"Don't disappear again." I just couldn't hold it in.
The first time I saw her was at night, well in the evening to be precise, but it was autumn and darkness hits early then, getting into her mini-van. You know, looking like the big ones, just so much smaller. I don't really know what it was that took my breath away, a brown skinned girl with a nicely rounded body but not spectacular in any way. But I looked, and she must have noticed it from her car because as I walked in she followed me in, me unknowing. There are several reasons to why I'm still not sure that it was me she followed, first of all, I'm no Adonis, and I'm not that young either. And girls and me? Don't be preposterous.
But, as I saw her pass me I sort of clicked my tongue, I mean whistling, inside a store? Nah, but she deserved something, and a 'click' is okay. I sort of hoped to see her again in the paying queue as I went about getting my stuff, standing there, trying to choose between all those different brands of cat food guessing what that coddled feline gourmet craved today. Yeah, I can swear to that damned cat costing more in daily consumption than myself.
Anyway, she turned around coming back, right up my alley of goods sort of. And as she passed me by I looked at her and her at me. She had lovely warm golden brown eyes, dancing with laughter and curiosity as she looked at me, and I tried my damned best to present that allusion of a highly intelligent, sensitive type of guy, independently wealthy with lots and lots of good humour, and in reality so much taller than I might look.
I still don't know if she wanted to check me up, or if it was just me wishing that she was? Well, you're free to guess. But I'm shy when it comes to those encounters, especially when it comes to catch that fleeting moment, so I just let her pass. Carpe diem isn't really my sort of thing. And no, I don't know why I'm like that and all to often I hate it, like this time too, as I only could stand there mutely watching her pass me by, disappearing like that sweet ship in the night
Three weeks went past, me trying to spot her every time I went out, creating all sorts of possible scenarios in my mind, if I now ever would meet her again? In vain searching for that perfect pick up line, the one that would make her realize that I was the one for her. But I got stuck every time I came to presenting my future prospects for her, finding that a snowball in hell had a better chance than me. Me, soon hitting fifty and no money, just trying to bounce back from a lot of things gone really, really bonebreakingly, bad.
The only thing that held me up was my guitar, hell, it wasn't even mine. The guitar I had now was my brothers, lent to me as he knew that I loved to play, he wanted to give it too me as he had four more but I couldn't take it. I had left all things I had in this world in my former apartment as I walked away from it, including a beautiful steel stringed guitar with the sweetest blues sound you've ever heard, my daughters wooden cut of my sailing boat, my books and clothes, all the way down to my other love in life, my Suzuki RF 900, possibly still chained outside.
All memories of my life lying at some garbage dump by now, spread for the winds, with creditors looking for me, yeah, I didn't have money for those last months rental, and I didn't care either, I stopped caring a long time ago. But then again, I hadn't planed on living this long either. Thinking of it I realized that I wouldn't even be able to pay that cup of coffee for her, if I now would have dared to ask her out.
I had come out from a sixteen years relation to that empty apartment. Sixteen years with a woman that I still don't find the proper words to describe. In one way one I learnt to love and even cherish, in other ways one of the most treacherous persons I've ever meet, but wasn't it Shakespeare himself that wrote 'when in love and war?' Walking away from it all, kids, my dog and cat, taking nothing with me, not wanting to disturb my former family's tranquillity. And then trying to build that new life, ah forget that, burying my self eight more years in a work I didn't care for is more like it. Always ready and happy for that overtime, working day and night, the first years crying, it coming without forewarning and with me not able to control it, yeah, I hated it.
I don't remember me crying before that time, I always felt it was giving people more information than they needed, so I had early on taught myself not to give in to such. But the crying I did after the separation must have gone a far way filling up that hole. Yeah, that separation made me a real danger on the road, and as I told you, crying and me found us a real tight relation those years.
I'd read all those macho stories on the net and at times I felt the allure of them too, loading that gun and blowing the bitch and her new man out of their shoes and life's. But hell, we had two kids together and she was still a better mom than me. I wasn't the mothering type, and the way I had grown up I didn't really felt like a role model for anyone. But it had still cost me my kid's, I couldn't be there as I had dreamt too, once, not existing in their normal daily life's. And that had been my strongest dream.
But it was a promise made, right? After all, I had told her once that if she ever felt it, or us, wrong she just had to tell me and I would walk. And she was right, I didn't own her. Maybe that was the problem. That time I had tried to tell her how I felt, so long ago, she had reacted very strongly telling me that nobody could own anyone. I still don't know the answer to that one, but I knew that if I ever found anyone again I would want her to want to own me as strongly as I would want to own her. And if that feeling wasn't there? Well, once burned?
To make it right for once, raising a family, letting them grow up at the same place, making sure they still would have their friends around them. Not the money, never the money. But as it was now? Well, when my son found himself caught between go sailing with me or celebrate his mother's birthday he chose the later. Not that I held it against him, not then and not now, after all she was his mom and I had been reduced to the man delivering money. A part time daddy, but it hurt more than I can tell you, just the same. I emptied a bottle of single malt that same evening trying to forget the phone call, all on my own, almost breaking my leg when I needed to get of the boat in the dark to take a piss later.
And that boat trip was somehow the end of me and my bloodbrothers friendship too. We both owned that boat, it had been my bloodbrothers grandpas, the last and biggest he ever built. I had jumped in with money as my friend thought he would need to sell it, saying that I wanted to buy it. Well, maybe I did, but I also wanted to share it with him, and him not to lose it, and share we did, and no, I never paid the full amount, don't know why as I could afford it. Maybe it was me making sure that he still would feel it was his, but we shared all costs for it as well as me arranging transportations etc. We had a lot of fun with it over the years, and my kids liked it too.
It was a very fast one, built for competing, with more layers to its hull than was really needed as his grandpa wanted it sturdy. It also had double rudders making it able to turn on a dime. And fast, lovingly endearingly fast, thirty feet of full-blooded exhilaration. But some time later he sold it, suddenly seeing it as his, and only his. Well, I had told him that it was, so I didn't complain, especially as he had met his lady love and needed the money. Never the less, looking back at it now, I find it a sign of things to come.
So I just stopped everything, ever so slowly letting my life petering out. And in the end I stopped working, living on what I had put away, enough for a year and some. I travelled too, being away for the winters so that nobody would disturb me with my idiotic birthday, I had the bad luck to be born at Christmas day. But it's true what they say, wherever you go you take yourself with you. I was like that time bomb, my fuse burning, readying to go off on my own.
It all came to a head when I found myself getting stringed up by my oldest friend, my own bloodbrother, playing me against some other guy in some weird threesome for who was the 'best friend'. And no, not gay in any way, at last not me, and as he had a wife? It was one of the weirdest things I've ever experienced. My friend somehow still expecting me to 'fight it out' in some strange way, to prove some strange 'worthiness of friendship?'
Ah well, by then life had stopped making sense to me anyway. You see, we both had a long martial arts background, him a fifth Dan now, me jumping of the train as I got my kids. And his new 'bloodbrother' having been a pupil to us both, at different times. And the new guy now wanting to take on a 'master', at least I'm guessing that he saw it that way. Like some B-rated chink-flick.
It just didn't make any sense to me, but then I had stopped caring a long time ago. And as I at last realised what was happening I stopped coming around, and then it was just down to me, me and my empty apartment. I'm quite stubborn in some ways, with my own kind of rights pathos. If a bank gets burned I don't really care, but to do it to a friend? Not that it ever was about money. But then again, money and I had always been a parting relation. So, in the end I left my new apartment too, keeping my laptop and my old backpack, hating myself and my life but still fighting to find that reason for continuing. As they say, hope is the last thing you lose.
Now, I don't know about you, but what I'm talking about reminds me of when I was hitting the bars rather regularly, getting myself that liquid redemption. There was that time I passed 'The green hunter' finding the lower bar empty, just one guy sitting there, arguing about something with the bartender. As I walked up to order my beer the bartender turned to me saying.
"You talk to him, perhaps you can cool him down." Looking nervous.
Nope, I didn't know that bartender, and I didn't know the guy sitting there either, but he was looking at me with hatred, like he needed a fight badly, and he was sort of scary. Not that big but quite solid, black eyes with a fiery intensity to him as he stared me down, starting to tell me about how he had beaten the shit out of two police as they had tried to take him down for something he hadn't done.
And as he told me about it I believed him, and so would you. What he was angry about wasn't the fight and subsequent beating he had got as other came to help the officers, but the way they had reasoned when abusing him, once a felon always a felon. Myself I sat there listening, realizing that this guy hated it all, himself, life and everything in it, including me, and it felt sort of similar to me. As I said I had just came in to get that beer (Yeah, they had a good taste, and cheap too) Not to fight, searching for something to defuse the situation I heard myself say.
"Death isn't the scariest part, living is."
There is something with knowing that the wrong response might explode in your face that makes you search yourself, and as the guy thought about what I had said he calmed down. We are all human, even the hardiest of us are. And thinking of it myself I realised that it was a truth. And that's why I told you about me not being sure about you. You need to hit rock bottom first, before finding that kind of answers to what living is.
Sometimes the hardest thing you can do is to find that reason not to kill yourself, or someone else, depending on inclination. Never the less, somehow I found a place to stay for a while, and then another, postponing that last decision, now at last doing a short stint with my mother. I hadn't really expected that to work out but somehow it did, she needed someone to help her in her old age, and I? I needed that roof over my head. Yeah, I come from what popularly is called a dysfunctional family. A little like what you Americans seem to label 'trailer trash', not that I had grown up in any trailers though.
It's amazing how little you need when it comes down to it. Those last two years I had been surviving on around two dollars a day. I had all sorts of knowledge and degrees, from computers to professional driving, but nothing I had used for the last three years, and my last job and me hadn't agreed at all. So there I was, a true loser you might say, still dreaming of something I couldn't define, or even trust in anymore.
Yet I couldn't stop looking for her. It's kind of pitiful realizing how little it is needed for someone to build a life around it. And it scared me finding that I was building it around a memory of a pair of laughing eyes, and little more. I mean, the promise I seemed to have read into them could easily be just another illusion of mine, maybe she had mistaken me for someone else, maybe she just had found me amusing with my unkempt ponytail? But I couldn't stop looking for her, and dreaming.
So there I was, walking over to my brother's kid to use his Internet connection, as I saw her coming out of a pizzeria. I didn't know what to say, again, but as I stopped to look she seemed to feel me watching as she looked over her shoulder. It was raining a little and I must have looked kind of desolate standing there, I don't really know, but she flashed me that warm smile and somehow it lifted my spirits enough for me to open my mouth.
"Don't disappear again."
Well, that was none of my planed responses, and as a 'chick catcher' I found it sadly lacking. As I heard myself saying it, or rather mumble, I suddenly realized that my most fervent hope was that she hadn't heard me at all.
I said, a little louder, again trying for that suave conversation. She looked at me quizzically.
"You have a phone?"
Shit, this conversation was definitely going to hell.
"I mean, if you like?"
Not much better.
"Forget it, I'm being an idiot. It's just that I couldn't forget you, from the store, if you remember?"
As she stood there looking at me uncomprehendingly I suddenly realized that she was holding two pizza boxes, not one but two. Now knowing that I was making an even bigger ass out of me than I first had had thought I desperately searched for a way to graciously depart out of her life.
"Look, forget it. I can see that you're occupied? Why don't I just let you be?"
Smiling as good as I could I started to walk back the way I had came. No way I wanted to walk past her after that brilliant exhibition, coming on to her like some demented braincase. It might not be the brightest light around, but I was at least being me. Not knowing how to adapt, instead choosing to run.
"Could I give you a lift?"
I stopped, not really sure if I had heard it. As I turned back to her she had opened the driver's door looking at me, making a gesture as if to say, 'hurry now'.
"Would you like a lift, you said it was raining?"
As she looked at me her eyes still had that laughing quality, as if everything she saw made her want to smile, and without me being able to stop it I found myself walking back to her car.
"You're sure? Won't your pizzas get cold?"
"No bother, jump in now." She said smiling again.
As I got into the car I heard a small voice complaining.
"Mom, I want to go home."
Looking back I found a young girl sitting there, a little brown carbon copy of her mother, studying me with an imperial inquisitory gaze.
"Look, I don't want to be any trouble." I said as I started to get out of the car again. "You should take your daughter home." Just to find someone holding my wrist in a friendly but unbreakable hold.
"You're no trouble. Now, where should we take you?"
That's when my mouth did it again.
Well, that was where I really wanted to go I guess, but I had lost sight of that home some ten years ago. I couldn't bend, I had never learnt how. Realizing that I now had made a double ass out of myself my sense of time stopped. Somehow I didn't have anywhere to turn anymore, and neither did I have anything sensible to say.
"Okay." She answered, gently pulling me back down in the seat, like some force of nature.
"It's okay darling, we're going home."
Looking at her, wondering what she meant by that I heard her child ask.
"Good, you like pepperoni?"
"No." I said, chancing that it was me she meant.
"Me neither. Mom does."
As she drove away she smiled again, her eyes cool but laughing all the same.
"Ain't you the lucky one." She said musingly. "Finding us, and we going your way too."