8:12pm. Another long day. We begin to shut the place down, retrieve the odd voice mail message, take stock of last minute thoughts, and write all of it down in our planners, in our memories, or both, to be picked up tomorrow, or not. It depends on the day, the vibes of it, the demands of it, how loud the hollering is and who’s doing the hollering, on the phone, in person, in our heads. It depends on everything out of our control, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker.
Sasha finishes checking in all the fusion splicers, GPS backpacks and hand-helds. She says let’s stop at Russell’s Café for a drink and a bite, says she’ll wait while I finish. Sure, why not. I’m done…enough. It doesn’t matter anyway, there’s no catching up with it all. We head for the door. I flick the lights off and turn around to look at the sea of green and red dots on all the equipment, each computer, plotter, fax machine, copier letting us humans know it’s still alive and watching, waiting to devour another day of our lives.
We step out in silence. No need for more, we’ve known each other so long. I lock the door and turn to face the goings on. The street is not so busy for a Wednesday, hump day, the day people begin to slide off the week into another raucous weekend. The sidewalks are full, though, of the usual smoke and cologne and lack of cologne. The night is checking in and the slashes and curls and rectangles of neon are getting brighter, more garish with the passing of moments that seem like they should be used for something else. My spirit cools, dampens under the weight of the sinking night air, and it’s all done but the hoping that he’ll show up tonight.
Russell’s is glowing, buzzing with just the right number and sort of people, hip-looking people, some alone with their laptops or legal pads, others flirting, whispering to lovers, laughing softly, sweetly with friends. The lights are low and the atmosphere is rich with the warm invitation to dive into whatever’s going on in your mind, to roll with it to some unknown fruition, to discover the mystery of it, or not. It depends on her mood, her line of thinking, what she says about him.
We head to the back of the place, up a small, curved staircase to a loft of tables overlooking both bars and a Grand Ole Opry-looking stage. Our waitress shows up all aesthetic with her black and red cat’s eye glasses, tattoos, and a Garofalo flair. I order a shot of espresso and a pint of Old Peculiar. While we wait, Sasha brings up the whole scene today with Legal and ROW tag-teaming us on the Detroit job. Makes no never mind to me. It’s just another day, so I let her ramble. It seems to help her and that’s all I care about.
I down the espresso so I can go the long run then hit the pint to put me right. I work it down about three quarters of the way and let it work me down to a dull roar. Then I begin the thing with Sasha. I tell her she needs to go back to him. She already knows my interest is mostly selfish, but I prefaced with that anyway just to prove I’m aware of my faults and working on them. I tell her I need this guy but he’s no good to me, can’t inspire me unless he’s inspired by her. I tell her I can’t take another night of writing pure crap, which she also already knows, so really, this entire conversation is pointless reiteration, unless she’s changed her mind. She hasn’t. She no longer feels “that way” about him.
At this point I begin not to care about him either, begin to feel the edge of the coffee more than the soothing stroke of the beer. I order another pint and a quesadilla. I tell her heck, let’s just leave him out of it, skip the middleman, and she can be my muse. I rant that it’s ridiculous I’m in this position, that I was fine without him, that I wasn’t looking for a muse, that he found me! I rave on how I never knew how good it could be, how high I could get, the incredible stuff I could write! I tell her the miserable bastard showed me the good stuff, then split, that is, she split, and I can’t find another like him!
She just looked at me and no more needed to be said, ever. Neither of us felt “that way” about each other. She’s not inspired to inspire me nor do I feel particularly inspired by her presence. The two of us are for another purpose. We like the feeling of co-existing, filling each other’s surface cracks. We paid the bar tab and hugged on the doorstep of Russell’s before walking in opposite directions into the night and its beady chill. See you tomorrow, I say over my shoulder. You bet, she says.
10:47. I’m home. I can still get some time in. I feel excitement trying to stir within me based on the premise that there’s a chance he could show. I moderate it with the plain truth that there’s a chance a lot of stuff could happen. I grab a Coke and a handful of pretzels from the kitchen, fire up the laptop, and touch the keys. Nothing. I stare at the screen and write some crap hoping that even crap, if it’s dry enough, will catch fire. Forget it. It’s 12:32am and I have to deal with Legal and ROW at 9am.
I hit the sack. My brain spins, begs, prepares a petition to the gods, composes the same desperate letter every night under my breath, under my radar like malware that’s infested my system. And I send it off into my dreams, into my night after night to the Apsaras, to the Valkyries, whatever it takes to revive my muse, my fallen hero, if not for me, for someone, anyone.
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