The bank account was empty. Every day he would check. Each time disappointment. He thought that by some misfortune of the banks he would suddenly see his available balance rise. He was implementing the power of positive thinking. He bought lottery tickets with the same mindset. The account never rose. The winnings never outweighed the loss.
When will the gods decide to bless my digital holdings? Not always exactly, but often enough these were his thoughts. When he got home at night, he would repeat his mantra over and over in his head, sometimes even mouthing the words aloud. Gods of chance and change, shine good fortune onto me.
He was never religious. He came from a family of half-assed protestants. Not that they could rightfully distinguish any of the facets of Christianity, but it seemed the easiest for them to say. No, and he was not aware of any true gods of chance and change, but he placed a faulty mental note to check at the library next time he was there putting in applications on the state employment services website. This faulty mental note went into a pile of other seemingly useless ideas that rarely got shuffled in his mind. Memories are a tough thing to perfect, sometimes it is hard to even remember ones name.
The bottle of whiskey was easy to open, easy to empty, but sometimes too difficult to refill. He had given up on chasers all together. He never thought he would be the man drinking whiskey straight from the bottle on a park bench on the outskirts of the city. He remembered a time when alcohol would make him cringe as he sipped it, now it went down the gullet with the ease of fresh water. With those watery gulps, the current situations often warmed his stomach and dissipated throughout his body.
In the mornings he would wake up with a dry mouth that tasted like the last drink and smokes of the night. He often found the ground around him littered with paper. Torn newspaper, notebook sheets, sheet music all scattered in no organized pattern. On each of them were small black frowning faces. Circle, dot, dot, semi-circle. Upon his first morning after examination he was surprised to find them. Drawn with no set pattern, some almost perfect circles, and others like amoebic blobs. He didn't remember drawing one of them.
He would shake off the cold this morning and find more, the papers were getting unmanageable, but he couldn't bare to throw them out. Sometimes the few hours of sobriety in the morning were the only true moments he was himself. Newly optimistic, hungry, and searching. It was funny for him to think about searching. It seemed such a subjective term. Weren't we all searching from our nature, evolutionary pattern. You must always be seeking, creating, dying all at the same time. He didn't think there was much difference between searching the cracks in the ceiling, and searching for a place in life. The crack searching was the more tangible, the visible, the exposed and obvious. It was all of the existential, philosophical, and endless searching that seemed the unnecessary evil.
He was searching through the black faces one morning on a bus ride to the First Presbyterian food pantry when she sat next to him. When a lady in a yellow pea coat came on the bus he didn't notice. He did notice that he hadn't been noticing lately. He remembered when a nice set of legs would drive him mad. He had not grown bitter or conscious of his transition, he seemed to just slowly slump away from the instincts he was born with, and did not find it a tragedy. The woman sat next to him, even though there were many open seats which she could have chose that didn't involve sitting next to the man with the ragged face and dirty fingernails reading old sheet music (which happened to be smeared with frowny faces).
When she sat down her shirt rose up to mid-thigh. She had black stalkings on and he could see the edge where the garter met the nylon. He couldn't look at her face now, now that he had seen something intimate. He wanted to look at her face dearly, but in some form of shame he turned his eyes back to his paper. He couldn't look though. He kept seeing her leg in the corner of his eye and the mystery built. He saw the woman walking in his head. He could make out her movements, see her from the side with her shining handbag and expensive shoes. He could not put a face on her, he tried. He tried because he thought if he gave her a face his temptation to look up would defuse. This tactic did not work. Looking at the paper he began chanting his mantra.
He heard the voice clearly. It came from the woman. The leg seemed to gesture for him to look up. He could feel the sweat bleeding from his hands into the paper. He wouldn't be surprised if the ink soaked into his hands. He wanted to look up. Fighting himself, his instinct and seemingly the universe, his head turned upward to where the sound came from.
To be continued...