Absence bloats the heart
And in come change, resentment, traits endearing no more
Dreams hurt and heal depending on whim,
Asking your graces and the universe for ideal
But pride desire selfish desire block true meaning
like books written with intentions good get skewed by the human psyche
And a fall-apart concept
Gets fel’n apart.
Mercy and want get no say in this world of say,
And true things get played with to a beyond beyond.
There was no way to avoid this man whom I didn’t want to see, on his collision course for my personal space, the smarm of grin and the predatory eyes. He made turning away seem cowardly, and I wouldn’t have him make me do anything. His grin grew when he saw I wouldn’t be leaving and he showed teeth with the same glisten as the spendy beige car outside, impossible not to be his. I would have bet they smelled in some way the same. Though tailored, his clothing bulged here, sagged there, much like the flesh of his face shifted though it should have been handsome. A thirtyish rich successful man, or a parody.
His gait was so assuredly slow I had time to look around the candy store. It was spartan, like a fly-by-night operation, but still had the air of sincerity of a passionate person having done their best, and it looked new and I suspected there was more to come. There were chocolate and candy bars with ridiculously endearing names I’d not heard in decades, colourful netted bags with gums and candy cheap miniatures toys that had not been spat out by machines making billions, collectible by being difficult to find this one from a comic strip and that one that was on television. A nostalgia shop, someone’s toyroom and all their collection, with newer confection mixed in to shore up stock .
“Well you’re a bit of a hero, our very own hero amongst us saving damsels from Benita and me at your own expense”, said the jowly man not two inches from my face, making me regard him; Benita had reappeared from the back room and placing inventory on one of the barer shelves, and if paying attention doing a much better job than the magazine man had.
His words got to me anyway.
“Get her out of here.”
The woman behind the counter pointed a stiff finger at the drunk girl who had followed me in. I half-turned to look at her over my shoulder and found her puzzlingly staring daggers at a man in the corner wearing a fine suit and flipping through a magazine and pretending to ignore the three of us.
“She needs a cab,” I said. Nothing happened. “Can I get a cab?” In another two heartbeats the proprietress lowered her hand and picked up her phone with an exasperated noise. She turned her back and held a murmured conversation.
“She knows where you’re going?” I asked the drunk girl.
“She knows.” She still stared at the man in the corner and he continued to flip. I had missed an exchange and was in the middle of something. When the shop-owner–she clearly was–had finished her call she turned back to us and crossed her arms across her chest, let her eyes flick between us, intruders. I felt my cheeks heat and eventually looked at the floor and listened to the pages of the magazine turn as the man in the corner didn’t break.
The first I noticed being alone was when I heard the cab pull away and saw the man with the magazine drop it to his side and start to saunter over.
The streets were friendlier than I’d remembered. Trees that I’d recalled as stunted things planted out of some rebeautificational duty had shed their lot and thrived, whispering in their concrete club and growing on their own terms. If the walking people were still brutish they were softened by their backdrop, and I found myself enjoying this stroll among both kinds of life on the downtown streets.
Arriving at the dentist’s office I was accosted by a young woman’s situation. She sat against the building, directly under a candy-shop window so that her head poked up and obscured some of the displays, but she was bleeding from the arm and her darting looks had tears in them through the drunkeness.
“Do you have the number for the taxi?” she asked me, putting on a little-girl-lost look that despite only being play was very near the truth. “They don’t have the taxi inside.”
“That’s ridiculous,” I said. “But I don’t have one either. Are you alright?”
“Yes?” The word was swallowed in a sob that bubbled to the surface. “Yes?” As if needing to be told so. “I just fell. It’s been a shitty night and I ended it by falling, there’s a rock in my arm now and my friends won’t…” and the rest got too high and incoherent for me to follow, but seemed to suggest that early-evening friends had tired of her by early morning, and she’d been stranded outside all night.
I remembered this from when I was twenty and it had happened to me and it had happened to everyone I’d known. “I’ll go inside and ask about a taxi for you–”
“They don’t know!”
–”I’ll be right back.”
“They don’t want me in,” she said, rising to follow, “they said I’m drunk and I know I am a bit but I just fell!” She drew herself up to her full, unimpressive height, tottered, took a deft swig from a bottle she’d produced from the recesses of her bag and made disappear again so quickly that I wasn’t sure I hadn’t manufactured the scene in my head.