Monday, July 21, 2008

Other Peoples Dreams IV

We walked over to the replica Colliseum.

During college Steve and I went on expeditions like this all the time, wandering out into the woods to find a telephone satellite switching station, or driving all night long to find the radar dish at the end of Long Island so we could speculate about its sinister purpose. Usually we had altered our mental states with drugs or alcohol or both. At the very least we smoked cigarettes incessantly. Here we were now, looking at something Steve had watched a neighbor erect six months earlier. I wondered why I came and I wanted a cigarette even more.

Then we saw the monkey.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Other People's Dreams III

The second thing I've got to go on record about is that in the moment I stood on his rented porch, sipping too-sweet sweet tea, wondering if we were going to go tour the faux Coliseum, I realized that I didn't really like Steve. I'd known him since freshman year of college. We'd roomed together for a semester somewhere in there. At different points I think we even dated some of the same girls and it never came between whatever friendship we had. But now we stood there as near-middle age men, studying one-another's face and graying hair with sidelong glances--because as a man you really can't look at another man--and I realized that Steve was a loser.

He had already burned through two marriages at the age of 36. I don't know how. None of the typical relationship-undermining factors were present in his life. He didn't drink, do drugs, go to whores, cheat with young girls or have a temper that led to violence. He always held down a decent job.

But something about him proved intolerable to women. And that made me wonder if he had something wrong with him. Something deep-seated and irredeemable.

I sipped my tea again. Steve said, "So when did she leave?"

"Two weeks ago."

"Gone for good?"

"She took the cat," I said.

"Sorry dude."

I wanted a cigarette.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Other People's Dreams II

I took a sip of the tea. It was so overladen with sugar that I could feel the sweetness on the inside of my skull. My scalp curdled a little bit, the skin and hair rucking up from my neck like a carpet on a polished floor. "It's good," I said.

"Simple syrup," Steve said. He looked at me for a minute and then back at the Coliseum.

And I've got to go on record about a couple of things here. The first one is that I don't know whether or not I should be capitalizing the "c" in Coliseum. Obviously, I made my choice and it's on the side of capitalization. But this structure is not the one and only coliseum, the one that people usually refer to when they use the word. It overlooks Binghamton and Johnson City and the Susquehanna River near the borderlands of New York State. In mid June the valley was lush green, velvet hillsides. I could hear bugs buzzing in the woods. A few fireflies started to glow at the edge of Steve's yard. And you could hear motorcycles winding up the road behind his house.