Saturday, May 17, 2008

One: After Jack by Anthony McCarthy

Work had ended early. He was getting down to a long Friday evening, not planning to, nothing was planned. Supper, watching some TV. No, there’d be nothing on. He'd listen to music. He didn’t have any work to do. The paper was read. He didn’t have any expectation of anyone coming to see him or calling him. They never did. He wouldn’t go out, there was no bar that would welcome his presence. He’d finished with drinking a few years earlier anyway. He wouldn’t be going to meet up with anyone. There wasn’t anyone he wanted to see or who would notice his absence. He didn’t mind, he liked being alone. It was a little past three, the drizzle that ended his work day was getting heavier, he should get out of his wet boots. But he was eating crackers and peanut butter and drinking a cup of coffee before bothering. He liked the feeling of the hot cup in his cold hands, the feeling of the warm vapors on his face in the cold air. He didn’t even realize that he was enjoying it. If he knew he wasn’t thinking about Jack he would have thought it was strange. Jack had taken up so many of his solitary times before. He hardly took up any, now. Jack, the love of his youth, the one who had taught him to experience things without noticing them, maybe the reason he liked to be alone so much now . “You think too much,” Jack’s first words when he’d said, “I think I’m in love with you,”. After the months it took him to say it, the crises. Jack’s last words, that was all Jack said. Jack wasn’t about thinking, he acted. Always all right there, nothing buffered. It was so strange that someone like that could fade out of the life of someone like him, even on a silent Friday afternoon drinking coffee alone in his kitchen. It would have seemed strange, if he’d thought about it.

Beginning of “Gay Man, Small Town”, Anthony McCarthy, 1998