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Beauregard the Beatific

by Charles C. Cole

It would hardly have been more shocking to the world-weary and cynical onlookers — “the gray people” as his Uncle Drake called them — if Beauregard Beardsley suddenly ascended in a brightly glowing orb up into the blue sky while an unseen heavenly choir loudly chanted his elevation to a higher plane of existence.

On the crowded sidewalk outside the post office, Beauregard side-stepped easily through the opposing, faceless foot traffic without pause, in khaki cargo pants and snappy navy beret, eyes half-closed in semi-private reverie, the hem of his charcoal pea coat swirling up and out in a protective circle as he navigated his way. To the uninformed, to jealous and unfulfilled locals, this geeky “manboy” was publicly, embarrassingly in love.

For “BB,” the experience was unsolicited and new, having completely missed the typical “influence of infatuation” during high school and, unexpectedly, transforming. You see, among his peers, uncoupled Beauregard was famously shy in crowds, dancing at concerts with his eyes shut tight behind sunglasses at night, carefully insulated within a small hooting circle of encouraging friends.

Even as an upperclassman, “His Shyness” had often been the self-designated last person to do oral assignments in class, when most others had “checked out,” and he would certainly never have run for student officer or performed as guest lector of the New Testament on the altar at Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Too many glances at once in his direction were like supernaturally bright floodlights, intrusive and painfully penetrating, while too many questions were like being consumed by an irritating swarm of ravenous scarabs.

Ironically, this odd sensation was akin to being deathly sick, in an amazing way, like one of those heroic soldier-volunteers for a new vaccination who, surrendering to the wave of nausea and tremors, discovers the survival experience vividly life-affirming.

Unfamiliar flutterings percolated from within. His cheeks ached from nonstop smiling. His face felt impossibly hot for early fall, stinging with every glance his way, as if a giant thought-balloon more appropriate for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade were tethered above his head, boldly announcing: “Yes, I’m crazy mad for the coolest person on the planet, but please don’t look at me because I might suddenly wake up and find this last month has all been a brief fantastic dream!”

Beauregard felt the cell phone, in the pocket of his open coat, vibrate cheerfully. His digital companion was always within reach. His mother had insisted on buying it the week before Beauregard left for college, to stay connected and for emergencies and, admittedly, to keep tabs on his social activities. BB didn’t rush to answer the message, for he quite enjoyed the purring sensation.

“A busy phone is a happy phone,” elderly Grandma Mosely once said, defending her unvarying social appetites in the midst of a nasty once-in-a-decade winter storm when the family had tried calling her and had received a busy signal for well over three hours!

Beauregard was receiving a text message, the eighth of its kind in the last hour, from an equally distracted young woman, his entwined other. His emotional twin. Dare he say it? His girlfriend! Sure, she lived two hours away and was hectically busy in the pre-med program at a competitive Ivy League college, but their soul connection was permanent and undeniable.

BB beamed and brought his very first gift, a homemade friendship bracelet woven of vibrant sunset colors, under his nose and breathed deeply the intoxicating essence of Mitzi’s simple and honest efforts. Even her earthy sweat, inhaled deeply, had the effect of burrowing under BB’s skin and curling his toes.

The personalized token of their connection would never come off, for as long as his heart danced merrily in his chest. And the journal he kept to savor recent events — his fears, his firsts and aspirations — was going to be securely locked away like a time capsule in the safety deposit box his father had bought him when he’d turned sixteen, revisited years from now when he and his future perfect wife were experienced parents with marriageable children on the cusp of adulthood.

* * *

Two hours away, in a cluttered dorm room, Mitzi McGill napped atop her bed, dressed in yesterday’s wrinkled clothes, a physics textbook open-faced over her weary eyes. Her roommate, Angela Childsborough, entered.

“Dreaming about class again?” asked Angela.

Without moving, the exhausted co-ed on the bed grunted agreement. “I can’t think of anything else! Nobody told me college was going to be so hard. There’s no time for movies or parties or fun.”

“What about Beauregard Beardsley? Remember him? You met him at some party over Christmas break. Did some ‘making out’ as I recall. Left a big, sloppy impression.”

“Beauregard! Such a gentleman! He was lovely! So polite! His neck smelled like Dial soap.”

“He’s been thinking of you. I’ve been texting him. It’s kind of a game. You care?”

“What?! No, that’s perfect! You’re a poet, for crying out loud. When the time comes, you’ll break up with him in such a flowery, prosaic way he’ll think it’s a marriage proposal.”

“You know ‘flowery’ and ‘prosaic’ are opposites.”

“Now I do. Really? Write what you want. Flirt but don’t commit. But we have to break up by May. I don’t want to go back to Maine and have him angry at me for leading him on.”

“I thought we’d break up during finals, for practical reasons: you need to focus on grades and stuff.”

“You’re the best roomie ever. And not just because you let me borrow your clothes without asking. Don’t let anybody tell you love is a dance as old as time; it’s just a chemical attraction.”

Angela closed the door and rubbed her long nose. “That’s what you think,” she whispered. Grabbling an umbrella from its stand by the door with a practiced “En garde!” she thought: “And, as I end the refrain: thrust home! June wedding, here we come, Roxane — er, I mean Beauregard.”

Copyright © 2019 by Charles C. Cole

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