When I met you, you weren’t my friend. There is a name for a person who takes everything from you, but I cant recall what it is. I want to say she was a thief, but that never quiet clutched it. How can you steal something that cant be held? My utter inability to sum her up drove me crazy. I was crying mercy. Mercy for an undisclosed pain. For a name you just can’t say. Mercy- how I felt for her every day. It was beautiful and terrible together. Mercy for…fuck it, we’ll call her that. Mercy. This isn’t about her anyway.
I’ll tell you, that when I met you, I was with Mercy. And when she left a week later, I thought that was the end of me. Down on the street, Friday, it had to be, I thought. I was in my head and when I met you we weren’t friends, but you came up to me; said you’d read an interesting book. It made you think of me.
“What’s it about?” I said.
“I’m not quiet sure yet, but i’m two chapters in and when I saw you sitting there, I just had to tell you about it.”
This girls hitting on me, I think. I don’t smile. I don’t frown. I just think about her for a moment. She’s cool with it, with the silence, with me thinking for a moment. I think I like that. Mercy never gave me that. Shit. I’m already comparing her to other people.
I always ask this question. I’m not really sure why.
“There’s this part in it where you’re the main character.”
“Are you in it?” I say.
“I don’t think so.” She says.
“But I might show up later.”
“Nice!?” It’s half hearted.
“What am I like in the book?”
“You’re in a diner at first, the cops arrive and the women you were meeting had to bail. But there’s all of these steps. Each chapter is a step toward another step.”
“Sounds like they set it up like a normal book.”
I’m an asshole and she laughs anyway.
What a great laugh, I think, and when I’m through with it, I begin to wonder what she’s wanting from me.
“You’re an asshole.” She interrupts.
“In the book?”
“No. In real life.”
“I don’t think your character is an asshole in the book though.”
She was still chuckling, so I smiled.
“What are the steps?”
“It’s like, there’s these people that we’re all connected to, like spiritually and each one has an “Insight” to teach us. When we’ve figured one Insight, then someone, somehow, turns up and they teach us the next. We cant really move on, until they teach us what we need to learn. So you end up in the jungle somehow. At the diner and the woman tells you about the first “Insight”. There’s a manuscript and you’re like an anthropologist or something. I don’t know. It’s really good though. Don’t worry I’ll give it to you. You’ll understand what I mean.”
Just then, another British chick sits down beside us. It was dark on the street and I was running low on beer for the conversation. The curly brunette, starts in with a rant on some spirituality bullshit. Picking up were her friend left off, she seemed to know a lot about nothing. I called her out on it, and for a few weeks after that, whenever I walked into a room, she’d glare at me for an uncomfortable amount of time. When I said “Hello”, the social etiquette factor got all screwy; like the electronics on ship when it passes through a field. She wasn’t my friend when I met her either.
When I was with Mercy, I use to think I could hear the universe speaking. I told this to Alex, Thai Alex (who happens to not be Thai). I’m not sure, if it stopped talking, I told him. For obvious reasons, I mean. Or maybe I just stopped listening. I don’t know. One thing was sure though, I did in fact stop listening to the loopy haired brunette.
When there was a lull in her outspoken opinions, which seemed to volunteer themselves out of her mouth, I found myself no wiser. No better. I saw a brief and fleeting window and knew then that I needed to take it. I was the guy, I realized. I was him. You know? The one we see in movies. Everyone’s standing around in an awkward looking circle. It’s the start of the night. The rooms dark, so you cant exactly read it on their faces, but its apparent that nobodies dancing. And by that, It’s as if they’d all had agreed on something without ever saying it, like some weird form of social protest. Everyones hawing about it telepathically, you know? ‘Nope. You do it.’ They say, swaying mildly like a sad dandelion on a sunny day. One dude looks up, gives a shrug, then he’s back at fidgeting with his feet. “No sir, you go for it.” Says another. The circle is intact when suddenly, from the shadows, emerges that guy. That one guy. And he’s like: ‘Dj- Boogie Nights-track 5!’. He brings a boogie nights tape with him even though nobodies using tape decks anymore. Anyway, I’m not gonna say everyone was dancing…and yeah, I did do it with about a third the spunk, but I was defiantly that guy in this conversation.
“I met an old Spaniard in Kanchanaburi by the river…”
Again, not sure why I say the things I say. Especially out loud, but in retrospect I’m almost certain there was a strategy in play here. As expected, the comment was pretty random; considering the context. So much so that they immediately shut up. They seemed literally bewildered. I think there is no other word for that expression. They looked across the table at me. I guess I was drunk. I don’t know.
“He came up to us while we were eating breakfast.” I continued.
I pulled Matt into the conversation.
“Don’t you remember that guy in Kanchanaburi? The Spanish guy? Remember him? During breakfast?”
Matt pretty much immediately shook his head. If he’d given it even a seconds thought, he’d of known the guy. Anyway, instead of helping, it put a weird sink hole in the conversation that I had to fill.
“The coolest guy I’d ever met.” I said.
They were silent. Like, fucking dead silent.
“When he walked over to the table. I noticed him noticing the ground. It left the impression in me that he was deep in thought. Maybe he wasn’t though. There was a book in his hand by Tim Robbins. I want to tell you, he approached me, us, whatever, as if he was about to make an announcement. When he finally spoke, every word was necessary. He said:
“This is the best book I’d ever read”.
“That was it. That was his speech. Then he gave it to me. I swear, maybe it’s just the memory, but if you close your eyes; clear your senses. There was no doubt. He was the Spanish Buddha. It’s a weird coincidence, don’t you think? That two strangers could try to pawn off two stories within a few weeks of each other?”
I guess I was trying to phase this pyscho out of the conversation by continuing our previous topic. I’m a bitter egotistical person. I know. To be fair, so was this brown granola rubbing Reiki nut.
“It’s funny that you say that.”
She says thoughtfully. Then pauses for a second.
“That’s your insight in the book.”
It was perhaps the most important statement, anyone had ever made to me. I’m not being facetious either (It really was). Unfortunately, I was soo psyched about commandeering the topic, and sticking it to the Reiki swirl case, that I actually missed what she was trying to say. Didn’t even understand it really.
The curly brunette was sat there, across the table, looking dumfounded and confused. Matt had fucked off and “Boom” our bar mate, loyal in his bar endeavors; kept refilling my drinks.
“Maybe when you’re through with it, I can read it?” I say to her.
“theres no question…”
“You have to…”
“Hurry up!” I jested.
It was the first time, I felt actually friendly toward her in the conversation. The curly one closed her eyes. She was probably feeling pretty shit about the lack of inclusion here. I know. I know. I’m being petty as fuck. Who could even call this newfound friendship genuine? Especially, if built on the pretext of someone else’s insecurities? Nevertheless, I was happy for it. It, her paranoia. It, her frustration. Genuinely happy I’d won this one. Sad as I was about Mercy, this strange woman’s demise seemed like a very important step in my personal growth. I’m not really sure why.
“Read what?” She Interrupted.