If I knew just once we looked up at the same sky and thought the same thoughts everything would make sense but I don’t know and never will and sometimes my head hurts and I hate things and feel like I’m gonna spin out of control.
1. Red Rooster is freak nasty.
2. It’s easy bein green like a baby’s breath.
3. Slippin ain’t slidin.
4. You look sharp, tonight.
5. The King’s cousin likes it with honey.
6. Mother Earth doesn’t kiss and tell.
White Wine Horizon.
The hills behind the South Side of Pittsburgh wander strangely up a steep slope half way up the sky. A gentle breeze sweeps the streets on the sunny side of the hills, and a quiet air remains near the backyards behind the houses on the other side. Inside the hills run cars and trucks in opposite directions through the tunnels connecting the city by bridges. Below, on the near side of the river, beside a restaurant that looks like a gas station, in the seating area outside, an oppressive stillness descends upon its patrons while a man and a woman sit in their late thirties or early forties. A waitress walks by with a wet cloth and cleans a table behind the girl, leaving it shining wet in the sun. The man shuffles his feet and momentarily thinks about sinking back during the takeoff into the seat of his afternoon flight. He looks at the girl with tobacco hair and forgets about the plane.
“You’re more beautiful now than you were then,” he says. She runs her fingers through her hair, and for a second he thinks that she’s exactly the same.
“You still talk the same,” she says with an ironic smile.
“Guys, you ready to order?” interrupts the waitress.
“Two cervezas,” the man says with irritation. He tries to get her to hurry.
The waitress returns with two beers and two napkins but one blows away so she goes away and returns with another napkin for the second beer. She smiles when both beers are sitting on the table with napkins underneath.
The sun hits the girl’s face as she looks up at the hills that surround the sky. Her brown skin and white eyes accentuate her delicate features.
“Your plane leaves in an hour and two minutes.”
“You have two kids now.”
“Up. I was wrong. Less than an hour now.”
“I know a shortcut to the airport. It’s really fast. And I can always get around conventional drivers.”
“You remember the brand when we smoked together?”
“Still smoke ‘em. Just bought them across the street.”
“Wanna smoke together?”
Foo Fighters drift out of a passing car. Drums surge.
“I want to smoke together.” He offers her a white cigarette and lights it. He lights up his. They sit and smoke. It is a nice taste of entertainment. He asks the waitress for two glasses of ice water.
The water arrives. They drink it and chew ice loudly and look at each other and smoke. She shifts in her chair.
“This cigarette is making me sick.” She puts it in the ash tray and the smoke rises into the air and she crosses her arms.
“You walk too slow and talk too fast.”
“Don’t you have a plane to catch.”
A big ugly crow flies to his right swiftly through the sun.
“It’s like that with everything.”
“Yes,” said the girl. “It is like that with everything. Especially the things you have to wait so long for, it’s like that.”
She puts the cigarette out in the ashtray and picks up her beer and the napkin flies onto the concrete and starts to drift way. He fights the urge to call over the waitress for another napkin.
His stomach turns and for the first time in his life he doesn’t want to get on a plane. He flies on planes into tornado conditions and never bats an eye. He finishes his beer and orders another and hers is three-fourths full.
She has a black jacket on and she always looks sharp but he reminds himself to let go of her jacket quickly if they hug goodbye. She is beautiful. He was going be the late guy on the plane smelling of alcohol. But he will do it with a grace that will make the ticket girl smile at him as he complains about the line at security and he is the last guy on the plane and the black steward makes him sit in the very last seat.
“I never thought I’d never know you again.”
“You should have thought about that and had better manners.”
“My manners are so much better now. I bet you think about it sometimes.”
He thinks about his father and the worst thing that ever happened.
“You guys want your check? My shifts about to end,” the waitress says.
“I’ll get it.”
“I gotta get going.”
He finishes his beer. She pushes hers aside. They meet in a brief professional hug as he rips himself from the smell of her body. It’s sunny out. He makes it to the airport in nineteen minutes.