Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More bad news about cell phones. The phone companies are manipulating your feeble, human brain.

This explains a lot. I can recall many instances in which I was directly frustrated by these exact issues: full signal, then when you actually make a call, no signal. Full battery all day, half battery for an twenty minutes and then no battery soon after that.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I shaved carefully and put on my suit. I had an excuse to look my best and I knew, I knew you might be there. I sat alone in the front row and examined the set. I was right, you walked in with a friend and called hello to some people in one of the rows behind me. I stood up then, and turned.

She looked directly at me and stopped. I looked her in her eyes as I've done a hundred times before and tried to remember to smile. She didn't recognize me, not all of me, and our eyes passed that millisecond moment when a glance becomes a stare.

Each sliver of a second was a shard of mirror. In one I was reflected as woeful, left alone and unknown, a stranger now to her memory. In another I am happy, looking in her eyes again and seeing something other than a woman wronged in heart and mind. I was just a vague familiar, and I confess I was satisfied with that, or at least I mean to be.

I've not experienced this before, this being forgotten. It's an odd satisfaction; I meant to stay away and I must have done it well. Of course it helped that I was long of hair and partly bearded, wearing glasses and not dressed like a scruffian.

But I needed exactly that, this time. Now I can accept that this, these dreams of her and regrets and wondering what I could have been, if I had left the best part of me when I left her, this is mine and only mine. She doesn't need to know these things. Time and a change of grooming habits have let me become nobody. And after years of being that other person to her, nobody is a name I accept with gladness. And if hubris does not bid me shout out my true identity, perhaps I can sail safely away to some port beyond where I will not break every promise to change.

Some place where it won't matter that I still love you.

I step out into the blood-warm night to smoke a cigarette. It's the slowest suicide I know besides getting up everyday to live my life. Clouds sit fat and heavy looking close enough to touch. The moon is somewhere behind them and they glow, faintly. They cover the whole sky except for one big hole where a god must have punched through on its way back to heaven. I'm no Christian, but I don't blame him for leaving. Anyone would leave if they got the chance.

I don't worry about death. There isn't much else worth more thought and I give it plenty every time I go out on a case. A slow death is all right with me. The quick ones don't give you enough time to say goodbye but it ain't like you got much time to regret that either. In those last moments when I know I've bought it, I suppose everything will seem so beautiful. Paying attention is good in my line of work but really I try to notice these things because on that last day one of them might be the most beautiful of them all. Maybe even one of the ugly, pitted memories that hunker down in the base of my brain and only pop up their head to kiss me goodnight or to blow laconic breaths at the trailing smoke.

I drop my cigarette out into the dead grass. It doesn't catch; it'll never catch. I grind it under my heel like an accomplice. The hole in the sky is smaller. Gotta get while the gettins good.

I want to kill myself a little more but the phone rings. I heave myself through the window and back into my office. I'm annoyed but that's good because whenever I get a call this late I don't have to feel bad about not being polite.

Nobody's ever paid me to be polite.

I snatch up the phone on the fifth ring. "Grim Reaper here, what do you want?"

"...Grim? What? I-I'm sorry, this must be the wrong-"

"Lady, it's a joke, and the best I got at this hour. I'm Jim. What do you want?"

"I'm...I need your help, uh, Jim."

"You got it. Come by my office."

"What? Now?"

"Would you be calling me right now if this was something that could wait?" There's a scuff while she puts her hand over the receiver. I hear another voice, maybe a guy. There's no response from her. I pull out a cigarette and kiss it between my lips. She takes her hand off.

"Okay. At your office?"

"At my office. Just let yourself in." She's quiet. I hold the phone up to my ear with my shoulder and fish in my pockets for a book of matches. "Ma'am, I'm sure I can help you. I just don't like the phone so much."

"All right." She hangs up, click. I leave the phone off the hook and stick it in the top drawer of the desk so I won't hear that droning alert. The drawer below that contains a broken revolver and a fully functioning bottle of Faust's Single Malt Scotch. I find them to be equally reliable.

I start towards the window and catch my reflection. I didn't shave today and around my eye is still yellow-green from my last satisfied customer. I straighten my collar and adjust my thin black tie. My reflection grins back at me; a shorn-headed brown guy who looks like he hits the bottle as much as the gym. Cigarette dangling from my lip, I salute. "James Reaper, Private Investigator, reporting for duty sir!" I give him the finger and clamber out under the heavy blanket of night.