Teaser Tuesday (Part 4 of 4)

And now, the conclusion of "Never Buy Another Self-Help Book Again!™," my short story. Some sexual language in parts one and three, so skip those if you're put off by that sort of thing.
Part One
Part Two
Part Three

I was still on the phone with Tammy when Steve came back in the door. He looked upset, so I got off the phone quickly. It turned out he wasn't mad at me; it was the cruise people.

One of the kitchen workers was diagnosed with hepatitis and all the passengers had been exposed to it. The cruise line was going to cancel the trip and give us vouchers for another ship, but the passengers raised such a stink that the new plan was to bypass Catalina and just cruise on to Mexico. Since we were going to be stuck on this ship together, Steve and I called a truce and tried to get along.

I thought we were doing fine until my phone rang at dinner. Before I could even find out who it was, Steve snatched it out of my hand. He ran over to the rail and pushed the talk button before he threw the phone over the side. I didn't say anything, though, because I hadn't heard him laugh like that for weeks.

Steve suggested that maybe he could do the planning from now on, and I agreed. I said I didn't care what we did, as long as it was spontaneous. He wasn't sure what I meant by that, so I told him all about the article I'd read and how it gave me the idea to plan this cruise. He goes, "Let me get this straight—the author says that to be spontaneous you have to make plans in advance?" I ignored his smart-ass comment for the sake of our truce.

The next day was better between us, but then the captain announced that because of the hepatitis we couldn't go to any of the cities we planned. One little coastal village was willing to overlook the chance of infection for the chance at some tourist dollars, but they would only let us anchor offshore, and we would have to go to town in lifeboats.

The first day in the pueblo we went to an old colonial church and then got something to eat from a street vendor. I ordered a burrito, but I got some kind of tough, grilled meat. The second day we went to a religious art museum, and that about covered the points of interest in town.

We did a lot of walking in the park instead. At first I was really bored—I mean, when you can start to tell the pigeons apart, you’ve spent too much time watching them. I kept wanting to pick up the remote and change the channel.

It was good in one way, though, because Steve and I talked and listened to each other better than we had in a long time. I rediscovered that in his way Steve is kind of wise, like Yoda but without the funny voice.

Steve told me there wasn't a self-help book in the world that held the secret to perfect happiness and that I would have to find it on my own. He even made a joke about how much money we would save by me giving up my habit of buying every new book that came out. When he put it that way, he almost made it sound like my relying on self-help books so much was some kind of addiction.

That was when I got my best idea yet for a career. I came up with a whole motivational workshop and video series on breaking the addiction to self-help books and called it "Never Buy Another Self-Help Book Again!"™ After we got back from the cruise and I started mapping out my plans for the "Never Buy Another Self-Help Book Again!"™ workbook, Steve seemed really supportive at first. But when he got to preview the finished video and workbook, he totally lashed out.

He had the nerve to say I wasn’t curing people of their addiction to self-help books, I was just regurgitating a bunch of ideas from other people’s books—in video format. And then he topped it off by mocking my workbook, laughing hysterically at the way it’s called "Never Buy Another Self-Help Book Again!"™ and it just happens to be a book. All he had to do was open the cover to see that it’s not a self-help book, it’s an individual-support companion to my videos.

Kristal was there for Steve’s tirade, and she warned me that I needed to get his bad spirit out of my life. So I divorced Steve, but I’m not alone on the road. Kristal quit her job and goes everywhere with me. Officially she's my manager, but emotionally she's my anchor. She even handles all the finances so that my math phobia doesn’t kick in and undermine my self-image. And who cares if we’ve been audited two years in a row—it’s got to be a government conspiracy.


Phoebe North said...

Man, good for the narrator. Steve sure sounds like a jerk!

I really enjoyed watching this story play out. Kudos. :)

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