I’d forgotten my towel. My clothes became splotched with water as I put them on. I wrung my hand through my hair until it was wet but had stopped dripping.
I walked outside.
It was gray now and getting cold and there were small groups of college students. I guess I was only a few years younger now. I started walking and no one really paid attention to me.
There were people on their phones. You know how they do. I don’t feel like relaying their conversations.
I went through downtown and got almost all the way home, I got away from everyone. Then I saw my house across the street a block away with the lights on against the late evening. I stopped walking and chewed on my cheek. Fuck it, I’ve got nothing else to do but feel like shit. I turned around and headed back to the pool. I went faster the nearer I got.
Ninety left. Ninety, I told myself. I cut my nails into my palms. Ninety laps left—That’s nothing, it’s all nothing, it’s whatever, they don’t matter, it’s the gray at either end that matters. I spent the morning running, anyway. It doesn’t even overlap. I passed a lot of people and restaurants and hardened my nerves. Better to be dead than soft. I got there with my eyes set and my jaw locked. The lifeguard was outside in normal clothes.
“Sorry, bud—we’re closing. Tomorrow you can get after it.”
“See you there,” he said and the girl who ran the desk came and they walked away.
Now it was night. I was still wet and in shorts.
I started walking.
They don’t care about the truth. No one cares about the truth. It just doesn’t matter to them. ’Cause they’re liars. Everyone is always lying and I’m the only one who cares, I felt like. It always comes down to arguing if it matters that it’s true, not if it’s true. I can’t believe I have to argue that with people. I don’t like them. I really don’t like them.
“Hey! Sir!” some girl shouted at me.
“Your backpack’s unzipped.”
I zipped it up and kept walking. What the hell.
I passed a house party and heard people chattering and laughter.
Every goddamn gallon was dripping on me. I couldn’t get the pool out of my head. I don’t have any interest in contributing to society. I just want to get away. I don’t even feel any kind of oneness with other disillusioned people—playing video games and getting high—you know how they do. They’re not going to be remembered in two hundred years. I’m more alone than you’ll ever know, I imagined telling someone.
I want a girl, but I’m too much of a wimp. I need to be tougher, harder, braver, more creative. Girls aren’t the answer, anyway. It’s about solitude, finding the truth when there’s no one to give me anything to focus on. Friends are distractions. If I need friends to show me avenues I haven’t found, then for the same reason I need not to have friends. All this loneliness is the only way I can find out who I am. It has to be introspection. That’s what’s going to give me what I’m looking for. The will separating me from society. That’s philosophy. I don’t want anything to do with anybody, girls included, I just want a girl in theory, and even that isn’t the answer. I don’t know why I want it then. Nobody cares what’s true, talking on and on in classes like they’re so right as a whole that specific facts don’t matter—you know what I mean.
I need to go find a place up high in the mountains and live there and run a hundred or a hundred forty miles a week and just run and philosophize and never talk to anyone. I could live cheap and I don’t need anything you think I need.
Tracks toward thunder. I want tracks toward thunder.
I want a fight. I want to hurt and get hurt and taste danger. Just want to punch somebody.
I kicked an empty soda can off the sidewalk into the street. Fucking nuclear bombs. I wish there was war like in the old days.
Anyway. No one cares about me or the truth and I don’t care about them.
I saw a guy across the street. He crossed over to me. He walked toward me and I caught his eye. He nodded and walked by.
I need to hit the trails. They don’t care. They’re all decadents, anyway. They don’t matter. What the hell.
I’m going to be tough as nails, tough as iron, tough as twenties boxing gloves.
I got home and I was feeling bad because I hadn’t hit four hundred laps in the pool.