About half an hour later I found myself knocking at his door, oblivious to the very reason he had left the bar for. I kept knocking for a long time up until I realized he was not going to let me in. I knew something was wrong so I walked down to the back of his house where a ventilator from his bathroom opened at some height on the wall. I approached myself to look through it and he was there, lying on the floor straight, his eyes fixed on the ceiling, in the light of a green bulb. I called out his name like several times maybe but he just kept lying like that, like he just died or something. He looked horrible, and not afraid. And when I called him for the twenty-second time, he looked at me and said,
“It hurts so very much.”
Ian and I did not meet yesterday, he had some work with papers in the morning and maybe a bar trip with Everett in the evening. Though he invited I did not join, should leave old friends alone, I thought.
I rung him over this morning, he called me back after an hour, an hour before it could suddenly be noon.
“Late night party?”
“Late night bullshit.”
I laughed out.
I told him he could come visit me at the store in noon when William’d not be there.
He came a few hours later. Looked like he had not had a good sleep last night.
I said, grabbing him a cola as he sat down on the chair on the other side of the counter.
“If we occur to put the incidents happened last night in a simple order, it would look like: Everett left me at the bar in the middle of nothing, then locked himself up in his bathroom lying on its floor, and most importantly he never let me in. So I left him for good and came back home.”
“And you don’t know why?”
“And I don’t know why.”
He said looking confused. He looked cute when confused. All of the people look cute when they are confused, except some, like me.
He grabbed the newspaper from the shelf beside the counter and talked to me flipping through the pages.
“Do you read news?”
“Never have the time to.”
“People shitting, people shitting, people dying, and coming of the winters, all of this is filled with crap.”
“People die all the times.”
“Teenage girl dies in a car accident last evening at I-30.”
“Girl aged 19, named Amanda porter passed away last evening in a car crash at I-30….”
And he slowed down. It was for an instant. He glanced at me and he looked frightened, like he had been below a hammer waiting to be nailed to a wall and it was the moment between the strike and leaving. And it was when I realized it was Amanda.
Ian stood up and bolted towards the door and I followed him as fast as I could. I left the store door open. I just did not care about it. I did not care about Everett, or Amanda, or Ian in that moment. But I wanted to run after him. Sometimes we just run and don’t care, other times we care but never run.
His home was not very far from the store so were there after maybe three minutes of good running. Ian was knocking at the door and I was standing after him, panting with my hands on my knees.
Three or four knocks later Everett opened the door for us.
“Welcome my friends!”
He said, standing behind the gate with his arms wide open. Wearing a red tee shirt and no trousers. Ian reached up to him and hugged him tightly.
And then I hugged him.
We sat on the couch kept in front of the T.V, Everett sat down on the carpet below. So we all sat down on the carpet below.
He talked about the football match last night and then about some woman at the bar and almost about everything but Amanda porter.
He looked more normal than he had ever looked and fresher than he had ever smelled. I have heard words about what they do to corpses before funerals. He looked like them.
Ian said in the middle of something.
“She might be somewhere on her way to the world out of the box.”
“And it is okay, sometimes you have to let people go on the paths just so that they could reach somewhere you are going to be someday. And I pretty much guess all of us are going to the same place.”
He finished with a smile, a smile which had some satisfaction of knowing more than other people knew about the world.
“I don’t understand you.”
“You don’t get to understand everything in the world.”
“Amanda porter died yesterday in a car accident, which is what he is talking about.”
Everett looked at me, his eyes wide open.
“It is vague to believe that people die. And that is also not the question, the question is what you believe you lose when they happen to die anyway. I am not very concerned with what you understand as death, I am rather thoughtful about the halt. The inability of generating new memories to have and moments to live. That is the answer and if you occur to understand it properly, then you would realize that memories could be lived infinitely and that people never die if you don’t want them to.”
“I don’t get any of crap you just recited. What I get is, if you need me, I am here.”
He left us to the door. We bid him goodbyes.
He said. Again from behind the door as he closed it.
“If you had a box, where you could keep people forever, whom would you have kept?”
I smiled at him.
“And you, Cheryl?”
He asked to me.
“If such were to happen, people would have ended in each other’s boxes and there would be more boxes than people in this world. And I would have hated such of a world. I believe everyone must know of the air out of the box.”
“Some people get their throats choked when they smell the air though.”
He replied with a chortle.
“But I like you.”
Adding in the end.
I smiled back and he closed the door then.
Summers were almost gone and winter was yet to arrive. And I had some good days before I would have left to Lou. I looked at my watch, it was almost half an hour before the time we were supposed to meet at the bar. I locked my house on the front and left for the bar. The sky was brown and full of dust as it becomes after the passage of a storm. Clouds made patterns which looked like cotton balls spread amongst the chocolate. I thought about the clouds, all smoke and nothing. Closer and closer, as you go, they disappear. There are beautiful things you can’t have, I thought, and then there are clouds.
I reached the bar, it was almost untenanted. It would certainly have been populous if it were an hour from the late night. Music was slow and quiet and you would not have to shout to talk. Maybe all of these places were made to make sad people sadder.
Everett arrived after few minutes. He called in for no drink, so I just ordered a mint julep for myself. We sat down on the sofa kept in a low lit corner on the left of the counter. From where we could see everyone without being seen by them.
There were a few people, sitting and talking, and in the eyes of theirs they looked like liars. A woman, mildly aged, who wore red was sitting on the sofa right in front of us across the space. We could see her, so she could see us too. She had a glass of what looked like red wine in her hand.
“What do you think?”
I sent my words to Everett.
“A heartbreak maybe?”
He whispered back.
“Not at this age.”
I said resentfully.
“The only thing heartbreaks are not related to, is age.”
“Maybe they are not at all related to anything. They are the source.”
He contemplated the lady for a short while and said.
“But we all fall in love, with different people, imagining that only the probabilities we have are the best, yet knowing somewhere that all of the love in this world is meant to end in heartbreaks.”
It was not the simple cause of not having an answer that made me lack a reply for him but only the indifference towards all the peculiar things for a while.
I knew, all about the lady and red dresses and glasses of wines and love and heartbreaks and people who cause them but what is the worth of loving if we all start to believe in heartbreaks.
“I strongly believe that people drink to fill the voids in them.”
I made a bad attempt at answering.
“The voids of true things?”
Everett said, scratching the carpet with the head of his shoe.
“I am afraid I don’t know much about that.”
“More often than not, the voids are caused by true things. There is a time when you don’t say them and they find their place in some creek of your heart, and then a summer evening when the girl you love with all your heart dances right there in front of you wearing the most beautiful dress you have ever seen and all you want to shout is “Stop!”, you have this wide smile on your lips and you want it all to stop, the very moment, as if moments were feathers and you wanted them to pass but ever so slowly, not ripping through the wind but floating. And in the moment, you close your eyes and dive in your heart and search for the true things to be said but they are not there, my friend. They are somewhere in spaces, hidden deep, unsaid, easy to feel yet hard to search for.
The moment passes, people leave, smiles fade away and your creeks, they become the voids. The deal with true things is that they disappear.
You don’t know if the cat is dead or alive up until you open the box, but if you wait for too long, the cat certainly dies.”
He looked up at me.
“Did you tell her that you love her?”
“She seemed to know it.”
“And she left?”
“Yes, she left. Perhaps for a better day.”
He said looking up in nowhere.
The woman in red stood up and left the seat empty.
“All the voids.”
"It is always hard to promise a forever, but she has her today.”
"And the seat awaits."
He replied smiling.
I smiled back.
Everett’s phone rang from his jeans pocket.
“I have a call here.”
He said looking at the screen.
He stood up and walked out of the bar to take the call.
I finished the yet left julep and waited. And when after a long time he did not return, I had to go and look for him out of the bar. But he was not there, or anywhere to be found.
I felt a rush of anger and worry in my mind. I could not find a valid reason to think that he might have walked himself back home, but unthinking most of what I had thought, I furthered myself towards his house.
Everett had been back from his trip on Thursday but we had not heard from him yet. I did not bother disturbing him the night he came, though last night I had seen his apartment's lights switched on my way back home.
He was supposed to see me on Friday but did not, so I knocked at his door the Saturday morning.
The door had not been locked, I made my way in. He had a small apartment with a room up front attached to a bathroom and a kitchen on its back. And it was most probably the shittiest apartment in the block. Because it smelled like shit and pizzas. Walls were however freshly painted in dark green and curtains were closed all the times.
As usual, he was sleeping on his couch. His hair messed and mouth half open with saliva dripping on the pillow tucked beneath his head.
I rapped his hip with my hand. He woke up like a mad bitch on heat, with his eyes red.
"Oh fuck! Ian, You here, fucking let me fucking sleep."
And fell back on his couch with his head now diving into the arch of the pillow he had just made.
"And also make a coffee for me."
Said from there.
I kicked him on his ass.
"Why are you sleeping like Aspasia?"
"Who the hell is that?"
"The great whore from Athens who is said to have remained asleep for two days after fucking the king."
"Ah make us some coffee, I'll tell you."
I made my way to the kitchen, both of us badly needed some coffee. All the stories need coffee.
Half on my way, I could hear his muffled voice through the room.
"Also, I am no whore you filthy daemon."
After having coffee, we talked about the trip he had.
For a long while he kept telling me how they drove across fields full of purple flowers and by the lakes those concealed the actual sun. And waking up to the sound of birds those apparently sounded not any less sweet than Celine Dion herself.
And it was all fun until he kept describing how sleeping next to Amanda Porter on a night full of stars felt like.
But then he turned to the part where his face dropped like a sad widow. He told me Amanda invited him for a dinner last night which was actually a goodbye as she was going to leave the town the next morning.
"I am sorry."
"Yeah, no, I don't know man. Shit happens."
"Yeah, shit happens."
Nobody could have known more about how shit happens than I did. Especially after the uninvited show up of William at Cheryl's shop last night. I remembered that for a while and laughed.
"Well, you could keep on sleeping, I have some work at the college."
I said then.
"About you leaving?"
Everett asked, after completing his sip sound.
"Yeah, I need some documents withdrawn."
"See you then, Daemon."
"See you at the bar at night."
I said getting up.
I made my way to the gate, sneaked back in with just my head visible through the gap and whispered.
"At eight, pretty whore."
He frowned from his couch and dived back in it to sleep.
I shut the door off and left.
The week was mostly good, well except the William Patrick's emphasised notes on how much he had missed me during a fucking Sunday. But I still needed work to pay off my mother's hiking medical bills so I'd better not let him know what an irritating piece of shit he was.
An hour after William left the store last night, Ian showed up at the door. It was a usual part of the day for me. We ate some chips and talked about Everett and leaving summers. Since the night we had been back from the Old Man's bar, he looked a little bit changed. It seemed like he loved me more, maybe he started loving me since then.
There are times when we are so sure about loving some people that we almost occur to believe it as the truest thing and then there is a moment another, when we actually fall in love with those people and it's quite annoying because we have already said things we think of saying now and have already done things we find most amazing and still it is okay, it is, because being in love with some people we always know that it would be safe on the other side whether or not we find immediate expressions.
And so I was out of my stack of sentences about telling that I loved Ian, because I had never prepared for it. I had not prepared for running, I was just walking for a while and then I knew it was the most good I had felt in a long while. And suddenly there were no water bottles and I was too far away from home and yet, the sand under my feet felt good.
So there was Ian sitting beside me, both of us bent with our heads kept low on the counter. I'd stare into his eyes and he in mine as we talked about various things. Things those were really unimportant and vague but just provided us with the right time duration to come closer and closer and fall in a kiss. I breathed his breath and leant in forward to put my lips on his.
At that certain moment, William knocked on the door and we had to unhook. He stood there for a while and kept looking.
And then he passed on a smirk.
Coming in he asked.
"Is that your boyfriend, Cheryl?"
"Yeah, I am."
Ian answered firmly from his place.
I looked at him with an interrogative expression on my face, I liked it though deep somewhere inside me.
"And do you often do this at my store once I leave?"
"I occasionally visit her."
I was still standing in middle of them. It felt the most awkward situation I had ever had. So I interfered.
"We are sorry, Mr William, Maybe I'll leave early tonight."
We left the store with him still in it. I did not know why he would visit at such a late hour of the night.
We walked back home together crawling in slowly toward our homes as we strolled hand in hand. The night was beautiful, Ian planted a swift kiss on my cheeks when he left.
I slept a while after having dinner with my mother.