“And then she just fucking cut his dick off!”
“Oh, fuck off.”
“No man, seriously! Then he became this, like, awesome fucking salesman; the best!”
“No. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. What is it with you and these fucking stories anyway?”
“What do you mean?”
“Man, every day you walk in here, put on an apron, and launch into some crazy story that you ‘heard on the news’ or ‘heard from a friend’ or ‘read on the internet’ or wherever you make this shit up from. Then you act like their true and if I question any details, you go into a different story that supposed to prove your point, but it’s just more bullshit.”
“Whoa. Well, I don’t know what I’m supposed to tell you about…”
“Dude, just tell me about your life. I tell you about mine, like that girl who used to call me Silver, like the horse from The Lone Ranger, for all the right reasons!”
Tori had told me lots of stories about his late night trysts, his escapades around foreign countries looking for tail, his prowess that was only matched by his alcohol tolerance. And good for him for being able to share all of that. He stood there, leaning against the black screen of the cash register, the pale yellow morning light crawling through the window, casting everything in a sick shine, and waited for me to tell him something about myself. We had been working together for three months at the smoothie joint, and I doubt he knew my last name.
It’s not that I was a compulsive liar. I told him fiction because for the last ten years I had gone from shitty job to shitty job, working my ass off, dropped out of school twice, and only recently could go more than a week without getting drunk or stoned. While all of it was happening, sure, I had some good times. You have to, otherwise you find yourself at the end of a rope or on the bathroom floor, foaming from the mouth, empty pill bottles around you. But reminiscing about that time you got so drunk and had to run from the cops, well, it gets old, quick. It makes you feel old. Like the good times are all over, and, hey, maybe they are.
I woke up on a sheet-less mattress at five in the morning, trying to stretch out of the night before. Every movement felt like it was done while wearing chains. Standing up was hell on earth.
I left for work on a third generation bike, the rusted chain rubbing against the flaking green frame, begging a rock, a bottle, anything, to jump up and break it clean off. On the way, passing the early morning jogger and the tranny prostitutes walking down Belmont, I tried to think of something good to tell Tori, something that would take up time so that he couldn’t ask me any personal questions.
“Come on, man. Tell me something real.”
“You want something real?” I was tired. Or maybe I wanted someone to talk to. An open ear that I could spill my soul to, clearing out all of the bullshit that I hadn’t told anyone because there was no one to tell. Maybe I just wanted him to realize why I didn’t like talking about true things. Either way, I looked at him and said “I’m turning twenty seven this year. I have never accomplished any of my goals. I stopped talking to my mom almost three years ago because all she said was how I was wasting my potential and how big of a disappointment I was.” I started pacing the floor, grabbing a straw in my left hand to mash into an unrecognizable mass of plastic, the other flailing wildly as my words tried to leave my body through any possible means. “I spent three months in a hospital for coke addiction when I was seventeen. I have to take so many pills to keep me sane, that I count them as my breakfast. I will never find a woman to marry, because I have commitment issues. Not to mention my dick is the size of a Gordon’s fish stick.”
“Shit.” Tori looked down, and started playing with a penny, rolling back and forth on the counter with his fore finger.
“So fuck off with this truth bullshit, ok?”
“Do you need a hug or something?”
“I need a cigarette.” I rubbed my hands on the apron, feeling every waterproof fiber with my callouses. Aprons. Everything I do, I do in aprons. The cycle never ends.
Tori was tall, a few inches taller than me, but at the moment I seemed like a giant next to him.
I never gathered an enthusiasm for living. I never found myself taking a walk and admiring flowers or a child’s laugh. I learned, quite quickly, to see the ugliness of the world. Love stories were works of saps, and language? Language was a tool for concise communication. Long winded explanations, poetic prose, are all just trying to cover up a lack of insight or actual experience. Manufacturing a life based around the good times, the happy memories, the sting of defeat only to be followed with a lesson or a “que sera sera”, it’s all (to be concise) bullshit.
It’s a bitter self-loathing that comes through the truths that I could tell. You grow up poor, you stay poor, you start to lose your sense of wonder and beauty. The rich have it easy, big houses, silver spoons, opportunities presented to them in the form of a “I don’t know why, but you’ve earned it!” The fortunate see the world as a wondrous place filled with whimsy and wind thrown cautions, forever knowing that below them, should they fall, lays a safety net. Landing on your feet is a given when you fall wearing a harness. I couldn’t tell Tori stories about me. It wouldn’t interest him, because when I look out at what is happening in the world around me, I see the misery, and I quickly spell it out. I do not dwell. I can’t think of my dreams as a mysterious, multi-faceted playground of emotions, the good bringing joy and the bad haunting, giving insight, or whatever. They are a collection of what has happened during your shitty day, and sometimes you wake up screaming. Or at least I do.
The rains came in while Tori and I sat in silence. They sky was black at ten in the morning, and droplets no longer described what was falling. It was the kind of rain that makes Christians build an arc or start preparing for the second coming. The giant glass windows shook with each clap of thunder, and the wind howled like a dying child calling for its mother. I thought about apologizing to Tori for the outburst, but as I watched him study the toe of his shoe I though, eh… fuck it.
Eight hours passed and the rain had let up significantly. My shift was over and I headed home. I was tired, and as I left, Tori asked if I wanted to go out for a drink or something. He looked worried. I told him I wanted to go home and drink a bottle of Drain-o, before hopping on my bike and pedaling home. As I cruised over the slick streets, passed taxis and disappointed Cubs fans leaving the rained out game, I sighed. At home, chaining my bike to a rod iron fence, I looked up into the once dark sky, and staring back at me, brightly in the sky, was a rainbow. I just walked inside.