this is part of an ongoing series called Graveyard Shift. It can be read alone or I would welcome you to start from the beginning, which you can scroll down to in my archives. Enjoy
“You can’t smoke in here, Mike”, Jimmy said. He watched as his partner of 5 years ignored him. Mike was staring ahead, studying the smoke of his cigarette wafting listlessly into the air. A woman nursing a coffee alternately stared at her cup and glared at Mike. Mike casually opened his jacket enough to reveal his badge. The woman returned her gaze to her coffee. “Bully”.
“Fucking Smoke Nazi.” Mike offered.
“Yea, those studies on the harms of second hand smoke, the no smoking signs on the walls, common courtesy. Goebbels is behind all of it.” Jimmy chided. He knew that egging Mike on right now may go either way but he was just trying to get Mike to talk. He wanted to hear what was going on behind that furrowed brow. And he hated uncomfortable silences.
Mike dropped his cigarette into his coffee and lit another. He could feel the heat of the glare of the woman next to him as she grabbed her pocketbook and stormed angrily out of the cafeteria.
“You know, I don’t think she is the one who drugged your girl. Why are you fucking with strangers?”
“I’m not fucking with strangers, I can fuck with you if you want?”
“Just talk to me, Mike.”
Mike continued to stare straight ahead. Jimmy knew not to push anymore. The girl reminded Mike of Sarah. Mike suddenly spoke.
“If she was raped…so help me God.”
Yup, Jimmy thought. That’s it.
The world around us has changed in so many ways. Some good. Mostly bad. I’m not being negative, just realistic.
The air is cleaner. If we dare go outside.
Rivers in major industrial areas around the world are suddenly blue again. If you dare to go swimming for fear of someone being within six feet of you.
Gas is really cheap. If you have somewhere to go or can leave the house.
People are being kind to each other. A little too late, and only by phone and FB.
I had cats for the longest time. They are wonderful animals for so many reasons, but one thing I always admired about them was their ability to accept their surroundings (house cats, I never let mine go outside), no matter how small and they’d be cool with it. Even rule it in their own way. I would marvel at how they would sit in the window and stare at the outside world as if it were a movie. With the exception of a bird that came too close to the window they didn’t recognize that there was a great big world out there.
They were content to be spectators.
I feel like a spectator watching a game that I can’t follow. A movie goer at a bad movie. It’s just not real. It can’t be. But it is.
We’ve never lived in times like this. The lack of precedent is alarming and confusing.
People are dying while others are making jokes and making it political. I know that sometimes levity relieves stress but again, people are dying. Put the damn politics aside. Love them or hate them, they are the people that we the people voted in and we are stuck with them yet wise to support them.
People are not only risking their own lives but those of others despite teams of experts telling them of the dangers. The Spring Breakers come to mind. Arrogance and hubris have caused a lot of unnecessary death.
Those who dare venture out are as timid, as my grandfather used to say, as “A long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.” I was in a small supermarket yesterday and as I ventured down the dairy aisle a lone woman who was intently studying what was left of the egg selection didn’t notice my approach. Despite my attempt at “Social Distancing” I apparently startled her and she actually jumped back. I was taken back and immediately apologized and made my way by her. I wasn’t offended.
It’s a sign of the times. And unfortunate timing at that. At a time when our humanity )for the most part at least, is peaking we are so limited in the ways in which we can express it.
I say hi to everyone. Always have. At times to throw people off because they’re not expecting it in our increasingly antisocial times, most of the time because I firmly believe that a simple hello might be just what someone needed at that particular moment of their life. Now I have to do it at a distance, through a mask. But I have escalated my check ins with as many people as I can because the times demand it.
At least we have a common topic to discuss. The unrecognizable and uncertain world that we now live in.