Friday, September 6, 2013

Friday Flash Fiction: Primacy And Recency

Every Friday, Kurt posts a new piece of flash fiction. This week...

Primacy And Recency
Word Count: 596

Jeff took a slow drink of his ale.

“Well, I need to get home,” said Ronnie. “Sitter. You know how it goes.”

Jeff cursed under his breath. It was too early. Ronnie needed to stay a while longer, or else he might remember.

“Sure you don’t want to stay for another?” asked Jeff. “I’ll buy.”

Ronnie looked wistfully at his empty glass on the counter top. “No,” he said. “I really shouldn’t. It’s late.”

“You sure?” asked Jeff. He and Ronnie wives were friends and they knew each other from parties. They worked at competing firms, and Jeff had been engaging in a little industrial espionage. He’d coaxed a few technical details out of Ronnie without giving himself away, and now he just needed to bury that event. “I mean, are you absolutely sure?” he asked.

“Yeah, I’m sure,” said Ronnie, looking suspicious. “Is there something wrong?”

No good, Jeff thought. This was only going to draw more attention to what they’d just been talking about. “Oh, nothing, really,” he said, fumbling for words. “It’s just… well, I didn’t want… No, forget about it.”

“What?” asked Ronnie.

Okay, the hook is baited, thought Jeff. Now he just needed to talk about something. Anything. Literally anything at all. People remember the first and last parts of conversations—primacy and recency—so if Ronnie left now, he’d be very likely to remember giving trade secrets away. But if they could just have one more beer and a little more idle chatter, then the memory would fade into the background. “No, it’s nothing. I mean, it’s kind of something… no, I don’t want to spoil anything.”

“What,” Ronnie insisted. “Out with it.”

“I was going to tell you…” Jeff started. “About…” Jeff racked his brain for topics. They’d already talked about sports, politics, the weather… He just needed something that Ronnie would believe that would keep him in the bar for a few more minutes. Just say the next thing that pops into your head, he thought.

“I think I’m gay,” said Jeff.

Ronnie’s eyes bulged.

Where the hell did that come from? Jeff wondered.

Ronnie sputtered and laid his jacket across the back of his chair. “Does Lana know?” he asked, sitting back down.

“Um, yeah, I mean no,” said Jeff. In a moment of horror, he realized that Ronnie would almost certainly tell his wife. “No, and I don’t want to tell her.”

“Well, you have to tell her,” said Ronnie.

“No, not until I’m sure,” said Jeff.

“You’re not sure?” asked Ronnie.

“Not completely,” said Jeff. “This might be more of a curiosity thing… I don’t really know how… I’m struggling with my process right now.”

“So why did you want to tell me?” asked Ronnie. He gasped. “Oh, my god,” he said. “Is that why you wanted to have a drink with me tonight?” he asked. “Look, man, I’m flattered and all—”

“No,” said Jeff, putting a hand on Ronnie’s shoulder. And then removing it. “My feelings for you have always been…” He searched for the right word.

“Platonic?” offered Ronnie.

“Yes, that,” said Jeff.

“So… why?” asked Ronnie.

“I don’t know,” said Jeff, who genuinely did not know. “I had to tell somebody. And we’re friends, right?”

“Yeah,” said Ronnie. “Friends.”

Jeff took a deep breath. He had no idea what he was doing, but he was committed to the lie now. Surely those trade secrets would be worth it. Surely. “I just don’t have anybody else to talk to about it,” he said.

Ronnie nodded. “Maybe one more,” he said, flagging the barman.

Edited by Carolyn "You Know You Want That Fourth Jameson" Abram.

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1 comment:

Awkward Girl said...

Primacy/recency was the topic of my master's thesis. I've never talked to anyone else that even knows what that is. :)