Randall pulled into the bar parking lot and then walked across the street. Ryan's house was a short walk off the street, third on a three house lot. A tiny place, just big enough for Ryan's stereo, guitar, clippers and cat. And his skateboard. Ryan was taking time off from the salon because he broke two fingers skating down some steps at the campus. His mom was a trauma nurse, and he'd set the fingers himself. Found his own pain medication, and took leave of the salon.
Randall had called him earlier that day. Ryan told him that with his fingers, he could struggle through only two haircuts a day. But that he'd have time to squeeze him in before his dinner plans. Be there at 6:30. Randall glanced at his watch: 6:40. He hoped he wouldn't mess up dinner.
Walking up the drive he saw Ryan. A long sleeve t-shirt draped from his drawn-out body only reminded Randall of Ryan's heroin days. Isn't it a little warm for long sleeves? But Ryan's heavily tattooed arms probably would have hidden any track marks he might have had.
Ryan motioned at a wicker chair. "Have a seat, I have to make a phone call." Good, thought Randall. I'm late, but he's not ready for me. Randall slumped into the chair. He hadn't slept the night before. And he didn't even really listen to Ryan's half of the phone call.
A moment later Ryan threw his phone across the yard. "I just got dumped." It's going around, said Randall. "What, you and Jeanie? You've been together for two years!" Randall nodded. "Me and this chick, it had only been two weeks." But it is amazing how quickly you can fall for someone in a short time.
"She told me I wouldn't be able to handle her past." What about her past? "Beats me, she didn't even tell me. Fuckin' bitch. Yeah, here I am calling her a bitch, when an hour ago I was planning to make her tilapia on the grill. Wanna stay for dinner?"
They went inside. Ryan poured Randall a glass of the sangria he'd made for her. Randall took off his tie and shirt, sat in his suitpants and undershirt on a kitchen chair. Ryan got his clippers.
"So why did you end it?" It was complicated, explained Randall. Sometimes after a relationship cools down, you have comfort. Sometimes it is just complacency, and you only think it is comfort. You can commit to improving things, it is easy to mouth those words. But if you still only limp along, then it is time to open yourself up to other possibilities. "When you used to bring Jeanie around, you had this look on your face of awe and amazement. But the last couple times you brought her her, you just looked annoyed." I've been hearing that a lot today, thought Randall.
"Is there someone else?" No, not really. "Not really? Then there is." No. There are lots of others. I meet people all of the time. I just don't act on it. But now I am thinking that maybe I'm ready to. That what I am looking for can only be found elsewhere. I promised her that I would let her go before I'd ever cheat on her. She doesn't believe me now. She insists there must be someone else. Sometimes it is easier to believe that there is. It is almost better to have been beaten out by someone else, than to have simply failed on your own merits. But she didn't fail. It isn't a matter of blame. It just wasn't right. It may have taken two years to figure that out, but better two than seven or ten.
"Well I am giving you a sweet haircut. A ladykiller." Ryan gave him the same haircut he always did. But it looked good, as always. This was why Randall had followed Ryan through three salons and kept his private number in his Rolodex at work. "How's that look?" Randall ran his fingers through his hair, pulling it, checking for even length. Is this side just a touch longer? Ryan nodded. "You know, most guys wouldn't even notice that. But you have such great attention for detail. I like that. I'm detail oriented and a perfectionist. Other guys might be pissed that you saw that. Me? I'm glad you cared enough to notice, and I want it to be perfect." He took both sides closer in around the ears, and evened it.
Ryan could be high as a kite and still give the perfect haircut. Even if he needed just a little prompting this time. And with two digits taped together, Randall was amazed he could work the scissors at all. "I know it was just two weeks, with this chick. But you don't lead someone on like you care, even for just two weeks." Yeah, you don't do that. "Two weeks isn't long, but it was the greatest two weeks I can ever remember, till this evening." Oh, I know. These last two years, we had some great times. I wish it could have worked out differently. I didn't want to hurt her. I wanted her to be the one. "Does anyone ever really find the one?" I don't know, but I hope so. I still want to believe. I am looking to have my faith restored.
Ryan started sweeping the floor. "You want that fish? I picked up steak too. There's lots of food." No, I've gotta go. Gotta head home. I don't know what I'm going to find at the house this evening. But I've got to try to get some better sleep this time.
Ryan hugged him. And Randall drove home to an emptier house.