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Another smokey Saturday, 3am, watching pickup trucks shuffle by from the womb of a franchise diner. They throw me in back where it's safe to lose myself in a book without the petulant pick-up lines of drunks, but also without the line of sight benefits to my coffee cup. No one watching, I forget to look studious and stare into nothing. And I think of all the inebriated nights I spent here, not alone, the frantic teenage exploits of small town kids eager to scatter when eighteen rolled around. I catalogue the waitresses who've moved down the freeway to the next glorified truck stop or settled down to get fat and beaten with a boyfriend they thought would make a good daddy. You'd think it'd be harder to disappear in a town this small. It's proof of the ugly side - no one really cares to know their neighbor outside of a nod and smile routine. We run away, no one seeks us out. And when we come back, we find we're no one, ourselves.

The waitress comes around the corner, startles at my presence. She makes the approriate noises and I placate the graciousness by requesting water. Brazenly, she gives me the glass from the table across the aisle. "They didn't drink out of it," she promises.

Can a world like this really exist? How does reality not come in and smack the hell out of all the people hiding in this dumb little corner, drugged by all their dumb delusions? I thank her and shove the glass aside, making a spilt second decision about the tip. Above me, the smoke eater coughs and somewhere in non smoking, a vacuum cleaner bulldozes through the silence, answering its call. An empty pack of cigarettes stares up at me, chiding me for neglecting my habit. I think of the prison lit 24 hour supermarket across the parking lot. I think of crossing that sea of asphalt with a friend, him full of acid and sure he was sinking in. Things change. I put my sweatshirt on.

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