The Reality Institute

Rooftop Nights #1 by Marty McCahill

I was in a crowded apartment party in the heart of a trendy area in Chicago. I knew it wasn’t going to be much fun so I decided to drink like crazy. My girlfriend had dragged me to come; one of her co-workers had been promoted so she was having a party for herself I didn’t like the people she worked with. She was a lawyer. All her friends were lawyers. I hated lawyers. The reason I went out with one was accidental. It never came up in our first two weeks of courting and once it had I was already stricken with her. Now I was six months into the relationship and I had a strong feeling that it wasn’t going to last for more than seven months. I had started that morning to act cold and distant. She hadn’t noticed but I would continue this behavior until she brings it up and I’ll explode and say something to make her hate me and that would be it; back to being single. Nothing wrong with that, I have fun being single.

“Honey, have you met Chad? He’s a great guy. He likes the White Sox’s too.” Yes I have met Chad and the man does not like the White Sox’s. He likes the Cubs and the Sox. There’s a big difference. You can’t like both teams. You have to choose one and live and die with them. To say you like both is to say you aren’t a real baseball fan.

“Hey, my name’s Eric. I think we met a few months ago at some other get together like this.”

“Oh, right Eric; the man who chided me for liking baseball.”

“Right, that Eric” I wasn’t going to get into it again with this guy. I excused myself and went to the balcony and lit up a cigarette. There was another cigarette smoker outside too. She was holding her cigarette in front of her and hadn’t lit it yet.

“You need a light there?”

“I’m not sure. I quit smoking a year ago but I woke up this morning and as I was filling up my car I went in and got a pack. Didn’t even realize I had done it until after I was in the car and pulling away. It was just so natural.”

“So, you haven’t had any yet today.”
“I held one in my hand earlier. I had it in my mouth ready to light it. I really, really wanted it but right as I decided to go for it my boyfriend rang the buzzer and I gave up on it. He’d kill me if he saw me smoking.”

“Is he here at the party?”

“Yeah, but he has to talk to all his lawyer friends as if he never sees them at work all the time.”

“I can’t stand lawyers. Somehow I’m going out with one though.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I can’t stand lawyers either but yeah; somehow I ended up with one.”

“How long have you guys been seeing each other?”

“Four months now.” This triggered something in her and she lit the cigarette, inhaled deeply, and blew out the smoke with a smile.

“Beautiful.” She stayed in silence as she got reacquainted with her old friend.

”Well, I’m glad you’re smoking again. The world needs more smokers.”

“It sure does; we’re a dying breed.”

“So, what is it that you do for a living?”

“You mean, how do I get my money?”


“My sister and I own a flower shop. She’s into the flower side of it and I’m more into the actual running of the store.”

“Do you enjoy it?”

“Yeah,” she said this with hesitation, “it’s just that I don’t see myself doing it for another year. I want something more. I want a job that takes me places … or maybe a job that helps people.”

“Flowers help people. They’ve smoothed over tons of fights for me.”

“I can always tell when guys are buying flowers when they’ve fucked up.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah, they always come in and hastily choose one of the already sorted bouquets. They won’t get the cheapest one or the most expensive one. Always the middle grade one. One that won’t put a big dent into the twenty they hand me before the rush out to start the healing process.”

“I wonder if I’ve been to your store.”

“It’s a block away from here, that way, Fullerton Flower’s.”

“Nice location.”

“I know.” She finished her cigarette and looked over towards me and looked me up and down. “You’re a real estate agent.”

“Yes and how’d you know?”

“Real estate agents are usually easy to pick out. The phony ones are even easier.”

“Can you guess my other job?”

“Yeah” she stayed silent though.


“Teacher, probably younger kids, I’d guess fourth grade.”

“Almost, I teach fifth graders English.”

“Do you like it?”

“I love it actually.”

“That’s good. A teacher would be nice; summer’s off, working with kids.”

“Yeah, it is but I usually work during the summer. Teacher’s don’t always get the greatest pay so I need everything I can get.”

She pulled out another cigarette and lit it without hesitation.

“Would you like another drink?”

“I would love another drink.”

“What would you like?”

“Beer. Always beer.”

“I’ll be right back.” I walked back to the party I despised. Claire, my girlfriend, was laughing amongst all her lawyer friends. This was the first time I ever felt hate towards her. The thought scared me and I quickly grabbed four beers and headed back to the balcony.

“Yeah, I kind of want to avoid that scene as much as I can.”

“Understood.” We opened up our beers and drank. They tasted good. They tasted like summer.

“My name’s Eric by the way.”

“Oh shit, we never introduced. My name’s Evelyn.”

“Thank you. Unfortunately it isn’t my given name. My original name was Blanch Furgess. How could somebody ever name their kid Blanch? It’s just so ugly.”

“I had an aunt named Blanch.”

“I bet she was ugly. Oh shit, I’m an awful bitch. I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to say that.”

“No, it’s fine. Her looks matched her name I guess you could say. I was never a fan of auntie Blanch.”

“Well, Eric, how long have you been seeing your friend in there?”

“Six months as of two days ago. Can you believe I forgot our six month anniversary?”

“Oh god no, how could you?” this was all said with heavy sarcasm.

“Yeah, I needed flowers to smooth that one over.”

“Middle grade bouquet?”

“I thought about it but I wasn’t in a rush. I like to pick the flowers out myself.”

“Oh wow, I thought only the gay guys that came in did that.”

“Well, my father’s gay.”


“No.” She laughed. It wasn’t even a good joke. It was hardly a joke. Her laughter was nice though. It seemed more genuine than the laughs that came through the screen door to the balcony. We had both managed to finish our first beers and we opened up the second round. Evelyn lit another cigarette and I followed suit.

“Where’d you grow up?” She asked but I wasn’t able to answer. A man came out and glanced over me and stared at Evelyn.

“What are you doing?”

“Hey Todd, this is Eric.” He ignored this introduction and continued starring at Evelyn.

“Why the hell are you smoking?”

“Oh, Toddy, I’m really sorry.” She obliviously wasn’t.

“Unbelievable.” He said this and took off.

“Well, that’s my Toddy. Isn’t he a charmer?” More sarcasm.

“Yeah, he seems like a great guy.”

“I should actually apologize but I’ll finish this beer first.”

“My ex-girlfriend used to always yell at me for smoking. I ended up having to be a sneak about it and not do it in front of her.”

“Why’d you guys break up?”

“She decided she wanted to live in India.”

“Oh, makes sense.” We sat there talking for a while more. Nothing important, our life stories, abridged of course. We finished our beers and she excused herself to go say sorry to Todd. I stayed out and finished my cigarette and then had another one. got up and went and stood next to Claire. Claire O’Donovan; valedictorian of her high school, national merit scholar, proud graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, annoying laughter, a success and a half.

“Oh hey Eric, you having fun?”

”I’m having a blast.” 1 walked away from her and grabbed the bottle of whiskey we had brought to the party. I went back to Claire and told her I needed to make a phone call and that I’d be right back. I went out the door and found the elevator and hit thirty five, the top floor. I got out and searched for a door that would lead to the roof. I wasn’t sure if this apartment had a roof top but most of these places had fancy roof decks put in around 93′ when it became the cool thing to have. I found the door and went up. Fancy it was. It was surrounded by thick glass and had big circular lights lining the whole thing. There was wooden lawn furniture spread about and a girl in the corner smoking cigarettes. She was sitting down and it was dark but I knew it was Evelyn by the way she was smoking. I walked over and sat down next to her.

“I thought you were going to go apologize to your Todd.”

“I was going to but he was laughing with his lawyer friends so I just decided to leave and try and found a roof to sit on.”

“This is a nice roof.”

“Yeah it is. Chicago is beautiful.” While we sat there smoking and drinking we started to see firework shows off in the distance. Not just a few, there seemed to be at least forty different shows going on. It was July 5th and I guess some towns have their big shows on the 5th, instead. The rooftop next to ours was having a party and the music was loud and clearly audible.

“I’m going to break up with Claire. Claire, that’s my girlfriend. ”

“When did you decide this?”


“Why today?”

“Well, I was going to just act distant and cold for the next week until she called me out on it but I think I should just end it now and not waste my time.”

“I’m breaking up with Todd.”

“When did you decide this?”

“Just now.”


“No reason.” She said this and leaned over and kissed me. I put the whiskey out of harms way and let my back fall to the ground and my hands fall all over Evelyn’s backside. We had sex to the music of Bon Jovi’s ‘Living on a Prayer’ and relaxed afterwards to the sweet vocals of Otis Redding’s ‘Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay’.

“Well, that was fun.” Evelyn said this as she grabbed two cigarettes out of my pant pocket. She lit them both and handed me one and came back down next to me. We stared out at the faded stars and blew smoke out to make them even less visible.

“So, when are you going to break up with Todd?”

“I’m not sure yet.”

“I think we should go down there holding hands and let them know together.” We laughed at this but then it became clear that this was the way we would do it. We sat up and got our clothes back on.

“Let’s get drunk first.”

“Sounds like an awesome idea.” The whiskey bottle had been half full when I brought it up to the roof and we finished it off in about an hour. We were both drunk; Evelyn stumbled as we walked back to the party. We walked in with our hands held together. I suddenly was hit with a wave of panic, a panic which Evelyn noticed and she squeezed my hand tight. “May I have everyone’s attention?” Evelyn yelled out and scanned the room. The party had cleared out quite a bit and now the only people left were Todd, Claire, and three other couples and the ugly lawyer that always tries talking to me about his boat.

“Eric and I are now a couple and can no longer see our old mates.” Everyone just looked at us confused. “See ya,” Evelyn said and looked at me and we took off and to the elevator. While the door was opening we heard the party door open and Claire and Todd come charging out. They were far down the hall but closing in fast. Evelyn and I got in the door and hit the close door button. They were within steps as the elevator closed and they were probably able to get a glimpse of Evelyn and me locking our lips together.

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