A plain day, in-between things, no events to mark it, nothing assigned to it. When you walk outside and cannot tell if it is hot or cold or if you should leave town or stay. I sat for a while, like sitting in a void or one of those sensory chambers the dopers used to go into during the sixties.
“There’s only one way out,” he waited for a reply, hoping he was wrong. No one replied.
“On three?” still thinking an alternative might present itself before the deadline.
“On three or where four should be?” at last a friend who understood the need for procrastination.
“On three, right as we say three. He had thought that would be easy enough to understand,” he sounded impatient but he was anything but.
“Don’t get in a huff,” added the procrastinating friend. “Just didn’t want to be standing here all alone waiting for where four should be and everyone left on three, that’s all.”
‘“There, you just said it, “on three,”’ this guy was really starting to bug. “How hard could it be?”
“Just making sure, don’t get dandruff all over your shirt.”
“Just an expression.”
‘“No it’s not, you just made it up and it doesn’t make a lick of sense,” he was thinking, “this guy needs to shut up and soon.”’
“Hey, look over there!”
“Another way!” all the tension just drained away. “Okay guys, follow me.”
Their motorcycles were leaning at the front door; close enough to need notice but far enough away not to be a real nuisance. The two of them, in uniform with utility belts and holstered guns gave the intended impression of being comfortably sprawled in two wooden chairs but it was a lie, they were nervous. They watched, using peripheral vision, as I avoided the fly blower at the door and walked away from them and toward the ordering counter.
“Tall Americano.” I stated flatly. My speech was unnecessary the girl behind the counter had already written David on my paper cup. I gave her three dollars and put the change in the tip cup. I took my preferred seat in the corner and scanned the room, looking through the uniforms as if their chairs were empty. I settled my stare a foot to the right of the tallest officer and focused on a parking lot light standard two hundred feet through the spring drizzle, a drizzle that had the parking lot shining black and reflecting every light. The tall officer looked at me, thinking he was returning my stare, but when he realized I wasn’t looking at him he turned away too quickly, embarrassed. I allowed a hint of a smile, like the light standard had done something to please me. I listened to their conversation as they tried to make small talk, pretending they were not bothered by my presence. One kept referring to working out and having been in the Marines the other didn’t take the hint and told a story about his mother and what a truly caring woman she was. I grew tired of their conversion and concentrated more on what I was writing and on sipping my Americano. I’ll check my FaceBook page even though none of my “friends” are awake yet. I’ll finish what’s in my cup and leave the men in blue to their break.
“It seems like we’ve been here a long time.”
“How long you think?”
“Maybe more. What time is it?”
“Twelve thirty-five, twelve thirty-six now.”
“I’m sure we sat down before noon.”
“Well, it is their lunch rush. Here he comes! No, he’s just taking them their bread.”
“They came in before us!”
“That was those people over there, they just look the same. See she has that weird purple bag you liked so much.”
“Well it’s been at least thirty minutes, we should go.”
“What do we have at home?”
“Left over pizza.”
I love left over pizza, warm it up until it’s like a cracker and the cheese is all toasted. Is there enough for both of us?”
“Almost half a pizza I think but there’s some potato salad that’s starting to sound good. Let’s go.”
“Sorry that took so long. How can I get you people started?”
“How’s the fish?”
Orange, yellow, and red swirls wagged their tails a thousand miles into space before they were sucked back into the ball of fire. The ball of fire, so out of place in the vast emptiness. He stared. Darkness closed in from all sides until the sun was just a pinpoint of light and then there was nothing, no light, no dark, no thought.
It had been different. He knew what had happened but at the time all he sensed was change. All he had know was one temperature, one color, no smells, just being held secure and then there was change. Air, never before tasted in lungs never before filled. Air next to skin, skin always moist now started to dry. New feelings, feelings never looked for but exciting and needing exploration. He felt another’s skin and pushed his face into it seeking something until he knew, “this is it” and his mouth sucked and he tasted, for the first time. Different, new, explore, test, remember – a thought: “she loves me.” Discomfort, hunger until she comes and replaces them with softness, dryness, flavors and the beating of her heart.
He was tall, not like the skinny girl in high heels that looks tall until you get up close and then you forget about how tall she looked because her blue eyeliner has multicolored specks of glitter in it, he was really tall! If you were to stand him up against some famous basketball player, which is something you would never ask him to do, he would still be the tall one. He was unnaturally tall. Beyond human tall. It took measurable time for a message to get from his brain to his toes! “Big toe wiggle,” one one-thousand, two one-thousand and the big toe wiggles, that was just how tall this fellow was. If he took three steps and I wanted to traverse the same distance I took six steps, only he was walking and I was running. On a whim once I asked, “how’s the weather up there?” He slapped at me, he had already been asked that question one too many times. His hand passed about a foot above my head, but the breeze it created mussed my hair up a little, I never asked him for a weather report again.