Ok I know I said I was going to continue with "Am I Memorex?" and I didn't. I'm sorry. I'm working on rewriting the story and will repost it soon.
This is a story I wrote several years ago. I had written it long hand so for a few years it sat in a notebook until one day I typed it up and then did nothing with it. Tonight I dusted it off. I did a little bit of quick surgery to a few paragraphs corrected as much spelling as I could and here it is. I never named this story and as it stands its still somewhat rough but I think it might be enjoyable and it's certainly better than not posting anything at all.
I open the paper to the want ads. I need a job to pay next month's rent. I only brought enough for the first month with with from the last city I lived in. That had been one of the best cities for me to live in. Lasted five years there before I was discovered. I do mean discovered. This time I hadn't done anything to stand out. Nothing. Nada. Not a thing. Well, okay so maybe I did one thing but it was only one thing.
Anyway I need a job and not just for rent, I'm hungry too. Lessee, Medical/Dental, no; Professional, no; Drivers, er no; General Employment, here we go; car wash attendant, security guard, gas station attendant, grocery checker, Avon and dish washer. Scribble down addresses, phone numbers, make notes. Next I find addresses on the map I bought when I first arrived in the city. Today is Sunday, Sunday is when most new job postings appear, so tomorrow I start hunting for my new life.
Being from out of town and having little verifiable work experience is always a minus. So I make up things. "See that store there, the one thats looks like its been boarded up for about three or four years. I worked there. Broke my heart when Mr. Soloman died and his wife closed it. She never liked any of us that worked there. Called us punks and thieves. Said we stole from the register. We didn't." At least that's what Mark Flannery said about it when I asked him. Turns out I worked there too, or so I say.
I get the graveyard shift at a gas station. Working a graveyard shift on a regular basis requires a lifestyle change. Day becomes night and night day.
Wake in late afternoon, about 5 or 6. Watch the sun set. Make brunch about 8 or 9. On work days I shower and dress about 9:30. My shift starts at 11. Other nights I watch TV or go to a 24 hour super shopping center and browse for a few hours. Watch the sun rise. Leave work at 8. Go home. After a quick rinse in the shower on my days off a full shower it's supper time. Another hour of TV and it's bedtime at about 10 or 11. This does not lead to a wild social life. Which felt right in this city, like I might not stay long or I might just stay forever.
In other places I had made more or less friends. Johnny was my friend until I did him a favor. He didn't like me after that. I might have been content with this life for a year or two, more would have been pressing my luck. I might have been but Mary wasn't. Mary wanted me to be her friend and so I was. Mary also thought I was unhappy having just her for a friend so she invited me to get togethers. Mary had a lot of friends from many different lifestyles. Mary was the type of person who wanted others to be happy because she genuinely cared about people. So she was the nicest person I the world unless you offended her.
Once we heard a man make a very not nice comment about a gay couple seated nearby. I remember her expression went hard, eyes that a second ago where sky blue became frosty gray. She got up walked up to him leaned over and whispered in his ear. His face started with a smile but slowly the glimmer in his eyes faded as his cheeks relaxed and his lips pressed together. She stood back while he took a drink of his bear before asking loudly, "Well what are you waiting for?" I saw him look at her with murder in his eyes as he stood up. I watched as he walked over to the couple he had insulted and apologized. Mary came back to our table and sat down as if nothing had happened.
I wanted to ask what had she done. As the question prepared to leave my tongue she reached across the table touched my hand and I looked into her eyes and knew that asking would make her unhappy because she couldn't tell me or would have to lie. I couldn't bear to be the cause of her unhappiness so I closed my mouth and she smiled a little brighter.
Mary's friends ranged from punks and goths to cheerleading blonds and homemakers. At first I thought she was showing me how many friends she had. Later I realized she was trying to find a group for me to belong. Not that she thought different people should be separated but they also shouldn't be forced together. I didn't belong to any group. I made a few friends here and there in several groups but I never really fit in with one group. After a while I realized I I belonged with Mary. I always fit in with Mary around.
I don't know when we became a couple, maybe it was like watching the sun rise. The sky begins to lighten, if you look away it comes up by itself, then there it is and you wonder how that happened. I didn't realize until one night I was alone and someone asked where my girlfriend was I answered before realizing the context and then it was like blinders had been torn from my eyes. The next night we talked about it. She had never mentioned past boyfriends or girlfriends for that matter. Neither had I.
She looked at me and said, "You move around a lot. Would you leave me?"
I couldn't lie, "Yes."
Then she said, "Are we a a couple?"
"If it makes you happy."
"Then we are." And we were.
Then as things have a way of happening something happened and I had to do something. As always I left afterward. This is what happened.
We had been a couple for a month when I brushed a strand of hair back from her face, stoking her cheek as I did and then my head exploded. I saw. I saw in Technicolor and surround sound. I saw Mary's death. I saw the cancer eat her up. I saw the months of therapy for naught. Miracles can come from hope from the mind's inability to believe the body is dying. But for Mary there would be no miracles, no spontaneous remissions and no doctors with good news. The end would be the worst. Confined to bed in constant pain, she wishes for death but none will grant it. Not her doctors or friends. Even when there is no hope for recovery will they bestow mercy on her. She dies in the night screaming.
And then she was alive and well in front of me. She had been tired a lot lately. I never thought it might mean something. She knew something had happened but not what. We sat down and she held me while I cried for her death. When I was done I told her the things I hadn't told her. She listened and nodded and believed every word. She listened as I told her of her death. I had upset her and upsetting her made me feel worst. She knew this so she smiled and I felt a little better.
"Tomorrow I'll make an appointment with my doctor and we'll go from there." She said everything would be different because in my vision she waited longer to go to the doctor. Going sooner would save her, I had saved her she said.
But I hadn't.
She got sick anyway. Before I left I tried to see and it was the same. I left before it got bad. I couldn't watch her die a third time.
Before I decided to leave she told me about me. All the bad things I had ever done no matter how small were recounted. She finished her accounting of my misdeeds with, "... and you left your love to die in the dark, in pain and alone." I denied none of it, even though I ha not yet decided to leave. She knew these things because she had seen them every time we touched. She embraced her gift while I scorned my curse.
She said I should go soon so when she looked upon the days we were together they would be happy days. I stayed two more days, two more happy days.
Then I left.
I left in the morning after a good night's sleep. I took what I could fit in one suitcase. I took no pictures because the best times were burned into my mind. On the way into the new city I bought a map and newspaper.
It was Sunday, tomorrow I will look for a job.