An Encounter with Greg
Chapter 34: An Encounter with Greg
Rachel was right; the book did help a bit. Thankfully, not all the poems were about love.
On New Year’s Eve, Greg called as I was just finishing “I Have Seen Black Hands” by Richard Wright. My phone vibrated the familiar ringtone of Taylor Swift’s “Wonderland” (obviously) as I picked it up.
“Hey, man. You doing anything for New Year’s?”
“Nope,” I said. I knew it was Greg because I had caller I.D.
“Me neither. Wanna grab a pint at Gabby’s?” I checked my watch. It was seven in the evening but I knew it wouldn’t have mattered if it was midnight, my parents wouldn’t say anything as I left the house.
“Sure, man. See you in a few.”
When I got to Gabby’s, Greg was already at a booth. “Hey, man,” he said as we shook hands and I sat down.
“How was your Christmas?”
“Alright. I ended up chilling with Rachel, Christmas Day.” Greg nodded. He had met Rachel once when she and I were leaving English together. We all had lunch and when Rachel left for her next class, the first question Greg asked was if I was dating her. The funny thing with being friends with a girl is when it’s just the two of you people automatically assume you’re a couple.
“Have you two, you know, boinked yet?”
“NO!” I practically shouted. A few heads turned towards me and even the bartender gave me the buddy-cool-it stare. Greg was beginning to remind me of someone else I used to know, but I knew he had just slipped up. We were all men.
“Sorry, man. But aren’t you attracted to her at all? I mean, she’s fucking hot. And if you’re not, do you mind if I, you know?”
I looked to the front of the bar to see a red car speed by. Alice, what are you trying to tell me?
“Greg, could we move on to something else?”
“Sorry, man,” said Greg taking the hint.
After we paid for our drinks, Greg informed me that the night was not over. “So do you know of any parties happening?”
“No,” I told him truthfully.
“Hmm…” Greg nodded.
“No. But we could always go to The Maddy.”
“You don’t know The Maddy?”
“No, I don’t. And repeating the name isn’t gonna give me sudden realization.”
“Well, we gotta go.”
And soon we were outside St. George Station and Greg was leading me to the lengthy line that I assumed was for “The Maddy”.
I noticed that two red cars were lined up on the opposite side street and it made me again question Alice’s presence. Seriously, what was she trying to tell me? that love was waiting for me in this drunk and sleazy club? or that I needed to have a good time? I had no idea, but I was going with it.
Once we flashed our I.D.s and were inside, I was surprised at how big the complex was. There were so many rooms, but Greg led me upstairs to the outside patio so he could smoke.
“See anyone you like?” he asked through puffs as if he had suddenly picked up the career of a wingman.
“No,” I said. There could’ve been, but I was still hooked up on Alice.
“You sure, man? There sure are a lot of bangable ladies here.”
“Dude, what’s your deal?”
“Whatdya mean, what’s my deal?”
“You’re acting like a jerk, man. I just didn’t feel you were one of those guys.” And then a girl with reddish-brown hair in a red dress walked by. “I need to leave.”
“I just do!” I cried and tried to find the exit. Greg was behind me as I passed the piano bar and found the doors that lead outside ignoring the booming piano of “Piano Man” by Billy Joel. Greg followed me outside.
“Yo, man, what’s wrong?” asked Greg grabbing my arm and pretending to be my friend again once we were out the doors.
“Do you believe in God?” I asked.
“No,” Greg said matter-of-factly.
“Haven’t you ever thought that maybe your life isn’t just random, like there is something such as destiny?”
“What are you trying to get at?” questioned Greg. He was still holding his cigarette.
“I think God is sending me messages,” I flat out stated.
“What makes you think that?” Greg asked, blowing out smoke.
“Well, with everything that’s going on, it’s the only solution I came up with.”
“What’s going on?”
“It’s hard to explain.”
I could tell that Greg didn’t give a shit unlike Rachel, but I didn’t care anymore. The more people I exploited Alice’s game too, the better. I didn’t care if they believed me or not. Maybe someone could actually help me or maybe I would actually run into one of the people in charge of the whole thing. That encounter with R.A. Jake was the closest I had gotten to the truth about Alice, but he was just a messenger and not a conductor.
“You see those two red cars lined up outside?” Greg nodded, but that’s when one of the security guards walked up to us.
“Hey guys, you can’t just stand here. Either go inside or across the street.”
“Sorry,” I apologized as Greg and I crossed the street so that we were now standing in front of the two red cars: a Mercedes-Benz C350 and a Mustang.
“You were saying?” asked Greg barely noticing the cars.
“These red cars,” I pointed, “I think they symbolize love.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Humour me, O.K.? What if someone was trying to send me a message and using various objects like cars, people, et cetera to get their point across?” I could tell that Greg thought I was a wacko.
“But if God’s sending you a message, why doesn’t he just blatantly state it? Give you a sign that reads, ‘Art, this is God, and I am here to tell you that everything that’s happening is my doing.’ Then the last part of the sign is him actually telling you what he is doing so you know and can do it right. You know, follow the fate you were destined for.”
“But God’s not that explicit.”
“Yeah, because God doesn’t exist.”
I sighed as Greg took one last drag from his cigarette before throwing it into the street. Then I saw the girl in the red dress from The Madison Avenue Pub walk by. She was carrying what looked like a very tattered and almost ancient book. The book then clumsily fell out of her hand and as its shiny stained burgundy cover hit the pavement, gold-trimmed pages started flying out of it as if trying to escape their confinement. Conveniently it was windy out, but I didn’t even direct Greg to what I was seeing.
“What are you looking at?” asked Greg getting all in my face and blocking my view.
“Nothing,” I said. But I somewhat understood what was happening. “I’m going home.” And just like that I left Greg standing there confused as I headed towards St. George Station.
When I did arrive home, the first song I played was “Lady in Red” by Chris de Burgh. As it played, I lay on my bed and closed my eyes. Soon, I was fast asleep.