[Note: The first part of this post is a personal experience that then leads into the beginning of a short story. ~nlvogs]
I wish I could tell you this is a happy story. I wish I could tell you that it is a story of ‘the guy get’s the girl’, or ‘hero wins the battle’… but in earnest, I don’t know what this story means; perhaps because I am living it. I can say that just like any story, there is plenty of room for unspoken apologies, ungiven thanks, and unheard I love you’s. I think that it is grey that surrounds us. It is the little moments of short conversations that define us. They dictate our unfolding lives. Sure, right and wrong exist… but only to the individual. The truth exists in the moments of unspoken conversations.
They happen more often than many of us recognize. I first really noticed such moments on a boardwalk in Southern California. My dog and I sat at a pair of hard wood rocking chairs, against a table watching the people walking by. I was in awe of Linus’s attention to the crowd as they enjoyed the evening sunset. He sat calm and collect. He was at peace with everything. It wasn’t until he recognized my stare, that we spoke. I simply smiled at him. He smiled back at me and asked, what? With his eyes of course. I gently shook my head, humored by his questioning nature, saying nothing, but letting him know I was pleased with him. He looked at me curiously, and said “ok” with a cock of his head, and looked back to the sea and the passing crowd.
Dialogue with those dear to us can fill our souls. But it is peculiar how occasionally saying nothing is the best thing to say. Letting silence win over words. Allowing a moment to speak for itself. Hearing a breeze. Giving the stage to the rolling waves. Observing the solemn cry of a church bell.
I lose myself often. I get caught up in the day to day. But on occasion, my mind steps away. It happen once on a road trip along the coast, a friend and I took. We set a rule. One rule. We decided that we would not speak, except for the moments between the door bells of roadstops. Any door bell would do. Gas stations, diners, convenience stores… it didn’t matter; but there had to be a bell. The times between the bells, on the road, we would fall silent. Left to the conflicts of our selves.
It’s funny the things that bring people together. It had been years since either of us had time to get out of town. But truth be told, neither of us really had time for the roadtrip we were about to take. We both had jobs that ate every free waking moment. The demand for product analysis tied up his 9-5, and emails about inaccuracies in his numbers filled his nights. My day job as a bike courier had me running across the city all day, and a second gig as a bar keep at my corner dive filled my nights.
About my job… I don’t like it. I work for a giant old bastard. He is an old cyclist who rode the tour back in the 70’s. He smells like cardboard, and is about as grisled as an old Jewish man could be. Its not the work as a bike courier that gets me. Hell, its not even the un-godly time in the morning that I’m required to be up. Its the haggard old man. Never a moment to catch my breath. Every time the bell rings as I walk in, its a sure thing that I’m late from the last delivery, and late to the next. That damn bell.
I stick around because the money is good, and I love the bike. It may not sound like much of a job, but if you heard the list of clientele we work for, you would rethink. Big law firms always need signatures in a hurry. As a courier and a public notary, I am their answer. Its not often you run into a job where you get paid to weave thru traffic in a major metropolitan city. So I put up with the damn bell.
I am one of three riders. The other two, Matt and Brian, share days working part time. They are a younger couple of guys. Both students at the university. Having them around gives me the chance to sneak into a coffee shop a couple blocks down. I bring my bike in with me so the old bastard doesn’t catch a glance of it as he looks down the avenue during one of his day long cigar breaks. Its nothing fancy. Your typical dimly lit, wood floored, indie music playing coffee shop, with an attractive staff and an average cup of joe. But it is my refuge once a day.
About six months ago, I woke up on a Tuesday of no particular importance. I threw on a pair of biker shorts and a tee, filled my water bottle, picked up my bike, and head out the door.