Friday, December 27, 2013
Wake Me Up
"Watch your mouth." I turn around and am momentarily confused. He doesn't belong here with the ATM machine. They've never been here at the same time. My head tilts and my brow wrinkles, then relaxes as I recall that he was inevitable. It was all inevitable.
So I simply say, "Oh. Hey, Sean." The karaoke has stopped, and I hear Otis Redding on the jukebox. I glance to my right, and the jukebox is ten years older, containing a limited selection of CDs. Sean lights a cigarette and leans against the doorway of the men's bathroom. "You're not supposed to. . ." and my voice trails off while Sean looks at me expectantly, but a cloud of cigarette smoke has wafted from the main bar into the hallway where we are standing. I am reminded that we're in Charly's and patrons could smoke in Charly's. "Nevermind. What do you want to do?"
He takes a drag and holds it. I remember the first time I saw him standing in a doorway smoking. I thought he was an amazing sight, like someone out of a movie. It was like something out of a movie. "We can do whatever we want. We have time." But we don't. "Let's finish our drinks." He nods towards the bar and I see in front of the barstool where I first met him a Bud Light, and next to it a Corona which I presume to be mine.
"No, let's not stay. Let's get out of here. Let's just go somewhere by ourselves."
"I want to finish. I'm having fun. We'll get out of here after this one."
"It's just that there's so many people. I can't even really talk to you." "We can talk anytime." Except, we can't. "We're having fun, right? You're having fun. If you're not having fun you can go. I can meet up with you later."
"No. No, I'll stay. I want to stay." Holding the smoldering end of his cigarette between his forefinger and thumb, he turns to open the bathroom door and quickly I begin to panic. "Where are you going?"
"The bathroom. I'm just going to the bathroom. Is that okay? I'll be right back."
"Please don't. Please don't go. Don't go in there. Please stay." Sean cups the side of my face with his empty hand and looks down at me. I see the subtle green hues in his eyes, ringed with brown. I couldn't always see the green, but I could always see that the whites of his eyes were growing red with strain. 9 years later, Sean's vision likely would have been nearly gone. He stares at me for a moment.
"I'll be right back."
And he pushes the door to the bathroom open and disappears behind it. I try to stop him, but I'm paralyzed, I can't lift my arms or my feet, so I brace myself for what comes next. From the other side of the door I hear a gunshot. It rings in my ears, but is still muffled, quiet, absorbed by Sean's brain and the back of his skull.
The world begins to spin and I am standing outside of his apartment and I sense that something is wrong because his car hasn't moved it hasn't moved for five days and he's not answering his phone and we had a fight but I have to know if something is wrong so here I am but something is wrong so I begin to run but my feet feel so heavy they are so heavy but I drag them along until I am in front of the door but I don't have a key anymore because we had a fight but I see that light peaks through the blinds and I know that can't be right because it's the middle of the day but I look through the blinds and there he is from behind the blinds I see him and it's so terrible and it's not right so I bang on the window and I command him to get up and walk but I see that the gun is right beside him and I see that his legs are stiff and I see that he is not moving and I pull at the cheap windows until they begin to slide open and I push the blinds out of my way and I start to enter through the window but there is blood and I can't keep going I can't see his face because I want to remember his face looking down on me so I call and then there are sirens and they are telling me that he's gone. He's been gone for days. He's been like that for days.
The world spins again, and I am in the hallway again. This time I am at The Wright Place. There is no smoke, and the modern digital jukebox has returned, but it's not on right now because it's karaoke night. I wander back to my seat, now in the middle of the bar, still with a Corona in front of it. I see Gabriel's picture above the register. It's nine years later. Marcos is waiting for me. When I sit beside him he turns to me and kisses me on the cheek and puts his hand on my back and he asks if I am okay and I tell him yes.
I know that the movie is unfolding as it is supposed to. I know that it had to play out as it did, for me to get to where I am now. The dreams are fewer and farther between now, maybe two or three a year, but they still come and they are still haunting, packed with the inevitablity, always like a train car on a track without a brake, always headed for tragedy, even as I try with futility bring it to a halt.
As the world settles down after Christmas I can feel the memories coming back to me in the turning pages of the calendar and the cold night air and sometimes I struggle to breathe. But I know that if I had never been where I was, I couldn't have found my way to where I am. You don't get love without a little pain. You don't get a rainbow without the rain.