Four ladies walk into Daphne’s Pub and quickly grab a table near the short end of the bar counter. They are all laughing, smiling, and joking as they come in. It was relatively early in the night, so the place wasn’t full. Some couples and other small groups filled out some of the other tables. A few people sat at the counter watching multiple basketball games on the big screen TVs behind the bar. The bartender wraps up his conversation with the gentleman sitting at the short end. He walks up to the new arrivals, “Ladies, welcome to Daphne’s! Can I see some ID’s, please?”
They each hand over their ID and, soon enough, they are each getting them back. He stops as he gets to the last one. “I see we have a birthday today? Happy 27th Birthday Daniela. Thanks for coming here to celebrate. First round of drinks is on the house tonight.”
“Hey, thanks! That’s nice of you,” Daniela replies. “We plan on being here a while, so keep the drinks coming! Can we get started with three Long Islands for them and I’ll take a Gin & Tonic.”
“Coming right up! Take a look at the food menu. I’ll be back to take any orders. In the meantime, my name is Raphael, but people call me Rafe. I don’t really like it, but I don’t really care either.”
The girls’ eyes follow the good-looking bartender, but Daniela’s eyes and attention quickly turn to the gentleman sitting at the bar. Rafe says something to him. The guy then turns to look in Daniela’s direction. She tries to be quick to avoid eye contact, but she fails. Knowing she’s been caught staring, she turns to him. They both smile at each other. They hold each other’s gaze and both abruptly break it. The guy turns one more time to see her. He watches as she laughs with her friends. He notices her smile and the way she keeps brushing strands of her brown hair away from her face. Rafe places a tray of drinks on the counter, “Do you want to take these drinks over to them?”
No response. His words go unheard. Rafe has known this friend for five years. He knows exactly what is going on. “Okay, let me try this again… would you like to take these drinks over to the table full of women?”
The friend finally responds, “Rafe, this isn’t good. We both know how this is going to play out. I’m telling you now, I am not going near that table.”
“Yeah, I sort figured you’d say that.”
“Great. Glad we’re on the same page.”
“Good. Now hurry up and take these drinks over before the ice melts.” He pushes the drink tray directly in front of him and walks away. After a moment of thought and hesitation, he takes the tray and goes over to the table. “Hi, I have some drinks for the birthday table here.”
“Start over there with Daniela. She’s the birthday girl,” points one of the friends.
He reacts to the name. “Daniela? That’s a nice name.”
“Thanks,” she replies. “What’s your name?”
“It’s nice to meet you, Derrick. Do you work here?”
“It’s nice to meet you too, Daniela. And no, I don’t work here. Rafe is a friend of mine, so I help him out on occasion.”
There is a quiet moment as the two smile at each other. It is almost as if they are the only two in the place. Daniela’s friends notice this, as does Rafe and the couple at the table next to them.
“Well, I’ll let you get back to celebrating. Happy Birthday, Daniela.”
They exchange another smile as he turns to walk away. The girls soon raise a toast to celebrate the birthday. Derrick returns to his spot at the counter. As the night continues the pair would continue trading smiles and glances with each other, though there was no conversation. They were each watching the other throughout the night. Derrick would watch as Daniela and her friends laughed, joked, and had a fun time. He watched as guys would come over and befriend the table. One pair of friends even playing a two-on-two dart game with Daniela and one of her friends. However, he wasn’t the only one being observant. Daniela, too, found herself looking over in Derrick’s direction on more than one occasion.
Back at the party table…
“It’s time for another toast. Happy birthday, Daniela! Here’s to a fun year and a fun night!”
“A fun night with a hot guy too!” adds another.
Daniela jumps in. “Fun year, yes! But no hot guy, or ugly guy, or any guy for that matter!”
No sooner had she finished saying those words when her eyes scanned the bar to see where Derrick was. He was now near the pool table.
“Really, Daniela, do you mean that? If the perfect guy showed up right now and asked you out, you wouldn’t say yes?”
“Are you crazy? No way! I don’t want love. I don’t have time for love right now. I just got out of a five-year relationship, so the last thing I want is to go on a date!” Once again, her eyes turn towards Derrick as she finishes her thought. She keeps going, fully aware that she is more-so trying to convince herself than her friends. “It’s time to be on my own for a while, to do my own thing,” she continues.
“So you’re saying that under no circumstances are you going out with a guy anytime soon?”
Daniela gets bold. “I’ll tell you what… for a guy to get me to go out on a date with him, he’ll have to serenade me on guitar, speak 3 languages, recite a poem from memory, be willing to go fishing with me, AND be able to swing dance!”
“That settles it then. Daniela will be single for a long time!”
The group all laugh as they complete their toast. Rafe is passing by and catches the end of the conversation. Derrick continues looking over in Daniela’s direction. It has become apparent to those playing pool with him.
“Derrick… Derrick… DERRICK!”
Startled, Derrick reacts, “WHAT?!?!”
“It’s your turn.”
“Oh, my bad.”
“Looks like someone is distracted,” says one friend.
“Distracted by the birthday girl over there… the younger and attractive birthday girl,” adds the other. Both playfully teasing him.
Derrick attempts to deflect the obvious. “I don’t know what you two are talking about, I am not distracted. The birthday girl is pretty, yes, but she’s twenty-seven. That’s too young for me.”
“SINCE WHEN?” exclaim both friends at the same time.
“Come on guys, I’m turning… I’m turning much older in a few months. It’s time to change my dating habits. Time to date closer to my own age.”
“I’d be happy just to see you date, period.”
Derrick gets on the defensive. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Hey man, don’t twist my words around. My point is this… in the two years I’ve known you, I’ve seen you hit on and flirt with many girls, but I’ve never seen you look at any girl the way you are looking at that one over there.”
“That’s somewhat exaggerated, don’t you think?
Derrick does not answer. He knows his friend is right. He proceeds to take his turn, badly missing an easy shot. Just then Rafe passes by. He gives Derrick a dollar.
“Do me favor,” he begins, “go play J28 and D1 on the jukebox.”
Derrick is confused. “Rafe, in the five year I’ve been coming here, you’ve never asked me to do that before. What gives?”
“I’ve never had a reason to,” Rafe replies and then walks away.
Even more confused by Rafe’s reply, Derrick answers back sarcastically. “Thanks for clearing that up… makes much more sense now.”
He goes over to the jukebox, inserts the dollar, and then selects D1 and J28. He starts heading back to the pool table when the big band brass intro to Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood” starts playing. There is a loud reaction from the birthday table. All the girls try to pull Daniela out of her chair.
“You said you wanted swing dancing!” shouts one.
“Go Daniela! Go dance!” shouts another.
“I’m not going to dance by myself!” says Daniela as she is fighting her way back to her chair. Derrick has been watching this play out. He looks over to Rafe, who has been trying to get his attention. Rafe gives him a head tilt in Daniela’s direction. Derrick knows exactly what Rafe did. Rafe gives him the head tilt again. Derrick shakes his head side to side. Rafe then mouths something to Derrick. It was either a string of curse words or it was, “You better go ask her to dance!”
Derrick decides to go for it. He hands his pool stick to his friend and says, “Take my turn!”
The girls had been able to keep Daniela from sitting down. One of them notices Derrick coming in their direction. She motions for Daniela to turn around. She does so, just in time to catch herself face to face with him.
“Hi, again,” he says.
“Hi,” she answers back.
The evident became more evident at this moment. Derrick knew it. Daniela knew it. Now, the whole bar seemed to know it.
“Would you like to dance, Daniela?”
“You know how to swing dance?”
“I do, yes. And I would like to dance with you on your birthday.”
She smiles. Derrick extends his hand to her and leads her to the dance area near the jukebox. Just as they are about to start dancing, the song finishes. They both have a look of disappointment on their faces.
“Well, that sucks!” says Daniela.
“I had forgotten how short that song is,” adds Derrick.
“Thanks anyway, Derrick. It was nice of you to ask.”
They begin to leave the dance area when Brian Setzer’s “Jump, Jive, and Wail” begins to play. They both smile at each other and they begin to dance. By watching how well they danced together, one would never have guessed this was their first-time dancing together. Soon, all eyes were on them. When the song ended, everyone in the place applauded for them.
Derrick was invited to join the birthday table. One of the bar regulars liked the swing dancing so much that he bought a round of drinks for the table.
The connection and attraction between Derrick and Daniela continued to intensify. Moments of personal closeness were met with moments of awkward nervousness. As the night progressed, there was more dancing, more laughing, and more drinks. Her friends did their job of interviewing Derrick while also offering information about their friend.
Derrick’s pool friends eventually joined the table as well. Before anyone knew it, five hours had passed. As the friends continued the drinking and laughing, Daniela and Derrick were once again on the dance floor. This time there was no swing dancing. Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” played softly in the background as the two danced and talked.
“I’m glad I came tonight,” began Derrick, “I had a great time meeting you and your friends.”
“I had fun meeting you too, Derrick. It turned out to be a very fun birthday.”
“Daniela… I really enjoyed meeting you. I’ve enjoyed laughing, smiling, and dancing with you. And I don’t want it to stop.”
“Derrick… you have made this a birthday to remember, for sure.”
“I’m glad. Maybe we can go dancing again sometime? I know some fun places around here.”
“Dancing… you mean like a date?”
He was about to respond with “not a date”, but he didn’t. He did want it to be a date but he was afraid her answer would be no. But he liked the girl. He could not deny it. He was drawn to her. It was now time to answer.
“Yes, a date.”
If he had stopped there, he might have been okay. But Derrick had a habit of saying too much. This time was no different.
“I know it might be too soon to say this, but I am drawn to you, Daniela. It’s been a while since dancing and laughing with someone has made me feel this good. I can’t let this chance pass me by. So yes, I would like to ask you out on a date.”
Those words were too much for Daniela. At least more than she could handle right then and there. She was conflicted as well. She had just ended a long-term relationship. The last thing she wanted was to start dating. But she couldn’t deny that she, too, found herself drawn to this relative stranger that she had just met. She wanted to say yes, but she couldn’t.
“I’m sorry, Derrick, but I can’t. This is just too soon for me. I had a recent breakup, and it hurt. I’m not close to being there yet. I’m really sorry.”
The words stung. Derrick felt like he had been punched in the stomach. He was determined to remain steady, not showing any reaction. He also wasn’t ready to give up. He just couldn’t decide what to do next.
“Then it doesn’t have to be a date!” he blurts out. “It can just be two friends who like dancing.”
“I’m sorry, I just can’t.”
“Daniela, please… can I see you again? Meet up for lunch or coffee?”
“It’s too soon for me, Derrick. I am not ready for this. I was not ready for you. Not tonight.”
“Could I get your number? Call you sometime, just to talk?”
They both smile, which eases the moment. Throughout this exchange, they have remained arm in arm, still dancing together. They didn’t even notice the change in song. Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me” now plays in the background.
“Thank you, Derrick. Thank you for all of this. I should probably get going now.”
The song comes to an end. He hugs her, not wanting to let go. She then kisses him on the cheek. They stand there in silence. Each looking at the other. Each with a hundred and one thoughts in their mind. They lean in closer to each other. One fighting it. One not sure how to fight it. They are about to kiss when fate seems to intervene. Well, maybe not fate, more like a drunken friend.
“HEY, DANIELA! It’s time to go!”
The romantic moment was gone. Daniela looks to her friends and then back to Derrick. She smiles, “Goodnight, Derrick.”
She begins to walk away.
“Next Friday night… they’re doing karaoke here. Maybe you and your friends can come back?”
Optimistic Derrick quickly appears. “Okay?”
“Yeah, I’ll talk to them about coming back next week. And even if they can’t, I’ll be here. Bye Derrick.”
ONE WEEK LATER – Night Two…
Derrick keeps looking toward the front entrance. He is hoping Rafe wouldn’t notice. He was hoping his friends wouldn’t notice. They ALL noticed.
“Derrick! Relax. She’ll be here,” shouts one from across the bar.
“I hope she brings her friends again!” says another.
Rafe reassures his friend. “Don’t worry Derrick. She will be here. I get a good feeling about her.”
One of the bar regulars, who was outside for a smoke, comes back in looking for Rafe. “Hey Rafe! We have a bit of a situation here. You by chance know any sign language?”
“Sign language?” Rafe replies. “What’s going on out there?”
“It’s a young couple, they can only sign. We think they’re lost. We’re out there trying to communicate with them with our phones, but I think we’re scaring them more than anything.”
Rafe looks towards Derrick. “Want to give it a shot?”
“Sure, I can try.”
Derrick goes outside. He begins to sign with the young couple. He is not fluent in ASL but he is able to communicate with them. He has to sign slowly and a few times he has to ask the couple to repeat themselves. They are out of town visitors. They had written down their hotel address incorrectly the end result was an Uber driver dropping them off at the wrong spot.
Derrick is giving them directions when he gets stuck. One of the onlookers’ notices. “What’s wrong, Derrick?”
“I need to tell them to go past the highway. I don’t know how to sign the word highway.”
“Maybe I can help?” offers a voice from behind.
Derrick turns to find Daniela standing there. “You know how to sign?” he asks.
“Since I was 5 years old,” she answers.
“Then I could definitely use your help! I am not that good.”
“I’ve been watching, Derrick. Trust me, you’re better than you think.”
With Daniela’s help they are able to point the couple in the right direction back to their hotel. After some hugs and smiles, the young couple is on their way. As the onlookers go back inside the bar, Derrick and Daniela remain outside.
“Where did you learn to sign?” Daniela signs to Derrick.
“I took lessons for a few years at a community college,” Derrick signs back.
“What made you want to learn?” she asks, going back to conversation mode.
“When I was younger, I was in the hospital. Nothing too serious, I was only there for about 10 days or so. I was 10 years old at the time. The kid in the bed next to me was about my age, maybe a few years younger. He was in there having his second heart operation. Not even 10 years old and he was on his second heart operation. That still doesn’t make sense to me.”
“That’s so sad,” says Daniela, sympathetically.
“I can’t even remember his name. I remember his little face though. He was deaf. We shared a room for 10 days yet I was not able to able to talk to him. We played games together, ate together a few times, but I couldn’t talk to him. I guess ever since then, there’s been a part of me that wanted to learn. It wasn’t till a few years back that I decided it was time. I wish I knew it back then. What about you? Five years old?”
“Yeah, I was 5 years old. That was when my parents learned that my little brother was deaf. We all then learned how to sign.”
“I’m glad you came when you did.”
“Me too. Should we go inside?”
“Yes, let’s go inside.”
Derrick goes to open the door for her. She stops just as she is about to go in. “Before we go in, can I ask you something?” she says.
“Last week, in conversation, you mentioned that you and your brothers were born here and that your parents were not.”
“That’s right. They were both born in Guatemala, but they didn’t meet till they were here in the states.”
“Does that mean you grew up speaking Spanish?”
“Yeah, I did. I grew up speaking both English and Spanish at home. Why do you ask?”
“You speak three languages then?”
“I guess I do, if you’re including sign language. Why do you ask?”
“Just wondering,” she says, smiling as she goes back inside.
Karaoke soon begins. Daniela and her friends take turns singing duets in between the other patrons joining in as well. Derrick has yet to join the fun. “Derrick, what’s going on here?” asks Daniela. “Karaoke is almost over and you have yet to sing.”
“That is because it’s more fun to watch. Plus, I’m saving my voice.”
“Well, I want to hear you sing! You are singing even if I have to drag you up there myself.”
“Will you sing with me?”
Daniela takes a moment to debate the offer. “Okay. I will sing with you.”
“I pick the song?”
Daniela debates the new stipulation. She gives in. “Alright. You pick the song.”
Soon enough the pair finds themselves with a microphone in hand waiting for their song to start playing. “Can you at least tell me what song you picked?” she asks.
“Don’t worry, you will find out soon enough. I’m sure you will know it.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“Because this story has already been written. Fate already knows that you know it.”
“You asked my one of my friends, didn’t you?”
“Of course I did,” he answers, winking at her.
‘Islands In the Stream’ by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers begins to play. The pair share a smile and a laugh as they get ready to sing. They give a playful rendition of this classic and popular song. With each verse and each chorus, the two get closer and closer. The song ends and the twosome receive whistles and applause from the audience. Daniela hugs Derrick just as the song ends. Derrick lifts her up and gives a quick spin in place. Rafe is watching. Derrick’s friends are watching. Daniela’s friends are watching. They are all waiting to see if they will be witnesses to a first kiss.
The kiss doesn’t take place. The pair walk back to the table. After some playful teasing from their friends, they go back to talking. One hour later, karaoke is wrapping up and the girls are getting ready to leave. Derrick and Daniela say their goodbyes.
“You can sing!” says Daniela. “Why did I have to drag you up there?”
“I told you I was saving my voice.”
“Saving your voice for what though?”
“It’s actually something I wanted to tell you about. What are you doing next Friday?”
Daniela smiles at him. “Really? You trying to get me to come out for another Friday?”
“Why not? We’re two for two, right? It’s been fun both times, hasn’t it?”
“That it has been, that it has.”
“So what do you say, next Friday night, same time?”
“What’s going on next Friday night?”
“There’s going to be live music, pretty much a guy and his acoustic guitar. He’s played he before, usually gets a good reaction.”
“Okay, you’re on. Next Friday night.”
“Is it too late to make one request?”
“And what would that be?”
“Can I text you sometime? You know, before next Friday?”
“Where’s your phone?” Daniela asks. Derrick hands her his phone. She types her number in his phone and hands it back to him. She gives him a kiss on the cheek. “You can text me if you want… but hopefully you will call me too. Goodnight, Derrick.”
“Goodnight, Daniela,” he replies, not even trying to hide the big grin on his face.
THE FOLLOWING FRIDAY – Night Three…
After a week of back-and-forth text messages and hour-long phone conversations, Daniela and Derrick find themselves back at Daphne’s. The connection between the two is there, everyone sees it. They see it. They still fear it, more so her than him. Derrick confesses to Rafe that he doesn’t know what to do. He has no game plan; he is just going day by day. As usual, they are both laughing. Derrick was concluding a childhood story.
“I can’t believe you did that! You were six years old?” asks Daniela.
“I was a stubborn little kid, what can I say. I still am, I guess. Once I put a thought in my head, for better or worse, it stays there.”
“Six years old and you staged two one-man protests in the same day! Any kid who does that, you know they’ll do okay in life.”
“Don’t forget that second protest got me a spanking and grounding from my mom!”
They both continue to laugh, Daniela laying her hand on his. Rafe approaches their table. He didn’t want to interrupt the private moment, but he didn’t have a choice. “You ready? You’re up in about 20 to 30 minutes,” he says to Derrick.
“I am ready, just let me know when.”
“Ready for what?” asks a surprised Daniela.
“You remember I mentioned live music tonight, right?”
“Yeah, you said something about a guy and his guitar.” Derrick nods, giving her a sly smile. With a smirk, Daniela continues, “You’re the guy with the guitar, aren’t you?”
“Something like that. You have any requests? I can serenade you with your favorite song.”
The word serenade draws a silent pause from Daniela, taking her back to her conversation with her friends from her birthday night. She was not expecting to hear that word. Derrick notices this reaction. “Daniela, are you alright?” he asks.
“Did you say serenade?”
“Well yeah, I did. If you have a favorite song and it’s one I know, I would be happy to sing it for you.”
Daniela goes quiet again. A look of sadness and confusion replace the smile that was there minutes before. This was going too fast for her. It was three weeks ago when she had compiled in front of her friends an unrealistic five item checklist of what a guy would have to do to get to her to go on a date. Derrick just completed a 3rd item from that checklist. He knew how to swing dance, he spoke three languages, and he was going to serenade her. Only two remained, reciting a poem and going fishing with her.
“Daniela, did I say something wrong?”
She forces a smile. “No. You have not said anything wrong.”
“Mic check in 10, Derrick!” shouts Rafe from across the room.
“You should go get ready,” begins Daniela. “I’ll see you when you are done.”
Derrick can tell something is wrong but he does not press the issue. He watches as Daniela gets up and goes outside for some air. Every inclination in his body is to go towards her, but he does not. He goes to get his guitar to get ready.
90 minutes later. Derrick is getting ready to sing his last song of the night. He has performed well but his attention has been elsewhere. Many times, his eyes met Daniela’s during a song. More often than not she would smile back. Her eyes and smile revealed a sincere caring for Derrick. Her body language revealed something else. Her actions and movements revealed hurt and confusion. Derrick was also distracted by a new guy who had entered the bar. He kept coming around and talking to Daniela. She was polite and friendly. At times, she even seemed interested in him.
“This will be my last song of the night. I want to thank everyone. As usual, this has been fun for me to do. For my last song tonight, I picked one that I have never played in front of an audience before. It’s a Tom Waitts classic about a guy who sees a girl at a bar and falls in love with her. It’s titled ‘I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You’.”
Rafe is looking throughout the bar. He sees something that he has never seen before. The place was quiet. Everyone was still with anticipation. They were all listening to Derrick sing this song that echoed every feeling he had for Daniela. During this song it was hard for him to look in her direction. The feelings became too real even for him.
He poured his heart into playing that song. Those watching and listening could see, hear, and feel the emotions and feelings in that song. By the end of the song Derrick could not hold it in any longer. Tears fell onto his cheek. It was made worse when he saw the same thing in Daniela’s eyes. The silence in the room remained even after Derrick played the last note. Everyone was still reacting to what they had just seen. Then they all reacted with applause. One by one people took turns coming up to Derrick to shake his hand. He finally makes his way back to Daniela.
“Daniela, can we talk?”
“Derrick, I don’t know if I can handle a talk right now.”
“Can we at least have a dance?”
Daniela wants to say no, but she does not. They make their way onto the dance floor as Neil Young’s Harvest Moon begins to play from the jukebox. A few other couples join them on the dance floor. Something is off this time. The comfort and closeness of before has been replaced with tension and awkwardness. They did not speak. Neither knew what to say or even how to say it. Derrick did not like this feeling. He had hoped his playing that night would have brought Daniela closer to him. Instead it had the opposite effect. He thought to himself, “This night can’t get any worse.”
He was wrong. While his playing and singing did not have the intended effect on Daniela, it did work on someone else who was in the audience.
“Excuse me, would you mind if I cut in?” asked the mystery person.
Derrick and Daniela both turn to see who this mystery person is. There stood a beautiful brunette, whom Derrick could not recall ever seeing at Daphne’s before. He was about to politely decline the invite when Daniela spoke out first.
“Sure, that’s fine.” she says.
Derrick turns to her, surprised. “Daniela….”
“It’s okay Derrick. You should dance with her.”
Without saying another word Daniela smiles at the brunette and walks away from the dance floor. Derrick watches her leave, still not clear on what exactly happened. He turns to the brunette, “How about that dance now?”
He was hurt and confused yet he was not about to show it. He continued dancing with the mystery girl for the next song, also a slow ballad. Daniela tried to avoid looking in their direction as much as possible. She was mad and confused. She was upset that she was jealous of this other girl and confused about why she felt this way. Why was she drawn to Derrick? She has only known him for a few weeks, how could she already have feelings for him? She had a plan for her life and feelings for a guy were not in that plan. She came up with many rational reasons to explain what was going on in her mind and in her heart.
Meanwhile, Derrick continued dancing. His mind was distracted as well. He kept looking towards Daniela whenever he could. He, too, was confused by his feelings. Why was he drawn to this 27-year-old that he barely knows? As the song concludes, Derrick thanks his dance partner for the dance. A swing dancing song begins to play.
“I saw you here last week,” she says. “Any chance we can have a swing dance?”
Derrick wants to say no. He wants to go to Daniela. He looks over just in time to notice that new guy from earlier in the night asking Daniela to dance. Derrick’s heart drops as he sees her nod yes. He quickly turns to his new friend and replies, “Of course we can swing dance!”
Soon the two pairs were on the dance floor. Rafe and other curious onlookers were watching this quick turn of events, all surprised at seeing both Derrick and Daniela dancing with someone else. Both couples danced well. They appeared to be competitive as well, each pair trying to outdo the other. At the end of the song Derrick adds a fancy dip. His intentions were apparent. He wanted to make Daniela jealous. Maybe that was her intent as well when she said yes to dancing with this new suitor. Before Derrick could thank his new friend for the dance, she did something that no one saw coming. She kissed him.
This was not a friendly kiss on the cheek. This was an intense “I want you now” kiss! Derrick was not the only one caught off guard. Everyone looked on with disbelief, including Daniela. As his kiss concluded and he managed to get his bearings back, Derrick looked for Daniela. Their eyes meet but there is no expression or emotion being revealed by either of them. Daniela whispers something to her dance partner and then hurries off the dance floor and out of the bar. Derrick quickly forgets about his dance partner and goes after Daniela.
“Daniela! Daniela!” he shouts, catching up to her outside. “Daniela please, just talk to me!”
“What do you want me to say, Derrick?”
“Say anything, I just want us to talk!”
“Talk about what? How I have no right to get jealous about you dancing and kissing another girl yet here I am doing that very thing? Storming out of a bar because I have feelings for you and I do not want them right now!”
“I have feelings for you too! You don’t think that scares me? But I don’t want to fight it either… it feels so nice, so calming, so fitting.”
“This is not fitting Derrick! I have a plan. A plan to get my life on the track that I want it on. I do not want a guy in my life right now. I do not want to open myself up again for hurt. I do not want to be swept off my feet and fall in love again… I can’t.”
“You think I want these feelings? I am tired of always putting myself out there, wearing my heart on my sleeve, and having people walk all over me. Yet here I am. Here I am because for the past few weeks I have been able to do nothing but think about you.”
“This is a phase Derrick, that’s what this is, something in passing that is not real.”
“Maybe it is and maybe you are right. Isn’t it worth finding out though? To me it is. To me it is worth it!”
“Derrick, this is too much for me right now.”
Daniela’s newest friend comes outside, no doubt to make matters worse. “Everything alright out here, Daniela?” he asks.
“Yeah, I’m okay. Thanks.”
“Are you sure? I can wait for you if you want?”
“No, that’s okay,” she reassures him. “I appreciate you offering, though.”
He persists. “Why don’t you come inside? I can buy you a drink.”
Derrick has had enough. He joins the conversation. “Hey buddy, she already told you she’s fine.”
This new suitor was not backing down. “I’m not asking you, am I?”
Egos are now front and center. Derrick takes a step towards the guy. “That’s right, you’re not asking me. You asked her and she already told you, twice, that she is fine. So if you don’t mind, this is a private conversation.”
Daniela tries to play peacemaker. “Hey guys, it is not a big deal. Let’s everyone take a step back.”
“Yeah pal, take a step back and go inside!” says Derrick.
“Felix, can you please go back inside?” Daniela asks her new friend.
Derrick couldn’t resist. “Yeah Felix, you heard her, get your ass back inside.”
“Derrick! Please stop!” pleads Daniela. She turns to Felix, “Please go back inside and I’ll join you for a drink in a moment.”
This did not help matters in Derrick’s eyes. The reaction on his face revealed it all. “Daniela! What are you doing?”
“I am trying not to make a scene here. I am going back inside.”
“You won’t talk with me but you will have a drink with this jerk?”
Those words did not go over well with Felix. He takes another step towards Derrick, “I have had enough of you… I’m tired of the sound of your voice. Back off, or I will make you back off!”
“Listen up pretty boy, you do not want to make that mistake!” retorts Derrick.
“Guys, please! Everyone take a deep breath,” says Daniela, sensing what is about to happen.
“I’m not backing down, I know I can take you!” says Felix, getting in between Derrick and Daniela.
“Yeah, I’m done with you!” says Derrick, as he pushes Felix out of the way.
Felix stumbles back, falling to one knee. He gets up, charges towards Derrick, and grabs him by the shirt. The two grapple, pulling each other back and forth. Rafe and a few other bar patrons intercede and separate the two before any punches connect.
“Are we done here gentlemen?” asks Rafe, upset.
“Yeah, I’m done,” says Felix.
“Nope, I’m not!” says Derrick, going after Felix again.
Rafe cuts him off. “Derrick! You are done for the night! You need to cool down.” He turns to Felix, “You too pal, time for you to go.”
Felix reacts, “That’s not right! He started it, he pushed me first!”
“It’s fine Rafe,” says Derrick. “I will leave. I’ll come by tomorrow to pick up my guitar.”
Daniela has remained quiet, not sure what to make of the situation. She feels responsible. She apologizes. “I’m sorry Rafe; this is my fault.”
“Stop right there,” says Rafe. “I’m not sure what happened out here, but those two are responsible for their own actions. Alright, everyone back inside… Derrick, you good?”
“Yeah. I’m good,” answers Derrick, nodding in agreement. “I’m leaving now.”
Everyone trickles back into the bar. Daniela stops at the door and looks back to Derrick. “Derrick….”
“You win Daniela… I get the message loud and clear. I won’t bother you anymore.”
“You got what you wanted, right? You wanted a way to get me to leave you alone. You want to run from whatever it is that we may have here. Fine, run, I won’t try to stop you anymore. Obviously I was wrong. I thought you were someone, or something, that you are not. I won’t make that mistake anymore.”
“Derrick… I’m sorry.”
“You should go back in Daniela. You don’t want to keep your date waiting.”
With those words Derrick turns and walks away. He resists every urge to go back to her. He keeps going and does not look back. Daniela waited. She wanted to call out to him but what would she say? There was nothing more to be said that night. She goes back inside the bar.
ONE WEEK LATER – Night Four???
It is near closing time on another Friday night. This was a quiet night in comparison to the previous week. Overall was a slow night. Derrick is the only one who remains sitting at the bar. As he had done previously, he spent most of the night looking in the direction of the front door. He kept hoping to see Daniela walking in. Rafe noticed and felt bad for his friend.
“You tried, man. That is more than I can usually say about you. For what it’s worth, I’ve never seen you like this.”
“I messed up Rafe. I came on too strong. I never should have sung that song last week.”
“Stop beating yourself up. There is only one thing that you did wrong.”
“You deleted her number from your phone. You could have called her or texted to try and smooth things over.”
“I know that was a mistake. I was just so mad and frustrated when I left here last week. In my mind I was sure I was done with her.”
“Then what happened?”
“It turns out that was just the beginning with her. It’s been one month Rafe, ONE MONTH! There is no way these feelings can be real? This is another case of me wanting to see something that is just not there.”
“Maybe so, either way what was the harm? What did you lose? You were happy. That was evident. Everyone saw that. The way her eyes looked for you and your eyes looked for her, I will say this much… that was real.”
“What good does that do me now?”
“You put yourself out there, you are not one who usually does that. Admit it, it felt good?”
“Of course it felt good,” says Derrick smiling. “Everything about her felt good. Dancing with her, holding her, seeing her smile up close, it made it all feel too good. You know what I spent this past week doing? Trying to plan a fishing trip. I’ve never been fishing before in my life. I have never wanted to go fishing before! Now, all of a sudden, I meet a girl who likes to go fishing, and here I am trying to plan a fishing trip. What is wrong with me?”
“Do not give up hope my friend. One never knows what may happen from one day to the next, especially when you are involved.”
“She is not coming back Rafe. I doubt she will ever be coming through those doors again.”
“You are one of the most optimistic people I know. Are you telling me you’re ready to forget all about her?”
“I won’t go that far. You do not forget about a girl like that so easily. At least not for a while, if ever.”
“If she was here right now, if she walked through those doors, what would you say to her?”
“I would say anything she wanted…”
Rafe, who had been cleaning as he talked, comes towards Derrick. “Well buddy, looks like you may get your chance.”
He points towards the front door. Derrick turns to see Daniela standing there.
“Do you mean that?” she asks. “Would you say anything I wanted?”
Derrick goes towards her, knowing that this may be his only chance, “Yes, I mean it.”
“Will you recite a poem for me?” she asks with a straight face.
This is not what Derrick expected to hear, not even close. “Recite a poem?”
“Yes. Do you know any poems?”
Derrick still wasn’t sure what was going on but he knew his answer was not the correct one. “No… I don’t know any poems.”
“Oh…” says Daniela, the disappointment showing on her face.
“WAIT!” shouts Derrick. “I do know one! I don’t know if I remember all of it, but I had to memorize it for school when I was 12 years old.”
“Will you recite it for me?”
Derrick knows there is no turning back now. He must do this. He takes a deep breath and goes for it. “The poem is called ‘Jabberwocky’… it’s by Lewis… Lewis something or another.”
“Lewis Carroll,” she adds.
“You know this one?” he asks.
“Yes, I do,” she says, smiling.
He takes another deep break. This revelation only made Derrick more nervous. The nerves were not about the poem. They were about the girl. He begins, “Twas brillig and the slithy toves….”
Derrick recited the poem as confidently as he can. He stumbles at times but he continues. Daniela smiles and would even mouth the words herself on a few occasions. About ¾ of the way through, Derrick stops. He cannot remember the rest. His brain has gone blank. “I’m sorry, I can’t remember the…”
Daniela interrupts him… with a kiss. Before he can finish his thought, she wraps her arms around his neck, gets up on her tippy toes, and she kisses him. Derrick quickly follows her lead. He wraps her arms around her waist and kisses her back. Derrick embraces her as they release from the kiss. He did not want to let her go. He feared the moment he let her go would be the moment he would lose her for good.
“Yes, Daniela?” he asks, slowing letting her go, preparing for the worst.
“Will you go fishing with me?”
Without hesitating, Derrick takes Daniela back in his arms and they share another kiss. This kiss lasts longer than the first one. They stand there for a moment, quietly in each other’s embrace. She lays her head on his chest.
“I would love to go fishing with you.”