Four more years.

March 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

“I’ll sift through that static for a simpler sound.” – Cotton Crush – Kevin Devine. 

Coffee & TV

Coffee & TV (Photo credit: Spencer Finnley)

I turn up five minutes later than we’d agreed in the awkward and stuttering conversation that had preceded our first meeting for four years. I thought I’d get the drop on her and be the one who got to make the grand entrance. Four years later and I’m still trying to move chess pieces across her brain. As usual she was a couple of moves ahead and hadn’t arrived yet. I take my seat in the home town bar, all warm with open fire places and low ceilings, sitting chairs decked in red leather substitute, you know the drill. A candle on every table, the flickering light from the flame lights the faces of those enjoying their evenings above. Eight minutes, don’t be nervous. Breathe. She’s just making an entrance. Four years and she hasn’t changed a minute. I know exactly how I want to be when she walks through that heavy wooden door with it’s old fashioned latches. I turn my face away from it. I focus on the flat screen away to my right, above the TV, pride of place, football on, cover for those who seek it. I dare not tear my eyes away. I’m lost in the green of the pitch, allowing myself only to look at the clock on the screen to determine just how long she’s going to make me wait. I go so long without blinking that the pitch blends with the players and the whole room starts to match.

The second she walks in I know it’s her. Even though she’s out of site, even though she’s had four years to change, I know. She sits in spare chair out of my eye line and I can feel her eyes on me. Searching me out. Trying to see something, anything that she can pin something, anything too. “You’re late.” I say, with my eyes not leaving the screen, cool as a fucking cucumber, ice in my veins, I may as well have been James fucking Bond in that moment. She stutters on it, I can hear her think, ten seconds in and I’ve countered her first jab. In that moment I’m Jack fucking Dempsey. “Normal people say ‘hello’ to people they haven’t seen for awhile.” And those were the opening exchanges in a conversation that has fascinated me for the last four years. In those dark moments before sleep, in those times alone and walking, those long train journeys this conversation would come up and I would wonder exactly what I’d say. I’d wonder what she’d say.  Would we be amicable? Would we bitch and snipe at each other? Would we find that thing that would remind us exactly why we got so strung out in the first place? The next few hours would hold four years of answers.

I turn to face her. If, in the moment before, I was Jack fucking Dempsey, in this moment she was Cassius fuckin’ Clay and I was left on the flat of my back on the canvas looking at the new chap. It all came back. Her eyes cut through me and left me feeling like a deer staring into headlights, dumbstruck. Her face, well, it’s her face, to me there is no higher praise, no more beautiful a set of words to describe anything on this planet. And here I am having to act like I haven’t just been laid down by a ton of bricks.

It starts how I’d imagine it to start. Each feeling the other out. Finding out the mood, the reception. Gauging nothing real and coming to no real conclusions we moved to the next station. Gloves still up. Cards still up to chests. We start cherry picking moments from the last four years. Our lives start to sound like bad advertisements, like we are trying to sell it off to the other person, to convince them that to do so would be to win this exchange. I start to wonder that maybe, just maybe, if we are still doing all this mind game shit, then maybe we aren’t meant for more, maybe that proves that we haven’t grown a day. I force myself to snap out of this, I cannot afford to think such things in the heat of battle. From their we start to let it slip. We start to laugh. We start to share the less favourable moments of the each others missed years. The mistake stories. The lovers we didn’t love. The cute moments that make personalities stand out from others. It was in that laughter I felt it. The long drawn out laughter at the end of a story about a girl I didn’t love. I remembered how I felt the last time. Not during but after. I was the alcoholic who, from the depths of his hangover, had sworn never to drink again to find his lips attached to a full beer glass days later. I tried not to let this bother me in what used to be the heat of battle, I felt the lingering feeling it might have become the heat of something else. We laugh. We drink. At the end of the night we hug and part ways and once again I’m lost in a land without closure. But tonight I ripped open a cut that I healed years ago. One it took me a while to heal the first time around.

I’d spent so much time being a gun to hire that I’d forgotten how all of this felt.

Fuck it, four more years, I’ll never drink again.

I apologies for the ticker tape style presentation of the thoughts of a former hired gun.

Simon Blake,

No Longer an Astronaut.


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