15 February 2009

Nice Guy Facing The Truth

Heart stood at the edge of the dock, bent over at the waist with elbows resting on the railing. He was massaging his temples while staring into the murky jade-colored water lapping the bulkhead at his feet. The surface rippled and bulged slightly, green metal sheet flecked with leaves and drifting puffs of goose down. His face bellied and warped as looking into a funhouse mirror. Every so often, his face would assume the proportion and outline like one in that painting by Edvard Munch. What was it, he strained to recall. Oh, The Scream. Heart smiled to think of the title. A scream, indeed, borne of the overload of thoughts in his head. He looked up and across the lake. On the far bank, amidst the low brush, Brother Heron appeared, head tilted down in an attitude of concentration as he searched for fish. Heart raised a hand in greeting. Heron didn’t move, and Heart wasn’t sure the bird had seen him. Heart put his head down.

A few breaths later, there was a swiisssh, and a splash over by the rock jetty just across from where Heart stood at the dock. He had one guess as to whom it was, and sure enough, Brother Heron stood there, wings folding up as one bright eye peered out from under the slight crest of feathers on his head. The wily bird took a moment to adjust a feather before speaking.

“Heart, nice day, yeah?”
Heart stood silent, blinking slowly at the bird. Heron spoke again.
“Uh, oh, looks like someone has a case of the Mondays!” and then he croaked the equivalent of a smart aleck laugh, rusty hinges on a gate.

Heart stared at the bird for the space of five heartbeats, and then slowly raised his right hand out in front of himself, middle finger upraised. The heron croaked again, and Heart broke into a helpless grin, laughing quietly. “Sorry, Brother, I’m a bit tired.”

“You getting enough sleep?” Heron asked.
“If you count thrashing around as sleep, yes. Otherwise, no, I’m exhausted.”
Heart laughed weakly, sweeping his hands down his sides in a “ta-da” gesture. “Does this sack of potatoes look buff to you?”

Brother Heron cocked his head from side to side for a moment, and then allowed as sacks of potatoes went, no, this one did not look buff. He gave the avian equivalent of a sigh.

“Well, it is nice day, even for a mope like you”, said Heron.
“Yeah, it is, even with that cool breeze. I am so fed up with winter, this seemed like an early opportunity to escape the cabin. Feeling wrung out.”
“I understand, bro. Gets that way out here sometimes, especially when there’s ice. Makes it hard to get the fish, you know? Plus, that icy water makes for chilly feet. Speaking of fish…”

Heron tilted his head and slowly lowered it to the water. Heart could see the faint outline of something just below the surface. Heron lanced forward like a swift-thrown spear and came up with a small fish in his beak. He quickly swallowed it and turned back to Heart.

“Nice catch!” said Heart.
“Thanks. So, what’s on your mind, O Eeyore?”
“Valentine’s Day was yesterday. And it always makes me wonder.”
“Love. Romance. Old girlfriends or lack thereof. And if being a nice guy really pays off.”

Heron considered this for a moment. “I don’t know if I can help you with that.”
Heart asked “Why’s that? You aren’t a nice guy?”
The bird clacked his beak. “Let’s just say my notions of romance are a little different. Being a bird, well, being romantic and nice and stuff don’t usually enter into it.”

Heart chewed on a thumbnail for a bit, and then said “Yeah, I get it. What I don’t get is how some people can put up with being treated like a second-class citizen by a partner, and not seem to realize who really respects them and, well, loves them.”

“I sense a raw nerve, am I right?” said Brother Heron.
Heart smiled. “Yeah, you could say that. For some reason I got to thinking about someone I used to know, someone I fell in love with a long time ago…” his voice trailed off as he stared blankly at the lake. Heron made a gesture in front of his beak, rubbing the tips of his wings together, and croaking his laugh.

Heart shook his head, asked “What was that for, Brother H?”
“World’s smallest violin, playin’ just for you…” he answered.
“Very funny, you schmuck. Now cut that out. I’m seriously ruminatin’ here.”
“Sorry, do carry on.” Heart swore he could see a grin on the bird’s face.

Out on the lake there was a sudden flurry of activity among the geese. There was some sort of fracas going on, involving three geese attempting to beat the stuffing out of each other. Water was spraying everywhere as the geese furiously chased one another in circles, their raspy honking sounding like bagpipes locked in a musical death match. Eventually, one of the geese, being the apparent loser, flapped away trying to look dignified. Its tormentors remained behind, honking angrily.

“What was that all about?” Heart asked Heron, looking bemused.
“Ah, those knuckleheads have been doing that all morning.”
“What were they saying? Any idea?”
“No” Heron replied, “I don’t know the Canadian dialect, beyond ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘please come back later’ and ‘fuck off!’”

Heart laughed out loud. “Good to know, I suppose.”
Heron grew serious again. “So about this someone…?”

Heart rubbed his temples again, squinting against the breeze. “We were really good friends, spent a lot of time together. Sometimes on the weekends we were together more than she was with her boyfriend. We could talk about anything, we made each other laugh, and more than once I was the go-to shoulder when her boyfriend treated her like crap or ignored her. Which was often enough to be disturbing. And I fell in love with her.” Heart fell silent. “I never understood why she kept with him, kept going back to him even after horrible fights.”

“Did you say anything to her about that?” asked Heron. Heart considered this a moment.
“I did, on numerous occasions. And she kept telling me she loved him. The damndest thing, and I still don’t get it.”

“And when I told her I thought it was unfair, and I didn’t understand it, I couldn’t stop myself. I told her that I was in love with her. At which point she told me that she really liked me but she only thought of me as a friend.” Heart sighed heavily. Heron stood silent for a moment.

“Heart, why didn’t you just start acting like a dick?” the blue-green bird asked.
“I don’t know. I guess I just couldn’t. I mean, I tried it later, but…”
“But what?”
“Well, I ended up being a dick and I was alone. It never seemed right, and I always felt like a fraud. To really make it work, you have to not be aware of your…dickness…I guess. Most of the guys I saw acting that way always seemed to have girlfriends but they never seemed to acknowledge they were being assholes. Weird, and unsettling, to believe the only way I was going to get kissed, much less get laid, was to be an asshole.”

“I always had the feeling I was betraying myself when I acted that way.”

Heron asked, “So do you still want to be an asshole, now, just to get the women? Probably not, I’m thinking. Why would you want to be with someone who wanted to be with an asshole?”

Heart laughed. “No, and I don’t. For a bird, you are pretty wise, sometimes.”
Heron fluffed his wings in anticipation of takeoff. “Yeah, that’s what all the lady birds say.” He winked, sort of. He paused, crouching. “And you, my friend, can say that you stayed true. That’s worth something, whether you believe it or not,” he said and took off. Heart watched the bird grow small with distance. Truth, he muttered, truth is worth something.

It’s gotta be, said the man to the boy.


  1. I spent years of my life loving a assholes. It's true, they're the ones that always get them women.

  2. Assholes tend to be rather... persistent. ;)
    Yes, the truth is worth something, it is worth a lot!

    But sometimes the unfairness of life is a bit much, yeah?

  3. I - for one - don't believe that nice guys finish last.

    If only I had married one. . .

  4. I married a nice guy...

    Hope you're having a wonderful weekend Irish.

  5. The Truth is heavy, therefore few care to carry it.

    Don't compromise yourself. You're all you've got.
    Janis Joplin
    US singer (1943 - 1970)

    Thanks for the reminder Irish Gumbo, well done.

  6. My guy is so nice, I often wonder if he is playing for the other team. I have never met a man like him in my life! I'm blessed. He loves me AND my parts, so I think I am safe.

  7. Sometimes they finish last. But not always.

  8. Wow! You're killing me softly over here!

    Peace - Rene

  9. Oh...you never disappoint me with your words and stories. I want to email this to my "nice guy" but....I am not sure he wants this nice woman who treats him so well. His loss I guess. Keep these incredible stories coming! You rock! Blessings and love, Lisa

  10. Hallmark nice guy traits - self aware and reflective.

    If only the assholes could figure that out.

  11. I married a nice guy. I've been told he is an asshole to others - but I haven't seen it.

  12. I married a nice guy. And he can stay, so long as he stops smoking in my car.

  13. asshole.........

    everybody has one

  14. Irish,
    never be a asshole
    been there and done that
    ask your Mom it dosen't work

    irish oldman

  15. I tried to teach my son to be a nice guy, and he has gotten his share of not so nice girls to show him as well...I also married a nice guy as an example for him...

    The writing is good Gumbo...have you read my latest poem lately?

  16. I really enjoyed this story. Well done!

  17. You figure that out, let me know. I know some people who could use the info.

    Stay away from those geese, they're vicious bastards. Why do you think we send them south?

  18. I love the way your mind works and makes it's way onto the page.

    I don't know why we women tend to gravitate to the asshole. For the record, some of us do finally wise up and see the nice guy for who he really is.............a gift.

  19. Casey: I’m sorry :( Too bad I didn’t know you back in the day…:)

    CPM: Like skunk juice. And I never wanted to be spraying the skunk juice…

    Lizspin: Thank you for the vote of confidenceand I’m sorry :()

    PHST: Excellent!

    Janie: *bows* Thank you, m’lady!

    King: Excellent quote, my friend, thank you. Glad to be of service.

    Sandi: You’re cool, sometimes people get confused between nice and, well, you know…

    BMA: That is correct.

    NTR: Ooh, sorry, jeez. Should I stop? :)

    Cw2smom: Thank you! But you never know, he might get the hint! And I will do my best!

    OAM: So by figuring it out, I am not an asshole. Sweet!

    Beth: Good on you!

    Pamela: Does The Mister know about this? (grin, wink)

    Anon: I reckon they do.

    Irish oldman: Yea, she mentioned something about that (grin)

    Chef E: Good idea. And thank you!

    Becomingkate: Thank you, and glad you stopped by!

    Bridgeburners: I’m still working on it. So that’s why they come down here…

    SMB: Thank you, glad you like it. I am encouraged to hear it.

  20. the truth shall set you free.......

    ( and we reap what we sow........right?)

    LOVED this. as usual.

  21. Vodka Mom: Lawd, I hope so (on both counts). Thank you :)

  22. All power to being a dick :) No really...

  23. Braja: *laugh* Thank you, my dear, I get that...

  24. "There is no one alive who is youer than you" - Dr.Suess

    prob one of my fav quotes ever

    but I dont care what anyone says, the nice guys have better chances with me than the hottest assholes, hands down!

  25. There's a such thing as a nice guy? Wow......hard to believe.

    Teasing. I know there are. However, I've never dated one. I've dated some that seemed nice, but weren't.

    You and I need to talk, my friend.

  26. I wonder what he might have tasted like. Hmmm. BBQ heron.

    I need to go eat lunch.

  27. I would be totally content if you wrote about Heart and Brother Heron every single day!



"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...