Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ten: Fifty-Seven

Ten: Fifty Seven
Is there anything quite as annoying as going out of town and seeing people you know? Anything quite as, "...ugh" as seeing a person you know and don't particularly care for when you're out of town?
How about having the person you know and don't particularly--hell, especially don't-- like see you and initiate a borderline racially insensitive conversation?
Yeah. All bad.
After working for three caffeine deprived hours straight, I found myself standing bleary eyed in the line at Biggby. While waiting to place my order I felt my phone vibrate. Without looking down, I reached into my pocket, extracted my cell and silently cursed the fools that invented the chain letter and it's modern day equivalent, the forwarded message. Without bothering to tell the sender that if God was really testing me I was too tired to care about failing, I silently took a step forward as the line advanced.
I felt someone tap my shoulder. "Excuse me," they said as I turned around. "I think you dropped your mo--LauRen?"
Oh, fuck. Not this bitch, I thought to myself.
Plastering my fakest, "It's so nice to see you! Won't you please go play in traffic now?" smile on my face, I thanked her for telling me that I had dropped my money. She handed it to me and gave me an unwelcome and very much unwanted hug.
"So how are you? What are you doing up here in Grand Rap--do you live here now?"
I awkwardly patted her on the back while trying to disengage from her embrace. "I'm alright, thanks. No. I'm just visiting for a few hours before I head back to Lansing."
I noticed the line had moved out of corner of my eye so, with what I hoped would be one last forced smile, I turned and took a step forward. There was only one person standing in the way of my coffee and my hasty exit from the shop when I felt her hand in my hair.
"Oh, my God, LauRen. Your hair is so soft! It looks like it'd be...well, y'know. Rough."
The needle on the imaginary record playing in my head dragged across its surface and the music stopped as I turned to face her. "...Excuse me?" My internal DJ changed the song from Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 to Lil Scrappy's "Head Bussa" as she blushed at her gaffe.
"Oh, I didn't mean it like that! It's a good thing. I like the 'natural' look on you! Makes you seem...ethnic. You look like you could be on your way to a Black Cat--Lion? Panther?--meeting in your leather jacket."
Oh. My. God. This bitch--this bitch tried it.
With my hands balled into tightly clenched fists at my side, I was about to whirl around and deliver a spinning kick to the side of her head when I saw the barista motion for me to come forward and place my order out of the corner of my eye.
I don't think she realizes or appreciates the fact that my Wild Zebra latte saved her reproductive organs from being introduced to my fists.

(Day)dreamin' and I'm Thinkin' of...

After spending hours writing, rewriting and trying in vain to perfect a piece, I found myself sprawled leaden eyed in the middle of my living room. Opting to conclude my exercise in futility for the night, I closed the notebooks I had fanned out in front of me, sat up and stretched. I glanced at the clock and groaned. It was a quarter to four and I had to be up and ready to make my weekly trip to Grand Rapids by half past six.
I knew that I would be tempting fate if I fell asleep in my bed. Instead, I stacked my notebooks into a crude facsimilie of a pillow and wrapped a blanket around myself. I silently prayed that I wouldn't wake up with another spiral shaped indentation in my face and, laying my head on the journals, closed my eyes. Within moments I was asleep and soon after I was whisked into my past.
The dream opened on a summer night forty or so miles outside of Chicago. From my place on the back porch steps I had a front row seat to the argument my fifteen year old self was having with my friend Julian. Chuckling as my younger self threatened to kick him in the ankle for being a jerk, I took a glance around the backyard.
"Y'know," a familiar voice behind me began, "you were always a bit...violent. I can't think of one time when you didn't threaten to punch, slap or kick me for something I did."
I paused as the warm tenor washed over me. "Violent? Psh. I don't know what you're talking about. If anything, you were fond of doing punchable, slappable and kickable shit and, loser," I replied without taking my eyes off of the frisbee that had nearly decapitated me earlier that day and turning around.
The owner of the voice laughed and took a seat next to me on the steps.
"Hey, Ren."
We sat in silence for a moment and watched as the memory continued to unfold. Fifteen year old Ren was making a show out of taking off her glasses and cracking her knuckles when Jay spoke up.
"You don't seem all that surprised to see me."
"Surprised? No. Not at all. Annoyed? Maybe a little bit."
"Ah, shuddup."
"Make me, buttface." I paused before asking, "What's this about anyway?"
"This?" he asked and gestured. "This is the night we were watching An American Tail and--"
I rolled my eyes and turned to face him. "No, dumbass. I clearly remember what night this is. What I'm asking is what're you doing in my dream and why?"
"Oh, " he said, suddenly sheepish. "Don't get smart; shuddup."
"Stop being dumb and I'll think about it," I challenged.
Muttering something that sounded rude even to my considerably fucked up standards under his breath, Jay simply shrugged and said, "We need to talk."
I arched a brow. "About what exactly?"
"A few things."
"Way to be specific."
"Way to be sarcastic."
I shrugged and leaned back. "You should know how I do by now."
"Yeah, 'cause that's a valid excuse for you to act like a dick."
I laughed and threatened to punch him in his if he didn't shut his mouth. Shooting a glance at him out of the corner of my eye I asked, "So what are you exactly? And what is this really?"
"Why, whatever do you mean?"
I sighed. "Oh, don't play coy with me, jackass. You know exactly what I mean."
"I do," he agreed with a nod. "Break it down for me anyway."
I rolled my eyes and thought about it.
"Well, " I mused. "I don't believe in ghosts--"
"And you shouldn't because that would be dumb," he cut in.
"Look, are you gonna let me work this out or not? Sheesh. Like I was saying: I don't believe in ghosts so that's out even though you've been gone for years now. Um, what else? The chances of you getting into Heaven were slim to 'ahahaha--no', and...'ey. Don't look at me like that. I'm not even sure you can be punched but I'm willing to find out."
"You're taking too long to guess the obvious, kid."
"The obvious? Well, my last thought is that you couldn't possibly be an angel because, I mean really. You could, however, be a demon, so..." I trailed off.
"Real cute, Ren."
"Thank you."
He shook his head. "You're not thinking hard enough."
"Well excuse the eff outta me, Julian Dominique, but I could've sworn you just said that I was 'taking too long to guess the obvious'. Now you want me to think hard, too? Make up your mind!"
"Oh. So you're gonna make me say it then?"
"That I am."
I snorted as he narrowed his eyes at me. "You're such an asshole."
"I'm aware," I replied with a shrug.
He laughed. "Alright, lemme put it like this. You can think of me as the rather attractive if I do say so myself--"
"Because I certainly won't be saying it."
"Like I was saying," he continued, shooting me a look. "Consider me the physical embodiment, um...such as it is, of your unconscious mind."
My past self screamed with laughter as I sat on the steps facing Julian.
"Hol' up, wayment; what?" I stuttered. "Okay, so, you're supposed to be my subcon--"
"No," he shook his head. "Your unconscious mind. The term 'subconscious' is some new-agey, clearance rack self help book-y bullshit, kid."
"Okay, whateva. One question though."
"What's that?" he asked.
"What kind of Lifetime: Television for Women shit is this?"
He threw his head back and laughed as I continued to not so silently fume.
"I'm serious, Julian. I feel like I'm in 'Sweet Dreams: a Hijacking Story' right now. And that still doesn't explain why you're in my freakin' dream!"
"Doesn't it though?" He chuckled.
"Uh...no, loser. We just went over this."
"What'd I tell you earlier," he asked. "I said, 'we need to talk'."
"And we're talking."
He shook his head in frustration. "My God, kid. For someone so smart," he noticed I was about to interrupt and stopped me before I could. "I'm not here to stroke your ego so I'm not repeating that; shuddup. Anyway," he took a breath, "you're slow."
"I resent that."
Acting as though he hadn't heard me properly, he told me that he agreed that I represented that. My eyes narrowed into slits and my hands automatically balled into fists. I'm still not sure of what the consequences of punching my personal unconscious in the throat would be but at that moment I was willing to find out.
He looked at my clenched fists and sheepishly asked, " I just did something punchable, didn't I?"
A nod. "Kickable, too," I replied while flexing my foot.
"Okay, okay," he laughed and raised his hands in mock surrender. "Seriously though. Put it all together. Me, your unconscious mind, me...c'mon."
I rolled my eyes for what must've been the nth time and thought it out.
Julian, my best friend since the playground days and my unconscious mind had teamed up to hijack my dream....My unconscious mind and Jay, one of the people I miss most in the world...oh, what the hell.
"Exactly," he smiled as I sighed and cursed under my breath.