Excerpt from the short-story-in-dialogue “Communicate.”
My Kindle short story, Communicate, is a bridge work between my novel Meeting Dennis Wilson and the next novel, Switch, which I hope to publish by the end of 2016. It’s a short-story-in-dialogue, a transcript of a July 1976 phone call between 16-year-old Brian and his best friend Margo, following Brian’s latest frustrating date with his girlfriend Christy, where, once again, the couple “took steps” but didn’t go all the way.
Here’s an excerpt from Communicate. Enjoy!
Margo: I really want to know why Christy telling you “slow down, ease up” is so… whatever. What was wrong with it?
Brian: What was wrong with it was… it felt like she was saying STOP! and from that point on, it just… it wasn’t the same. I felt like I didn’t know what to do… she was acting all mad…
B: Well… frustrated.
She goes “I didn’t mean you should back off all the way.” And I said “Well, what am I supposed to do?” and she said “Just slow down and do it more gently.” And I said “I am.” “Yeah, but that’s too slow, too gentle.”
M: Brian… I’m still not seeing exactly what the problem is here.
B: It’s that I don’t know what she wants–
M: –she’s telling you. Right?
B: I guess.
M: You guess. Why don’t you believe that when she says “Slow down, ease up” she just means “slow down, ease up?”
B: Because I want us to go all the way…
B: …and we’re not.
M: See? That’s what it is.
B: It is. Sorry, but…
M: Why “sorry”?
B: …but see… we were supposed to a month ago… we keep putting it off–
M: –I know…
B: …and when we got up there in the balcony and I felt up her skirt and she wasn’t wearing any panties, I thought, “O.K., maybe this is it.” Even though there’s no way we were gonna do it up there.
M: Not that it hasn’t been done.
B: I know. But I didn’t have a rubber.
M: You’re smart, Bri.
M: Not smart enough to just have her carry them in her purse, but… smarter than the average bear.
B: …anyway… she does that and maybe it doesn’t mean that we’re gonna do it then, but I feel like she’s open‑‑
M: –so to speak.
B: So to speak. And then when we start to make out, she says that— “Slow down! Ease up!” And it feels like a big STOP sign–
M: –See, this is what I don’t get.
M: “A big stop sign.” She wasn’t saying STOP, Bri! Do you see that? When she says “Slow down, ease up,” she’s not saying “Stop altogether.” She’s saying “Don’t do it like this… do it like this.”
B: Except she doesn’t say that–
M: “–Slow down, ease up.” That means do what you’re doing, but go slower and be more gentle. It’s like I always say: if you want to go 50, do 25. Anything you want to do, do it half as intense.
See, because… we’re…
Look: Christy grabs you. Right? Your thing.
M: And you like that. Guys like that.
B: Well, sometimes she grips it a little too hard…
M: Well, do you tell her that?
M: No? Why not?
B: I don’t want her to stop.
M: You guys… you’re hopeless. You know? It’s no… it’s no wonder you don’t believe her when she tells you what to do… you’re not telling her what you want.
B: I guess…
M: Do you see how ridiculous this is?
B: But I don’t want her to stop.
M: Stop what? Doing something you don’t really like?
B: I don’t hate it… I just…
M: …don’t like it.
Brian… I mean this in the nicest way possible, but: you retard.
M: I mean, seriously. At least Christy’s trying to tell you what she wants. You’re so… freaked out that you two are never gonna do it that you’ll put up with anything.
B: Yeah, basically.
M: Well, at least you admit it.
B: That’s kind of pathetic, isn’t it?
M: I didn’t say that.
B: No… you just called me “hopeless”…
M: …I know…
B: …“ridiculous”… “retard”…
M: Well, you can be kinda slow sometimes…
Look… don’t be hard on yourself. You just need to learn to talk and listen. Tell her what you want and believe what she says she wants.
And don’t say “I guess.”
B: How’d you know I was gonna say that?
M: Brian… we’ve been friends for what… eight years?
B: I guess.
M: Shut up…
Communicate by Max Harrick Shenk
Available as a Kindle short story: 99 cents or FREE to Kindle Unlimited members.