Gary turned on his perch at the edge of the roof, so that he could look me in the eye and get a better read on the story I was about to tell. It was 85 degrees, and he graciously spread his mighty stone wings to offer me a shady spot in which to hide from the unrelenting sun.
“I finally saw her tonight,” I said excitedly as I sat down in the one section of the roof not exposed to the sun.
“Since it’s Friday night, I’m going to assume that you’re talking about your screenplay crush,” the Gargoyle surmised correctly.
“Obvious,” I replied impatiently because I was eager to tell my tale. “I hadn’t seen her in over a month, so I was beginning to worry that she had quit.”
A smile slowly crossed Gary’s stone face.
“Would that have really mattered?” he challenged. “It’s not like you’re ever going to act on your feelings.”
Her flapped his wings for emphasis, which forced me to squint when my eyes were momentarily exposed to the blazing sun.
“You know I could never do that,” I immediately went into excuse mode. “She is a fantasy crush. A complete stranger, who is way out of my league, and probably has customers flirting with her all the time. Plus, there is no way someone that beautiful and sweet does not have a boyfriend.”
“That hasn’t stopped you in the past,” the Gargoyle went for the jugular, clearly not about to just stand there and let me fast talk my way out of that one.
“Says the man who didn’t learn after he married his best friend’s girlfriend.”
Wow. The Gargoyle wasn’t pulling his punches tonight, and those stone fists really left a mark.
Gary stared and just let his words hang in the air between us. If you’ve ever been involved in a stare down with a Gargoyle, you have some idea of how uncomfortable I felt during those few, tense moments.
“So you saw her?” he finally asked, apparently having decided not to dwell on my past mistakes because we both knew I’d probably never learn.
“Yeah, and my heart almost jumped out of my chest,” I gushed. “I guess I’d forgotten the effect she has on me after not having seen her for so long.”
“Did you just watch her from afar like a creeper, or did you talk to her?” Gary demanded.
“Believe it or not, I not only spoke to her, but she initiated it,” I boasted.
It had taken me months to get up the courage to speak to my screenplay crush, as Gary liked to call her, but it should not have been that difficult. By the nature of how we were acquainted, it was basically her job to speak to me should I have a question.
But I was so intimidated by her All-American girl beauty, that I could never find the words whenever I stood face to face with her for about five minutes every week. Plus, my self-confidence is extremely low when it comes to gorgeous members of the opposite sex who make my heart beat faster than I could ever hope to run.
Then one day, she noticed I was buying cat food, and asked me how many cats I had. She told me about her cat, and we chatted away until it was time for me to no longer be naturally in her presence.
“She came up to you and said hi?” Gary asked with a reserved excitement that one would come to expect from a Gargoyle.
“Not quite,” I started to explain. “She backed into me and apologized with that killer smile. I asked if she was okay and then joked that she should feign injury and never have to work again. She laughed, pretended to mull it over, smiled more, which almost made my knees give out, and then quipped that my idea had potential.”
“So then you finally introduced yourself because she is an intelligent young lady and has to remember that you make small talk every week, right?” he asked hopefully.
“Are you kidding me?” I asked as my eyes almost exploded out of my skull. “I couldn’t believe I had managed to get out that many words the first time I’d seen her in a month. I got the hell out of there before I did something stupid.”
“Stupider than walking away from the perfect chance to have a meaningful conversation with your secret crush?” Gary admonished as he shook his head in disbelief. “This is why you’re alone, pining over someone you barely know, and happy to get a glimpse of her once a week if her work schedule is willing to accommodate. Talk to her and get to know her.”
“She’s out of my league, probably too young for me…”
Gary flapped his wings in anger to stop me from finishing my endless list of excuses.
“When’s the last time you dated a woman out of her twenties?” he demanded coldly. “Hell, the first time you ever thought you were in love, you were sixteen and she was twenty. I think that forever locked you into this Miss Havisham kind of time warp where you cannot date someone who’s walked this Earth for more than two decades.”
Did he really just made a reference to Great Expectations? Major points for old stone face.
“You’re being ridiculous!” I shouted at my Gargoyle.
Notice, however, that I did not dispute his claim.
“You should have told her about the screenplay,” he advised.
“Ha!” I laughed so hard that I almost fell backwards. “How creepy would that be? We barely know each other, but my crush on you and the paralyzing effect it’s had on me, inspired me to write a screenplay. Oh, did I happen to mention it’s a dark thriller and the character that’s loosely based on you has a shady, secret past?”
“She would be blown away by that!” the Gargoyle insisted as he shot up into the air and did a quick lap around the roof before landing again. “This is Maine, she would think it was awesome that a handsome, older guy, who’s had two screenplays produced and writes for a popular late night talk show, chose her to be his muse.”
“She’d think it was weird and have me banned from the store,” I disagreed. “Then where would I shop?”
“You need to stop seeing yourself as a weirdo outsider, and accept that you’re cool and unique,” my loyal Gargoyle pleaded. “I bet you’re the only customer she talks to who writes movies, has met Dr. Dre, and could turn your weekly exchanges into a Hollywood thriller. Be bold, Austin. Talk to her about more than cat food and I bet she will surprise you.”
I so badly wanted to buy into his pep talk. But that little voice in my head that has kept me single for far too long, constantly whispered that she would never see me as more than just another customer with a crush on someone far too beautiful for him.
Why can’t the voice inside my head be a mighty Gargoyle, rather than a nerdy teenager who never learned how to speak to the opposite sex?
At least it was a gorgeous night to be up on the roof, and I knew I didn’t have to worry about my Gargoyle ever telling anyone about the secret of my screenplay crush…