9 The Water gun Fight
The water gun was more enjoyable than Jim originally thought. They used the whole hotel grounds as a battlefield. There could have been a drought with all the water they used. The kids were better equipped than the college kids. They had guns that held gallons and a couple of feet shooting range. The college kids, however, had little rinky dink water pistols that held only a couple of shots at close range. It was a massacre.
It’s needless to say, they were getting their butts kicked by twelve-year-olds. It was Tony’s idea to split up. That was a bad mistake since these kids traveled in packs of a hundred.
It was only a matter of time before the battle made its way into the hotel. Now adults were chasing after everyone, threatening to throw them out. That was when the college kids’ numbers started to rapidly decline. It was like a game of tag. If Hotel Guy caught you, you were out of the game.
So far it was down to just Jim and Tony - the sole survivors. Tony was running around somewhere, and Jim found a nice safe spot next to the main flight of stairs. It was only a matter of time before they were kicked out of the game.
Jim was catching his breath when he heard the children coming. He held his gun close to him like a cop hiding out in a movie. When he heard the children running up the stairs, he made his move.
He jumped up and grabbed onto the hand rail. At first, since his hands were wet, he almost slipped and fell, but he was able to keep his grip. “AAHH!!” He screamed in victory. The kids turned around, shocked and stunned. He had the perfect shot but he didn’t take it. Something made him freeze and stare. Something made his heart fill up with extreme pain.
He saw Stacy sitting on the steps. She was just getting up to walk up the stairs. When she saw him, she smiled a sad smile and waved. Jim was about to wave back, when the kids opened fire.
Stunned by the sudden coldness of the water, he lost his grip and fell over. He landed on his back and felt a sharp pain go up his back. He looked up to see Hotel Guy.
“I don’t think I have to say it,” he said plainly.
10 The Deal
Jim found himself lying in his room staring at the ceiling. Did what he just think happen, happen? What were the odds that Stacy was in the same hotel as him? It was like what he was thinking about came true, and with this truth came a strong, almost forgotten pain. How he wanted to find her and just talk to her, just hold her, just be with her.
Amanda was the other side of the coin. She was here too, and - though it wasn’t happening - he was supposed to be spending time with her. He loved Amanda but he also loved Stacy. What was he going to do?
Stacy is probably here with David or someone else, his rational mind told him. This was probably the truth. Why else would she be up here in a fancy hotel? But what if she was just up here with a couple of friends?
Jim couldn’t take it, he had to talk to someone. Jim picked up the phone and was about to dial Tony’s room when he remembered that Tony and Christine retired early - or so to speak. He couldn’t interrupt them, but he had to talk to someone.
He dialed Linda’s room. He had to talk to Amanda. The hell with Linda. He needed his girlfriend more than she did. Even if it was just her voice, just something to comfort him. But he would not get that comfort. The phone just kept ringing, ignoring his requests for Amanda.
He hung up the phone and walked toward the window. It was practically pitch dark out. There were some lighted areas, occupied with couples either talking, kissing or whatever. This made Jim that much lonelier.
Jim ran his fingers through his hair and decided he needed to take a walk. That’s what he needed. Some fresh air will help clear up his thoughts. Everything would be a lot better if he could just think it out.
Grabbing his coat he walked out the door and down the stairs. When he reached the bottom of the stairs, a room to his left caught his attention. There was something written on a plaque above the door. Jim didn’t recognize the words. It must be some sort of romantic language, Jim thought as he walked in.
He walked into what looked like a movie room. There was a big screen TV, playing what looked like, “Ghost.” There were plenty of couches and they were occupied. The windows were like nothing he had ever seen. There was a dome on the side of the building. There were seats in the middle of these domes, and you could look straight up into the stars or all around the building. Sitting in one of these windows was Stacy, staring right at him.
He took a deep breath and walked toward her. When she saw him coming, she started to smile. It showed a hint of happiness, but mostly hurt. Jim guessed she was feeling like him. A ship lost at sea.
“Hi,” she said diffidently.
“How are you?” Jim asked, trying to sound strong. He didn’t want her to know that her leaving him had made him weak.
“Could be better,” she said, as she turned away with a little laugh. It was more out of uneasiness than happiness. “Can you sit for a minute?”
“Sure,” he said as he obeyed her wishes.
After a couple of apprehensive seconds that felt like hours, she spoke, “Can I ask you a favor? It’s a pretty big favor and you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to. You’re up here with your girlfriend and all, you don’t have too.” As she spoke, she kept her head down, as if to force every word out.
Jim couldn’t help but notice how beautiful she was. She hasn’t changed in all these years. How could he turn her down? This was the girl that he loved. The girl that had influence in his life. The girl that once helped him find peace in his soul.
He gently put his hands on top of hers. “Anything you ask, I’ll do my best to make happen,” he said compassionately.
She looked at him and smiled. He was able to tell that this smile was made from genuine delight, and he was sure that she could see the same smile on his face. “Well,” she seemed to strain, “I know . . . I know your girlfriend is spending time with her friend and I was wondering if maybe you’d be interested in spending . . .”
At that moment, Jim made an impulsive move. He reached over and kissed her. Her kiss was so warm, so soft, so beautiful. A thought entered his mind about how Stacy knew all of this but as soon as it formed it disappeared. Flooding thoughts of love and devotion filled his mind. Thoughts of what were once considered failed love now had new sparks of life.
Their lips drew apart, but they held each other close. He ran his fingers through her hair with joy filling his heart. He hasn’t felt this good in a long time.
That joy would soon be filtered out. He saw Amanda and Linda walking toward the hotel. Shit, he thought to himself. He took a deep breath. “I hope you don’t think I’m a piece of crap because of this, but my girlfriend is coming this way.”
Stacy lowered her head and walked away. Jim held his eyes shut tight as he suddenly felt like he was the lowest form of life on the planet. “Damn,” he swore under his breath. When he opened his eyes, he saw Amanda and Linda walking toward him. Linda stopped in the middle of the room and Amanda walked directly over to him. I knew this was going to be a mistake, he nervously thought to himself. How could I look into Amanda’s eyes after what I did? He knew he was in trouble, he should have just stayed in his room. Now Amanda was going to want to spend time with him and he would confess everything. But - then again - if he stayed away, he would never have had that moment with Stacy. Why was life so hard?
“Hi,” Amanda quickly said. Before Jim could say anything, she continued. “I don’t have much time so I’ll be brief. Linda’s doing okay, but I want to spend the night with her just to be safe.”
Jim looked at her for a second, suspecting something was not right, but then dismissed it. “Okay,” he said weakly.
“Thanks,” she said as she moved closer to him.
This is when she gives me a kiss goodnight and I feel like shit for the rest of my life, he thought angrily to himself. She pecked him on the cheek and ran off to Linda. They started to laugh like a couple of catholic girls who just pulled one over on a nun.
When she was out of sight, Stacy returned. “That’s your girlfriend, huh?” she asked politely.
“Yeah,” Jim said, filled with guilt.
“If you want to forget that we ever saw each other, I’ll leave,” she said, trying to hide the hurt in her voice. “I won’t be angry or anything.”
Jim wanted to tell her that maybe that would be for the best. That it was a mistake for them to be together, but he didn’t. He felt something inside of him. A part of him that was thought long dead was showing a little sign of life. “No,” he said, with a smile. “Please stay.”
She grinned. Taking him by the hand, she helped him stand up. “Come on, let’s go to the lake and check out those stars you love so much.”
11 The Lake
Jim and Stacy walked into the cool breeze of the night. Their hands locked together in a union that could never really be destroyed. No matter how hard those forces tried to destroy their love, it didn’t have a chance. The love retreated and regrouped at a later date.
“Tell you what,” Stacy said, looking fervently into his eyes. “I’ll race you to the lake.”
Jim stopped and let go of her hand. “I don’t think so, I’m kind of tired,” he said before he broke into a run toward the lake.
Stacy was, at first, stunned. She wasn’t ready for that. She soon ran after him, but he had too much of a head start. By the time she caught up with him, he was leaning against a tree looking at his watch. He gave her a look that a mother would give a child if they came in after curfew.
“It’s about time,” he said seriously. “You were supposed to be here five minutes ago.”
She walked over to him laughing and put her arms around his waist. “You think you’re funny,” she asked sarcastically.
“Me,” Jim said innocently. He started to shake his head no and said, “Hysterical.”
“I should be a comedian.”
“Well let’s see how funny you are,” she said as she started to tickle him.
He desperately tried to stay on his feet. “Stop,” he said in between deep breaths.
“No way funny man,” she said, not giving him a break.
Jim remembered how she hated to be picked up. It always made her nervous. Jim, suddenly, grabbed her and picked her up off the floor. “Now I think the tables have turned,” he said, looking like a mad man.
“No,” she said, scared. “Please put me down.”
“I don’t know about that.”
“Please, I beg you.”
“Have you learned your lesson?” Jim asked, like a parent.
“YES!” She screamed.
“I’ll let you down easy this time, but next time there’s going to be trouble.” He let her down slowly, sliding into his arms. They stared into each other’s eyes, finding them lost in a different time and a different place.
“What do you say,” she asked, “we take a look at those stars?”
“Yeah,” he said, as he took off his jacket. He laid it down and they used it as a pillow. They looked straight into the heavens. Jim felt whole. With Stacy in his arms, nothing else mattered. It seemed their world was never destroyed, just put on hold for a little while. “So,” Jim asked curiously, “whatever happened to David?”
She laughed. “David was definitely the biggest mistake I ever made,” she said, remembering. Her voice turned very melancholy. “I’m sorry I lost my faith.”
“It was a long time ago,” Jim said plainly. “I’m not one to hold a grudge.”
She was smiling again. “No,” she said looking into his eyes. “You’re a great man, so strong and so sure of yourself.” Jim hoped she wouldn’t see that part of him was gone. “I was able to tell that the first time I met you. Even when you and David got into that fight. I knew you took the fall.”
“I didn’t want to hurt you,” he said. “I never wanted to do that.”
She frowned. “I’m sorry I hurt you.”
“Hey,” Jim said, running his fingers through her hair, “will you forget about it. We’re together now, and that’s all that counts.”
Once again Stacy was feeling better. “I love you,” she said, smiling.
“Stacy,” Jim said, lovingly, “I’ve missed you so much. You have no idea how long I’ve waited to hear you say those words to me again. I love you now and forever.”
The word “forever,” seemed to strike Stacy in the heart. She immediately looked like she was going to cry and they weren’t happy tears. “Forever?” she asked weakly.
He wiped a tear from the side of her cheek. “Yes, forever. Are you okay?”
She sniffled and wiped her tears away. “I’m okay,” she said and smiled. “I just want to go back to my room. I’m tired, is all.”
“Okay,” Jim said, giving her space. He helped her up and they walked back to the hotel.
Jim walked Stacy to her room, which was one floor below him. They kissed for what seemed like days and Jim didn’t want to part his lips from something he needed so badly. Her lips were the cure for a dying man’s disease. He loved her so much and he never wanted to let her go.
“Meet me for breakfast tomorrow?” Stacy asked when their lips parted.
“I’ll be there,” Jim said with a smirk. “Goodnight, hon.”
“Goodnight,” she said, as she walked into her room.
Jim walked toward his room feeling like a teenager. He felt so happy, so perfect. There wasn’t anything that could bring him down. He was singing a song when he entered his room. He jumped up and landed on his bed, screaming, “YES!” What could go wrong? Everything felt so perfect.
It was then that he started to think about Amanda, and his heart sank. Sweet Amanda. She never did anything to hurt him, not intentionally anyway. At least he believed that she would never hurt him.
What was he doing? He loved Amanda very dearly, but he couldn’t help but feel happy with Stacy. He didn’t want to hurt Amanda, but when all is said and done, he already has. He would have to make a choice. It was either Stacy or Amanda, not both. He was going to have to hurt one of them and that included hurting himself.
He knew what he had to do. When morning came, he was going to be honest with Amanda. He was here with her and he was going to spend time with her. Amanda has been with him for the last three years and he couldn’t let that go to waste. Being with Stacy felt great, but it was taking a risk. He didn’t want to get hurt, so the best choice would have to be staying safe with Amanda.
Tomorrow he would tell Amanda everything.