Thursday, 1 January 2015

Life of the Party

By Kindell C Lewis


January short story club


 Life of The Party


 

Kindell C Lewis

 

I haven’t really thought of my neighbor Armando much since he disappeared over a year ago. At least not until today. It’s crazy how people come into your life, make themselves at home, and then disappear. What is even crazier is how quickly they can be replaced or erased. Yes Armando was a part of my daily routine. He was a part of my every day  life. I can't say that about many people.
 
 Armando was charming charismatic and always smiling. He seemed to fall ass backwards into money. Women loved him, and yet  the women he juggled never brought drama. Yep, dude was a mystery…   The man could throw a party, that’s for damn sure. I admired and envied him.  Everyone gravitated towards to him. It was almost as if he was too good to be true.  Should have known he wouldn’t stick around.

I try not to dwell too deeply on these things. Being a single, childless 47 year old man living in Jacksonville Florida, is depressing enough. If I dwell on friendships past I’m likely to just jump from the highest bridge into the closest gator ridden swamp. Instead I just focus on routine. I work. I drink. I fix things. Repeat, repeat. Today I was forced down memory lane at emotional gunpoint thanks to that damn pinna colata song…I don’t care how old or young you are, you know you’ve heard it. That trashy nautical ballad will never go away. Even though I knew I would hear that dreadful melody again someday, I didn’t realize the power those idiotic lyrics held. When the chorus came through my car stereo speaker system, I felt an emptiness I hadn’t felt since my 4th fiancĂ© left. Man, I hope Armando is ok.

 

“"If you like Pinna Coladas and getting caught in the rain

If you're not into yoga, if you have half-a-brain

If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape

I'm the love that you've looked for, write to me, and escape"

 

The reason why Escape reminds me of Armando is because he must have played that out dated piece of crap a twenty times at his last party. It was a nautical themed bash. It was a going away party, but the thing is no one but Armando knew that.

 

I am not exactly a ray of sunshine. I do not stand out in any way. I am neither handsome nor ugly. I am exactly average height and weight for a white man my age. I grew up in Jacksonville Florida. I followed my father into the mechanic industry. I don’t smile much. My name is John… you get the picture. I am a boring bastard. So when this outspoken Latin man moved in next door with his BMW and his Rolex and his outgoing persona, I was annoyed. I was sure this jerk was going to screw up my nice neat routine with his handsome bullshit… I just wasn’t sure how.

 

Before the movers had finished moving his fancy leather couch into his condo, Armando had introduced himself and somehow won me over. What a charming prick. I actually found myself looking forward to his house warming party that he had insisted I had to be at. I don’t’ remember much about that first party, but I do know I had too much to drink and a whole lot of fun. Armando and I talked like long lost brothers, Even though I only had a few steps to go to make it home, I was the last to leave. I don’t remember having that much fun. Ever.

 

 Instead of calling me John as most people did, he called me Johnny boy. I don’t know why but that made me happy. Usually when I came home from work Armando would be outside barb q-cuing chatting up random strangers, or entertaining beautiful women. He’d call out “heeeeerrrrrreeee’s Johnny boy!” Then he’d tell me the plans for the next party. It never stopped. Christmas parties, chaunaka parties, and birthday party’s freedom Friday parties, bar milts bashes, Flag Day get togetherness and anniversary celebrations for everything you can think of. Armando was the life of the party and I saw myself as his right hand man. For as close as I thought we were, I honestly couldn’t tell you much about Armando. He looked Cuban, spoke the dialect of Spanish known to Puerto Rico, yet told everyone his beloved mother raised him in Juarez Mexico. Then Armando would pour another drink and the party would go on.

 

There were other things about my neighbor and friend that should have been red flags or at the very least indicators that he wasn’t quite what he portrayed himself to be. The man never seemed to work yet always had money. I’d asked him once what he did for a living. I believe the answer was. Anything that can hold my attention.”

 

Occasionally he would go out of town for a day or two but then again, who didn’t. For six months I had a friend. I had fun; I looked forward to each day.

 

I suppose that’s the real problem with a good party. You never want it to end.

 

With the liquor flowing daily and my mood better than ever, I guess I never stood a chance of seeing the party come to an end. If I had known now that the nautical nonsense themed summers get together would be the last, I would have treasured it. I would have at least bought a tacky Hawaii shirt to wear like Armondo asked me to. I would have joined my buddy in a karaoke round of Escape. Hell, I would have begged him to take me with him, wherever he was going.

 

When I came home from work the day after the nautical nonsense bash there was no sign of Armando. The next day the house remained still. By the third day, I went to see for myself. Panic rose in my throat as I knocked and knocked on his door. Finally I peeked in through the windows.

 

Staring back at me was an empty house. Not just anyone is home kind of empty either. All furniture was gone, all pictures removed, the walls and floors wiped clean. It was as if Armando never existed.

 

A couple weeks later, while sitting at home bored and sulking I caught what might be my last glimpse of Armando. It was on pt. Yes, Armando had earned a spot on America’s Most Wanted. Granted he wasn’t on the actually top ten-which is reserved for mobsters, murderers and terrorists, yet he was there just the same. I listened as John Walsh read unveiled the mystery of Mondo in his fifteen seconds of shame segment

 

“Now we’ve got a real dirt bag for you. Look closely at the face on your screen. Armando Rodriguez- Gozellous is an international con artist who preys on the elderly and the lonely. A native of Puerto Rico, he stands only 5’10 weighing only 195 pounds, but when it comes to crime, this is no light weight. Rodriguez is wanted for charges ranging from pyramid schemes to identic theft bank wire theft and mortgage fraud. He is known to frequent North and South America, as well as Europe and the Caribbean. He goes by the alias’ Hector Garcia, Jose Rosa, John smith and Eli Carter. He is believed to be in the Sothern states, most likely Florida. If you have any information on the whereabouts of this creep, call our 1-800 numbers. I promise you can remain anonymous. Together let’s put this career criminal out of business and behind bars.”

 

I stared in shock at the screen. That was definitely my buddies smiling face up there in his Hawaiian shirt and Discoid beer in hand. My brain slowly went through the information that I had just gathered. After about 20 minutes I had come to 2 definite conclusions. Number one- I was grateful he had told me his real name. I don’t know why but I just was. Number two I had better call my bank.
 

After checking my bank and finding all my hard earned money right where I left it, a strange thing happened. I found myself silently cheering on Mondo, wishing him luck. Even stranger, I elected myself the unofficial torch carrier to the block party and carefree lifestyle that Armando blessed me with. I now host Mondo Mondays which eventually was shortened to Man Mondays because no women ever came and the legend of Armando was fast fading. No one has ever heard from him. AMW website still has him listed as a person of interest.  Now I just call them my Mondays.


As I listened to the last verse of that obnoxious Pinna Colata song I silently Thanked Armando for making me the life of the party. For forcing me to listen to cheesy music and for teaching me to loosen up.

 Armando my friend wherever you are, I hope you have a drink in hand and may you always Escape.

3 comments:

  1. I really liked the bonhommie of this story, Kindell. It is also a good mix of the bright side and the dark side. Armando is well drawn too.

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  2. Thank you Denis you always have such positive and helpful feedback. I sincerely struggled with what to write about for this theme... then that dreadful tune came on outta nowhere and the rest kinda flowed

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  3. This is such an awesome story. I loved the flow, the character development and the twist. U really couldn't tell where the story was going at first and kept speculating on the 'disappearance". Good job and now i want an Armando in my life. Oh by the way, i heard that song for the first time in a Cameron Diaz movie. Its not so big in Kenya but still...i think everyone really has heard it :-)

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