He said they live on an incline. Does this street look like an
Drive further up the hill to the peak and gather yourself before you
end up on
a one way street with no place to turn. Take a moment at the stop sign and
Well, this certainly looks correct. There goes the street name. Yes,
there is the turn and there is the incline. 1209... 1207... 1205... it
only be one block further. The trees in this part of town
certainly are tall, and rounded. Do you suppose birds nest in the
they are old enough I bet you that at least one man has been hung from
neck from the branch of one of these trees. Old towns such as this have
those sort of
histories--the kind that remain hidden and are swept beneath the rug as
people arrive to fill the space left by abandoners and the dead. But I
digress. We've arrived at 1144. You
will have to park further up the
street near the convenience store, only make sure to roll up your
because I do not trust the look of that ghetto fellow
loitering out in front of the
This would be a lovely place to go for a walk with a woman, wouldn't
blooming above like colorful bubbles of sorts, and the birds chirping
like a melodic symphony. Women appreciate that sort of whimsical fare.
Do you think she would as well? I don't suppose you'll ever find out,
at least not until he is out of the picture, and you're
coming up on the place so you'd best prepare for a smile and a
half-hearted wave. Who waves these days, anyway? I don't suppose...
wait, someone's walking out. And would you look at that... did she get
a haircut? My god, man! Forget the hair, look down. Look at her eyes. The stifled flicker. Locked away;
hidden from the
world as some form of cruel self-censure. You certainly believe that
see this brilliance. You want to pursue that light. You want
nurture it. If you reach out, the light may become brighter. Or it may
altogether. Such is the risk, and you are no longer in a position to
So she steps out one leg first, a black stocking leading down to a foot
wearing a flat shoe of some modern sort and leading up to a skirt that
just above the knee and starts at the waist where the hint of a white
shines through the part in the thick burberry coat draped over her
curve elegantly up towards her chin lowered slightly when she smiles
and calls out to say "Hey!" as her nose crinkles and eyes gleem with
that flicker beneath the brim of a black, round hat that would look bad
anyone but her. So what? It's just a woman wearing clothes, and that's all.
steps towards them unless you prefer to remain forty feet
away and wave
Be polite, and not too personal. Hold her hand, certainly, but do not go in
for the kiss on the cheek. It will be too telling. You will linger. Hold her
hand and apply light pressure, then turn to him and grip his hand firmly.
Assert your position over him. Show him he who's hand he shakes is not a hand
to be taken lightly. You will not do anything to harm the little fellow, of
course, but show him regardless. If anything you will rest easier when you
think back on the day's happenings. You showed him, ey? Walk to them, and greet
them, then follow them as they lead the way. Don't fall behind, not if you can
help it. Walk beside her at a respectable distance. Flank her, because as you
can see he's all too keen on keeping ahead of her. It's just
how he is. You've probably done it yourself, pal, so don't go holier than thou
on me. Remain between her and the street because cars or trucks or mad bikers
may drive by and take her or hurt her. Who told you that you have to walk
between them and the street anyway? Was it the old man? Well if you can't
remember I certainly can't. In any case, if you can only serve as a wall I say
take it. It's better than nothing.
They're certainly leading you far, aren't they? The trees are bare here.
You've never really seen bare trees save the odd one or two
that people planted in the yard or on the bit of dirt next to the curb. The
trees were always full, and blooming, even when they scattered leaves on the
ground every winter. You used to rake those leaves when they told you to, when
you were angry all the time. An angry young man. That's an awfully cliché state
of being, don't you think? Of course everyone on the planet is some form of
cliché so don't feel too bad. You simply transitioned out of that cliché and
Hey, stop listening to me for now. Don't crane your neck and look
around. She's talking and you need to talk so that it's not just her and him
talking. Pay attention and talk. Well, isn't that something. She's talking
about the trees! And before you go mad with spiritual kinship it is merely a
coincidence, not a sign from the heavens that you are meant to woo this woman
with your fancy talk about trees and what they represent. It's chat,
buddy, and nothing more.
The wind's getting colder, and of course your coat is hanging in the
at home. The old green coat, the one you insist
on wearing for those few months in the winter when it rains enough to
require a coat, is looking mighty worn. Perhaps a pea coat or some
other hipster duds to look more cool? No? Well,
then, don't bother me when you get alienated for wearing the same ol'
clothes. I mean, jeans and a T-shirt for years. Grow up, and while
you're adding action items to the bullet list please do enter the
restaurant that they both just walked into.
Pizza? How mundane, and might I add you're certainly high and mighty
when it comes to food as of late. Was it Mexico where you ate a tray of
fried calamari, or Hong Kong? Both
were good in any case. I mean, I don't know what kind of oil they used
but it was un-fucking-believable and they have posters of baseball
players on the wall here and is that Lou Gehrig? Here, in the city
they have a poster of Lou Gehrig? Hey and look at that, they've chosen
the table right by ol' Lou. He can watch the cheese trail from each
slice and act as witness to your ridiculous guarded conversation.
She sits amazingly well. Such grace, and style. Brings her knees
together and places her hands over them as she sits. And look at how
she removes her hat, and her coat, and it is indeed a white blouse and
she did indeed change her hairstyle. It's short now. It wasn't short
You like short dark hair now, don't you? Yea, I
figured as much. Now, that
doesn't mean you can comment on her hair. Yes it is a new style and she
look amazing with her hair styled in short layers that hug her face,
but do not
dare comment on it. Your friend sits beside her. Make sure to
pay attention to both. Equal eye time for each. Do not linger on her,
That's right. Look up, at that television. Who's playing? Arizona?
Burgundy streaks across fields of sod... what's in a friend, anyway?
Who's this guy? This clown? Is he really a friend? I mean, what's he
done for you lately? Nothing. Not a single goddamn thing. The guy's
okay to hang out with and grab some beers at a bar with, but really
that's anyone. See the waiter? Yea, he
could sit and listen and laugh just as well as this guy. Plus he's
taller and he's more likely to want to hang around after your drunken
arguments with the frat boys at Merlin's. He won't want to pull you
away and make you feel a foo--
She turned her head! Did, did you see her hair flutter? Wow, man. I
hope you did see because... because it was
every possible synonym of the word "beautiful" that you can think of.
Thanks for sparing me, but I saw it too, and I'd agree. Amazing... You
could talk of pleasant things, risque things that would lull her into
the proper course of conversation... but look at him. He must care for
her. He must love her, still, because my god she is unbelievable. Do
you suppose it's possible that, somehow, you want her because someone
else has her? Now don't go withdrawing into your shell, I'm just
thinking to the beat of a different drummer. It helps me understand
you, because sometimes you simply confuse the hell out of me. You lack
consistency in your madness and I'm left without a clue as to your
intentions. Before you start to feel please grab that pitcher that the
waiter just dropped off.
Her, through the brown ale and foam. Beer goggles do nothing. She
is, and has been, a woman unmatched... until tomorrow when you reflect
on today and realize yesterday is not a time to
Discuss the weather. Discuss work. Discuss things that lead to jokes
and joke about things that lead to reassuring nods and then a laugh.
Oh, see, now she's talking... yes, very well, turn to her. You have
reason to look her in the eyes. Oh, and she's a
freckled one is she not? Most certainly. Like a child in a sandbox,
the sun beating down on every kid around you, and that girl with the
dark hair and darker freckles hanging upside down (what is a jungle gym
anyway?) and smiling and flicking her
tongue through the hole in her teeth. Don't feel bad about not
remembering her name--you were a child, and kids don't think about each
other the way you're thinking of this woman now. But, there was
something. An impression of a future that has left you reeling.
Powerless you are not but susceptible? And how.
Did she just laugh? Laugh! Chuckle at the very least. Can you
imagine sitting with her at the booth beside us? Next to her, holding
her hand, the smell of her perfume (and hopefully not your cologne if
you'll listen to me for once and not wear the acrid stuff) filling the
space, wafting and billowing around while discussing more than trivial
status updates. Or maybe discussing the most trivial nonsense
imagineable. The point, of course, is that it would be discussed by the
two of you. "The two of you", now isn't that a nice thought?
... Jesus christ, man, you're such a woman.
Pizza's here, so's the second pitcher of beer. Joy, and indulgence
that you can induge in. One slice, two extra hours on the
machines. Second slice and she's had her second glass. Did you
just finish off your fourth? Pig. Drunken pig. Oh, how she laughs. My
suggestion to you: learn to write sonnets.
It will be a useful skill when you move on and realize this one's out
of bounds. Keep it in the court and you'll find yourself a nice
cheerleader to keep you company. Oh, man, remember the cheerleader. In
the short shorts? Who was that, Maria? Or Steph. It might have been
The names, man, the names. Don't forget your names.
The hour draws near, and it's sad. She's sad. I can take it even if
you refuse to see it. Corporate secretary living with a retail monkey?
She can't be happy! Logic and life draw us to wants of extraordinary
proportions. We're faulty but really what's wrong with wanting great
things? Life is short, and as far as we know it's the only one we have
until the sack of flesh we call a body decomposes and returns from
whence it came. Things we have to do... people we have to love.
Responsibilities we don't need. Weights. He weighs
down on her and it will only hasten her descent into a life of
mediocrity and despair.
Well that's interesting, isn't it? When's the last time you were happy? No friend, not content. Happy.
Cool night. I love it up here, you know. You should move up here.
L.A. wasn't like this.
The high desert
wasn't like this. The shack by the side of the road up in
Eureka was definitely not like this. This is
something else, and I say enjoy it until you get sick of it. Find
yourself a roost and feel what there is to see. Hear the end of it and
then you can say you've truly lived. Brush yourself against dirty walls
and woodgrain bars. And wish, hope, that somehow she'll be with you.
Holding your hand... whispering "you're
acting like an idiot" in your ear. Cool night, and she's right beside
you. No need to feel alone.
Dismissals, goodbyes, and the pleasantries of life. Shake his hand
again, firm again, you're the man and he's mush again. Hold hers
gently, and wait, the lovely doth draw closer. She draws herself in for
the cheek kiss. She smiles. She breathes... like any other woman. She
breathes like she does. You damn yourself by elevating her to the top
of the pedestal. You relegate her to "goddess" and now the simplest
interaction sends your chest into a flurry. What if
she was old? Sick? Missing an arm? Would it matter to you? You can say
"no" all you like and she smells so damn alluring. Perfume. And her
lips are... where was I? Lips. Pretty lips and warmth.
The shuffle back to the car late at night. The midnight routine. No
one out, no one else to justify your existence at this moment. Right
now you're all alone here, bud, and there's no way to avoid that fact.
Tomorrow you should call Kristy and go somewhere. Yea, I know. It's just Kristy. I just won't stand to
be around you and the after-seeing-her mood. At least Kristy will keep
you distracted so I can relax for a while. Kristy with the jangle and
glimmer of necklaces, bracelets, and rings, and that long gorgeous
hair. You know, long hair? That used to be your thing. The trees again,
see how they wave as the sea air batters them.
Well if all you're going to do is sulk in the face of logic then I'll just stop trying. Get in the damn car.
Turn the key. Reach for the knob in the same place it has always
fate be damned! Tonight's one of those nights when the
your car has declined to cooperate with your attempt to escape and get
road, where you feel safest. Constant motion and the sound of wind
the car have always been a comfort for you haven't they? Pull the knob
like, but the electrical's still out of whack. Those lights won't be
for a while so just stop fussing about with the wiring underneath the
sit upright. You know, you really should have gotten that fixed a year
it first became a problem.
Rest your arms on the steering wheel and lay your chin on them.
into the wisps of fog rolling by. Don't you dare think about light. Stare into the darkness. What do you suppose lingers
out there? You're not unique, hardly
a soft little snowflake, and one of over six billion irrational beings
planet. It certainly would be plausible to imagine that someone,
sitting in the dark staring out across an empty street and accompanied
the faint glow of street lamps, empty apartment windows, and the wispy
who knows, perhaps that person is also a believer in safeguarding the soul
against vicious and malicious assaults by the heart. Oh, now, I didn't
just to get you started on "feeling"! Keep staring into the darkness,
yes, good... keep staring into the darkness.
When you're ready, turn the key and get the engine going. It has been a long
while and if you drive long enough in that darkness the lights are bound to
come on again. That'll get you home tonight. Of course if I know you, and I
think I do, you won't have the lights fixed until they shut down for good.