Original short literary fiction, including satire, remains one of the writing genres I keep in my literary toolkit.
First, Torrance lost his job. Then, he lost his girlfriend. Actually, Shiral had not really considered herself his girlfriend for about a month and a half before Torrance lost his job. But Torrance without a job was like a cake without sugar, a ballroom dance without the ballroom, or to put it quite bluntly, as Shiral did, a man without money.
But Torrance knew he could get another job easy enough. His grandmother owned half interest in a pizza parlor on the southside, and Torrance wasn't too proud to slide pies into the oven, so when he asked Granny if she'd hire him, she did, and Torrance was employed again within two weeks of losing his job at the Teeter's Bar. Torrance was a good bartender, but old man Teeter found out that Torrance's father was black, and then it was good-bye Torrance.
Shiral actually wanted an excuse to officially break off with Torrance, so she was the one who told old man Teeter about Torrance's father. Of course, Shiral's parents were both black, but she didn't look it—just slightly tanned maybe a little Italian thrown in, but certainly not like a black woman. And for the most part Shiral didn't acknowledge her black roots. She went to white schools and always had white friends, and her parents didn't object, because they wanted anything for Shiral that made Shiral happy. They claimed they were Greek, and they never seemed to have any disagreement with anybody over that claim.
But Torrance, named after his father who was killed in Vietnam, was raised by his white mother. His childhood was a lot like Shiral's except he never felt the need to appropriate an ancestry other than his own African and Irish, the latter of which his mother was a stereotypical specimen. She had the red hair and the freckles and looked a great deal like Maureen O'Hara. When Torrance first saw Shiral, he thought she was Portuguese; she reminded him of an exchange student he once met in third year Spanish.
Brazilian Exchange Student
Torrance's school tried to get a student from Spain but had to settle for one from Brazil, who spoke Portuguese. But to Torrance, Shiral looked a lot like that Portuguese girl. But he never asked her about things like that. He was interested in music, sports, traveling, and going on dates, and he was somewhat desperate to fall in love. He ached to be in love.
At first, after about the third date with Shiral, he thought he might just fall in love with her, but then she said something at a basketball game that made Torrance put a hold on his emotions. Actually, she didn't even say it to him, she said it to Arlene Bennett. She told Arlene Bennett that Torrance had proposed to her, and that they had been having hot sex in his car for about six months. She giggled and said she hoped she wasn't pregnant.
After he first heard the rumor that Shiral was spreading, he felt flattered that she would want Arlene to think she was doing it with him. But then when he found out that Shiral said that about every guy she had dated in high school, he began to have serious doubts. Still they kept seeing each other, and he eventually asked her to go steady.
Torrance and Shiral went steady about four months, and then around spring break, Shiral started to get the roving eye. She even dated several guys from the other high school without Torrance knowing it. When she found out that the rumors that she had started back in the fall were still circulating about Torrance and her, she tried to blame Torrance for talking trash about her. And then Arlene Bennett told Shiral that some people were saying Torrance was black and that Shiral would ruin her reputation if she kept on having sex with him.
No Interest in Rumors
But Torrance was too busy to notice rumors because he was too busy to spend much time at school except for classes. He had started a rock band, he played on a volleyball team for the city, and until quite recently had worked as a bartender at old man Teeter's. The main thing about Torrance's life that worried him was the legality of an eighteen year old working as a bartender. He was always afraid of losing his job, if the law found out his age. But then he loses that job, not because of his age, but because of his race—or that is, part of his racial make-up.
Shiral began dating a teacher from the other city high school, right after, or probably a little bit before she broke up with Torrance. By graduation in June, she was three months pregnant, and the teacher had left the country to teach in Belgium. Shiral's parents decided that she should just go into hiding until the baby was due, and then they would pretend that the baby was theirs, that it was Shiral's little brother or sister. So that's what she did. They did that three times.
Then Shiral's mother went through menopause, and Shiral was sent to live with her mother's youngest sister in Tallahassee. She increased her aunt's family by a set of twin boys and sister for the twins. The last anybody heard about Shiral was that she was working at an abortion clinic in Maine, having run out of family members who could tolerate family expansion.
Torrance was oblivious to all this, having long forgotten Shiral upon graduation from high school. Torrance went to the University of Pennsylvania and majored in music. He spent a summer in Vienna, and an academic year in Cameroon. He played for the Philadelphia Philharmonic, and finally settled into a teaching job at the University of Madrid. He writes his mother. She always writes back asking him if he's seeing anybody. He always answers wistfully that he isn't but still wishes he had someone to be in love with.
© 2018 Linda Sue Grimes