Moving On

9 Jul

I walk down the sidewalk in Denton’s old-time downtown square. I’m taking one last stroll before I leave Denton to go to graduate school.

“Look how old all this is,” I say to my friend Derek, who walks beside me. “I wonder if I’ll ever be as old as these buildings.”

“Well, I’m pretty sure this stuff was made in the late 1800’s, so probably not,” Derek says.

“We’ll see.” I wink at him.

“No, we won’t see. We probably won’t be in the Denton square when we die.”

“God willing,” I say. “God willing I will die right here, pointing to the sky, screaming ‘My funeral! My funeral at Andy’s!'”

“That sounds like the most disrespectful funeral ever.”

“It’ll be all ages,” I say, looking out down Hickory Street, the setting sun at my back. “Five dollar cover to twenty-one and under, though.”

Derek shakes his head. We walk to Jupiter House, a coffee shop on the square. Outside the cafe is a group of older men, all with skin that is tan and leathery. They all sit in silence, as if to say that there is no news, nothing of interest to discuss, and to do so would just be a waste of breath and thought. It’s an expression that resembles a pained contentment.  “Look at them,” I say, smiling broadly, arms crossed. “Just look at ’em.” All but one look up at me. I stand directly in front of their table. “I wonder if they can still hear me.” I look at Derek. “They’re so old, you see.”

“We can hear you,” one says.

“GHOST!” I yelp and begin to run down the sidewalk to Recycled Books. Derek follows. I’m his ride home.

We walk slowly through the shelves at Recycled Books. We’re in the fiction section. The fiction section is on a mezzanine, so our steps are bassy and distinct. I want to weep because I never–not once–thought of bringing my STOMP troop up here. I want to weep because I never–not once–had a STOMP troop of my own. I always had to borrow one.

I breathe deep the smell of books–that book smell that is the same everywhere you go. I have a feeling this book smell will remain unique to me in my mind as I move on, though. I breathe deep the smell as I pass great writers like Ian McKewan and Cormac McCarthy, but then am struck dumb by an olfactory intruder. It stinks of shit all of a sudden.

I shake the cobwebs of whimsy from my head and look down the aisle. Derek stands there. He’s leaning against the wall with his right leg pulled up to his chest, farting openly.

“I hate Thomas Pynchon,” Derek said.

“Okay, Derek,” I whisper-yell, “Pynchon is in the next aisle. This is L-N.” Derek drops his leg.

“Oops. Okay, thanks.” He turns to pass, “‘Scuuuse me.” In a moment, I begin to hear what sounds like a small duck quacking from the next aisle over.

The smell is like a swamp where the trees have all been replaced with the contents of a Taco Bell dumpster.

We leave Recycled Books, get in my car, and go to Green House for dinner.

“I just love this restaurant,” Derek says as we get out of the car.

“Me too. I love how it smells like delicious bar-b-que from the outside, but when you get on the inside there isn’t a single god damn piece of bar-b-que on the entire menu.”

“Why would you love that?”

“Because that is the restaurant telling us that it doesn’t owe us anything.”

Derek pushes his jaw forward a little and nods in agreement.

We order our food. It’s delicious. The combination of the top shelf food and the aesthetics of the restaurant  make us feel affluent like nothing else in our sad, shabby lives.

For lunch I had a can of black beans and water that I drank from the empty can of the black beans.

Derek ate the can.

I’m still feeling contemplative and make it a point to take in all the different faces of those at the Green House that I recognize. There are only like two, so that only takes me a few seconds. Derek and I pay our bill and leave.

“I drank fifteen scotches,” Derek says, rubbing his belly.

“Derek no you did not,” I say, scanning the parking lot for our car. Sometimes Derek lies like a child to impress/one-up me.

Our next stop is Lou’s. The ol’ stomping ground. Lou’s is a bar with indoor and outdoor areas, all contained by fencing that seems pointy enough to maybe be a bad idea to have around so many drunk people. Derek and I spend most of our time outside. There’s less cigarette smoke there and you can see more people and the music is softer, which means that conversation no longer requires the sacrifice of two twenty-somethings’ larynges . Derek is drinking a Shiner and I am drinking a double Wild Turkey and Diet Coke.

“I told the guy that I got Diet Coke for the taste, not for my figure.”

“Yeah?”

“He told me he listened to me talk for my order, not for my guilt.”

“Oh.”

“I tipped him thirty bucks hoping he would at least smile at me.”

“Did he?”

“No. I think he might have stuck his finger in my drink.”

“You think?”

“I was kind of misting up.”

Oh.

“From the humiliation.”

“Gotcha.”

The bar is particularly full on this night. Perhaps everyone found out that it’s my last night in Denton, of which I’ve had three.

One by one as people enter, I see my past paraded before me.

There’s the girl who I dated a two years ago and now we don’t talk. There’s the girl who I dated a few months ago who I broke it off with and for whatever reason I’m now mad at her. There’s the other girl I dated two years ago and I wish we didn’t talk but damn if she doesn’t just want to be my best friend in the whole world and why do you hate me Kyle?

I see guys that lived in my dorm, who I never hung out with outside of that building and that year, but with whom I feel I’ve always shared a mutual affection, perhaps because we were both present for one of the best years in each other’s lives.

I shake hands with one in particular who has stood out amongst the others, if for no other reason than because he’s the only one I see anymore.

I see people who were in my English classes who also graduated in 2009. We exchange friendly nods and the look on our faces is always somewhat apologetic–like we had all been party to some tremendous lie that we are only now beginning to understand the consequences of.

I see people whom I’ve seen around for five years and never spoken to.

I see girls who would be prettier if they just stopped trying for five minutes and actually said something.

I see a guy go number two in a urinal.

Derek and I have a few drinks and then head home.

We stop at Whataburger and get some food.

“You know, I’m going to miss this,” Derek says before biting into his sandwich.

“Yeah. Youth is something strange, isn’t it? You treat it as something owed to you, maybe even an inherent trait you have, and all the while it’s being pulled out of you. It’s like a currency that life demands. To move forward, you have to give up certain things.”

Derek is chewing vigorously, eyes closed.

“You can’t enjoy sex if you still want to hold onto that innocent, superficial understanding of what makes a woman a woman, you know? God, there are all kinds of things you have to give up if you want to enjoy sex.” I take a sip of my drink. “And you can’t have a really deep friendship with someone until you understand that people out there are very capable of betraying you–that even your friend has it in him to screw you over, but  he chooses not to and it’s that choice that makes him your friend.” I look out the window and see a car pull into a spot next to my own. “So yeah, I’ll miss it too, but I’m not sure if I’d go back if I was given the chance.”

“Go back where?” Derek asks.

“Like in time–to younger days.”

“Jesus, what are you talking about?”

“You said you were going to ‘miss this.’ I assumed you were talking about times like now.”

“I was talking about the Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit,” Derek says, staring at me over the sandwich as if I had offended a close friend of his.

“Oh. Yeah, that looks delicious.”

“Oh, it is!” Derek says. “It’s just delicious. I don’t care if it’s only a limited time.”

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5 Responses to “Moving On”

  1. Wesley July 10, 2011 at 2:54 am #

    Funny and touching. I loved it

    • Kyle Irion July 10, 2011 at 9:24 am #

      Thank you for saying so. I’m glad you liked it so much.

  2. Patrick O. Strickland July 10, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    Good post and why do you hate me Kyle?

  3. skruff July 23, 2011 at 5:44 am #

    your writing is getting better but thankfully your mind isn’t, keep up the good work. maybe u need a holiday here in australia with a creepy gay guy who’s old enough to be your father but promises not to put the photo’s online………. honest kyle I dont do that any more.

    • Kyle Irion September 1, 2011 at 9:09 am #

      My writing is betting better but my mind isn’t? Am I being insulted?

      Well, since you’re in Australia, where the water as well as everything else flows backwards, I’ll assume that your insult was meant as a compliment and your compliment an insult. Here’s your comment in Australian:

      your writing is getting worse but regrettably your mind isn’t, keep up the bad work. maybe u need a holiday here in australia with a mild straight guy who’s old enou[Deleted for being fucking stupid].

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