. John Lee realized that she hadn’t taken her mobile with her, so he pushed the button to end the call. When he did, he glanced at the slope that ran away from the deck. There was a good-sized vine growing up the slope towards the house. John Lee didn’t do a lot of yard work, but he thought he would have remembered that vine. The stalk was bigger ‘round than his thumb and the vine was about eight feet long. Lots of amber coloured flowers winked up at him from the vine. Each flower displayed small, round, white dots that looked like bubbles. He shrugged and went inside to clean the bathroom while waiting for Ashley to get back.
After cleaning the loo he settled on the couch to watch Oprah and fell asleep. When he woke the sun had navigated to the west. It wasn’t dark outside but it was clearly late afternoon. The house was still and silent as a tomb. He realized that Ash was still gone. It had been hours since he’d woken up on the bathroom floor and she still hadn’t come home. John Lee was beginning to worry. This time he grabbed her phone. Her phone had all her contacts. He started calling her friends, beginning with Miranda.
“Hey, Miranda – this is John Lee… Yeah, I guess I’m OK, thanks. Listen, is Ash with you; I’m trying to find her… No, no nothing’s wrong I just fell asleep and she was gone when I woke up… Thanks, if you see her, ask her to give me a call, OK? Yeah, thanks, bye.”
He followed that with identical calls to Chelsea, Krysta, Jenn, and Elaine. Against his better judgement John Lee finally dialed Ashley’s sister, the wicked witch.
“Hi, Evanora, it’s John Lee…”
“John Lee? John Lee. That name sounds familiar. Do I know you?”
He ignored her sarcasm, “Evanora, is Ashley there? I’m looking for her.”
“Yeah, she’s here.”
“Can I talk to her… please?”
“She doesn’t want to talk to you, douche-bag.” Eleanora hung up and John Lee threw Ashley’s phone against the wall. It smashed there; on the drywall right next to the television. Small bits of plastic, glass, and circuit board rained down on the floor where they clattered against the baseboard.
John Lee started pacing. He cursed Eleanora under his breath. On a pass through the kitchen he pulled the fridge open and grabbed the last six-pack of beer from the top shelf. He headed out to the deck to watch the sunset and drink. The vine had taken over the entire slope. The stalks were as big around as his forearm. Oddly shaped brown and green fruits hung from stalks on the vine. Something about them didn’t look right to John Lee so he took the steps down two at a time to check them out.
They were beers, tiny little beers in bottles. Some of the bottles were green; some of the bottles were brown, others were clear glass. He twisted a large green one off the vine and popped the top off using the edge of the redwood deck. He sniffed the bottle. He put his mouth on the opening and tilted it back. It tasted like an IPA but it was a little bit sour. Not ripe yet? He finished it anyway and looked for a brown one.
The prompts were:
- blue as a robin’s egg
- slow consumption
- it’s a magic bean
It took me a long time to write this one. In the midst of it I had to stop for cataract surgery. Which went very well, by the way. I now have 20/20 vision in both eyes but I have to wear readers. Having worn eyeglasses since grade 5, this new ability is like a Christmas miracle. l believe another reason it took so long is that I really don’t like the character, John Lee. I think Ashley’s sister got it right when she called him a douche-bag. He doesn’t deserve a beer vine.