I love the sound of rain splattering upon my air conditioner. I don’t know why—but it makes me feel warm and comfortable—and grateful that I am not sleeping outside on the streets. Those nights—no matter how boring they are—are always the most memorable. Even though the rain has ceased to beat upon the air conditioner, I can still hear the tapping sound in my mind. “Everything’s okay,” the rain seems to say. Only if I could believe it. I am a skeptical person.
The lonely nighttime has now passed. Should I invite the sun in? I don’t think so. I’d rather the sun mind its own business and stay outside. I sit on my couch and take out my ovation guitar. I then play some melodic chords but then The Cure lodges into my mind and I begin to play Just Like Heaven—then my phone rings.
“Hey,” someone says.
“Who’s this?” I do not recognize her soft voice.
“Oh. What’s up?”
“Nothing, just got up.”
“Me too. You want to meet for breakfast?”
“You decide, Alex.”
“Be there in thirty.” She hangs up.
I brush my teeth, dress as nicely as one could in ten minutes and walk to Le Pain while listening to the Smiths.
You shut your mouth, how can you say, I go about things the wrong way?
When I arrive at Le Pain those lyrics still linger with me. I repetitively repeat the lines. How can you say, I go about things the wrong way? Janie isn’t here yet. I get a table for two and sit down on the far corner facing the glass door. Suddenly a middle-aged man sits down in Janie’s seat.
“Excuse me sir, someone’s sitting here.”
“Well, where is that person?”
“She is still on her way over, but I assure you she’ll be here shortly.”
“Well, may I sit till she comes?”
Trying to be polite I smile grudgingly and say, “Yes of course.”
“Why thank you. Call me Dave. What’s your name?”
“Like Alexander the Great!”
“I guess so.”
“May I tell you a story about my gruesome life? —don’t worry it is a very short story.”
“My father was a cab driver and my mother was a fool. They met one fine day when my father picked her up in his rented yellow car—and nine months later, I was born. They were a careless couple—but aren’t all couples carless? I never saw my father and my mother died when I was ten. I remember staring for hours at my window—oh is that your friend?”
“Oh yes that’s her,” I say.
“Well, I’ll be on my way. Thank you for listening.”
Janie slowly cat-walks my way. She is a model—but so is every decent looking girl now a day. Anyways, I think she’s prettier than a model can be. I always fail to notice the clothing she wears in her ads—and sometimes she is not even wearing any. It’s actually a problem. Every time I talk with her I picture her naked. I can’t help myself. She sits down.
“How’s it going?”
“Good. Glad to see you.”
“You too.” I order a coffee and she orders a quinoa salad with chicken on the side. She is one of those health-freaks.
“We need to talk,” she demands.
“About? Haven’t seen you in quite a while.”
“Yeah, I know. I am not sure if it has been too long or too soon."
“I guess we’ll find out. What is it you want to ask?”
“Did you never have any feelings for me or were you just angry that day when you said it? I can’t stand not knowing.”
I wonder if I should tell the truth, lie, or make an attempt to avoid this subject. You shut your mouth, how can you say, I go about things the wrong way? The Smiths run through my mind again. “Did you ever care for me?” I ask defensively.
“There was a time when I did—I mean I tried and tried and tried to do anything I could to please you for some time. Wasn’t like it mattered to you.”
I stare so hard at the door that my vision gets all fuzzy. Then I say, “There was a time when I cared for you.”
Janie smiles, looks up and then walks out. In confusion I continue to sip my coffee.