XIV — I was wrong
I was wrong. It did change. How can you hear the cries of others and not listen? Do I care? Really. Do I care? I saw a woman walk past in front of me, who at once appeared alien: horrid. Dry. Decayed. At that moment, in that snapshot, again I realized how little we count for. Either go all the way. Or go away. That’s very slick. You think it sounded cool but actually it made you think about the motivation. No. Not in that way, I replied. How can you expect me to be in touch with my motivation? Well, I notice that you seem more motivated after a coffee.
He smiled. So make me a coffee. And then I can explain how to incorporate that lie you’ve permeated for one and a half years. A year and a half. The coffee machine sits in the corner by the sink. Talking to itself with a gurgling lilt. With the cupboard on the wall above it where the coffee grounds are. Fresh coffee grounds. I watch him fill a glass jug with tap water and then fill the top of the coffee machine from the jug. He pulls out the cone shaped filter that also sits in the top of the machine and half fills it with the grounds from the cupboard. From a foil pack that re-seals itself. Literally re-seals itself. You can let go of the edges and just watch them slowly ease back together with a gentle sigh of relief. He switches on the machine and looks round the kitchen for items that need tidying away. He looks out the window and sighs to himself, leaning forward slightly on the kitchen sink. Well it seems to me the first thing you need to get clear is that bag. That bag has to go back. You just can’t keep that bag. He murmurs. Pondering it over. But if it goes back. Then what do I have left? What’s the point? That bag is my whole purpose. It is here. It’s past. Future. Ties all those things together. What the hell would I do? He glances at the coffee machine that’s just starting to puff a little. I think about what he says. I think about coffee. I’m sure that if you take the bag back. And it is taken back. Then you would feel a whole lot better and the next thing, the thing that will fill up the space for you, will fall out. Can I have just a half sugar? Just put a little in it. He opens up the wall cupboard and takes out a red jar with a space in the lid for a spoon. Gets two mugs down and puts them by the sink. One has a picture of a motorcycle on it. Some kind of blue chopper with a big fat back wheel. The other one is plain white. But dirty with the stains of coffee around the lip. The inside is tanned with a life-time of coffee, tea. Occasional beverages of unknown origin. He puts the sugar in the chopper-mug. He doesn’t take sugar or milk.
And the next thing that pops out for you might be the real deal. It might be way better than the bag. So much better. I bet you can’t even imagine what it might be. Just check that milk is ok, will you. It may not be. He opens the milk carton and cautiously lifts it to his nose and nods. I just can’t imagine it. If I give the bag back, it’s, well it’s a risk in itself. What if he decides to turn wicked? You see what he does. This is true. I know what he does or might do. But it doesn’t feel it would go that way. It really doesn’t. My instinct and my power tells me not that way. And I say that. He nods. The coffee jug is full to the line. The water steamed up and falls down through the coffee, dissolving out the black flavor and condenses into the jug. He fill up the mugs and adds the milk. Puts the jug back on the hot plate. I put the mug on the table: it’s too hot to drink and he puts the white mug on sill of the window.
Now. Look. I shift in the chair. The lie. The lie you been telling yourself. Where did you get the bag? I already know the answer to this. So it’s a rhetorical thing. You see the thing is: that’s the lie. It never happened like that and I been waiting for you tell me my version. Because that is not the version. He looks astonished. Genuinely astonished and screws up his face and just his head at me to get a closer look. I can’t say anything and just have to wait for it to come out. He rolls his eyes past me and up to the ceiling like the answer is up there spinning round with the cooling fan. Or fizzing out the light bulb. He hunts for the inspiration for some time and I let him. But when it doesn’t come he turns back to the window and just stares out across the flat desert; an old fence half way between here and there. One fifth of the way to the mountains in the distance. And the train appears. The tracks running along where the fence is. We open the door and step out into a slight dusty breeze to watch the train go by in the distance. The far off rattle-rumble of metal wheels. I look at the two engines pulling from the front and the oil-fumes that drag behind them. He sighs and then tells me the version I know. When he finishes, the train is long gone. By dusk, we had come up with the plan and he was feeling a little more positive. We finished the coffee and agreed that not hearing the cries of others does not mean you don’t listen. Or care.