The Briefest of Affairs
…And the day came and I guess I didn’t really know why I was even standing there but I suppose it was because I wanted this chick to see what I was doing. She knew I’d been smoking because she smiled at me in that way that suggests something more than is being said. What I’d been talking about I can’t remember. I think she asked me if I wanted her but it could have been a question about cars, or the weather. I couldn’t think straight sometimes ...
“This is bullshit.” I said, smoking my menthol cigarette. I held in my breath like I was smoking a joint and I looked out over the drab landscape, the zigzag flight path of a cloud of mosquitoes catching my eye as I finally exhaled.
I walked slowly towards the grey brick building and a bird flapped overhead floppily beating a pair of thin straw like arms. For a second I thought it was going to crash into the ground but it pulled up and sailed out of vision. I needed to go somewhere that wasn’t where I was but I couldn’t decide on what I should do so I just kept walking around for awhile smoking and thinking about nothing in particular.
The first time I saw her she was laughing about something that I couldn’t hear, but she was very beautiful to me in a strange kind of way. She was curvy, fresh faced and bubbly like a young girl who knows much more then she lets on. I watched her for a little while and decided I should get to know this girl. She was standing with this guy I knew and he was clearly very interested in her but I could tell that she wasn’t particularly into him and it made me happy when I realized that because I thought, “Good for her.” He was kind of an idiot. I liked the guy but he was prone to going off on tangents that made no sense at all and pretty much thought he was right about everything he said. It wasn’t that he wasn’t intelligent. He just thought he was far cleverer than he actually was. It doesn’t matter.
I started to approach her on the pretense that I was coming to chat with the guy, trying to make her laugh, which was wonderfully easy. I liked that she wasn’t sentimental, that she didn’t just laugh but cracked jokes of her own; I liked the manic way in which she swayed side to side and couldn’t seem to sit still. She seemed happy and confident and cool in a way that a lot of girls aren’t. I saw as she dated a few guys but I wasn’t worried about it because I knew she was too good for them and that it wouldn’t last. I just observed and talked and slowly got to know her without giving away too much of myself, for no reason other than she didn’t really ask a lot of personal questions and I didn’t think to volunteer much. I enjoyed the conversations and the lack of pretense that she so effortlessly carried herself with.
It took some time but I started to realize that she wasn’t exactly what I thought she was. There was sadness there, a terrible pain and insecurity that occasionally cracked through the exterior. Only occasionally would this come through and it faded so quickly that it was easy for me to dismiss it as something I maybe only imagined. But it wasn’t. There was something under the laugh and the manic joke cracking. I didn’t dig too deep. I just kept talking and observing.
Sometimes late at night I find myself going into a trance where I just close my eyes and watch the colors that seem to flash and streak across my closed eyelids like light speed fireworks. I drift off to another place where the only thing that makes any sense are these purple, red and blue exploding lights that don’t really exist in any meaningful sense. They aren’t tangible and you can’t touch them but still, there they are. I wondered if she ever did that. Did she ever just lie on her back and let her existence fade while she watched passively as this mind’s eye light show phenomenon sparked away? Why can’t I stop thinking about this one girl? Why this one? I had no idea what I wanted. I didn’t know if I wanted to fuck her or just hold her in my arms and make sure she was all right. Maybe both. It’s so strange. And yet still, I’m calm. I’m not worried, just very interested. It all rages around me and I sit comfortably like a Zen Buddhist monk in the eye of a hurricane. She tells me she wants to get high with me. I think it’s a good idea except I’d really just rather sit and talk to her in the sun. That sounds so lame to me and makes me cringe, but I guess it’s still true.
There is a gay guy hitting on me, and I kind of shake my head along to whatever the hell it is he’s saying and keep the conversation going because there really is nothing else to do right now. He’s a weird dude. He’s got a thin face and a scraggly wisp of a beard that he keeps patting like he thinks it might fall off. I’m kind of ignoring him. I nod at something he says, smiling weakly. I feel a little strange about the whole situation but it seems like it will be easier if I just keep smiling and nodding. We’re riding on a bus so I can’t really get away from the guy and he’s not really a bad dude, just creepy and weird. I don’t know what this has to do with anything.
“Do you like hockey?” He asks me.
“Yeah.” I say.
“What’s your favorite team?” He asks, continuing to probe.
“I don’t know.” I say staring through the fogged window. “I guess I like the Bruins.”
“The Bruins?” He asks.
I look over at him, studying his eager to please face. He looks kind of sadly desperate.
“Yup.” I finally utter.
“Cool, cool.” He says, nodding a little too enthusiastically.
A moment of silence slides through like a piece of dusty glass on wood. “What’s…yours?” I finally feel compelled to ask, just to break the awkward silence. The silence doesn’t bother me but his obvious discomfort is starting to wear on me.
“Sabers.” He blurts out too quickly. “Buffalo Sabers.
Good god. I need a drink.
“Cool.” I finally say. “You…from Buffalo?” I ask, adding listlessly. I really don’t give a shit where this guy is from but still I don’t want to hurt his feelings for some reason.
“Mmmm.” He says nodding. “Indeed.” He keeps nodding, lips tightly pursed. “Indeed I am.” He adds for emphasis.
We ride in silence for the rest of the ride, him mercifully giving up on trying to chat me up and I think I’m finally free when the bus pulls up to my stop but he gets off at the same time I do and tries to bum a cigarette off of me when we get outside. I think he’s going to follow me across the street to the bar but he doesn’t. Instead, defeated, hanging back as I walk on without saying anything to him he kind of just watches as I briskly cross the road. Maybe I should have been nicer but it’s too late now and that guy was weird. I just wanted you to know.
I saw her smoking a cigarette and I smiled because she looked like she was happy, but then as I walked closer I could see that her smile was a little too broad and it was the kind where it’s put on to deflect outside attention from something. I kept smiling anyway.
“Hey,” I say, lighting my own cigarette. “How ya doin?”
“Great,” she says.
I look at her for a second. “You’re lying.” I say. I don’t say it out loud. I just look at her.
“Good.” I say. We talk and joke for a little while. I enjoy myself. I think about kissing her but I realize the time isn’t right for that and instead I just keep talking.
Maybe I’m making a mistake. Maybe I should just walk away, leave her be. The thing is I’m not sure I can. No, I could. I really could. I’m capable of something that cold, but I don’t think I will….
The thing that really needs to be understood is that it’s all like a dream. The moving and talking, the lights and sounds, every event that occurs, all times and places, every memory, every song, poem or movie it all just flows together into one mass of swirling confusion and washes over us like a tide of colored egg dye. All together none of it means anything and when you break it down into individual pieces it makes even less sense than before so all you can really do is let it run over you. It’s like cool water. We act it all out but nobody knows what anyone else is really thinking. What difference would it make if I were an actual machine? If I acted the same, did the same things, but felt nothing, merely a robotic clockwork mechanism running on springs and steam? Who would know, and if they figured it out, would it matter? What is this shit anyway? What is anything? My compulsion rages on and I just follow the tracks. I don’t think I’m unique.
The five greatest Warriors in History are, in my opinion, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, Genghis Khan and Otto Skorzeny. Almost everyone has heard of the first four but most people don’t know who Otto Skorzeny was. That’s because he was a Nazi Commando from the Second World War. He was handpicked to lead the most dangerous actions of the war. He never failed a mission and pulled off one of the most daring rescue attempts in history when he parachuted into Italy and escaped with Benito Mussolini into the north where he was installed in the new Nazi controlled puppet state. He survived the war and spent a lot the rest of his life in South America training right wing paramilitary soldiers.
A lot of people would choose Admiral Horatio Nelson or Oda Nobunaga for the fifth spot. Maybe some would go with Zhukov or Patton or maybe even Rommel or George Washington. All of these are great contenders but I think Skorzeny beats them all. The problem is he was a Nazi.
A lot of people forget that Andrew Jackson was the man who presided over the trail of tears, the famously gruesome forced march of the Indian tribes from their ancestral lands. Thousands died. Julius Caesar was responsible for the massacre deaths of a million Gaul’s. Alexander led his army half way around the world and destroyed an ancient empire. He only went home when his men threatened to mutiny. Rommel was a Nazi too but he seems to get a pass because the North African campaign is considered to have been a “gentleman’s” war. Never mind that he served the single greatest institution of slavery and industrialized murder ever conceived by man. Besides that he lost.
Great men are considered so as much by their deeds as by whom they served and who comes out on top of the conflicts they are involved in. Everything is perception. Besides no one really knows exactly what happened anyway. History is just what everyone agrees on probably happened and a lot of people don’t even agree on that.
Then again everyone agrees that Genghis Khan was kind of a dick and he tends to rank up there with all the greats. So maybe my position is unjustifiable and completely wrong. I don’t even think I know what point I’m trying to prove. Maybe this has all been a waste of time.
She asks me a question and I don’t answer it for a minute, thinking about how I should phrase my reply and I light another cigarette as the one I just grinded out under my foot smolders slowly, pouring a blackish smoke into the ether.
“I dunno.” I finally say, calmly, the words barely coming out.
She smiles at me, sweetly. At least I think it’s a smile but sometimes I can’t really tell. She mutters something inaudible and even though I don’t know what she says I laugh lightly anyhow, falling back into the grass and start observing the silvery clouds that seem to be sailing overhead slightly faster than usual.
We have a moment that I feel is too personal to share. I’ll keep that one for me. But that was days later anyway. It all just slides together. Is one day really different from any other when
But then a friend of hers comes and takes her away. I watch as they walk away. The girl looks back at me. They fade out of sight. I talk for a little while to some other people and eventually I leave.
…And I guess all that ever really needed to be said is that it didn’t work out, things went one way when they could have gone another and life is fucked sometimes but everybody knows that. I’m not going to be angry about it, just a little sad and I can deal with that. I’ll get over it.
Sometimes there’s a moment when you know exactly what you could say to get what you want but you don’t because for some reason it seems underhanded or you just wish the other person would care enough to maybe do it themselves or maybe it’s just you blew it and it didn’t come out because things just happened too fast. What really happened is impossible to know for sure and I’m not writing a history of events here I’m just trying to give a feel for how it felt to one person. The last thing I think I said was “bye”. It could have been something else. Sometimes I couldn’t really think straight…