“Oh Alton, they’re beautiful! You’re so sweet!” Monica gushed when I presented her with a large bouquet of red roses on our date. The way her eyes lit up and widened reminded me of another date with another very special woman many years ago, but I tried to push Macie out of my mind, at least for tonight. I’d decided that my sister was right; it was time for me to start trying to find happiness again. I had grieved for far too long and Macie would never have wanted me to spend the rest of my life alone and sad. I could hear the clicking of cameras from the paparazzi capturing our every move but I decided to just ignore them. I didn’t want to ruin our date with me yelling at reporters and photographers to buzz off. It’d look bad on both of us in the press, too. Might as well just let them publish their juicy gossip about Alton Sword going on a date with a pretty lady.
“I’m glad you like them,” I smiled. “Shall we head inside?” I’d wanted to take Monica to a fancy, classy, sophisticated restaurant, but Turquoise kept nagging at me to get outside my comfort zone and loosen up a bit, so here we were at a Western-style karaoke bar, complete with a mechanical bull and pool tables upstairs. Sea Gods, what had I gotten myself into with this? My only consolation was that Monica seemed happy with my choice.
“I haven’t been to a place like this in years, back before I was married,” she told me. “This should be fun. Care for a game of pool?” she grinned wickedly. Well how could I refuse?
“Certainly, but you know, are you sure you want to go up against me? Pool is a man’s game and I’m hard to beat,” I teased her with a smirk. She laughed and lightly poked me in the chest.
“Oh, I see how this game’s going to be. You’re on, Mr. Sword. Try not to cry when you’re bested by a woman at a man’s game,” she winked, heading upstairs. I chuckled and followed her. I loved her sense of humour. She played along with all my jokes and teasing, which I appreciated, because most of the time, they weren’t very good. “And just to make things more interesting… winner gets bragging rights and loser has to ride the mechanical bull.”
“Oh, it’s on now. This means war,” I laughed. Now I was determined to win.
Turns out I shouldn’t have gloated about my pool skills to Monica because she slaughtered me. It was like she was a pool genie or something! I tried to keep my slack-jawed mouth shut but it was hard when every single shot Monica took, she buried me another foot in the ground. All I could do was hang my head in shame and embarrassment as she gave me smug looks after every shot until the game was over and there was nothing left for me to do but accept my defeat and take my punishment.
“I do believe there’s a mechanical bull downstairs waiting for your company, Mr. Sword,” Monica smirked once the game was over. Well I had agreed to her terms, after all. Oh boy, this promised to be painful.
“Yeah yeah, I know, I’m going, I’m going…” I assured her, swallowing hard as I made my way to my death sentence. “If I die, it’s on you,” I warned.
“Oh don’t be so melodramatic, Alton, you’re not going to die,” she laughed, shoving me onto the padded platform. I wasn’t so sure about that, but I couldn’t chicken out now! That would be even more embarrassing than getting tossed across the room by a robotic bull! And in front of the paparazzi, too! I gulped down my fears and awkwardly struggled my way into the saddle, preparing for my doom.
Immediately, I feared everything I had eaten that day would come spewing out of me as my stomach lurched along with the bull. I held on as tight as I could. What else could I do? No one had given me any tips before getting on this thing! I’m pretty sure people were laughing at me, my own girlfriend included but I couldn’t really focus on that. I was more concerned about hanging on for dear life in any possible way I could. I was determined to beat this bull! Soon, the laughter turned into impressed murmurs because it had been almost three minutes and I was still on the bull’s back… well… okay, I was still on the bull. Whether or not I was actually sitting on its back is debatable, but apparently, as long as you’re still on the bull, it still counts. Good for me because I would have been ousted within ten seconds if that wasn’t the case.
Just when I started to get comfortable enough to be cocky (isn’t that always the case?), I met my downfall. I lost my grip and before I knew what was happening, I was sailing victoriously through the air for just a split-second before I came crashing down in a bungled up heap on the hardwood floor. The crowd cheered for me and Monica rushed over to me. “Alton, are you all right?” she asked.
“Oh sure, just fine. Hah, ride a bull? Piece of cake!” I boasted, unsteadily getting to my feet and trying to put on a confident grin to impress her. Oooh I didn’t feel very good. Why was everything spinning? Monica laughed and put her arms around me, giving me a kiss.
“That’s my Alton,” she said affectionately. I must say, a kiss and embrace from Monica was a pretty good reward for my troubles that night.