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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Romance/Love · #806234
Meet Ginger. She is hopeless when it comes to romance.

"It's hopeless," said Ginger as she crossed her arms on the table and laid her head on them. Her elbow caught the edge of the saucer and toppled the teacup, sending the remainder of her Red Zinger Herbal Tea flowing across the tabletop and down the sleeve of her white sweater.

"Ahrggggg." She stood up in a hurry, tipping her chair in her haste. "See what I mean?"

I did see what she meant only too well. After all, I had lived with her the past year enduring day after day of woeful tales and episodes of embarrassment. Ginger was a magnet for bad luck.

In fact, she exemplified the Goddess of Bad Luck.

I watched as she clumsily dabbed at the red stain on her sleeve, her bright orange red hair falling over her freckled face.

"Look," I said. "Just try this once more. Richard is an understanding guy and he is so sweet. You'll like him. He already said he's fond of you."

Something had to change. Living as Ginger's roommate was stressful. After all, I wanted my freedom back. Ever since I had taken pity on her, she had become a part of my life and my embarrassment. Richard was perfect for her - kind, understanding, and patient and, most importantly, stable with two feet firmly on the ground. He would settle her down, I was sure. He would be better than the other choices I had found earlier.

"Fine," she said. "But you have to come with me. Be my chaperone or something just in case I mess up."

I agreed and regretted it the moment the words left my mouth. Paying the waitress for the two cups of tea, I directed Ginger out of the restaurant, onto the sidewalk and toward the park where I knew Richard would be waiting for us.

There he was, dressed in iron-pressed jeans and plaid cowboy shirt, hair plastered down with a neat part running precisely down the right side of his scalp. His mother still dressed him and directed his life, but she was pleasant and Ginger would adopt her in time as her own mother. I crossed my fingers.

"Hi, Richard." I took Ginger's arm in mine and nearly dragged her over to meet him. "This is Ginger."

After some light chit chats about the nice day, I withdrew to give them some privacy and preoccupied my attention with the Army Surplus shop window across the street. It would be the only time that I would be caught staring at army uniforms and artillery.

Ginger and Richard seemed to hit it off alright as they began their stroll down the sidewalk through the park, Richard stepping stiffly this way and that to avoid being stepped on by Ginger's unruly feet. I followed at a non-distracting distance groaning under my breath.

They stopped to talk to some scolding squirrels and Ginger began to dig in her purse for the bag of nuts that I had seen her place there earlier that day. As luck would have it the shoulder strap broke and her purse contents were strewn over the ground.

"Oh, no," she began to wail. I winced but she caught herself in time.

'Good girl,' I thought. 'She remembered not to wail.' Would she heed my other instructions?

She bent awkwardly to pick up the scattered papers, cosmetics, personal hygiene products and empty crumpled chocolate bar wrappers and as she did, so did Richard. Their heads met mid way and I could almost feel the impact.

I turned my head away and bit my lip in self-restraint. By the time I had dared to take another peek, the two of them were started down the path again. Ginger had taken off her cardigan sweater and draped it twisted over her shoulders. I fought the impulse to interfere.

The afternoon continued with one embarrassing moment competing with another. I watched as Ginger tripped and threw her ice-cream cone into Richard's face just after they had stopped at the ice-cream truck. And when she slipped on a muddy patch on the path and kicked him in the shins, Richard appeared to become more and more agitated. Should I step in, I wondered.

It was at one particular fragile moment, as I turned away, that I realized I had seen the same man walking behind me for the past half hour at least. He must be following us. Even though he did not look threatening, I was wary.

I moved closed to the dating couple in time to hear Ginger speak.

"I brought my camera," she said. "How about I take a picture of you by that tree?"

Richard walked over to the tree while Ginger placed the camera to her face. She began to back up. I noticed the park fountain too late to warn her and camera went flying as she sat with a splash into the shallow pool. The statue of the dolphin unsympathetically spewed water out of his mouth squarely on top of her head.

There was loud laughter behind me and I turned angrily to confront this man.

"It's not a laughing matter," I shouted at him and I turned to help Ginger out of the fountain. Richard had fled in mortification and I was glad he had gone.

"See. I told you," Ginger began to wail. "Too many bad things happen to me. I will always be single."

"You were great!" The man who had been following us came up to Ginger and offered his hand. He was still chuckling.

"Listen, you. Don't make fun of her." I hovered like a protective hen.

"Not at all," he said. "She is an inspiration to me."

Ginger had stopped wailing and stood there with mouth open in astonishment.

"Let me introduce my self," he continued. "My name is Bobby."

"I inspire you?" Ginger continued to stare in disbelief.

"That's right," he said. "You are a natural at the art of clowning."

We both stared at him.

“I work as a clown for the circus that has just come to town,” he explained, “and I needed inspiration. Care for tea?”

Ginger smiled and took his arm. As they walked off toward the restaurant, she waved at me in dismissal. It was not a laughing matter but I had to chuckle anyhow.
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