online literature since 2007

Monday, September 7, 2009

I was sitting in a coffee shop staring at a girl sitting a few tables away. I thought, "Should I go up to her and introduce myself?" I thought that she seemed to be involved in her newspaper and that it would be rude to interrupt her. Also, I hadn't the faintest idea what I would do after I introduced myself and was afraid that it might have gotten awkward. I sat there drinking my coffee and contemplating this for several minutes, and then she got up from her seat, threw her newspaper in the trash bin, and walked out of the coffee shop.

During my whole time staring at her I had felt self-conscious, reserved, and detached all at the same time. The intensity of my gaze upon her had been so great that I had realized that if I knew someone was staring at me I would feel very uncomfortable. And yet, it is so much easier to look at someone when there isn't a gaze reflected back at you. But then I realized that everybody else in the coffee shop was involved in completely different endeavors than staring. By the time I thought of that, the girl had left shop, and so I stood up, paid my bill, and went outside and lit a cigarette.

I got into my car and began driving aimlessly. My cell phone began to vibrate. It was Danny.

"Hey," I said.

"Hey, what's up?" he said.

"Nothing, just driving around."

"You want to hang out?"

"Sure. I'll come pick you up."

"Alright, cool. Bye."

"Bye."

When I arrived at Danny's parents house, I sat in my car in the driveway for five minutes, expecting him to come out. Then I called him, and he said, "Oh, you're here?" and hung up.

When he got in the car, we each lit a cigarette, and then I asked him what he wanted to do.

"I don't know, just drive until one of us thinks of something," he said.

I began driving up hills and hills and more hills. Eventually, I realized we were driving near the highest point in the county. I looked out over the hill we were driving on and I could see the whole city of Cuyahoga Falls laid out before me. I looked out over the thousands of beige and gray boxes and felt nothing. I then realized that Danny had been saying something to me.

"What'd you say," I asked.

"I said that it could maybe even be kind of nice to live here for the rest of my life. You know, have my own house and get married and shit."

"No, that's stupid," I said, "Then we would have kids like everyone in all those houses down there and then our kids would grow up like us, complaining about how much it sucks to live here."

"Yeah, I guess you're right."

"You want to go eat pizza?"

"Alright."

I drove to the nearest Pizza Huts and we both ordered the buffet and then we both remarked how all the other Pizza Huts had gotten rid of their buffets.

I nodded out the window at the bar across the street.

"You want to go over there after this?" I asked.

"Isn't it a little early?" asked Danny.

"If it was too early then it wouldn't be open," I replied

Danny shrugged and then he took a bite out of his bread stick. Knowing him as long as I knew him, I figured that meant that we would go to the bar.

After we had each eaten everything on our plates we got up and walked across the street to the bar. Before we went in, Danny said, "Isn't it kind of early," again, to which I said, "It's six o'clock."

Inside the bar, the lights were dim and the music was relatively loud, but neither of these things bothered me because I had gotten used to the fact that most bars were like that. The bartender was watching the six-o'clock news on a television, and I had to clear my throat in order to get his attention so that we could order our drinks.

We sat down at a table and sipped on our drinks. The news was talking about the presidential election. I squirmed around in my seat, trying to find a comfortable spot. I thought about removing my wallet from my back pocket to make the surface of my butt balanced but I was too lazy.

As we sipped on our drinks I looked at the three other people in the bar. One was the bartender, who was still gazing intently at the news on the television. Another was guy that was maybe a few years older than myself, and I suspected that he had some kind of relation to the bartender. The other person in the bar was a rather ragged looking older man who had dirty white hair and what looked like a week-old beard. I looked at his face and then I saw that he had turned around and was looking at me from his chair at the bar. He nodded his head at me and I looked away and began talking nonsense to Danny.

"I was reading about how Sartre did mescaline once and he had a bad trip," I said.

Danny gave a somewhat confused look and then he said, "Cool."

I began telling him how Sartre became obsessed with Judaism and the messiah at the end of his life, and then I noticed the older man from the bar was walking over and I was lost for words.

"How is that related to him taking mescaline?" asking Danny.

I stared at the old man as he walked over towards us. Danny noticed that I was looking oddly at something and then he too began staring at the man.

He walked up to our table, "Hi, I'm Pete, can I sit with you?"

Danny said sure, but he moved over to give the man a place to sit, but the man decided to nudge me over instead.

We all introduced ourselves and then we all sipped on our drinks in silence for about 30 seconds.

"What do you do?" Danny asked the man.

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"Like what do you do for a job?"

"I'm the bouncer here," said the man.

"Ah," Danny and I each said simultaneously.

"Yeah, I just check ID's and stuff. But I'm pretty good at guessing people's age. You are both in your mid-twenties," I would say.

"Twenty-four," said Danny.

"Twenty-five for me," I said.

"Yeah, thats what I thought," he said. "To be honest, the liquor board hardly ever comes here, so I hardly ever check. I think that if you are old enough to go and die in a war, then it should be fine if you have a drink."

"Yeah, I've always thought that was how it should be," I said and Danny concurred.

"Either of you in the military?" asked the man.

"No, no way," I said.

"Well, I was in the military, back in the 70s."

"That must have sucked," I said and I realized that he wasn't as old as he looked.

"Yeah he sure did suck," he said. "I thought I was going to go do some good, and all I ended up doing was killing people and destroying my mind for the rest of my life."

"Shit," said Danny.

"Yeah, so I wouldn't recommend it," the man said. "What do you guys do anyway," he asked.

"I just graduated college this past spring," I said.

"I am going to graduate next spring," said Danny.

The man asked me what I was doing with my degree and I said that right now the economy was bad and I was just working at a deli in New York City. He asked what I was doing in Ohio and I told him I was home for Thanksgiving. Danny said that he was home for Thanksgiving too, and then the bouncer had to get up to check the IDs of three barely-legal looking boys. Danny and I finished our drinks and walked out of the bar. We got in my car and each of us lit a cigarette.

"What do you want to do," I asked.

And he said, "I don't know, just drive around until one of us thinks of something to do."