incandescent

Exempt by Mordecai - 2005-10-02 09:00:18
I have had this one sitting around half-finished for a while. I wrote it bit by bit, always drunk, and tonight I latched on to it and wrestled for a while. It's not quite right, and I think I pushed it too far. Kudos to anyone who can guess where I thought it perfect and should have left it. Anywas, I'm drunk, and here it is. It is titled 'exempt' in my files, though I can not remember why.

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I’d been home for a few hours, the bottle of whiskey sat at my right, a glass with melted ice and a pale trace of yellow next to it. The burning cinder of my cigarette reached my fingers and broke my reverie, startling me into movement and cursing. I crushed the cigarette out and then paused in mid-motion, my ears attuned to the sound of crunching gravel. Someone was coming down the road towards the trailer I sat in front of, perched on a small porch of faded and weathered pressure treated boards. I turned my head a slight amount to the right till my peripheral vision met the corner of the trailer so I could see whomever it might be the moment they came into view. I watched, holding my breath, but it was not her. I sighed and hauled myself to my feet grabbing the glass and heading inside.

Inside I dashed the melted remnants into the sink and drew a couple cubes of ice out of the freezer and dropped them into the glass. The water crystals rang as they clattered and spun around the glass. I picked up the glass and twirled it a few times and listened to the sound some more. It’s an unmistakable sound, a sound that signifies loneliness in my mind. I pushed through the screen door and onto the porch, setting the glass on the table made of a cut-off two by twelve and a cinder block. I pulled the cork out of the bottle of whiskey with a twist of my wrist, the cork and whiskey making a squeaking sound. Again the sound of loneliness struck a deep chord somewhere down around my groin and my eyes heated with unshed tears.

Seated once again I grasped the glass and raised it to my lips. The whiskey bit into my tongue and cheeks as I rolled it around my mouth and then swallowed. I raised the glass again and with my tongue plucked out a cube of ice and sucked on it absently as I fished in my pocket for a cheap cigar. In turn I lit the cigar and rolled the smoke around in my mouth and exhaled through my nose, savoring the burn of cheap tobacco on my olfactory nerves. A sneeze tickled the edge of my nose but I suppressed it and shook my head.

Under my chair sat a novel, face down, pages split and waiting for me to pick it up again and bring the characters within to life. I ignored it, hating them for the moment and for all that they were. I wondered if life were like that novel or if I was just one of many, isolated in my mental prison where I knew no one. To be honest I knew that the novel was closer to the real life of most people than mine. I had no one, and even in the most despairing of novels there was always someone, Frankenstein had more love and companionship than I have. That monster at least had a creator it had known, as for myself, I had never known my parents, an orphan, raised in foster homes, a loner on the playground and even now, the odd man out at work, while my co-workers talked of family and friends, I smiled and nodded to their stories and then lied furiously about the friends I had spent my weekend with.

I have never had a friend in my life, until now that is, or so I had thought. I have been haunting a small bar down the street in the evenings, drinking and drinking in the people around me, sucking in their conversations and living vicariously. I needed stories to tell on Monday so that no one would ever know the sucking black hole that I live in. I was sitting there, eyes unfocused, glass half-way to my lips when she sat down next me. I watched her from the corner of my eye as she settled herself in, setting a pack of cigarettes, a lighter and a small wallet on the bar. She wasn’t pretty, not by any standard, her dirty brown hair tightly coiled against her head, wandering eye so very obvious but the way she took control of her surroundings was definite, confident. She marked out her space at the bar as surely as a mutt pissing on a telephone pole. I absorbed her profile and turned back to the bar, casting the nets of my ears wide for stories. A lone bit conversation made its way across the bar to my auditory canal, no context was involved and I snorted at the utter ridiculous of that statement, stranded as it was in the midst of chaos, a fellow orphan.

“What is so amusing?”

I was struck dumb for a half second as I processed the fact that she was speaking to me. I floundered for a moment as a million complex explanations of how the interplay of humanity was a curious and hysterical thing before I settled for shrugging and saying, “People, and the things they say are often a source of comedy that is un-equaled in the world.”

“Aren’t they though? I love watching people, I often go the airport and sit on one of the benches and pretend to read, simply so that I listen to the things people say when they think no one is listening.”

I turned and stared at her, an open expression of shock. Not only was she talking to me, she was speaking my language, a language of a tiny isolated tribe somewhere in the deep jungles of no-where land, lost place of those who wander without human companionship, an urban jungle of hell and rejection. “You really do that?” In my own ears I sounded stupid, a slack-jawed fool, like the apes across the bar, staring down the shirt of some plastic breasted barfly. I flushed with shame as hours of internal conversations, imagined scenarios came crashing to naught and I stumbled over my own tongue and my own foolish nature.

My brain recovered in a few seconds and I responded, “Have you ever tried the bus terminal late at night? The conversations are without parallel.”

“I have a few times, but after the fourth or fifth time of being groped by a man smelling of whiskey I gave it up. Airports seem to require a higher standard of behavior and the high security affords me a greater range of freedom.”

I stared down at the glass of cheap whiskey in front of me and felt the flush of red spread across my face. Here the was the only person to speak to me in months and I was batting about zero, whiskey breath, inane responses and a slack-jawed expression I could see in the mirror behind the bar. Feeling like a complete ass was nothing new to me but there was something about this woman that made me more self-conscious than ever and I squirmed, an ant followed by the vicious beam of a magnifying glass wielded by a mischievous ten year old.

She laughed and put her hand on my knee and I nearly jumped out of my seat in surprise. She laughed again.

“Consider it a payback.”

I snorted.

“So are you here just watching, or are you waiting for someone?”


Two days later we were still talking, this time in bed, sticky with sweat. I was mumbling half coherent responses while watching her from half closed eyes. The inborn urge that males have to sleep after sex is a nuisance, ruining many a good post coital discussion. I cursed my own genetics as I struggled to stay conscious.

“You have a lot of secrets hiding in that head of yours.” She spoke as though it were a given fact, something not to be contested but the demand for a response was implicit in the slight tensioning of her tendons and muscles, communicated immediately to me through my skin.

“Secrets? No, not really, not in the ‘not to be told to others’ sense of the word, but rather I simply don’t talk to many people and I share even less of myself with them. It’s not because it necessarily needs hiding, I just don’t ever care to share all that is on my mind.”

“Women must find you very frustrating”

“Women rarely find me at all, which would be a prerequisite to them finding me frustrating.”

“I think they find you un-approachable when they find you.”

“You didn’t have any problems ‘approaching’ me, ‘“ I said, grinning at the memory of the way she’d dragged me into her car and groped me frantically before ordering me into the drivers seat.
“A moment of reckless and drunken abandon, far out of character I assure you.” Her expression was utter innocence and I nipped at her rib cage, that being the part of her closest to my mouth. “Ouch!”


For six weeks we had gone on like this, in between wandering off to our prospective occupations we had drifted back and forth between her apartment and my tiny trailer and many, many public places, restaurants, bars, airports, parks. We sat close, books in hand, or pretending to be deep in personal conversation while we snickered and gasped at the people around us. We speculated wildly on the natures of people, created fantastic scenarios to explain the odd things we heard. We gave running commentary heated discussions. In the bars we’d wager on the success of pick up attempts and pool games. I shook the glass again, listening to the music of quiescent water and silica. It had been three days since she suddenly disappeared from my life. Three days since coming home to an empty home and getting a disconnect notice when I called her number. I’d been by her place, and even peered in the windows but there was nothing to see but furniture and darkness. Every day after work I’d called again and listened to the recorded voice. I’ve heard it said that insanity is repeating the same actions over and over again, expecting different results, so I suppose by that criteria I am now insane but I keep hoping. Hoping and drinking.

I’ve always drank, and when she was here, we drank, but it was different then. There was a raucous laughter, silly grins and a heady sense of hilarity. I drank strangely concoctions of fantastic colors that she knew in endless variety. Stumping the bartender was her favorite game. Now it has returned to how it was before, the drink is nothing but the harsh, scouring of cheap whiskey, a liquid firebrand I inflict upon myself. I’m not sure if I’m trying to kill myself or prove that I am alive, but I don’t seem to be accomplishing either.

I took the glass into the bathroom and sat on the edge of the tub. For a long while I sat there, staring at the cheap plastic tub enclosure, not seeing it. A burning arose in the back of my throat and I coughed spastically, spilling my drink into the tub. I turned on the water, washing the whiskey down the drain before inserting the stopper in the drain. I rose to my feet and swayed for a moment as the room swam. I walked back into the kitchen and poured another drink, downed it quickly and filled it again before returning.

The tub was about half full and steaming so I turned on the cold water, swirling my free hand in the water and raising the glass to my lips with the other while I waited for the water to reach a temperature that wouldn’t scald me the moment I stepped into it. After returning to the kitchen for a third refill I shed my clothes before stepping into the tub and slowly seating myself, hissing as the water slowly engulfed me. I stretched out and closed my eyes. I thought of her laugh.

I was in the bar, in the same seat once again, and I wondered whether this was insanity now, doing the same thing and expecting the same results this time, even though I knew it wouldn’t happen. Which is it, sanity or insanity, patterns with or without expectations, same or different? Would she come through the door with that little knit purse she carried everywhere? She didn’t and I drank furiously, ordering shot after shot of whiskey and chasing it with pints of beer. I chain smoked and glared at people, daring them to speak to me, in a murderous rage and ready to kill even though it would likely be myself that was killed in any fight. I ordered another double shot and another beer and poured one after the other down my throat, most of it spilling down the sides of my face into my shirt collar.

I awoke with a start, cold and stiff , just inside the door of my apartment, my head and shoulders inside the coat closet, the door digging into my ribcage and I assumed that was what had awakened me I shifted over and groaned, my head aching. I vaguely wondered what time it was and what day it was. I hoped I didn’t have to work today. I searched through my brain and arrived at the conclusion that it was Saturday and I was safe to lay here and dry heave for a while. I thought about crawling to the bathroom to take a piss but I didn’t feel much of an urge to piss despite memories of drinking heavily. I lay there for a while longer before realizing that most of the coldness I felt centered on my crotch and I slowly became cognizant of the fact that I had pissed myself. I groaned again and crawled to the bathroom. Slowly and painfully I removed my wet and stinking clothing before dragging myself over to the edge of the tub and turning on the water. I dangled my hand in the water and fiddled with the knobs till the stream coming from the faucet was comfortable on the underside of my wrist and I yanked the lever to turn on the shower. Water cascaded down into the pan of the tub with the sound of a hard rain on a car roof. I flopped over the edge of the tub and half-heartedly tugged the shower curtain into place before going limp and luxuriating in the feel of heated water splattering into my skin.


The grocery store was far too bright, so bright that I kept my sunglasses on as I cruised the aisles looking for a feast. I had decided that enough was enough, I would eat, and well and then I would go out into the world to see what I could see. I had returned, withdrawn inside my shell again, the tower, the egg, impenetrable and obscured. I felt like an old wire, stretched and worn. It didn’t matter, what mattered was food. I filled my basket till it was a weight on my arm and then walked to the cashier. The total was nearly sixty dollars, a sum I could have drank on for more than a week but I dismissed it.

At home I worked myself into a frenzy, cleaning utensils and pans, scrubbing counters and even tackling the encrustations on the range top. I spread my spoils from the store out before me and smiled. I sharpened my knives and set to work. I sliced and sautéed and in the end I produced an omelet of divine proportions, toasted tortillas and hummus. It took little time to produce, and even less to consume, it took far longer before I was capable of moving again, I sat for long minutes in my chair, head back, lolling on a limp neck. I groaned and rubbed my belly, patting it a few times in the Hawaiian style.

After the heaviness had passed and my head had cleared I moved down my tiny porch and grabbed my bicycle. I sat astride it and shook my head to clear it further. Setting a foot to the pedal I started off down the drive.

The first few blocks were a living hell, and they always are, but after a while the pain of labor fades, and a rhythm sets in, the legs work and your mind clears. I lifted my head and looked into the breeze of my own passage. I looked around for the first time in weeks and saw the world. It still looked flat and unreal but it was there, I’d been ignoring in the hopes that it might go away, but it hadn’t. It never did, an irritating insistence on being there, reality intruding in the way that it always does. I rode for several miles, working my way up through the gears, dodging through traffic with a reckless abandon that bordered on gleeful. I turned off the main road at a small park with a pond in the middle of it. I rode over to the water and lay the bike over on its side. I sat on the slightly damp grass and stared across the pond. The water was brown and yet brilliant with reflected sun. A mixture of ducks and geese paddled about, searching for the best tidbits, insects, and bits of water plants, whatever it was that appealed to them. I’d been watching them for almost ten minutes when I noticed that the pond had a special visitor, down at the far end of the pond, stalking quietly through the cluster of cat-tails that grew there was a great blue heron. I watched it raptly, its odd backwards knee configuration making it somehow other-worldly. It stepped carefully, eyes bright, scanning the water and then suddenly that dagger like beak plunged into the water in flash. The head came back up in a flash and it quickly gulped down the prize it had found. I wondered if it was a frog or a fish that had met its end in that beak. I watched that magnificent thing stalk about for an unknown amount of time, afraid to blink, not wanting to miss a single second of the strange movements and long lines that it presented to me. Finally it took its leave, leaping into the air and spreading massive wings. I watched it until it was out of sight over the western horizon. I found myself staring into a setting sun and I sighed.


I was in the same bar, the same stool once again, but this time the whiskey sat in front of me, untouched. I sat like a mannequin, beer halfway to my lips and lost in thought. I was still in this pose, staring over the heads of the other patrons at some distant point that existed in another world when I felt the touch on my shoulder. I started, shocked back to reality and turned to see who had interrupted. I stared into a pair of eyes I knew, one of them stared back, the other looking at the same spot of infinity I had so recently been lost in.

“Hi,” she said softly, almost inaudible over the waves of sound that always accompany gatherings of inebriated people.

“I was wondering where you had gone,” I said and smiled.




“My father died.”

The sentence crashed out into the darkness and laid there, a fish out of water without even the decency to gasp for life.

We had hugged, like long lost friends and then we had drank, and even danced, dancing being an activity I never engaged in, well aware that my skinny frame and long limbs made me more ridiculous than the crane I had seen earlier in the days. She laughed and smiled at me and I soared on my own grey feathered wings. After closing we had come back to my place, my bicycle sticking out of the trunk of her small car, me behind the wheel squinting out of one eye and trying to stick to the road. In the darkness we had made love without sex, simply pulling each other close, smelling, sliding hands over skin, wordless pronouncements of happiness, fingers tangled in hair. I pressed my lips against her neck and ventured to speak.

“I’m sorry.”

Her response was immediate, too fast, “I’m not,” she said, fire burning in that tiny statement. “My father was a small man, hateful and mean. He was always angry that I was not able to replace his dead son and worse yet that I wasn’t even pretty.”

“I’ve never seen anything more beautiful than you smiling at me tonight.”

“You’re good at that, saying the sort of thing that melts a woman’s heart.”

“My third foster mother was an avid reader of very cheap and very explicit romance novels. I read whatever was available to read. My mind is irrevocably warped when it comes to dealing with women.”

“So what do I do next? Swoon?”

“No, at this point you misinterpret my words and storm out of the house. I spend several weeks in agony thinking of nothing but you, while you do the same. A series of very uncomfortable meetings will take place wherein we will snipe verbally at each other all the while the most depraved sort of lustful thoughts run through our heads.”

She laughed, the first time this evening and the sound fell onto my ears, a sound more beautiful than the wind in the trees.

“You ridiculous ass, you keep that up and I might just fall in love with you.”

“A fitting revenge it would be.”

She tensed, just for a moment but I felt it all along our bodies.
“Did you just declare your love for me?” she asked. Her voice was light, but deliberately so, and I could feel the tension waiting to return to her body, hovering just out of reach.

“I don’t know what love is,” I declared flatly. “Your father may have been less than what you could have wished, but you at least knew him. I have never known anyone but strangers who put up with me for the tax benefits and the slave labor that could be extracted from me. There has not been a single person to ever love me, and I’ve never loved anyone in return. I wouldn’t know where to begin.” My throat felt a bit raw and I coughed.

Her arms were around me, her fingers dug into my back as she pulled me tight against her body, “I lied, I lied to you, I already love you. You are my shame because I swore I would never love a man. I didn’t intend to come back here after my father’s funereal, but the whole time I could think of nothing but your voice. Nothing else, not your eyes, your arms, not even those awesome legs you have, but your voice. Everything I saw, I heard you whispering in my ear, that delightful cynicism and sarcasm you use to keep yourself distant, but even more I heard the real feelings you try so much to hide, the pain you feel at the human condition even though you’ve suffered it more than most.”

The lovemaking began in earnest now, something I could never describe, heaven has nothing, and I pray I never die, not so long as she is here with me. In my moment of climax I cried out in words I had never spoken to another human being.

“I love you!”

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-m
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Desert Chapter One by Mordecai - 2005-05-15 17:51:18
I started this a while ago, just a few sentences, last night I was riffling through my story fragments looking for something to build on, hit upon it and it worked. I think I can go somewhere with this.

Chapter One

Abundance

Late afternoon, and the sun is angling in to where I sit in my chair. My throne, a rickety wicker piece. Next to me rests a five gallon paint bucket, water, ice, full and empty beers inside. The empties rest there because I'm too lazy to throw them in the trash can five feet away.
That is a blatant lie, shown by the three bottles lying around the can. The truth is I am long past the point of being able to aim.
Four o'clock on a Tuesday and I am drunk, the vicious, hot sweaty sort of drunk that only happens here in the desert. Heat reflects from the near molten street in front of me, the illusion of water in a land with none.
I hate the summer time here, daylight is a curse, only scorpions and cactus belong in this blast furnace. Sleeping is the only way to survive, and the only way to sleep is in drunken stupor. I heave myself to my feet, swaying, sweat dripping off my nose and stumble into the house. I collapse on the couch and close my eyes. Darkness and vertigo swirl up around my brain.

A few hours later the sun has set and I have risen. Sitting in the shower, water drizzling from the under-pressured pipes onto my head. Unexplained tears leak from the corners of my eyes.
Out of the shower I scrub myself with a threadbare towel and tug a pair of jeans over my still damp legs.
In the mirror my face is ragged looking, three days growth of beard, dark circles and the ever growing network of creases. Broken blood vessels add extra prominence to an already pronounced nose. I smile.

The street still radiates enough heat that my left shoulder is warmer so I cross the street every block to keep things even. I walk fast, or so people tell me, I simply walk and others are left behind. It's a handy thing and the half mile to the bar goes quickly.
As I reach for the door I notice that my hands are trembling, anticipation, lack of proper food, delirium tremens, it doesn't really matter.

The bar is mostly quiet, a Tuesday isn't the night for nine to fivers, and aside from the half dozen kids in the corner, they are drunks, disciples of the bottle, like and unlike myself.
"Chuck, you look like shit." The bartender sets a glass of pale watery beer in front of me.
"Chuck, chuck, banana nana fo FUCK! and that is why I hate that name."
"Ornery tonight Chuck? A buck and a quarter."
I dig into my pocket and extract a couple crumpled bills, fumbling with them to straighten them out and read the denominations. I lay a five on the bar. A sip of the beer and I spin slowly on my stool, surveying the room.
"Slim pickings tonight, the college kids don't have enough money and the rest of them are wise to you." Ham, the bartender is referring to what I call 'The Talent,' but most folks call 'scamming free drinks'.
"No need tonight my friend," and I smile again, "Here, let me know when this runs out." I've unfolded another of the bills, this time a hundred.
"You roll an old lady Chuck?"
"Three of them in fact. Get a round of shots for the house."
"You could drink for a week on that round."
"It's like a bank my friend. I take money out when I need it and put it back in when I have it. Pour the round."
Ham shrugged and shuffled off to pour.
"Don't forget the kids in the corner, they are the future, the ones that will save us all!" I called across the bar. Giggling into my beer I realized that my nap hadn't sobered me as much as I had thought.
When the shots were delivered to the crowd of young faces in the corner and Ham explained where they had come from their heads swiveled in unison to stare at me. A third time I smiled and even gave them a little two finger wave. A practiced move, calculated to be cool, reserved, the action of man of the world, full of confidence. Internally I chuckled to myself. These kids might not have money for drinks but tonight I did and there were other forms of coin for the talent.
It only took one more round before I had the whole group clustered around me, a royal bastard surrounded by his sycophants. Where the free drinks flow, so does friendship, or a fair facsimile thereof, if only for an evening.

A couple hours of traded stories of debauchery, the common coin in cheap bars and I took all six of them back to my place. We stopped at the corner store for a couple cases, cheap cigars and a bottle of some overly sweetened crap popular with the nubile ladies. I had my eye on one particular blonde, tall, a bit haughty and obviously the alpha female. I wanted to break her, but her ego presented a challenge, hence the hooch. On the other hand, there was the chubby girl. An obvious hanger-on, probably someone's roommate, tolerated out of necessity. She desperately tried to join in, her interruptions brash and often greeted with blank stares and silence. She was easy pickings but I worried what she might be carrying. Anyone with that 'once kicked and coming back for more' puppy dog look had been used and many times.

With one case beer gone, drunk, spilled, sprayed about the room, it was obvious to me that the alpha girl was more intent upon insinuating herself between an obviously established couple for whatever Machiavellian reasons. I felt a bit sorry for the girl being culled, a plain jane sort but with an honest gaze and a pleasant smile. I wondered how she had earned the displeasure of the reigning queen as I caught her eye. I winked and nodded at her but she only turned away, gulping hurriedly from her beer, eyes bright with unshed tears. She knew well what was happening and that she'd already lost the battle. Sympathetic feelings rose inside me but I shook my head and brushed them aside, involving myself in the woes of others was no place to go, experience spoke that and loudly.

Morning and the attendant trauma of being alive and hung over came with the suddenness of the flash floods in the surrounding desert. My stomach roiled and my head spun in different directions. I groaned and slid from the bed to the floor, resting on my knees for a moment before crawling to the bathroom. There i was confronted with a scene of devastation, cans scattered about, vomit streaking the seat and sides of the toilet. I grasped the edge of the sink and hauled myself to my feet. A wave of dizziness swept me and I clutched blindly for the towel bar. Using a toe to lift the befouled toilet seat I kept my eyes open only long enough to insure aim and guided the stream of piss by sound after that. The sink and walls provided support as I stumbled back to the door. There I leaned on the jamb and stared down at the still sleeping form of plain jane, and I couldn't even remember her name.

-m
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Cold by Mordecai - 2005-04-12 02:56:26
It is cold this evening, a vicious and bitter cold that has nothing to do with the weather. It emanates from deep inside the people passing on the street, sinking deep into my bones. Even here inside, I feel the chill, keeping my coat tight around me, as though a bit of hide and fibers can hold back the bite of human indifference.
I hate them, they are repulsive, these sacks of dung, I might feel pity for them if I were not one of them. Arrogance is my primary trait, virtue and flaw, all at once, and I combine it with a twisted sense of humility. A paradox, contradiction in terms, oxymoron, mostly moron.
I am cognizant of the fact that my significance in the universe is nil, an absolute zero. Sometime in the distant future there might exist a device that could calculate the overall impact a single person has on the greater whole, but I can not imagine a more worthless endeavor.
And yet despite this knowledge, my narcissism continues unabated, I am thoroughly convinced my plight is a hill of beans worthy of counting. Though I have no special insight, I feel quite confident that I am not alone in this. With this in mind, I marvel at the massive indifference we present to each other. Are we all so sure that our little pile of legumes is that much taller, some sort of edible tower of babel, stretched out into the fabric of reality, therefore taking precedence?
It is suggested that perhaps our very reality is shaped by our perceptions, which would in fact catapult our hill of crap into a position of utmost importance, but the trouble with this stems from the fact that then we need only change our eyes, perhaps gouging them out, to change plight into flight. If so, why do so many choose to wallow in in shit, suffering and bleeding, when it is a simple matter of thinking differently?
Either way, I fail to understand the world I live in, the scurrying of ants and the shitting of apes. We are all mad, criminally deranged. Fierce demons, sin incarnate, a blight in the sight of god.
So let us dismiss god, what does that leave us? Excrement, feces flung about, primates are the new deities, and pardon me while I pick the lice from your hair and eat it. Oh but we are evolved, a higher being, and in the case of the pot smoker, hail the new saint, but really the sociopaths, and even a step above, the psychopath are the true gods, evolved past the ridiculous neo-primatical rules that bind us. Abberation is a survival trait. Manson was a doomed prophet, washing us in the blood of the stupid, the Unabomber was a saint, and I am full of shit.
Catch!

-m
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Conversation by Mordecai - 2005-03-06 07:02:37
I hadn't seen her in a few years, though she looked much the same, a few grey hairs, a bit tired around the eyes. After the exchange of obligatory compliments, we settled into our chairs, prepared to make small talk.
"So, what are you doing these days?" she asked, the ritualistic first question among those seperated by time and apathy.
"The cliche answer is, 'working and living life,' the more detailed answer is, 'I am building houses,' and the truthful answer is that I am slowly but inexorably going insane."
She gave a startled little laugh, this isn't the polite ritual, I've gone and deviated from the script wthout so much as a by-your-leave. "I suppose this is where I ask just why you are going insane."
"It would be an opportune moment, if you were curious." A dead pause, hanging silence as she waits for me to elaborate. Again she laughs, more sharply this time as sh begins to realize the nature of this conversation.
"Fine, I'll bite. Why are you going insane?"
"Deliberate lead poisoning."
Again, the dead moment, this time ended by an incredulous out burst, "What?"
I smiled, a smirking grin that I really ought to patent.
"You really are an ass."
"Unlike the bit about lead poisoning, that is true, however, so is the fact that I am slowly losing, my mind. I enjoy my job, I lack in none of the neccesities of life and yet I despise my life and find it utterly stultifying."
"Am I supposed to have a response to that?"
"The only proper response to such bullshit, is to offer me a drink," I said, appending this with yet another smirking grin.
"I stand by my earlier assessment."
"And I continue to agree wholeheartedly, but let us not lose sight of the important matters, or rather the only important matter, namely, drinking."
"Somethings about you will never change, will they?"
"If you are referencing my appetite for spirits, then I sincerely pray they do not," I signaled for the bartender and ordered two Guiness and a matching pair of shots of Macallans.
She lifted an eyebrow, "Trying to get me drunk?"
"No my dear, I aim only to get myself drunk, but I do find that it is often more enjoyable to do so with a like minded soul, which is to say, another drunken sot. Have you changed your ways since I saw you last?"
By way of answer she grabbed one of the shot glasses in front of us and raised it in the air, "To?" She asked.
I claimed the remaining glass, hoisted it and twirled it between thumb and forefinger as I searched for an appropriate toast.
"To throwing rocks, pissing on te sidewalks an cursining in public!" A satisfying toast, well balanced, or so I felt.
"Ah, so, we drink to immature rebellion," she responded, and put the glass to her lips, tilting it back and draining it. I laughed, a sharp bark, reminiscen of one so recently issuing from her lips and followed suit.
Simultaneously we reached for our pints, and with them barely raised from the the bar, she cocked her head and looked at me.
"Touche!" I responded, touching my glass against hers and then drinking deeply.
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