Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dating Leon

Below is another extract from Booker's World which didn't make the final draft.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Leon was three weeks into another spell of sobriety. His brain burned with boredom, unable to grasp life without the turmoil. Things had a way of having little meaning for him, unless he could see them through the tail end of a whiskey bottle.
"That's where you find the answers,” he would say. "Trouble is, I can never remember them next day."
Leon spent most of his sober days around at my place, living off my kindness. To be truthful it was good to have him around. It was during these times he showed his wit and it flowed well enough to induce some laughter from me. I never laugh easily.
There was this one time. Leon, when sober, was paralysed with shyness. He felt that he should join a dating site and check out what was available in the dating market. Perhaps his soul mate lay in wait for him, somewhere in a posh apartment in Dalkey, complete with contemporary decor and croissants and orange juice at dawn. It had to be worth a shot.
So he spent the day filling in on-line questionnaires that were advantageous to him, before departing with €120 of my money for a yearly subscription and access to mail features, winks and profiles with pictures.
“She's in here, I know she is,” he said excitedly.
Now, I never minded Leon stopping by, and even eating me out of house and home, but when he took over my computer that was another issue. I had my screenwriting to be getting on with. That was my way of absorbing life instead of having to live it. Day after day he sent mail out to potential candidates, the shyness sober living iced him in, melting away behind the warm glow of my computer screen.
Leon, being of shallow disposition sent mail to beautiful women who never mailed back. In the mean time Leon was getting attention from places he didn't want it, including a 63 year old fitness fanatic called Betty from Achill Island. That's how it played out for weeks, before he gave up and went back on the beer.
“I can't function,” were his parting sober words.
He returned a week later to check his inbox and was mildly surprised to find a mail from a girl named Sabrina who was living in Gort. Mails were exchanged and soon a dalliance was arranged in a restaurant in the town of Ballinasloe. Leon took the bus across.
It started well. They had a common interest. They both adored wine. Soup was shark fin, and they shared spare ribs in a barbecue sauce before ordering the main course. On arrival, the scene changed.

Sabrina, whose dinner was slightly cool, complained to a waiter and left him in no doubt that she was enraged with the service.
“Ease up,” Leon pleaded with her.
She gave him the evil eye, raising a fork and pointing it at him. She ranted for a few moments, totally ignorant to the jaw dropping clientele in the restaurant before finishing -
“And if you're not man enough to accept my right to stand up for myself, I'll pay for this meal, and you can fuck off with yourself”.
After that, Leon was utterly convinced insanity was the way to a brighter future and returned to the bottle, with plenty of success, in terms of the bottle.
On a sheet of paper I found earlier today, a headline. Typed in block capitals.


There are no words beneath in answer. He could never find an alternative way of living that filled the gap left by his addiction. Though he did try, just not with any lasting conviction.
On the back of the sheet I found what looked like a password. Intrigued, and on a whim, I entered it into the old dating site he once belonged too and was surprised that my little effort at being one of the Hardy Boys was successful. I felt the surge of a hacker run through. I made my way to the Inbox, clicking gently, hunting for that last great sad love story.
It was empty.

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