It’s Hard to Speak Your Piece, When Nothing’s There

Hell, I know that feeling more than anyone. And I’m not being dramatic in the least. Both my parents were what you’d call depressed these days, but back then all they were was people,” he said finishing one drink and ordering another in the same movement.

“That shit is hereditary, you know. Genetical, even.”

I nodded, not wanting to interrupt him, not wanting to correct him, desperately listening, to see if maybe, maybe this man had something worth hearing. The bartender set his drink down in front of him and he smiled.

“Phil here has been a lifesaver,” he said. “An rowboat pulling me out of the cold ocean on too many nights. Hell if my life was a ship, she’d be down at the bottom covered in barnacles and treasure seekers.”

He laughed and Phil the bartender laughed and so did I.

“Shit I barely made it home some nights. I’d finish work and walk slump shouldered out of the office and across the parking lot. The sun could be shining like it was the first day of creation, I didn’t care. As far as I was concerned, a black cloud hung above me like a hangman’s promise. Sometimes I’d throw my briefcase in the back seat and loosen my tie and then lean against the old steering wheel and just sob. Great big fat tears like some little girl with her heart broken.”

He stopped long enough to have a drink.

“And that’s what it is, you know. Your heart’s just broken. Nothing happened. No one did you any injustice, but your heart is torn down the middle and laying open in your chest and all you can do is sob.”

“I’d sit in my car and think of all the things I could be doing instead. All the things I should be doing. All the things I’d never done and all the things I had done and it was just too much. Overwhelming. Like I was flung down a black bottomless cave and just kept fallen and fallen, never hitting the ground.”

He finished his drink and I hurried to finish mine as well.

“The worst of it was, I had things pretty good. Stable job, fair salary, on the track to be middle management. Nice house, good-sized yard and the grass grew green and even. A beautiful, doting little wife who made the best dinners and a bright young daughter.”

“That one was going far,” he said. “You could see it right away. Something about the way her eyes took in the world.”

Phil set another couple of drinks down in front of us. The man was silent for a long time.

“So what happened?” I finally asked.

He turned and looked at me. His heavy, wet eyes met mine. We stared at each other a few minutes, neither saying anything. He gave me a half-hearted smile, gave me a slap on the back, turned away, finished his drink and walked out of the bar.



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