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Contemporary Funny Suspense

The bar/restaurant (breastaurant?) is packed. From the entrance, it looks fairly standard: a long piano black bar takes up the right side of the room, while a few tables are scattered around the open area to the left. It’s a small bar, fairly common for the city. Only when you make your way to the end of it can you see its true scale (which only a fool would call small in Midtown).

There, where you first thought was the back, a pillar dressed in wallpaper from the Victorian era reveals there to be an area twice as big behind it. 

The right half of the space is floored by a bounty of tables revealing the fact that, yes, this is also a restaurant. Separately, the left half has a wide open area, likely (normally), for dancing, and another bar. This one is just as large as the first but is split by a corner making it seem less so. Above it all is a chandelier (more suited for a ballroom than a dance floor in the back of a breastaurant) fitted with dozens of diamond-shaped lights, piercingly bright.

Normally, one can imagine, this is not too strange, but tonight is a bit different. Tonight, the dance floor is covered with an assortment of red and pink cornhole boards, along with one that looks white due to the chandelier shining above. A sign on yet another massive Victorian pillar reads:

NYC SOCIAL CORNHOLE SPEED DATING

Numerous young adults of various sizes, shapes, and colors surround the area. A few are wearing matching t-shirts with the NYC Social logo on them (which is little more than the literal words). They are, presumably, only here as staff and not also looking for love, considering how terribly unattractive the shirts are. The rest of the patrons are dressed in varying levels of niceness, from the equally-hideous to the so-damn-nice-you-wonder-how-they-can-throw-a-beanbag-in-that. In the middle is a somewhat tall man who looks…fine.

The man makes his way to a woman who is, quite frankly, much finer.

“Rumor has it we’re partners,” he says. “I’m Christian.”

“Opponents, actually,” she says. “Your partner’s across from you.”

“Right, well, this-side-of-the-game partner’s then.”

“I’m Leda,” the girl tells Christian, laughing.

“Ah, maybe you should call me Zeus then.”

“Why? You going to seduce me? Might need to turn into a swan then.”

“Ah, you know your Greek mythology then!”

“Only as it relates to my name.”

“Well, it’s a beautiful name.”

“Thank you.”

They shake hands awkwardly then each grab a pile of bags. Across from them is a similarly (boringly) heterosexual pair whose words are too far away to make out. They throw the first set, with the man edging his bag around the hole, while the woman's hits the chandelier and falls to the floor.

“Do we get a do-over?!” she shouts across the space between them.

“Sure!” Leda shouts back.

She hits the chandelier again.

“Sorry!” she yells. “I’ve never played!”

“All good,” Christian says, not realizing he’s speaking far too low for her to hear. “Take your time.”

It takes her four more do-overs not to hit the chandelier, with the sixth flopping sadly to the ground in front of the board.

“Close!” Leda shouts, encouragingly.

It goes on like this for a while—bags going in holes, bags hitting the floor, a few more hitting the chandelier, and the rest hitting the boards—until eventually Christian’s team loses and Leda’s wins.

The couple is then forced apart and told to play nice with others. Christian decides against this, focusing solely on Leda (who is—as one should during a speed dating event—flirting with every man she meets) while bringing nothing to any conversation but the mundanity of his boring life.

When the games end, Christian finds his way back to Leda, who is as happy to talk to him as she has been to everybody.

“Partner!” Christian says with more enthusiasm than his last seven conversations combined. He molds his fingers into guns and pretends to shoot her.

“Opponent!” Leda says, matching his energy, shooting him back.

“Let’s change that.”

“Slow down cowboy.”

“Buy you a drink?”

“That’s a little better of a start.”

He orders a Guinness while she orders a Sour.

“How did you do?” Christian asks.

“Oh, I wasn’t really focused on winning. You?”

“Oh yeah. I lost all of them.”

Leda laughs.

“Meet any cute girls?” she asks.

“Just one,” he says.

“Get out of here.”

“Girl, I’m here to stay.”

Her cheeks turn a pale pink while his dimples flare.

“So, what are you looking for then?” she asks.

“Other thank you?”

“Yes, you flirt.”

“Love. Marriage. Happily-ever-after. You know.”

“Wow, just that, huh?”

“Just that.”

“Maybe we should start with a date.”

“Or we can start by getting married.”

“Stop! You’re too much, Christian.”

“And you’re perfect.”

“You just met me!”

“So?”

“So, take it easy, buddy. One step at a time. Take me out to dinner why don’t you?”

“I’ll take you out to dinner every night for the rest of our lives.”

“That sounds like a lot.”

“Is it?”

Leda’s cheeks return to their normal peachy hue. Christian continues smiling.

“Yeah, like, can we just talk? Get to know each other? I get it, you’re into me, and it’s very sweet, but I need more than just attraction.”

“I’ll give you everything.”

“Stop!”

There’s a brief pause.

“Tell me about yourself,” Leda says. “What do you do?”

Christian takes a little blue box out of his pocket and opens it to her eyes, revealing a diamond ring. Leda’s first thought is: is this fake? Her second is: what the fuck?

She says the second thought out loud, though not loud enough for Christian to care to hear it.

“I’ll tell you everything at the wedding.”

“This is not funny anymore, Christian.”

“It’s not a joke.”

“It is!”

“It’s not!”

Christian’s dimples fade as Leda’s arms tingle. She looks around to see if anyone noticed his outburst, but the mingling is the same as when she left it.

“Come on, babe,” Christian says. “Don’t be like this.”

“I’m not your babe,” Leda says.

“Alejandro!” someone overhearing their conversation shouts.

“It’s our first fight! This is healthy! Fighting is healthy!”

“I just met you.”

“So, is that a no?”

“No to what?”

“No, you won’t marry me?”

“Dude, are you fucking mental or something?”

Christian’s arm swings downward so fast that Leda can hardly see it happen. His glass shatters on the floor and suddenly the mingling stops.

“I am not crazy,” Christian insists.

“Christian, please,” Leda says, backing up.

“I thought this was a place for singles to find love. But no, I’m the crazy one.”

Christian moves in close. Leda takes another step back.

“You’re scaring me,” Leda says, hardly a whisper. Others are closing in on the pair as Leda continues treading backward.

A woman gasps as Leda’s heel hits the white cornhole board, flipping her over it and onto the floor.

“Are you alright?!” someone shouts.

“Leda!” Christian yells, quickly approaching.

Leda’s eyes open as Christian appears above her. She screams.

The ceiling creaks. Christian bends over the board and reaches out towards Leda. She closes her eyes. And then it happens. The chandelier falls. 

February 17, 2024 03:59

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2 comments

09:44 Apr 11, 2024

Christian really is mental haha

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Dylan Martin
00:54 Feb 22, 2024

I feel like Christian right now after noticing the 1 (I think) typo in this story. You fool! haha

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