As I finished my shift at Cinemark, I quickly grabbed my spare work shirt from my locker and, at the speed of a hushed sprint, bolted for the computer to clock out. It was Friday, and the sooner I could get out the door, the less chance there would be I’d hear the voice of my manager conveniently waiting to catch me leaving so he could guilt-trip me into taking the night-shift as well.
I hit the furthest exit doors I could find, closest to the trash compactor and quite the opposite direction my fearless leader would be. A rush of frigid air hit me in the face, causing a moment of surprise and delight.
I love the cold. It excites every fiber of my being, and pushes me to do new things. As I strode quickly off the sidewalk and onto the pavement, I spotted my Mustang in the distance. The car was a cherry red color, so it wasn’t difficult to spot through a sea of vehicles. I began an awkward dance of weaving through the grid of cars. As I approached the driver’s side door, a glimmer caught the corner of my eye. I turned my head, expecting to see a ridiculously chrome-peppered vehicle, or a reflection off a nearby pedestrian’s attire. What I was met with, was the brightly-lit form of a man, illuminated by a street-light at the edge of the parking lot. His head was bowed, staring at the shiny object in his hand. The tiny spark that averted my eyes was no more than a ring, but to him it was worse than a wound. I clicked the button on the Mustang’s door handle, using an unreasonable sense of caution to avoid catching his eye. Quietly, I took a seat in the driver’s chair and instantly adjusted the outside mirror for a better view.
Whether I was swift, or he was lost in the catacombs of recollection, he remained in place. I sat mystified, attempting to understand the thought pattern of the man. He was clearly at the edge of this parking lot for a reason, and whatever it was, a movie was not on the agenda. He relaxed for a moment, his hand closing around the trinket. As he leaned back against his truck, he turned his head upwards. He withdrew once again to his mind, an apparent frustration now rising with each heave of his chest. He turned around to the door, opened it quickly, climbed in, and sat down.
Lost for a moment in the shadow of the cabin, I resigned myself to the idea that the scene was over. I was soon proven incorrect, as the outline of his face appeared in the illumination of his phone’s screen. He was unmistakably chatting on his speaker phone, and from the exaggerated movements observed, it was clear that he was distraught. His hands turned to talons; he flailed wildly in multiple directions, all while his head shook and jerked back in disgust. He put his head in his palms, rocking back and forth in furious exasperation. His hands moved to the screen, jabbing the smartphone’s face in frantic desperation. A careless toss of the device told me that his patience was gone, along with the caller, and whatever he was doing there in the first place was about to become evident.
I recognized instantly his expression upon exiting the truck. It was the mask of lovelorn rage; the composite mix of betrayal and defeat, coupled with the sting of loss. I had experienced such an event before, and it had left me in the same agonizing state. The feeling of content belonging had been stripped, and replaced with a miasma of confusion and despair which now clawed at him like a rabid animal. His future was suddenly capsized, and in its place was the absence of trust. Never again would this moment come to pass. From this point on, planning would be the only love he embraced.
Safety. Certainty. Probability.
This would be his anchor, and assurance. He would never let such a crippling story come to fruition again, and for the rest of his days, a wall would begin building in place of the faith he once willingly granted. Too much had been lost; the time for wasting had been spent, and his next encounter would be a hunt, not a collision. Within that one moment, many absolutes had been determined, and all of them pointed to a single exit: the driver’s side door.
He leapt from the vehicle, fists balled. Now was not the time for words. No poetry could undo the damage. No melody of love lost could repair the rift. This time was meant for action, and the action was severance. Emotionally drained, his hate took hold. He dared not chance a second look at his oppressor, his clenched fist was the only shield he had from his mistakes. With a sigh of grim apprehension, he turned to the black. Bitterness drew back his arm. Resentment cradled him in its numbing embrace, adding power and reason to his actions. Grief steadied his hand; this was not a task for the weak. Shame enveloped him, and all at once the small, circular shackle was cast out, vanishing immediately into the night.
And here I sit, hand on the telephone
Hearing the voice I’d known
A couple of light years ago
Headed straight for a fall