Wednesday, January 27, 2010

you've got a lot of nerve (pt 3)

A man in the doorway is half genuflecting. I assume it's his way of apologizing for any inconvenience he might be interjecting. “Hello, I'm Rex,” he says, smiling.

I'm staring blankly. I know who he is and why he is here, I'm just wondering, why now? I use this silence to take in his features. He's got a rugged masculine face, and solid bone structure. He's clean shaven, and it doesn't seem right. For a moment I think about asking him if I can color a five o'clock shadow on him.

The look on my face distresses him. “You're Pete's friend Tito, right?”

“In a manner of speaking.”

“Tito, in a manner of speaking or Pete's friend in a manner of speaking.”

“Little of both.”

“Pete said you'd be expecting me.”

“Sounds like Pete.”

“Is my coming here a problem?”

“No. It's not that.”

“You wanna get some coffee?”

I nod is acquiescence and we walk to the restaurant near my apartment.

“I don't tell many people this . . . enough people think I'm crazy as it is. I like to talk to rocks.”

“Why rocks?” I ask without any judgment because I myself talk to almost every inanimate object in my apartment. It comes with the territory, I convinced myself long ago. I suffer from incredible social anxiety, and I just can't relate to most people. These things are all I have left to talk to. This was the gist of the conversation I had with myself some years ago.

“Of the few people I've told, you're the only one who's asked me, 'why rocks?'.”

“Why then?”

“It's because they are fragments of something else, something larger than themselves. Within them in an entire history, but they know nothing of it. They're like us in that way.”

“I guess that's true,” I respond.

We're on the forth cup of coffee when Rex's attitude changes. He's looking out of the window, down the street. I follow his eyes as they drift down the avenue, to the last intersection that can be seen before the pavement rises like a rolling hill, blocking one's eyes from continuing on until the edge of the world becomes soft and blurry. To me he seems gentle and enlightened, an Eastern type of enlightenment. Nothing like most of the people I know. He is beyond the cynicism and rage that dwells in others. They all have learned the world is corrupt and ugly and can't get past it. It gnaws at them and has left them with a weight upon their shoulders. Rex is no different, no edge or bile. He's evolved beyond it, seen the ugliness and through his own willpower has forced it to recede.

There is a wisdom, a calmness about the man sitting across from me that I'm envious of, and I can't figure out what it is that Pete thinks I have to offer Rex. Maybe that's what this is really about. Pete didn't set this up for Rex's benefit, he did it for mine. That bastard, I think to myself, while Rex peacefully swishes the last sip of coffee in his mug around.

All the caffeine has made me anxious and I need a drink to smooth things out. Rex agrees to join me, but first we have to go by an ATM so he can get some money.

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