idol season ten | week 18 | 1308 words
Location, Location, Location (an intersection with rayaso. Please read his story first!)
Life as a perpetual love-interest had always been a little strange, but now things had crossed over into a new level of bizarre for Malibu Ken.
Ken had punched a troll.
It wasn't one of those bridge-lurking types who liked to terrorize billy goats, but the troll had definitely had it coming. That wasn't an excuse, it was just the truth, though it didn't really change anything.
For days, Ken had felt as if he were being watched—not all the time, but often enough that he'd started looking over his shoulder. Then one night, he had slipped away to a motel for a secret tryst, and just as things were becoming intimate, he'd heard something outside the window. When he'd gone over to check, he'd come face to face with some little snub-nosed freak sporting crazy hair and spying on him through a camera lens.
Anyone who couldn't scramble out the door in time to pop a perv like that on the snout wasn't worthy of being called a man. Ken—and his fist—obviously made the grade.
Not all of Ken's qualities were quite that impressive. For the last couple of months, he'd been having an affair. It hadn't always been that way—he'd been faithful to Barbie for years, even through what seemed like decades of dating before they finally got married. But while he tried to be a hopeful person, he'd known for a while that he and Barbie were on the rocks. Eventually, his patience just ran out.
The trouble really started a few years into the marriage, after G.I. Joe showed up and Barbie started throwing Joe in Ken's face again and again. Every time Joe came home on leave, Barbie left Ken sitting at home waxing his surfboard while she rode around in Joe's jeep and gazed at him adoringly.
Despite all of the demands Barbie made on Ken, she was far less considerate when it came to his feelings. After a few rounds of coping with the Joe and Barbie sideshow, Ken began to really resent the situation.
He also started to have some idea of why Barbie found Joe so attractive.
Joe was so hyper-masculine as to be a stereotype, the idealized version of a manly man from a certain era, which translated to being strong, capable, and ruggedly good-looking. No complaints there. Better still, Joe was a man of action. He liked the outdoors, he liked doing things. Ken and Joe were from different worlds, but both of them preferred things like sports, road trips, and hiking to things like shopping malls and fashion shows.
Both of them had seen enough designer purses and expensive high-heeled shoes to last a lifetime.
One day, Ken ran into G.I. Joe at a baseball game. Ken was working up to punching Joe in the face when he realized that Joe had no idea Ken was anything other than Barbie's pool boy, or even that Barbie was married.
They went out for a beer instead.
Joe broke things off with Barbie that night, but he and Ken got together from time to time. It was all fairly low-key until the night they got drunk at Joe's place and wound up in bed together. Ken was okay with that. Joe was a "Don't ask, don't tell" kind of guy—pretty much as a life philosophy, Joe being a man of few words (so different from Barbie, who would talk forever once you pulled her cord). Two days later they seemed to be dating, which apparently was typical for Joe's communication style.
Ken was still trying to figure out how to break the news to Barbie when the troll incident at the motel happened.
Oddly enough, he decided afterwards, that encounter brought him a moment of clarity. There was the humiliation—the troll, the fact that Ken was running around outside a motel in his underwear, the potentially compromising photographs, and again mostly the troll—and there was the anger. Ken knew that sneaking around with Joe wasn't honorable, but at the same time, he had never put some sleazy troll P.I. on Barbie's tail when she was off with Joe.
And it had all been such an uphill battle for so long.
He'd forgiven the way Barbie often seemed more interested in his cousins, Business-Suit Ken and Doctor Ken. He'd weathered the years waiting to get married while Barbie tossed around fantasies for her Dream Wedding—including the themed ideas, like Cinderella and Rapunzel.
He'd abandoned an entire room of the house to Barbie's shoe collection and various outfits.
They had never had children, which seemed like a blessing now. He'd always thought there would be more time, and he wasn't sure Barbie was really interested enough in him to make it through the long haul. She'd liked the idea of him, most of the time, and she'd really liked his small trust fund and the gigantic Malibu Beach House he'd inherited from his uncle.
But actual Ken—Malibu Ken, the beach-loving surfer—him, not so much.
He'd always thought she could probably do better than him, and he'd been afraid of losing her for so many years that nearly paralyzed him. But now it was clear he was just holding her back, even if she didn't see it that way. And he was tired of feeling like her second choice among so many other possibilities.
A few weeks later, divorce was in the works and Barbie had moved out of the Beach House. Ken had mounted an enormous flat-screen TV in the living room. He'd always wanted one, but Barbie had pushed to spend the money on a canopy bed instead, one with pink curtains to match the rest of the bedroom.
The room that formerly held her shoes and clothing had been given over to G.I. Joe's gun collection. That was a little weird, but Ken was used to weird. He'd compromised before.
There was still that stupid troll and his pictures to deal with, and meetings with Barbie's lawyer. Ken hoped it wouldn't turn out too bad. All he really wanted was the beach house and his surfboards. Barbie could have the rest, especially her shoes and pink furniture and whatever was in all those boxes up in the attic. Soon, she'd be out of the house for good, and Ken could start decorating it the way he wanted.
His surfboard collection was going to look awesome lined up against the living room wall.
As for him and Joe, he didn't know how long that would last, but it seemed to be working pretty well for the moment. Joe had gotten him hooked on paintball wars, and Ken was going to teach Joe to surf over the summer.
If he could just get Joe to stop wearing his camo pants to the beach, Ken felt like the two of them might have half a chance.
Jenny looked at all of the old toys scattered around her and sighed. “Not even Barbie could make a happy ending out of this." Getting divorced was bad enough, but losing her husband to a man? She'd never seen it coming, and now she was losing the house as well.
She picked up the toys and put them slowly back into their boxes. This wasn't the life she had planned for them either.
As she wrapped him up in tissue paper, the troll's eyes seemed to wink at her—a little glint of the old mischief shining through.
"I'm not dead yet," she realized. All of those things she still wanted might not happen the way she'd planned, but that didn't mean they wouldn't happen at all.
As long as she stayed flexible and hung on to hope, there was still time for some of those dreams to come true.
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