I think I got the job. I'm not
100% sure of it yet, but it looks promising- very promising. I'm the lowest bidder
so far, the most qualified, most experienced, most talented and most willing to
conform to the client's requirements. All that remains is their decision, which
will probably come on Tuesday. Meanwhile, my car is breaking down around my ears,
debtors are getting more impatient with me and I'm beginning to really
feel the listelessness induced by being broke. I had better get that
gig or I'm "up the crick without a stick," screwed six ways from Sunday.
I'm driving out of Nashville now, to Portland, where I live and work (for
lack of a better word). Traffic is all kinds of hell right now, bumper to bumper,
and I have to report for work by 4:30. It's 5:30 now and I've moved only 3 miles
through this maddening traffic. I'm not bitter about
the jam. To be honest I really don't want to go to work tonight, but since
it'll probably be my last night of pizza delivery I had best go in and try to
make some money. All I need is about $30 to keep me afloat for a few days
and maybe help pay for the alignment job my car desperately needs (if my car dies
on me I really will be screwed). I'm traveling on The Beast, I-65 North.
I know the Number of The Beast- it's 45. Forty-five miles of concrete and asphalt eternity lie ahead of me. I've moved another 3
miles in fifteen minutes- traffic is picking up speed. My front wheels wobble...
Shit. I hope the Old Girl doesn't break down before I get there. If she can
hold on for just two more days, I think everything will be okay. I have $180 cash
at home right now and that's all I have to my name. Well, that's not entirely
true. I could always sell my computer, but that could cause more problems than
the ones I have to face right now. My computer is
my friend and friends don't sell each other out, right?
I saw her last night, my ex. We didn't speak to each other. It was at George's
Pool Hall and Bar in Nashville. I go there every time I go to Nash-Vegas and
play pool, practice for the next time I play against my cousin and get
my ass handed to me. She was with some friends, some or all of them fellow noders,
laughing and having a good time. When I walked in our eyes locked for a few seconds
and conversation seemed to freeze for a moment. I was about to say "Hi"
but then I remembered that she didn't want me to reach out to her in friendship
or any other way for that matter, so I kept my lip zipped and strode past her,
silently. Got my balls, pulled out my stick (I have my own pool cue- a sweet little
number that I love almost as much as I love my friend-computer), and selected
a table. Part of me wanted her to come down and chew me out for not saying hello,
just so I could remind her that it was her decision and I was respecting it, but
another side, which won out, made it clear that I had better things to focus on-
three-ball, corner pocket off the wall, leave the cue set for the five-ball by
putting a little english on it. Snap! Good one. She was forgotten at that point,
just another voice in the cacophany of voices trying to have a good time over
the loud music and cigarette smoke.
I played for a good, long while and no one joined me. I like playing pool alone.
It gives me a chance to collect my thoughts and relax for a while without someone
trying to strike up a conversation that isn't interesting. When I play pool, I'm
there to play pool and nothing else. Everything is a distraction, so
I ignore it. I'm in the "zone" now, I think.
Eventually I got a little bored shooting ball after ball into the proper pockets
and missing every once in a while. I can't stop playing, though, it's a compulsion,
so I keep beating myself and racking the balls until someone mercifully interrupts
and asks if they can take over the table- they have a large party of people and
have been waiting for a long time. Suits me just fine, so I let them have the
table, cash out and go to Café Coco, which is pretty much just across
the parking lot and not 30 seconds away. That's a typical night for me. Like a
1: Go to George's
2: Play pool
3: If exhausted, goto 5
4: If not exhausted, goto 2
5: Go to Coco
6: Drink coffee, write, talk.........
A simple algorithm of entertainment. I like the simple things in life. They're
not always cheap, but they're easier to grasp and understand.
So I went to Coco's and drank coffee in the smoking room, a 10x10 room with
shitty ventillation and worse heating, and I broke out my notebook to do some
writing. A few of the regulars there greeted me, but when they saw my notebook
out they got the hint and left me alone. Some were impish and purposefully inserted
my name into their conversations to distract me- I was in the zone and could not
I'm writing a new story. Sci-fi, of course, what else would I write?
It's a cross-over story of my two favorite universes: Star Trek and Heinlein's Future History. It's a real challenge to write it because
I've decided to adopt Heinlein's writing style while still staying true to Roddenberry's
Trek characters (Picard, Beverly and Data)-
more challenge in the fact that it's all first-person... each chapter from the
perspective of a different character. I'm really into this story.
Her friends, the ones she was hanging out with at George's, file into the smoking
room and blatantly begin what I call "the interview after the fact."
Variations on a theme, but it generally boils down to people trying to get all
the dirty gossip after something unsavory has occurred- could be a fight, an argument,
a robbery, an affair, a date... or a snubbing. They ask me if I wanted her back
and had thought that maybe she did, too. I told them, exactly, No such thing.
She made it pretty clear to me that she doesn't want to have anything to do with
me. Her decision, not mine. I simply respected it. It pissed me off and hurt me,
naturally, but I didn't have any illusions about anything. Same thing for the
friendship. She said she wanted one when we broke up, we tried it out, it didn't
take for her even though I wasn't treating her poorly. She said she didn't want
to be friends anymore, so I respected that, too. Her decision, again, not mine.
That's not a direct quote, but it's damn close. That put a damper on the conversation.
Good. It was rude of them to interrupt me while I was writing. Interrupting
a person while writing is kinda like walking into a bathroom while someone is
pissing just to slap 'em- it just isn't done. At least, not without comment.
Anyway... it was unpleasant to be "interviewed." I didn't like the
intrusion from people who barely know me. If they'd asked about something else,
I probably wouldn't have minded. But they asked about something they knew
of from one side. Why were they asking me questions? Do I have something
to defend? I don't think so. I didn't do anything. So they're asking just
to be nosy and, perhaps, run back to her and say, "This is why he didn't
say anything to you last night." Maybe. I doubt she cares. If she does, that's
her bag. She rolled it out, she can sleep in it- twigs, snakes and all.
Traffic has finally died down; we're moving faster than a snail's fart now,
thank God. "Thank God?" Am I nuts? The wobble in my car's getting
worse and I'm looking forward to working in this thing? Risk is our business, I guess. Why not go whole-hog? Yeah, it's dying on
me, but it's not all that bad a car, really. Just needs some fixing. Maybe, when
(if) I get this account, I can use some of the money to fix the Old Girl. New
tires, alignment, new left axle, new exhaust system, new head gasket, new spedometer
cable... Fuck it. I should just buy a new car and chew on crow for a while.
I've spent more money on repairs for this car in 8 years than I actually spent
on buying the damn thing. Granted, I didn't pay a lot, but when a person
ends up spending twice what they paid for a car on repairs, something is
seriously wrong. Thump-bump-wobble-hiss.... I've figured out that 1 year for a
car is like 10 years to a human- she's not just in need of repair, she's headed
for the Great Heap in the Sky, literally dying. Old people end up in wheel chairs;
she'll end up in a tow truck before next Spring, I just know it. Poor girl.
My stomach growls. I'm hungry. Damn. I don't have time to eat and even if
I did, I don't have the cash on me anymore. I spent $35 on new business cards
for NightShade, Ink. They look good, but they took my lunch-money, dammit! Can't
gripe about that now, Jay. It was your choice and you're going to have to live
with it. Hopefully, it's an investment that will pay off soon- provided
my car doesn't break down on me anytime soon. Life can be a bitch
sometimes. If I hadn't spent the money on those business cards then I'd have more
money to spend on repairs. Oh, well. You've been in tighter situations. Did you
buy drinks for Mom's Thanksgiving Dinner? You were supposed to.
Fuck. I pick up the phone and call Mom, while driving
(some people find this to be a daunting task and fairly unsafe... perhaps it is,
but I feel all right doing it), and we talk about what I should bring in
the way of drinks. Coke, Dr. Pepper, Diet Coke (for Dad) and Sprite. Bring some
juice, too. Am I bringing a "friend"?
"Uh... should I?"
"What about that girl you were dating? We never did meet her."
"And you likely never will, Mom. We broke up a while back. Forgot to send
you the memo."
"Oh, sorry to hear that, Jay."
"I'm not. It's for the best. I'll be there at 2:30 tomorrow. Is it okay if
I come over early? I may want a nap as I might be sleeping at a friend's in Nashville
"Oh, sure! Love you! Bye!"
I like my family. They know the importance of getting off the phone quickly-
especially when one of the callers is using a cell phone. I like them for other
reasons, too, of course, but that's a good one to start with.
Portland's just seven miles away now and Old Girl still has some spring in
her step, as it were. People're passing me the whole time, zoom!, but I'm going
as fast as I can, don't they know that? I'm on the freeway, for cryin' out loud!
If I could move faster, I would. Some
people just lack perspective, I guess. I light a cigarette, now that the car's
heater is at full strength and keeping my chilled fingers relatively warm. Cracking
the window proves to be a mistake as it's deathly cold outside. Too damn bad,
I need a cigarette. Mom bringing up my ex, after
having just thought about last night, does nothing good for my nerves. I've decided
to make it clear to mi familia at Thanksgiving that I'm going it alone
for a while- no girlfriends, no roomies when I move
back to Nashville... I need to learn how to depend on myself for once. How can
I justifiably seek a "whole woman" when I'm not all that complete myself,
when I don't know what to look for yet? Yes, I need to be alone. It'll do me
some good, I think. At least, that's what my heart tells me. I've already distanced
myself from my family and most of my friends... my ex took care of breaking off
the relationship thing... all signs point to loneliness.
It's not just my fate, it's my destiny, too. Dreck. That's sounds like a really
bad variant on that "it's not just for breakfast anymore" slogan. I
need to come up with some more original lines, methinks.
I look at the clock. It's 6:00 PM now. I've already thought ahead and told
the boss, yesterday, that I'd probably be late, but no later than 6. Well, here
we are! Portland exit coming up. No time to go home and change clothes. I've thought
of that, too- my work clothes are in the passenger seat next to me (forgot the
pants... woops... too bad, I'm not stopping). Time to get my head centered on
making deliveries now. Turn on NPR and see what's going on in the world around
me, Israel and the Palestinians are still going at it quietly and not quietly
at the same time. I told a friend recently that I think Israel's headed for civil
war, possibly a coup d'etat. She didn't agree with me last week,
but when I was giving her a ride home yesterday morning we were listening to NPR
and she said that I might be right after all. She's Jewish and has lived in Israel
before, in Haifa. I'm not surprised by her hope that war won't break out there,
but it's getting far too messy for things to cool down, now. Gore and Bush are
still snapping at each others' heels. This pony show in Florida is getting annoying
to me now. I switch off NPR and opt, instead, for 102.9 The Buzz- alternative
rock- and pull into work. I don my shirt and cap and suddenly my persona changes:
I'm "The Pizza Guy, friend to all, enemy to none."
Let's get to work, shall we?