Now that I had stopped talking, the priest was silent. he moved his eyes slowly back and forth from me to the window. I liked the old guy and what he said seemed to make sense. I was sitting with my back to the wall so I definitely noticed the striding woman when she walked in and went to the table we were sitting at. The priest was looking at her too. He cut his eyes to me,curious about my next move. I had a feeling he didn't miss much when it came to watching people.
"Now that's surprising.She walks out on me and then comes back," I said. I reached my hand across the table and gave his a soft shake." thank you for talking with me...if I was smart I would just stay here sitting with you...but..." I cocked my head in the direction of the woman. "The adventure continues." I knocked softly on the table,stood up and walked over to the woman I was in love with.
"You came back," I said.
"I'm tired and I wanted another drink before I go home and take a nap.With a hot shower and a fire too".The waitress was just putting down her Vodka Collins.
"You have kindling? I make a beautiful fire.It's a work of art, pretty as a picture until you light it and burn it all up.I could build you a fire."
"I've got everything she said, even pine cones...they burn good."
"I'm going to nap on my couch with a pillow and a blanket wearing the long gown I got last year."
You could start a fire while I showered but what would you do during my nap?"
"Read a book or maybe just watch you sleep, you know the song Someone To Watch Over Me?"
She smirked,"I think so."
I felt ashamed at saying that ." I'm kidding, probably go home and take a nap myself." There was a sound of little granules on the windows.The snow was turning hard-tiny specks of ice."I was talking with a man over there. He's very wise."
"What were you talking about?
"Life, love and the Human spirit. It has energy and it moves. He reads auras too."
"Really. so he could see my aura?"
"I wonder what it would look like."
"What...," she said giving me that attentive look of hers.
"You looked like you were going to say something," she said.
I gave her my wry,crooked smile and decided to push it.She had told me that some of her past relationships had involved power games She knew the game and probably played it very well, certainly had forced me to jump through some hoops. So let's play,I thought to myself. "Pick ups use that line,they say you looked like you wanted to kiss me.I raised my eyebrows at her, stared for a bit to see if there was any reaction. Nothing. She was being cool about it."It's a good line...makes me wonder how many times you have used it."
Her gaze was cool on me. No indication that I had just scored a point or moved our conversation to a different place, the arena of power and gamesmanship. She sipped her drink and moved the straw around the glass,taking a dab of salt from the rim and licking it off a fingertip.
"So what were you going to say?"she asked.
"I wasn't , just that I'm sure auras show our past and how that lives on in the present...in our minds I mean."
"And what would be in my aura?"
"I have no idea,I said,"I don't see them."
"Did he look at yours ?
"Yeah he did."
"What did he say?"
"Nothing...it's probably fairly common for him...looking at auras.He doesn't go around telling what
She lowered her eyes, hands folded in her lap, she looked tired and calm like she was sitting in a church pew listening quietly to a sermon.She reached across the table and stroked the hair on my chin with the back of a finger. "It's like a fur...what you would find on a bears face but it's soft isn't it?"
"You touched me," I said, "you're not really big on touching are you?What do they call it? PDA...public displays of affection."
She didn't answer.
"Are you going out tonight?"I asked her.
"Probably not, nowhere to go." She had the glass to her face slowly sipping.
"It's unusual to be in a bar on a Saturday afternoon.I don't think we've ever done that before."
"We could go somewhere tonight," she said,putting those eyes of hers on me.
"We could, yes...why don't you call me later and we'll see."
"It's getting colder now...I might not want to go out."
"I know...when you don't like the cold, it's an effort to leave the house. I'm the same way in Winter."
I saw Terry walk in and sit down at the big bar.I had run with him in the old days but had lost track for years except for a week ago when we had met at a dance place and caught up a bit..We had started to circulate in different orbits.I told him a little about what I was going through and all the while he listened with a kind of stunned look on his face. I stood up from my stool."An old friend of mine just walked in. I'm just going over to say hello to him. Be right back,okay?"
She flipped her hair and went back to looking out the window. No words,no smile.Typical freeze out.I thought to myself as I walked over to Terry.What a look she gave me, maybe I should have genuflected and made the sign of the cross and asked permission to leave. Screw you, your highness,I thought. I leave when I want to...just like you.
Terry looked over at me as I approached him. He smirked at me.
"Hey man," he said,"saw you with your girl when I came in...how's it going?"
I sat down on the stool next to him.
"I assume that's your girl."
"She's not my girl,"I said.
"But she's the one you told me about...I can tell by the look on your face...You look like you're about to puke."
"Come on Terry, I'm not that bad."
He scratched his chin and took a sip of beer. "I'm sorry. I just remember the way you used to be...You were more fun then, back in the day."
"Yeah, I know, a real party animal.".
"Maybe you should bail, look, I was thinking about this, when you were sarging, let's say you did
one and a half opens a week,okay? When you were out on the weekends,right?"
"I suppose thats accurate."
"I put in the half cause I know you did coffee shops too."
"So lets say six hundred opens in ten years and you got blown out what?...Hell lets say seventy percent of the time. Lets say you were a total nerd. That's about four hundred and twenty times. Do you remember the two hundredth woman who rejected you?"
"Of course not."
"Then why are you remembering this one?" He took a sip from his mug,
put it down and scoped the room out. He had always been a person who continually monitored his surroundings.Then he started to stare at me. Right in the eyes .Hard. " You feel me?"
"I got it," I smiled.
"Now I know you got the love thing going so let's nail that down. What exactly is this woman going to give you that's so special? Let's just stay selfish about this,okay? Great sex?"
"Over time...probably just like having sex with anyone else."
" A incredibly loyal and supporting lifemate, always doing the little things which make your life easier?"
"Can't really say until you're there but I don't think so...sometimes, she's said things that were a bit cruel."
"Maybe not that exactly but just kind of catty, you know...lack of respect...some rude comments," I said.
He murmured and stroked his beard,"obviously some congruence issues.Says one thing but does another. What type of personality type is she?"
"Probably a Queen... maybe."
"You fight with her?"
"Living with her, every day, hour-by-hour, for the rest of your life, do you think you would be deleriously happy?"
"No. She's a bit edgy...has an edge to her. We don't have a lot in common.You know...differences."
"But when you told her you saw past her Queen pose to the inner woman and how that woman so desperately craved the devotion and love of a good man like yourself...did she turn into a ball of mush?" He cocked an eyebrow at me. "Kiss and hug you, gush and have multiple orgasms?
"I never told her that in so many words...holding back a bit, I guess... But no it was never like that," I said smiling at his hyperbole.
"But she knows?"
"Yeah she knows."
"So whats the deal? She's not that gorgeous, not that special in bed, might end up fighting with you a lot.Not especially supportive,loyal or affectionate toward you and never even acknowledged that you could see her deepest, most vulnerable self...not to mention that you care about her"
He looked me in the eyes hard again. "What am I missing? Am I missing the payoff somewhere?"
"No I think you pretty much nailed it."
"Course I'm sure she has charms and can be fun to hang with sometimes,right?"
"And there's other things too,I'm sure.Things that I wouldn't know about. How you feel...your feelings. I suppose that must be pretty good when you're with her."
"You have no idea," I said, I couldn't even begin to describe it. It's like a different world when things are good,"
"But is that worth totally wussing out over and ruining your inner game? Look,"he said putting his palms on the table, "if she does have any feelings toward you...she's froze up and can't even express them except for saying some nice things in e mails,right? You told me,right? So what do you wanna do?"
I didn't say anything.
"I think you should go caveman on her. Drag her around to where you want her.Tell her what to do,you know? Shit...just take her if you want her so bad."
"What if...she won't go?"
"Then bail...like she did to you already."
What he said made sense.It seemed like the woman was slowly destroying me in a way. Unwanted thoughts of her constantly assailed me during my waking hours.I felt distracted, in a fog of sorts always aching at the thought of her.At least I hadn't started dreaming about her..
"Let's go smoke",he said pulling a pack of cigarettes from his pocket,
"when you change your behavior, you change your state,you know what I'm saying. You've got to change your state or you're not going anywhere with this chick. Right now, your inner game sucks.Your mental state is the pits, I can tell just by looking at you."
He punched me in the shoulder. "I don't wanna be an ass about this and I don't do the love thing but Geez...I know you gotta open up and the honesty and all that. I mean...I know it's real and not a game or at least it's not supposed to be but doesn't all that happen gradually? Looks to me like you kinda jumped in way too fast." He looked me hard in the eye again. "Seems to me Joe, like she's kinda a cold bitch...I don't mean any disrespect."
"I have no desire to play any games,"I said,"that's what it's like...when it hits you...I can't play bullshit games. Not when I feel the way I do.And I didn't jump in-it just happened. You know the old priest who sits in the corner...ex priest?
"Well that's what he told me.These things just happen sometimes.It's like getting a...getting sick. You just come down with it."
We walked outside to the patio and Terry lit one.
"Shit,You're talking to barroom priests now, so what...you're just gonna lay down and expose your throat, like a dog? I know," he said ,"but you're just starting out with her. Get the attraction nailed down first before you start the heavy shit." He lit a cigarette,blew out a stream of smoke and stared balefully at the Gray,leaden sky. It was going to snow."Just game her," he said."Game the shit out of her until she gets her head straight. Otherwise, she's just gonna rip your throat out."
"Terry, you're probably right."I touched his shoulder,"Thanks for the advice."
" Goddamnit Joe, I hate to see you like this...In the old days, you were money. Damn you had everything almost, even if you didn't get laid that much...and now you're just different."
" I know," I said, but it's just...really hard for me. I've never done this before or been this way.
"I wish I could help you but I don't know what to do. You're just like a complete wuss right now.
You know that's not right."
" Your advice, what you said is good. I mean, shit, we both know how it works but I'm in a different
space. I literally can't do those things...that I used to do" I took a swallow of beer and blew out
a stream of air,the warmth from my lungs formed a cloud in the cold air."I've seen inside of her where the hurt and pain are...I've felt it in a way and I just wanted to help...I can't play those pick up games I used to do,not with her. I literally can't do it. I would always be looking past all the superficial crap to the part of her I saw...I felt... I felt her, do you know what that means?"
He finished his beer and placed the bottle gently on a table." I guess."
" I can't do it...I don't have the energy for it. I can't do it with a woman like her, it's not right either. It wouldn't be right."
"Okay," he said, "okay, I hear what you're saying.There's nothing to do then if you can't change." He stubbed his cigarette out,"you going back?"
"Yeah, I gotta get back."
We walked back in the bar.He had a bill in his hand for the next beer. "Call me any time,"he said,"this drama shit is starting to get interesting." He smiled. "See ya Joe."
She had her purse on the table and was putting on her coat when I got back.
" I've seen that guy somewhere."
"That's Terry. He used to go to Kosmos in the old days,I said," I don't know where he hangs now."
We walked outside and made it to her car. I stood by the tail light and watched her open the door.
The snow had put little pellets of white ice on her hair."I'm not going to start your fire, I said, "I have some things to do at home."
"Alright,"she said,"have a nice nap."
"You too,"I answered, "call me." I walked to my car. Inside it was frigid, like a meat locker.I let it run for awhile until I got some warm air from the vents. I lit a cigarette and blew out vapor and smoke,saw her drive past in my rear view mirror. I knew she wouldn't call.She would see it as weakness and right then I was pretty sure that I wouldn't call her either It was a baby step for me
but I couldn't see myself chasing after this woman like a puppy dog. Terry was right about that. I was
a wuss and my inner game was shot. Even though I hadn't done pick up in years, I was still a man,
a Human Being and I needed to get some pride back in my life somehow.If I wasn't treated with respect, I would have to leave. I would have to find my own way.My love for her had accomplished nothing. She didn't care about it.Didn't care about me either for that matter. I was just going to have to deal with it.It would get better with time, that's what the priest said.
Later, driving home,I saw a little old lady pull over with a flat tire.She didn't have a cell.No one to call.No one to help. She was in a panic. And as I walked up to her car I could see the hope in
her eyes,that somehow I could save her from this situaton. So I did save her,for no reason really.
I pulled behind her talked with her a moment and put her spare on for her. It was cold and rainy. The hail had turned to sleet and even though the whole process only took about 10 minutes I was chilled to the bone.
My bar room Guru,a defrocked priest, had instructed me to spread my love and so I would spread some to this woman and make her car move again. I suppose I was just proving to myself that I wasn't quite dead yet, that I could still make a difference.
Much later at home, thawing in a hot bath I began to chuckle about the incident at first then giving in to some outright laughter. The sound of my laughter shocked me. I hadn't laughed in a long time.
It seemed to echo off the tiles in the bathroom.
Me freezing in the rain seemed so funny for some reason, changing that stupid tire.
There are many things I don't understand about being alive.Obviously,I don't understand Love.Why it starts or why it ends or all the things that happen in between. I guess, most of all, I don't know why two people who like each other can't just sit next to one another and enjoy it without the whole experience turning into some perverted, surreal job interview.
But I do know about giving love away.That's something I could always do and of course,I've known how to change a flat for a long time. So, at least I've got that going for me.