The bar was warm, as was the beer. Ted was telling me some story about… a bone or something. The vinyl booth seat was sticking to my sweat dampened shirt, and I was drinking to stay cool. The beers were cheap here and the people were young. The music was great, and the women were looking to get laid. I didn’t care anymore. I only came for one reason. I knew she would be here. I knew she had to show up eventually. She always did. No other bar was worthy of someone like her. She was too smart, too cool, too beautiful.
And I knew I shouldn’t. Ted knew, and if he did know why we were here we wouldn’t be. Ted was very solid. I put very much into solidness as an attribute these days. I was tired. Tired of killing, dying, praying. All I wanted these days was a solid dude who’d help me stay out of trouble. I wanted a wife, and no kids, and a place close to a good bar, and if I was lucky I’d die old. Ted was a good friend. Maybe my only these days. He was a good guy.
Ted went on. On and on. He’d buried a bone somewhere, couldn’t find it. He knew I hated when he talked about dog shit. He almost never did. He seemed anxious. He was looking past me. Forcing himself to talk. Distracting me. I turned around. Cynthia. Standing right at the bar like no big deal.
“Okay, man, you want to go?”
“No” I said “No” I said again.
I chugged my nearly full drink in one gulp, walked over, put my glass on the bar and said… nothing. I might have let out a guttural sigh. But nothing. She turned around, and looked me in the eyes.
“Joey,” she said with embarrassing disdain.
“Hey” I said “I know you don’t love me, but I love you, and I’m buying you a drink because I love you. Steve… two Pabst Blue Ribbons.”
“No thank you Steve” She purred “I’ve got somewhere to be.”
And like that she left. Walked right past me and out the door. Like a ghost, like she was never there. I couldn’t touch her anymore, I couldn’t interact. We were on different plains. All that love just floating up in a vapor and up to space and into the sun and stars. Steve didn’t hear her cancel my order seeing as he was no where near her. So I went back to my booth, where Ted received a drink on me.
“You can’t keep doing this man, it’s no good for you.”
“Of course, I know that. Of course I do…”
“Come on man, a couple more drinks we’ll both be feeling okay. Maybe if you cheer up and get social we’ll get laid.”
“You got it man,” I lied.
I took my drink to my lips. It seemed much colder then the beer here usually was. I tipped it up, and through my lips. In slow motion it slid down my throat, into my body, into the blood stream, up into my brain then and froze it still. I closed my eyes and everything was icy blue. My whole body was chilled. All worry was gone, time was stopped. I opened my eyes. Screams from outside, a crash. The bar emptied to rubberneck on the sidewalk. I got up, walked down the sticky wood planks, past the hot bar, through the door into the stifling heat. Pushed my way through a scattering of cool hats. A bearded young dog looked up from the crumpled body and shook his head. Cynthia. Her body destroyed, twisted, the road painted in blood, fur floating in the air. The driver was weeping, his head in his arms on the hood of the car.
I considered for a second going to her body, weeping, and morning her. Shouting and cursing, over her. Telling her dead body I loved it and would forever. I was broken in half by the site, but, I knew it wasn’t my place. It would be wrong. A lie. I didn’t love that mangled pile of flesh, and I didn’t love her when she was walking around five minutes before. I was in love with a memory. I was crying for my memory, and crying for the memories she would never create for all those other folks in the world. Crying for the loss of hope. The hope I clung to that one day she would love me back, again. That what was obvious would just be a lie or a silly misunderstanding. And at the same time I hated myself for getting to this point. In letting my self get so low down in love, that I couldn’t even see a true fact. I cried alone behind the crowd, and walked back into the alley, where I balled and vomited. Ted put his hand on my shoulder and took me home in a cab. He slept on my couch to make sure I was okay, and in the morning we ate Mexican breakfast. He was a very solid guy.