TO CHASE AND TO CLAIM (CHAPTER 3)
AT THE SALOON
“So I am so confused I don’t know what men expect from us. One minute they are the king of the world and they want to dictate your entire life, the next second they are a complete stranger!”
Kaylie smiled where she sat under the hair dryer as she listened to the conversation of the women.
There were seven women at the saloon. Two including her were under the hair drier while the other two were having their hair done. One of the reasons why she liked coming here was to listen to women’s experiences at the salon. Most times their discussion never applied to her as they were always busy talking about the problem they face trying to raise their family. Today they seemed to be talking about things she was actually going through.
“Look, I still told my man last night. If he keeps checking out the pictures of those Instagram bitches, one of them would have to start cooking his meal for him,” another lady under the drier said and everyone laughed.
“Sometimes, a man’s problem is not even a woman, sometimes it is money and other times, it is something unimaginable like a stupid bet. Instead of them to talk about it to you, they wouldn’t. That is when you will start seeing them avoiding you or trying to be alone.” Mrs. Maxwell, the owner of the salon said. She was dark in complexion and she looked quite older than the rest of them.
“So, what do you do during one of those moments when they are shutting you out?” Kaylie asked before she could stop herself.
‘Well, my dear, when such a time comes, try not to think so much about it else you might go crazy,” another woman replied.
“I have this TV show that I watch every night, it discusses sensitive things about men and their ego in relationships. Y’all should listen to it. It has helped me a lot in my past relationships.” Mrs. Maxwell continued. “You know sometimes you just got to do what you gotta do in order to stay sane. Else, you will keep blaming yourself for things that weren’t your fault in the first place.”
“Hmm. Ride on sister!” the ladies chorused.
“Let’s face it, when something is off in our relationship, we want to make things right because we are women and we are emotional. We want to make everyone happy. Sometimes, we just need to try and make an effort to make things right. We know that if we don’t things might not get better.”
“Yea, true,” the women replied at once.
“I will really love to know the name of the program Mrs. Maxwell,” Kaylie said.
“Don’t worry dear, will write it down for you before you leave.”
He looked around, realized there were few people left in the bar. Conversations rose in a dirty cloud of smoke. There were standing drinkers, sitting drinkers, and couples in secluded bays.
He shouldn’t even have come here but somehow he had found his way here. This was the best place for men like him to drown their sorrows but he wasn’t feeling better, instead he felt worse as the picture of Anne in her beautiful wedding gown flashed before him.
Chase checked the time on his phone screen, it was getting late. He had just sent his own half to Kaylie’s account after he got her message.
“Who broke your heart?” a voice said in front of him and he looked up, it was the female bartender who had served him earlier. She looked like someone in her early twenties with a visible scorpion tattoo around her neck. Her dress hung over her shoulders.
“No one broke my heart.”
The lady leaned closer to him, resting her arm on the counter and staring at him.
“So, whose heart are you breaking?” She asked again, half-smiling.
Chase tossed her his cup for a refill. “None. Why are you tripping?”
The lady straightened up and turned to pick a bottle from the stack.
“I know everyone’s problem by their number of drinks,” she replied and pointed to a guy sitting at the far end corner of the bar. He was a middle-aged man in a bowler hat and in front of him were empty bottles.
“That man over there just got a divorce paper from his wife whom he loved unconditionally and he is finding it difficult to understand why she would ask for a divorce. That one over there…” she continued, pointing to another at the other corner. He looked younger and had four empty bottles and an empty cup on the table before him. Hanging loosely in the corner of his lip was a cigar, he seemed to be dead drunk as he stared blindly into the darkness.
He just went bankrupt.”
Then she faced him. “You, well, I’m finding it difficult to understand. You seem to be the sort of guy that doesn’t belong here and yet somehow found yourself here. I don’t think you actually understand what is wrong with you, yet you are sad about something that shouldn’t make you sad.”
Chase smiled. “You are getting warm, but not that warm enough.”
“At least I tried. I bet if you speak to my sister, she will solve your problem in no time.”
The lady nodded as she attended to another customer. “She is a shrink; I’ve been trying to learn one or two things from her so you should give me some compliments for being close to figuring out what your problem is.”
Chase smiled. “I am having a problem dealing with a past relationship. You are right about being sad when it shouldn’t make me sad.”
The lady clapped her hands excitedly. “Wonderful. You see, I’m good.”
“So, how do I get to your sister?” he asked. He couldn’t believe he was actually saying this,
“Well, I can help you but she is a super busy woman. If you are lucky, you can talk to her in three days’ time.”
“Wow! That’s far but I don’t mind. What do I need to do?”
The lady thought for a while. “You can drop your number and don’t forget to call me.”
Chase nodded. “Do I get a pen and paper?”
The lady dipped hands in her pocket and handed her a pen and a torn piece of paper. He scribbled down his number and added back to her.
“Thank you so much,” he brought out some cash and placed on the counter. “The change should be more than enough to show gratitude.”
The lady smiled, she seemed pleased. “Wow, cute and generous, just my type of men. Don’t worry, I will call you.”
Chase nodded, stood up and motioned towards the entrance, forgetting his phone on the counter.
“So thanks love for the beautiful plan you brought up, have you paid for it?”
“Yes love, I paid immediately you sent the half.”
Chase smiled and drew her closer to him, giving her a warm embrace.
Kaylie was confused, this morning he had left abruptly as if he was hiding something. A couple of hours later he had called to ask how much the rent was and he had sent half of the money. Few minutes after, he was back, and not only back, he even came with beautiful flowers for her. Now, he was hugging her and giving her a warm embrace. She was confused but, she leaned in into him so he could her tightly.
“Baby, are you okay?” he whispered into her ear.
She said nothing; instead, she just sighed and held him closely.
“Chase, you know I love you right?”
“Sure darling, you know I do too.”
“If anything is wrong, you will tell me right?”
He nodded slightly.
“No matter what happens, don’t ever change okay?”
He smiled and pulled away, now looking into her eyes.
“Baby, why are you saying all these?” He asked but she shrugged.
“Nothing, just to tell you that’s all.”
Chase smiled and squeezed her hands. “Everything is fine okay?”
She nodded with a big sigh.
Richard was her first. It was what you’d call love at first sight except that hers had lasted just eight months. They had accidentally run into each other at the store. He had that kind of a face that would stop every lady both ugly and beautiful in their tracks; Tousled dark brown hair and almost a perfectly symmetrical face. He was one of those men who has grown accustomed to the sudden pause in ladies’ facial expression when they look his way followed by a nonchalant gaze and a weak smile. This was exactly how it had happened. She couldn’t look away and he had caught her staring.
He seemed to be looking for something in particular when she found him and even though she tried to avoid him for the rest of the time she spent in the store, he seemed to be everywhere she was even when she had gone to make her payment. Finally, he had caught up with her at the garage while she was trying to get into her car.
“Hi, I could have sworn you were trying to avoid me.” He had said to her and the way she had blushed was inexplicable. When she tried to talk, it was like her voice didn’t belong to her.
“I think you are really beautiful and I would love to know your name,” he had said again and the next day, they had gone on a date, that week, they started their relationship.
Thinking about it now, she could still feel a pang of regret for rushing into it but she had no reason to back out, they both loved each other and it was quite obvious, there was no reason to take things slow or maybe she just read the wrong signals.
Just like all beautiful relationships at the beginning, Kaylie felt it was going to be her very last, which would lead to marriage. The first few months were the best of her life then. They did everything together, went on many trips and eventually started planning on moving in together. In the sixth month of the relationship, she started noticing some changes. First, it was the calls, they reduced drastically. She at first thought it was probably his job that was taking much of his time so she didn’t mind doing the calling until she realized it wasn’t his job at all.
Then she had questioned him many times if everything was okay between them and she was assured that they were good and that was how other things followed, he stopped taking her out, started planning things differently without asking her as he used to and one day when he finally broke up with her. She could still remember vividly how everything happened. He had shown up at her doorstep and with the way he was looking that day, she knew something was definitely wrong.
“What is it, Richard? You have been avoiding me lately and now you just showed up at my doorstep unannounced.
“Yea, um, can we go inside?” He asked.
She thought for a while before opening the door for him. When they were finally inside, he didn’t bother to sit and neither did she.
“What is it, Richard? Why have you been avoiding me? Did I do something wrong?”
He seemed to be having difficulty in saying whatever he had to say to her.
“Richard. You can’t come in and just stay quiet. I wasn’t able to get through to you for days now …..”
“I am seeing someone else, Kaylie.” He said abruptly.
When she heard, she wasn’t a bit surprised. She had expected that a man wouldn’t start avoiding you unless he has some big secret he didn’t want to reveal.
“You’ve been seeing someone else? Since when?” She asked.
“For two weeks now. I’m sorry, I just had to come and tell you so you can stop disturbing yourself over me.” After saying this, she watched him walk out of the room and right out of her life.
Kaylie gave off an exasperated sigh as she tossed on her bed while recalling those horrible times of her life. Everything had started with the phone calls and it was like time was repeating itself.
For two days now, she had been the one calling Chase and most of the times, her calls would go to voicemail. It was also two days since they had last seen. It was so unusual and she was beginning to panic.
She promised herself not to call him until he calls first. Four hours later, she was home and she had no messages from him, on her mobile phone or answering machine. It was painful. Could he be involved with someone else too?
Normally, they had a way of calling, he would call in the morning to wake her up before she would go to work, next she would call as soon as she was through with her bathe and then, he would give her a call so they could chat endlessly while they both rushed to their different places of work. Then the first person to catch a break would call and then he would be the one to call later for the rest of the evening. Now it wasn’t like that any longer. This morning, she had gone to work without hearing from him at all.
She had tried to call but it went straight to voicemail. Everyone knew something was wrong with her but she didn’t want to conclude yet. All her excuses were that probably he was busy. When she caught a break at work, she thought about calling him but she changed her mind.
All the day at work, she kept glancing at her phone, hoping she would at least miss his call.
Now she was at home, lying on the couch and surfing the internet on ‘signs your boyfriend is no longer into you.’ While she read, her heart kept racing as ‘changes in communication’ stared back at her.
She started checking the replies and comments of the people who had checked the site months earlier. The comments both gave her much worry and less hope. While some testified to this being one of the reasons they had to break up, others said it was not a genuine reason to think he was no longer interested.
One man testified that, when a man communicates less, it doesn’t mean he is not interested, it could actually mean that he has other things in his mind. There was a lady who actually commented that she was already losing her mind when it got to the third day and unable to take it any longer, she had traveled down to his house, only to find him on top of another woman.
At this juncture, Kaylie put off her phone and threw it on the other couch. The thought of her boyfriend on another woman was just something she wasn’t ready to picture again.
When Richard had started misbehaving, he had never quite pictured another woman interfering, but when he had to come to tell her himself, she felt so stupid for having not thought of it at all.
She realized that the weather has changed as the room became darker. The breeze began to blow heavily followed by a long low rumble of thunder.
She hated the rain, especially if it was a heavy thunderstorm; she loved it more when someone was with her.
Suddenly her phone rang, startling her. She hesitated, but then she reached out for it. For some reason, she couldn’t check who the caller was, she just didn’t want to experience any disappointment again, so instead of checking who the caller was, she just picked the call.
Something melted deep down in her tummy as she heard his voice, she almost jumped for joy.
“Baby, are you there?” he asked again.
“Yea, yea, I am here,” she replied, quickly and cautiously, she didn’t want to sound too excited.
“What happened? You haven’t called me for days.”
“Yea, I know, sorry, I misplaced my phone and just found it. Would tell you everything later.”
The sigh that escaped Kaylie’s lip was sudden as if she was finding it difficult to process the fact that her boyfriend lost his phone for days and couldn’t find any means of contacting her.
“So, how have you been?” he asked again.
“Good,” she replied quickly.
“Have you gotten any reply from Hatteras Island yet?”
“No. not yet,” she replied, waited for a while before saying, “I miss you.”
“I miss you too.”
She knew he hesitated, maybe it was her imagination or maybe it was probably nothing.
“So, are you coming?” She asked expectantly.
“To my place of course, where else?” she replied.
He was quiet for a while before replying, “Baby, I would have loved to but it’s about to rain and I don’t want to get drenched.”
She felt that familiar hot wave of disappointment wash over her. What kind of excuse was that? He was going to be in the car all through so how was he going to get drenched.
“Okay, no problem, whatever.”
“I will call you later.”
“Tomorrow is another Saturday, any plans?” she asked, hoping he would at least make effort to spend time with her.
“No babe, sorry, I will be busy tomorrow but I will come later in the day.”
“Fine,” she said quickly, ending the call and throwing the phone on the couch. She lay huddled in one corner, with her face in her hands, biting her lower lip painfully. This was one of those times she actually wished she had girlfriends she could talk to but she didn’t. When she was with Richard, Richard was her friend, confidante and all she could ever need, now it was Chase. She remembered promising herself not to make the same mistake of making her man her only friend and confidante, it affected her greatly when Richard broke up with her and now she was experiencing the same with Chase.
Maybe she was just over thinking, maybe everything was right, just maybe! She remembered the conversation she had at the salon some days back, now she was going crazy gradually.
It rained throughout the night. She was alone and sad. Going through the internet wasn’t quite helpful and going through their pictures left her with an emptiness she hasn’t felt in a while. She found many signs to look out for on the internet on ‘how to know if your boyfriend is avoiding you,’ but she wondered if everything was her imagination.
He had given excuses for not calling her and now he just canceled their Saturday plan for the first time since their five months of being together. She must be the cause of this and she just wished he would talk to her.
It was like replaying a painful part of her life all over again and she kept trying to check where she must have gone wrong. Could it be her? Did she say something she wasn’t meant to say? She was already doing it, she was beginning to blame herself for things she was probably not responsible for. Well, she knew she couldn’t possibly conclude since they have not actually spent time together for him to say whatever was wrong, the last time they were together, he left abruptly because of the vacation which she had planned.
But there have been several times when she had done things to surprise him and he loved surprises so what was wrong with this one? Still, that wasn’t enough for her to draw a conclusion. She was going to wait till tomorrow when he would come, by then, she hoped, things would get better.
I THINK THAT ONE OF THE MOST DIFFICULT MOMENTS IN A RELATIONSHIP FOR A LADY IS WHEN THE GUY IS PUTTING UP ATTITUDE. GUYS, TALK MORE OFTEN PLEASE. STOP DRIVING US CRAZY AH!