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Lonely Young Man

By Harry Banks


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    While Melvin’s alma mater was on the TV screen running an end-around play, he was sitting at the bar, working on a pitcher of beer. He wasn’t really paying much attention to the college football team he used to play for- they were losing by three touchdowns and seemed to be sleepwalking on the field. Melvin couldn’t keep his attention focused on such a one-sided game. He pretended to be watching the game, but was really wishing that he was in the company of the beautiful blonde sitting at the left end of the bar applying lipstick, or the brunette who was on the opposite end sipping a bottle of beer.

    “Way to go Tigers!” Melvin’s old team scored on a 27-yard pass to the tight end, and the brunette got excited.

    “Alright! That’s my old team!” Melvin said all that, hoping to get the brunette’s attention, but she only left the bar to use the restroom without so much as a glance in his direction. He felt foolish.  

    When Sandra returned to college to begin her graduate studies, Melvin became a man in dire need of a woman’s touch. Sandra had been his girlfriend during the summer, but she suddenly decided to leave for college, which disappointed Melvin more than it hurt him. Having her around was a matter of convenience, and when she left, Melvin had to get used to sleeping alone again.

    Sandra was an obese white woman in her late 30s who had big blue eyes, and long blonde hair. Her weight problem was offset by a very pretty face that was accentuated by the skillful way in which she wore her make-up.

    Sandra was the type of woman who dressed well, despite her obesity. She wore stylish skirts and dresses most of the time, and Melvin loved the way her tree-trunk legs and fat feet looked whenever she had on pantyhose. Even the pumps that she wore made her grossly fat ankles look sexy to him. He was weird like that. He had always been aroused by the oddest things; such as watching women shop for feminine hygiene products in grocery stores, and watching them try on shoes in department stores. He was a leg man with a severe foot fetish. Administering long, relaxing foot massages to Sandra, and then licking the bottoms of her feet was Melvin’s favorite part of foreplay.

    Sandra had been back in Austin in college for two months when Melvin began missing her dearly. Her departure didn’t really bother him at first, but eventually he began feeling lonely, and missed all those nights he spent in her trailer. He wished that she could visit him on weekends, but she was on full scholarship, and had to use her free time on weekends to study hard so that she wouldn’t lose the scholarship.

    Melvin spent his entire childhood and adolescence being made fun of and rejected because of his looks, and ended up suffering a complex that lasted well into adulthood. From a distance, his shadowless face resembled a black spot. He was a tar-black, ashy-skinned, nappy-haired, red-eyed man who was only too aware of his physical repulsiveness. Unfortunately for him, females felt the same way he did about his looks. Knowing that he wasn’t good enough for black women or slim white women, he had grown to prefer fat white women over the years.

    As he sat at the bar, finishing up his pitcher of beer, he knew that he didn’t stand a chance with any of the women in the bar who were shapely and pretty. So he left his barstool, and approached a hefty white woman with mousy blonde hair that he noticed earlier. She was sitting at a small table in the center of the bar. A greasy-looking woman who appeared to be in her late forties, she looked lonely and desperate as she sipped her suds. She was dressed in tight-fitting jean shorts, a black Harley-Davidson t-shirt, and Birkenstock sandals. The first thing Melvin noticed about her was that she didn’t have on socks, which made it possible for him to admire her thick ankles and red toenails.

    He extended his hand to her. “I’m Melvin.”

    The white woman glared at him snatched up her purse, grabbed her bottle of beer, and went to another table. He heard laughter coming from somewhere. It was a loud, ridiculing laughter, and could be heard over the loud rock music coming from the juke box. He turned around and saw a group of construction workers looking at him and laughing about his striking out. He looked over to the table where the hefty blonde was now sitting. She was conversing with a blue-eyed college boy who appeared to be 19. She pointed at Melvin, and the college boy looked at him and laughed. The embarrassment that Melvin felt ruined his buzz, so he left the bar.

    He walked to a nearby liquor store, purchased two 40-ounce bottles of malt liquor, and walked the two miles home to his tiny studio apartment. Walking all over town was no big deal to Melvin. He had never owned a car, so having to use his size 12 feet as a means of transportation came second-nature to him.

    A Johnny Cash CD played in a nigger-rigged boom box as Melvin worked on the bottles of malt liquor. The boom box was a gift from the ghetto in which he lived, something that he found in a trash can in an alley. When he found it, it had no speakers, so he had to wire it to a small pair of speakers that he found in a large pile of trash in the front yard of a crack house.

    By the time Melvin finished both 40-ounce bottles of malt liquor, he felt the anger rising within him. He was angry for a lot of reasons-  no job, no car, no decent clothes, very little money, very little food, the fact that it had been seven weeks since Sandra bothered to call him, the fact that whenever he called her she spoke to him in a cool tone of voice and tended to blow him off even before the phone conversation reached the two-minute mark, the fact that he knew in his heart that Sandra no longer wanted him.

    Melvin’s financial situation was one of desperation. His monthly mental disability check only stretched so far before he would have to go into one of the neighborhood grocery stores to steal things that he needed. Sometimes he would have to go days without brushing his teeth or washing his ass because he would simply run out of toothpaste and soap. He couldn’t even afford to get a decent haircut, which is why his hair began to resemble steel wool.

    A warm breeze blew in through the living room windows as Melvin drank the last of his malt liquor. The heat and humidity of the warm night put him in the mood to go out and do something. He knew of some art school girls who lived about two buildings down from him. They were rich girls from places like Colorado and California and upstate New York. They drove to and fro the Alamo City Art Institute in their foreign cars, read Kerouac in coffee shops, socialized at art openings in small art galleries, admired beautiful art with their boyfriends at the art museum. They were the kind of girls that Melvin could only fantasize about being with. The type of white girls who wouldn’t give a dirty black man like him so much as a second glance.

    In the thick haze of malt liquor consumption, he wanted to do something bad to the girls for being too good for him. He was glad they lived on the ground floor, because that made it possible for him to do what he had in mind.

    Melvin got up from the old dusty love seat that he was sitting in, and went into the kitchen. He grabbed a butcher knife and found a rusty lead pipe in the cabinet underneath the kitchen sink.

    On the way out the door, he picked up the two empty malt liquor bottles. Once outdoors, he hurled both bottles one-hundred twenty-five yards, busting them on the sidewalk. That feat was a testament to his athletic prowess. At one time in his life Melvin was the talk of the town, a high school football star who quarterbacked his team to two state championships. He accepted a scholarship to a small, private college in San Antonio. He went there in hopes of being a star quarterback. After being forced to play defensive back, he became frustrated and disillusioned with the football program, and quit the team, despite leading the team in tackles and interceptions. Then he was expelled for allegedly stalking a female student that he was obsessed with. That was the beginning of Melvin’s downward spiral. He never left San Antonio after getting kicked out of college, because he didn’t feel he had anything to return home to.      

    He walked on down to the three-story brick building where the art school girls lived. He noticed that their living room window on the west side of the building was wide open, and was glad that he didn’t have to bust it open like he had originally planned. He knew that one of the girls had a dark-gray cat, so he walked around the area for a while, hunting it down. “Here kittykittykittykitty…”

    Finally, the cat appeared, and hissed at Melvin. It leaped for his face. He smacked the feline in midair with the rusty pipe. The cat went flying several yards before it hit the ground. It laid on the ground paralyzed, moaning and crying like a baby.

    Melvin approached the injured cat and put it out of its misery by giving it one last blow to the head with the rusty pipe. He picked up the corpse, walked to the window of the girls’ spacious apartment, and peeked inside. The smell of marijuana smoke hit him hard. Jazz music came from a Bose stereo system that wasn’t visible from his vantage point, but he could tell that it was a Bose because of the quality of the sound.

    The young women seemed to be having a small party as Melvin watched them with envy. He was so envious of them that he was oblivious to the blood of the dead cat running down his arm. The girls were laughing and talking shit, while sipping wine from a bottle and sharing a marijuana joint. The tall blonde girl seemed to be doing most of the talking, while her two brown-haired roommates made small comments, but the jazz music was so loud that Melvin couldn’t make out what they were talking about.

    Each girl was dressed in a stylish black outfit. Melvin knew that those outfits were purchased with plastic money at some exclusive fashion boutique in the suburbs. Or maybe at Neiman-Marcus or Marshall Field’s at trendy North Star Mall. Suddenly he began to hate the sight of the young white women sipping expensive wine and lounging around their expensive apartment in their fine threads. He was going to ruin their little party because he knew that they were too good for him.

    Without even thinking twice about it, he tossed the dead cat through the open window, and bolted. As he sprinted down the alley towards his lonely apartment, he could hear the girls’ screams.              


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