May 06, 2007

The otherside

I tried to come up with the other side of the story. Sure, they dont match up exactly, but close enough

I didn’t expect her to come to me. There were plenty tables inside the café that day. How she even found me, I would never know. She pulled the worn wooden chair from under the table and placed her bag on it. She walked back to the counter to place her order. She left before I could get a good glimpse of her. Was it not customary to ask if the seat was taken first? How strange I thought. I folded up the newspaper neatly and placed it in the recycle bin and sat back down in my seat. My laptop was closed on the table, its bulky auxiliary batter sitting below it. Hesitating, I opened it and switched it on. Maybe she would go away if I looked busy at the computer. I pulled up a word document, and a spread sheet with several figures on it and set to work. Or at least make it look like work. She sat back down, with a large bowl sized cup of coffee. I peered over the top of the screen to get a good look of her without looking like a staring pervert. She was quite pretty. She had curly brown hair and these eyes that you could get lost in. They were like cat’s eyes marbles. I remember them quite well since I had a large bag of them as a child. I quickly shuffled back to work behind my wall. From the sides, I saw her hands working to un-kink a pair of headphones and an mp3 player from her purse. It seemed in the next ten minutes, she emptied the entire contents of her purse onto the table. A book, a small compact, a package of tissues, several hairclips and a wallet was set in the space on the small round table between the edge and my laptop front. I was tempted to fold down the screen to ask her if she needed to pull out the vanity as well. But I shook my head and buried myself in work again. She dropped the compact on the ground and I giggled. She turned around and looked at me. My cover was blown.

“Pardon?”

“Oh? Um… Nothing.”

“Yeah, sure. Nothing at all hm? That’s as likely as you doing any work behind that computer of yours.” When she said that, I choked a little on my spit. I laughed rather clumsily and tried to look busy. But she stood and walked over to my side and looked down at the screen. “Ha. Work you say. Its just a web page you know.” I looked back at the screen in horror. She was right. I had left a firefox page up showing nothing but college football scores.

“Well, it looks like you blew my cover.” I said.

“That may be so, but could you…” Her hand indicated at the compact still on the floor.

“Oh. How careless of me.” I bent over to grab the small thing. “You women and your makeup.”

“You men and your football.”

“You got me there.”

“My name’s Susan.”

“Ah, that’s a pretty name. I’m Greg. Greg Keely.”

“Keely eh? That’s a funny name.”

“Yeah, then what’s yours hm?”

“Um… well, I don’t tell most strangers.”

“I told you mine. And you know I’m Greg. Greg Keely.”

“Well ok Mr. Greg Greg Keely. My last name is McKim-Vadillo.”

“And you say my last name is funny.”

“Mine’s just long. Yours sounds funny.”

“Fine. I’ll bite.” She sat down in her chair. “I got the last name from my father, and he got it from his grandfather. But that’s about it. Before that, we were the Dundermans.”

“Dundermans?” She laughed. Her curls bounced as she did. “I’m glad you name is Keely.”

“Nope, it’s Greg.”

“Oh yes. So what do you do then?”

What could I say? I was unemployed just a week ago and now I’m working as a part time autoshop teacher as well as a Swedish teacher at Foothill High School. “Well um. I uh… am a…”

“It cant be that hard. Watch me. I am a cashier at Durant-Paulson Books. I love the work. I’m surrounded by books there and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“Ok, you make it seem so easy. I’ll try then.” I cleared my throat and tried to look as professional as I could. “I teach Swedish at Balboa.” Those words came out rather rushed and to me, they sounded like I had inhaled a tank of helium.

“Swedish eh? That’s… that’s… well um…”

“Stupid isn’t it?”

“No, no, no. I didn’t mean it that way.”

“Well I think it is. Most of the kids don’t really pick it up at all. I end up with most of the bad kids and the few genuine kids who would want to learn such a language.”

“I’m sure I would have taken it.”

“Oh? Why?”

“I don’t know. Maybe because I know you’re the cute teacher teaching it.”

“Oh stop. I’m not that handsome. My last two girlfriends left me for that reason. I guess I’m not used to being called… handsome.”

“Those two wouldn’t know their ass from their elbow.”

Our conversation dragged for a few more hours and the streetlights outside in the squares were bright. We talked about everything from Faulkner to Hemingway. I showed her my frayed copy of The Sound and the Fury my mother had given me when I graduated from High School. The cloth cover was worn out and you couldn’t make out the name without getting close to the cover. It was 8:55 pm by now and I forgot I had to arrive at school early to help out with the entrance exams tomorrow. We stepped out into the open Washington square. The cathedral was illuminated against the bleak sky. I put my coat around her and she held onto my Faulkner for warmth through words. I waited with her at the Muni stop until a bus arrived. She had to go back to the other side of the bay. She handed me back my jacket but she held onto the book. I didn’t notice too much. She walked on and sat in the back row. She looked through the back window and bent over. I couldn’t imagine what was going on. I walked away. I walked away from a potential girlfriend. Another potential person to hurt me. Another person to hold me. I rounded the corner up Green street. Its not too far to my apartment. The stairway up seemed longer than ever that night. I showered, and changed and slipped beneath the massive comforter on my bed. The plastic numbers on my clock clattered without any satisfaction and the smoke detector blinked like a madman. I stared at the blank ceiling. The fixture was ancient and the bulb hoods cast an eerie shadow along one wall. A car passed by and the ceiling was bright for a moment, then went back to its dull mundane gray.

2 comments:

newnorth said...

These two are really nice! Cool to see both sides :)

I didn't read them the other day becuase I was to tired... (and the small texts hurts my eyes when I'm tired)

Czachi said...

Oh, I'm sorry. I'll change that then.