Derek Bly

If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make the change.

Waiting for the End of the World

“So, do you have any regrets?”

“Whadda ya mean?”

“You know. Anything you didn’t get to do that you really wish you had. I mean, now that the end of the world is coming and all.”

“I dunno. Haven’t really thought about it, I guess.”

“Haven’t thought about it? Well, don’t you think you should? After all, time is just about up.”

“Yeah. I guess maybe you’re right. Uhhh. Well, I guess there is something I regret.”

“And?”

“And what?”

“And what is it, you moron! What do you regret?”

“Geez, ya don’t have to get all pissy on me!”

Silence.

“Fine. I’m sorry.”

“You are? About what?”

“Jesus! What do you think? I’m sorry I got all ‘pissy’ on you, OK?”

“Yeah. Sure. No probs.”

“So … are you going to tell me what you regret?”

“Well …”

Pause. Sip of beer.

“You remember Becky back in Grade 8?”

“What? The little blonde with the big boobs?”

“Yeah, her. Well, I almost kissed her once, but she backed away. I wish I’d stepped closer and just got her to kiss me.”

Stare. Pause.

“That’s it? That’s your big regret? The whole fucking world is coming to an end and your big regret is that you didn’t lock lips with some girl in the eighth grade?”

“Yeah, well. Don’t you remember what she looked like? Aside from the boobs, which were spectacular for Grade 8. Don’t you remember how her blonde hair just … just … kinda flowed over her shoulders? And her lips were all pouty looking. Just begging to be kissed. And she always wore that strawberry lip gloss that made them shine.”

“What are you? Some kind of wuss? This giant thing from space is coming. It’s going to hammer the hell out of us. We’re talking global annihilation. And you’re longing for some little girl who’s now probably a fat slob of a housewife with four brats running around?”

Pause.

“Okay, Mr. Hotshot. What about you? Everything’s about to go to shit. Do you have any regrets?”

“Of course! Of course, I do. Nothing stupid like you, though. Real regrets. Big things that could have happened if only …”

Pause.

“If only what?”

“Well, if only they’d happened, I guess.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“Okay. Okay, like maybe I regret getting divorced from Jean. Maybe that coulda worked out. We coulda stayed married, had kids … a real family.”

“Yeah. I guess. But wouldn’t you have had to stop screwing the office assistant every Thursday afternoon?”

Stare.

“I can’t believe you’d bring that up.”

“Huh?”

“I just shared a deep, heartfelt regret and you bring up such a personal matter that basically destroyed my dream for the kind of family I never had when I was growing up.”

“Yeah, but you were screwing her after telling Jean we had meetings scheduled late every Thursday afternoon.”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“You couldn’t expect Jean to stick around after finding out, could you? Jeez, you’d only been married for six months.”

“But what about you and Amy? She ditched you. That didn’t work out so well either, did it?”

“Nope. I wasn’t enough of a go-getter for Amy. She always wanted the best things in life and I just couldn’t afford them.”

“So here we sit. Two divorced guys. No women in our lives. Getting drunk and waiting for the curtain to fall.”

“Yup. That’s about it.”

Pause.

“I still think it could have worked out. Jean and I could have had kids. I could have kept doing Shelly on Thursdays. It didn’t have to all fall apart. Besides, that’s just one regret.”

“Oh? What other regrets do you have?”

“The usual, stuff, man. You know.”

“Like what?”

“Like … maybe … maybe getting into real estate instead of selling fucking office supplies. I could have been big in real estate. Sell a house here, a house there. Get into commercial real estate. Really pull down some big money. I could have had a really cool Mercedes SLS or maybe a Porsche Boxster. A house on the beach, maybe. Or in the mountains. Something big. An acreage!”

“Yeah, I could see that.  Hey, I could have come over to your place on weekends. We could’ve watched the game in your home theatre!”

“Ha! You? No way. You’d have still been trying to hustle photocopiers to low-rate businesses in the industrial park. I’d have had a whole new set of friends. Guys I’d met at the country club. We’d have golfed, played tennis, gone fishing … that sort of thing. Way beyond your league.”

Long silence. Long draw on a beer.

“Why are you such a jerk?”

“What? I’m not a jerk.”

“Jesus, you just told me one of your regrets is that we’re friends!”

“That’s not what I meant. Hey, we’ve been buds since Grade 7, right?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“So I’m just shootin’ the shit. We’re sitting here on my balcony waiting for some damn hunk of space rock to smash us into oblivion and making up regrets to kill the time. I would have had you over all the time, man. B-ball. Football. Hockey. All that and more on the huge screen. It would have been awesome. Here, have another beer.”

“I like fishing, too.”

“What?”

“You said you’d have gone fishing with your new friends. What about me? I like fishing, too, you know.”

“Shit. Okay, okay. I’d have taken you fishing, too, alright?”

Smile.

“Okay. … We could have gone deep-sea fishing on your boat!”

“Boat? Hell! I’d have had a yacht.”

Contented sips of respective bottles.

“But isn’t this all kind of materialistic?”

“What?”

“All these regrets you’re talking about. It’s all just things. Fancy cars. Big houses. Yachts. They’re just things. Toys.”

“Oh, grow up already! It’s the end of life as we know it and you still haven’t figured out the basics. ‘Things’ are how you tell the winners from the losers. I’m talking about acquiring shit that takes real success to get. You’re mooning over some girl you haven’t seen in 20 years.”

“Yeah, but –“

“Yeah, but nothing! The boys with the most toys are winners. The rest are just the whiners.”

Pause. Sips.

“There are other things, too. I mean besides the big house and fancy cars. I do have some other regrets.”

“Yeah? Like what?”

“I could have been someone. Someone big. Someone important.”

“What? Like the boss?”

“Maybe like the boss. But even bigger. Maybe I could have started a company. Grown it huge. Become an international tycoon. Like that Branson guy. You know. He started Virgin.”

Sip and a smile.

“Dude, we all start out as virgin.”

Smile returned.

“C’mon. You know what I mean. I don’t think the guy even went to college. He just got going selling records or something. Started to make something of it, reinvested his money, took some chances and just took off. Shit, the guy owns an airline and tropical islands. Makes Trump look like some homeless guy.”

“Well, Trump did have the White House for a little while.”

“Yeah, but look where that got him.”

“True, true.”

Pause.

“What I’m saying is I could have been like Branson. What’s he got that I don’t have?”

“That willingness to take chances, maybe?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Well, here we are sitting on your balcony drinking beers and waiting for the end of the world. The buzzer’s about to sound on the fourth quarter. Game over. And it’s like we’re sitting on the bench instead of getting out there and trying to make something happen.”

Long, slow sips at the bottles.

“Shit.”

“Yeah. Shit.”

“Still, I did try. You know I tried.”

“Yup. You did, kind of.”

“What do you mean, ‘kind of’?”

“Well, you always had great ideas, but you kind of sucked at following up on them.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“C’mon. You know what I mean. We’d sit around BS’ing and you’d pop out these ideas, like starting a limo service or something. It’d sound great, but that’s about it. You wouldn’t actually do anything about it. Then, it would be starting an online service to hook up dining companions by Skype for lonely people. Again, just the idea that never grew into anything more.”

Sigh. A sip.

“Yeah. I guess you’re right. But that’s part of what I’m saying I regret. I never experienced having what it takes to go after the idea, like Branson did. But what about you? You never took a risk in your life. After school, you followed me to college and then to the same crappy Office Gear store. And you’ve been there ever since.”

“Maybe that’s all I was ever meant to be. Maybe assistant director of off-site sales was my peak performance. You were always the one with the dream for something huge. I was kind of like your sidekick.”

“Yeah? Well, I couldn’t have asked for a better sidekick because there isn’t one out there anywhere.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

Bottles tap together in an unspoken toast.

“Still, I think we could have done amazing things. Kind of like that song by Corb Lund.”

“Who?”

“Man, you know! He’s that country singer from Alberta.”

Laughter.

“Hey, maybe you could have been the next Branson. You know about all of these obscure singers and shit.”

Big grin.

“Yeah. I do. But that Lund song could have been us. Well, kind of. Just change the order of things and it could have been, ‘If you’d a sped up and I’d a slowed down, you and me together could have run this town.’ ”

“Fuckin’ A, man.”

Another clinging of bottles.

“Whadda ya think that would have been like?”

“Hmm?”

“Well, you said we could have run this town. What would that have been like? And you need another beer.”

A bottle is passed and opened.

“Better than the shit show it is now. I mean, even before we found out the hammer was coming.”

“Yeah. We’d have rocked this town.”

“You got it. First, we’d have got that third bridge built. No more traffic jams slowing everyone down.”

“Excellent! Then it wouldn’t matter what side of the Oldman we lived on.”

“Absolutely. But that’s just the start. We’d have got more businesses to move here. Get the local economy rolling again. And we’d make the new businesses pay for the bridge.”

“Geez, we’d be heroes in this town.”

“Yeah! Hometown heroes. Have those pricks who keep us down now eating out of our hands.”

“That would be sweet.”

“Damn straight.”

Silence. Sipping. Picking at bottle labels. Staring toward the horizon.

“It’s all coming to an end, isn’t it?”

“That’s what they say. No time to change our lives. No time to become the bigshot. No time for the fancy cars. No time to rock this town. No time to fix the regrets.”

A flash far off in the distance. A deafening sonic explosion ripples through the air.

“I still regret not having kissed Becky.”

“Yeah. Me too.”

Category: Story Time

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