Wednesday, November 16, 2005

time, the tailor (a mending)

At the sink, trying to scrub away the lines. Wishing the pillow lines away in hopes the age lines might follow. Cool water splashing onto face. Washing the sleep from eyes. Looking up, the mirror is trying to tell me something. "Go back to sleep," it says. "There is no need to be awake this early." Fragmentation. Seven time zones away, another me, in an alternate universe, is sleeping soundly in his bed. Foetal position, knees tucked up to chest level, drool on the pillow. A phone rings, and we both wake up.

"Hello? Hey, man. Yeah, I'm up. All right."

Sure, I'll wait. Pouring myself a cup of strong coffee, I just stare out the window for awhile, unthinking, listening to the thump and bang of the hotel radiator. Morse code. "Just go back to bed," it tells me. "It's much too early for this kind of business." Rubbing my eyes again. It's just the weather here; dry and cold. My skin itches, eyes scrape with each blink of reddened lids.

Haven't seen you for awhile. What's it been, three years? No big deal. We're the kind of friends who can just pick up where we left off. Easy. None of this what-have-you-been-up-to? bullshit. None of that matters. What was it that you said to me all those years ago? We were sixteen years old then, I think, running down an alley with a cop car on our asses. You turned to me and yelled, "let's never allow a girl to come between us!" I didn't question the statement. Adrenaline pumping, I just continued running as fast as my juvie legs could carry me. I didn't miss a goddamn step. "Of course not!" I replied, breathless.

That was two days before you screwed my girlfriend. Or at least two days before I found out you were screwing my girlfriend. But it didn't matter. She was out and you were in - because that's just the kind of friends we are. Besides, inside of two years I'd get you back by comforting your girlfriend after a fight. Met her at that place we used to go to drink down by the rail yard, about an hour before last call. Stayed until the bartender kicked us out. Spent the night in her flat. Drank cheap red wine until daybreak. Went with her the next day to sell her fall semester's texts. She dropped me off. I didn't even think about you once - not that I recall. But that's just the kind of friends we are. One doesn't stand in the way of the other.

The radiator taps out another message urging me not to be so stupid. Telling me that I need more sleep. But I see you now, your car, long and black, creeping around the corner. Diplomatic plates. It won't be long now before we're holed up in the corner of a pub, lost in reminiscence. Two stupid kids hanging out, laughing and bullshitting over some pints. No discomfort. No fragmentation. No time lost.

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