Oh, puleeeze, he bellowed with a sweeping gesture of authority. You’re gonna tell me you weren’t thinking about her more mysterious and secret charms? Are you claiming that your sole thoughts were confined to polite talk while the two of you were eating in that commoner’s establishment? I saw the way you were looking at her, he said while picking one of the several dozen pieces of crud from his shirt. I’ve looked at hundreds of women that way. I dare say thousands!

But, Bill, I pleaded. This was something beyond infatuation. I’ve been around the block more than once, and she is the type of woman who comes along maybe once or twice in a lucky man’s life. Sure, I could fill my time with any number of distractions, but there is more to life than treading water at the shallow end of the pool.

He cursed my name. Now you’re telling me about the mysteries of life? he grandly questioned with but a small fraction of the literary might and indignation he could have mustered. I wrote the book on this subjectdon’t ever forget itand if you would just shut up and listen you just may learn something, he said while blowing another voluminous cloud of smoke. Underlying all my brilliant perceptions concerning human folly, tragedy and misfortune was a subtle message for knuckleheads just like yourself, and if you only took the time to look a little deeper you just might have an easier go of it.

He had my full attention now. I shook the hair out of my eyes and looked at him closely, and I could tell that he genuinely wanted to help. I’ve been watching you for years, Little Brother, he said calmly. I’ve taken an interest in you and your silly business, and I’ve seen you emboldened with an attitude of smugness far beyond what your actual level of talent could ever properly answer. But now you claim that you’ve grown up, that you’ve developed a taste for sipping fine wine as opposed to gulping down the grog, and now you have a genuine desire to touch the enchanting soul of a woman, instead of just her body. He rolled his eyes in exaggerated disbelief and continued. So, last week you met a woman you believe that may be possible with, only to find yourself hindered by circumstance and distance seeming beyond the control of either one of you. Have I got it right so far?

Yup, that’s about right, Bill, I quickly said, anxious for him to provide some actual insight to me as payment for my many years of listening to his incessant and fulminating blather.

And do you think she felt the same way about you?

Yup, whatever was sitting there between us felt way too good to be traveling in only one direction. It was just so easy to be with her. It felt, I don’t know, correct, like I was harnessed in my driver’s seat, you know? Like we’d done it many times before and would do it many more.

He shot up from the concrete floor with an agility I never would have expected from him. He tossed his funky bell hat to the floor and began dancing around it like a crazed troubadour, snapping his fingers as high into the air as he could reach which was about up to my nose, convulsed in laughter, and spouted: This is pitiful, PITIFUL. What do I have to do for you people, hold your hands? Can’t I leave you alone? I bet you’re thinking some Romeo and Juliet type of thing here, right? And now you’re cast in the heroic part of one of the dumbest characters I ever bothered to take the time to create? And she’s Juliet? He howled with laughter. That’s it! Huh, Little Brother? He was coughing and laughing with such frightful enterprise that I would’ve considered his days numbered if he hadn’t already died so long ago.

Well, ahem, it’s not totally unlike, I fumbled. Um, uh... hey would you like another smoke? I have that extra pack in my car...

By John R. Killion
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