The following short current event fiction story is written by Cyn Vargas, who was introduced in a previous post. Cyn is also featured on this audio show podcast as she reads her story, “Just Another.” Make sure to check back for her interview about “Just Another” on the next post.
The Chicago Bulls lost to the Heat in the NBA’s Eastern Conference Semifinals. Many Chicago fans had different opinions about Derrick Rose’s decision to not play and help his team compete. In this story, a young woman is unexpectedly forced to investigate her mother’s sexual past in a Chicago sports bar, where she questions a man whose worries side more with Derrick Rose missing the NBA season.
The first night we met was the last time I saw him. It was the night the Bulls lost the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Heat. I knew within the first few minutes that I made my way through the bar that he was the one. I squeezed my way against some disappointed and angry faces that were on the way out and spotted him there. I sat on the bar stool next to his. He was balding and his tie was drooping from his neck, and BBQ sauce dried on his blue shirt from some naked chicken wings that sat in front of him on a wrinkled napkin. A dull pink birthmark was over one eyebrow. He was as he had been described to me.
“Rose should be fucking out,” he said to no one in particular as he took a gulp of air from the empty beer in front of him. He signaled the waitress by waving his hand over the glass like a magic wand.
“Why should he be out?” I said. I watched his body shift from grabbing the attention of the waitress to me. His elbows were planted on the counter like cement blocks. His eyes widened a bit as he checked out my breasts first and then my face. He smiled a bit and grinned.
“Man, I am so not hitting on you, trust me. I just want to know why you think Rose should be out.” People splattered in red shirts and fake horns on their heads were bustling around us. The waitress brought another beer over to him. Even before he opened his mouth, the stench of his breath leaked its way out of his gaped lips. I wanted to shove one of those little tin cans of mints in there and have it simmer for a few days.
“Honey, he’s making $100 million and he didn’t play?” He took a gulp of his beer.
“Don’t call me honey,” I said. “And it’s $94.31 million. Why should he have played if he didn’t feel like he was ready to come back?”
“He was ready. The doctor’s cleared him. He should have come back against the Heat. We needed him and he bailed, so fuck him. He should be out or traded or something.”
I shook my head and noticed the sweat across his forehead though it was pretty cool in the bar.
“It’s not just a physical thing you know. Maybe mentally and emotionally he wasn’t ready to come back. Have you thought of that?”
“Man, if I was making a hundred million, I wouldn’t care how I felt, I’d come back.”
“Ninety-four. Thirty-one. It’s important to get the facts straight.”
I looked at the wedding ring on his finger, a yellow one that didn’t shine.
“You disregard how people feel and what they are going through.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?”
“One minute this town loves him and the next the same fans are wanting to kick him out. How the hell do you think that makes him feel? Being loved one minute and disregarded the next?”
“You know what? I could care less how he feels.”
“What does your wife think about this whole Derrick Rose thing?”
He smirked and took another drink. The beer quaked as he smacked the glass down. “My wife doesn’t care for sports.”
“But, your mistress did,” I said.
He fixed his eyes on me.
“What did you say?”
“The other woman, Helen. She likes sports. Actually, she loves them. Rare find in a woman, don’t you think, Dom?”
I couldn’t tell if he was angry or surprised because they dimmed the lights in the bar and some UFC fight had started, so the bar was roaring with oooo’s and ahhh’s. My heart was like a million running horses in my chest.
“Just like you are quick to love Rose and then be done with him, was the same way you were with my mom, right?”
Dom didn’t say anything, but his lips moved as though words were trying to escape.
I hadn’t known my mom was the other woman up until last week. Up until she went into the doctor’s office to find out that she was sick. Up until she called me at work, and sobbed, and I couldn’t understand her until I heard the words chemo, and cancer, and that she loved me, and then that she loved Dom. Who the fuck was Dom? My father’s name was George and he hadn’t been around since I was four.
You have to go to him, she said. I know where he watches the games. If he sees me, he’ll just leave. I can’t call him. Please go see him and tell him. Don’t look at me that way. I don’t expect you to understand.
“She’s sick,” I said. I glanced over at the many televisions and saw blood smeared across the mat. Some man’s neck stuck between the legs of another.
Dom said nothing. He just signaled for another beer. The waitress asked if I wanted anything and I said I wasn’t staying long.
“What the fuck do you want me to say?” Dom finally said when the new beer was before him.
“I don’t want you to fucking say anything, if it were up to me.” I felt my face flush and I suddenly wanted to smash his face with the glass. “For whatever reason, my mother wanted you to know. Maybe she thought you care to know.”
“I’m not leaving my wife.”
“I’m sure it wasn’t because you suddenly realized you loved your marriage. What you traded my mom in for someone else?”
He turned to look at me and for a moment I thought he would say that he did love his wife and was mending things and that he was sorry my mom got caught up in it. For a second I wondered how my mother could ever love a man like this.
“Fucking Rose,” someone said behind us.
“He needs to be out,” said Dom.
“You just don’t get it, do you? People aren’t dispensable.”
“Tell her you didn’t find me.” I heard him say as I exited the bar.
Published June 27, 2013. Photo credit: Alyssa L. Miller.
Links to the real-life news that inspired “Just Another”:
About the Author
“Just Another” was written and recorded by guest writer Cyn Vargas.
Cyn Vargas earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago where she was a Follett Fellow. She has received a Top 25 Finalist award & an Honorable Mention award in Glimmer Train’s Short Story Award for New Writers contests. Her work has appeared in Word Riot, Curbside Splendor, Hypertext Magazine, among others. She writes because it’s her way of legally exposing herself in public.