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the running manWhen I see you, all I see is after. Gravel upturned by that beige Chevy. Pavement sun-baked and time-worn, like most Mississippi roads. You love the highways. You drive by, sunglasses and Miller Lite caps on a string, without noticing I'm headed in the opposite direction. I don't have time to regard the dust cloud because there's a cop idling nearby.
You've always been headed in the opposite direction.
When I was fifteen I didn't understand. Couldn't have. You can't read another language until you learn the right words, wrap your brain around the meaning of those foreign sounds and inflections. I couldn't read you because I didn't want to. It was easier to be angry and ignorant. It's always easier.
Five years later - five years of investigation, of difficult questions and even more difficult answers - I know you better than I ever thought I could. It wasn't any effort on your part, of course. Not your style. For you, existence defines itself - you have no reason to justify your
The Coffee GodThe Coffee God behind the counter shuffles foot to foot, a dance of steam and espresso. Black painted fingernails, inch gauged ears and a gray striped sweatshirt, hood crooked on his back. There's a cigarette tucked behind one ear; it bobs and twitches with each step.
“Non-fat caramel latte,” he calls, just as he always does, part of a spell, part of a mantra, toneless (just a tuck at the end). I reach. He looks up.
The espresso maker hisses.
There's something like a grin, something like a spark, something like a shared secret linked eye to eye. When he passes over the drink (rough cardboard sleeve hot to the touch), he lingers. Our fingers brush, a shiver, a jolt, a ten-watt shock.
The Coffee God tilts his chin, shouts, “Hey, mind if I take my break now?”
and ducks around the counter without waiting for a reply.
He slips his cigarette between his lips without taking his eyes from mine. I follow him out the door.
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