“They came up to his apartment, they said and did a few things with him, and then they went home.”
It had been a bad night for Emily Twiggs. Her boyfriend, a forgettable sort, had forgotten about her. He had started leveling up his avatar on his favorite computer game and that was all she wrote. Hello level 79 Steampunk Vampire Mage, goodbye Emily.
Emily was fed up with this boorish behavior, but not enough that she wanted to make a major change in her life. In fact, she sort of liked how distant and uninteresting her boyfriend was. She didn’t really want to talk to him, but he could, with sufficient reminders, be goaded into giving her money to buy perfumes and baubles. So he had that going for him, at least.
Enter “Toe” Beans. “Toe” Beans had once been the starting centerfielder on a minor league baseball team but now studied law at the State University of State. He had suffered through a series of modest calamities during his youth and didn’t have many feelings left.
Emily knew “Toe” from a journalism class they had taken when they were undergraduates. She talked to him from time to time during the ensuing years, even though he struck her as creepy and random.
“You’re so random,” she told him when they met for coffee.
“Yeah,” “Toe” said. “I get that a lot.”
“How’s law school?” she asked.
“It’s fine,” he replied. “It’s law school.”
“That’s good to hear,” she said. “Some people say it’s tough.”
“Sure, some people say that. Hey, do you want to go back to my place and watch old footage of me playing baseball?” he asked.
“That sounds fun,” she said, even though she hated baseball and had only a vague idea of what constituted fun.
They left the coffee shop and went back to his apartment. “Toe” lived in a dirty rathole above a boarded-up convenience store.
“This is nice,” Emily said.
“Whatever,” “Toe” replied.
“Toe” didn’t even bother turning on the TV. He just gave Emily a passionless kiss on the mouth, a kiss she reciprocated without enthusiasm.
“’Toe,’ I’m seeing somebody,” Emily said when they broke away.
“Well, I’m not interested in sleeping with him,” “Toe” said. “I don’t swing that way.”
“What I’m telling you is that I’ve made a commitment. I’m a very committed person,” she continued.
“Yes, you’re a very committed person,” he said as he began to grope her.
A few hours later, Emily left the apartment. Although she wasn’t satisfied by any means, whatever had just transpired was preferable to nothing.
“I’ll get at you,” “Toe” said to her as she was leaving.
After she was gone, “Toe” sat down in his recliner and turned on a DVD of his baseball highlights. His career was a source of constant disappointment to him, but so was the rest of his life. He knew all these Emily Twiggses, and none of them meant anything to him. They came up to his apartment, they said and did a few things with him, and then they went home.
He picked up the phone and dialed a number. “Hey,” he said. “It’s me, ‘Toe.’” He put down the phone. “Hey, it’s me, ‘Toe,’” he said to no one in particular. “Hey, it’s me.”
On the other side of town, Emily Twiggs watched her forgettable boyfriend play his favorite computer game. He pushed buttons and stared intently at the screen. He was now at level 80, and with a little luck he could reach level 81 within the hour.
“I’m doing really well,” he said to her.
“I’m proud of you,” she said with as much sincerity and conviction as she could muster. She was proud of herself, too. She kissed him on his neck and went to bed.
Two nights later, her phone rang.
“Hey, it’s me, ‘Toe,’” said the caller.
She hung up on him.