A Dark, Crowded Bar

Enter the girl I used to see.  Ignoring the caution lights and wild oncoming traffic, I walk towards her with the confidence of James Dean’s last words: “That guy’s gotta stop… He’ll see us.”

This will end badly.

We’re beyond the age when honesty worked, so I’m being coy.  She’s got a coal-colored dress that she pulls off with more flash than the sparkles on all the others.  Attitude is everything.

“You smell like cigarettes,” she says and sharpens her eyes slightly, but enough that I can partially read her intentions.  She is wrong and I let her know that.

“It must be somebody else then.”

“Yeah,” I say

She asks how I’ve been.

I tell her I’m fine.  It feels like we are yuppie tourists in Spain, looking out on pale mountains and waiting for a fucking train.  And here we are, inside my favorite bar, both half-drunk, and not saying enough.

I excuse myself, partly because I just ran through the last drink quickly, but mostly because I am out of uninteresting things to say.

A girl who sees me in another world interrupts me on my way and asks me about class and says something about the quirky professor.  I feign interest and force a chuckle as her coquettish friend says something to me about the rain.

Darwin’s finest exhibit, I’m weeding through the weak.  We all do it, never admitting that we have all come for the same thing, and that it is always mating season.  Smoke and façade, mirrors and magic tricks.

My girl in the charcoal dress is leaving.

I finally reach the watering hole.

Someone named John, or something, gives me a “how ya doin’?”


Joshua White

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