"Bicycle Chains and Bleeding Hearts"
"Tuesday again, always awful of course." I speak aloud only to myself and the walls as I pull the covers over my head. Too few, fitful hours of sleep inter-spliced with bizarre dreams resulting from the fractured REM cycles. The one I remember the most clearly in those last few seconds of haze before I actually get up is one of me wading into an ocean of suds, I scoop up some of the sea in my hands and it turns to fish that slip and slither between my fingers and back into the water. A thought runs through my head, more fleeting than the fish in my hands, "If mom were still around she'd have something to say on that, her new age books flung open to 'Spiritually guide' my way." It's accompanied by the image of a bicycle tire with a bent rim and the whiff of perfume long since gone.
Shuffling into my kitchen I mash the button on my little two cup Mr.Coffee rig so as it gurgles into a startled existence. A waffle is thrown into my toaster and my black terrycloth robe clings to my frame. It's my best one, so few burns in it. The toaster gives up the goods and I begin and finish eating it on my way to bathroom. My morning routine of shit, shower, and shave go off without a hitch and nary a stray thought of existentially crushing meaning that seem to so often cloud along with the steam of the shower.
I get dressed in stale cigarette scented jeans from yesterday and my favorite over sized sweater. I dump the contents of my coffee maker into my thermos, grab my back pack, and leave my tomb of too many memories to be haunted by one less ghost. I work third shift tonight, perks of working at 24/7 joint. I go sit in the park down the street, the bitter cold wind of the day numbs my hands. I pull out my beaten copy of On The Road and thumb through it, looking at where I've highlighted and started and scribbled along the margins in it. I find the one that I always come to. The page is dog eared and the spine has the deepest crease from how many times I've put the book down with this page open.
"A pain stabbed my heart, as it did every time I saw a girl I loved going the opposite direction in this too-big world."
My fingers brushed along the words as thoughtlessly as one would move them along the curve of a lovers back after separating from throes of passion. My eyes drifted towards where I knew exactly who wouldn't be there as I took a sip of my coffee an the last haul off of my final cigarette. "Fuck." I crush the empty pack and filed it, along with the rest of my things into my bag.
"Can I have a moment of your time?" a stranger looks past her like she doesn't exist. "Ma'am, could I just take thirty seconds of your day?" this time the broad looks visibly repulsed and gives the girl the same birth as one would give to lepers. Rather noticeably upset, She stares down at the clip board in her hands. She takes a moment, only just a beat, and once again begins to try and bolster support for whatever it was that she found the most needing of her attention this week. I bet it was some animal, Terry said it was definitely a "Pressing social issue". Terry is a story all in himself, from what I can gather and adequately confirm, adequately used rather loosely.
He's seventy-two, has lived down the block from this building for time immemorial, and has no one left in this world to care about him. He tells me he's done a lot more, including been a part of almost every major world event since his birth, literally. He claims his parents are the nurse and the sailor kissing in time square that was featured on Life magazine. I don't question anything he says. I like the fantasy. Terry is a permanent fixture in here, just like the smell of detergent. He came in on the first day of my job and hasn't missed a day. "No man, I'm telling you she's got some sort of owl mascot on the top of the paper. You're old eyes are getting the best of you Terry!" I jest and put on a smirk. "Now you look here kid, that little lady out there is protesting something political, I've seen my fair share of political protesters in my day, believe me." I roll my eyes at the old coot. He starts in again after someone tells me the change machine is out and asks for quarters "Why don't you go and talk to her to find out? She's plenty cute, if I was younger..." He fades off, I laugh mentally cringe at whatever he could be thinking about, my mind initially jumping into the gutter. But I see something pass behind his eyes. Longing. Not for the flesh that he sees in front of him but for all the bodies, including his, that he knows belong to the past. "Let me give you a piece of advise if you'll allow," he slowly brings his attention back to the present."Life is far, far too short. You're twenty something now and this is the time to live and make mistakes. To try and try and push the bounds of what your life is. I'm not long for this world and have no one in it that is still longing for me. You have a girl outside this shop at least three times a week that has a heart pleading for someone to care. Take the chance? For a fool old man to feel like he can still be useful? Take my words to heart, please?"
I'm caught off guard, Terry usually talks like he's going to out live the world. But right now he's dropped that. We look at each other for several dozen heart beats in silence, him trying to plead. Me trying to show that I understood. No words could, or should, be exchange for these things to be understood. I walk out the door.