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Peter hates sidewalk cafes. Too exposed, too trendy.., too many people making it too much, not, like the marketing mirage he’d been convinced to envision.., satisfied with the belief that any of these facades, outside Europe, is just too Disney; and Peter never even been to Europe, although he has visited Disney World.

But Peter felt he had no other choice, even as he surveyed the sorry outdoor accommodations of Gentri’s Café. The neglect of time and new-management played party as the courtyard grew derelict and occupied by aggressive weeds with attitude, and clinging vines with low self-esteem. This gated patio had long since lost its appeal.., these days it serves as home to curious whispers and overflow, like surplus inventory, from the indoor crowd.., whom Peter found too annoying.

So Peter didn’t sit down for anything other than emergency relief; his back was killing him.., an expired patch and triggered sciatica forced him off his feet and to a sidewalk table farthest from the curb.
Spread the hips, relax the lower back; as best he could while threatened by creeping-charlie and hungry nightshade; and hoped the burning would become at least tolerant.., he still had a walk ahead of him, a mile-and-half to his cat, T.V., and Librium; “Black-market, don’t you know.”

The Librium?

“No, the cat.”

Peter closed his eyes, hoping to rise above the pain.., or better yet meditate on its emptiness. A coconut water could serve to refresh and renew, or maybe some green tea mixed with essential oils guaranteed for inner peace. Peter couldn’t decide between the two, so decided instead on a pitcher of the featured house draught on tap – the Disney version of inner peace - didn’t even care that it was from a local brewery whose name was retained only long enough to forget. All Peter cared was that it should quiet the screams in short order.

Just as the calm was enveloping, there came a group – a party - of about five or six to a neighboring table; even as there were plenty of empty tables at least a full exhale away. The exact number gathered, Peter really didn’t care to know; trying to ignore the intrusion as much as possible.., try to stay in his brewed bubble.., and besides they were coming and going, on and off their phones, hard to keep track.

It was a mixed crowd, Peter noticed, varied in all the primary social distinctions.., talking about shit Peter couldn’t care less about; but hadn’t the focus to ignore. And as Peter downed another glass, finishing his first pitcher; he became affected by the bite of a disenfranchised peeping parasite, indigenous to an endangered ego, frantically feeding on Peter’s perceived irrelevance; so couldn’t help but overhear..,

“People don’t listen when spoken to, only when whispered about.”

“What is that, Oscar Wilde?”

“No, that was Steve Mc-what’s-his-fuck..,”

“Dude in the third row?”

“Yeah, the one that was reading today.”

“He’s such an ass.., probably stole it from Wilde.”

“No doubt.”

Seems they were writers, or writing students just coming from class; stopping by for more than enough happy hour wine. And they went on and on speaking with authority, increasing with each glass, what Peter considered as nonsense.., increasing with each pitcher. He thought them boring - “get to the point already” - before soon hearing, to his disbelief, after a slow build-up, his own story. A story – an event - that up until now, Peter had forgotten had ever happened; an experience buried but not dead, and;

Now, Peter, would not only hear his story told; but critiqued as well..,

“What do you think? And be honest.”

How is this possible?

“I thought it was interesting, but.., you know.., I don’t know, you might want to work on the title.”

“She needs to.., I mean.., You should..,”

“Alright.., It’s bullshit.., There, I said it.., I mean, like, who’s going to believe that..,”

“The dude was kind of a loser, I don’t know if anyone is going to care. But I think the story can probably be saved.., anything can be made believable.., maybe don’t make it so sad.”

“It’s got to be more than just a two dollar bill.., where’s the metaphor.”

“The two dollar bill is the metaphor..,”

”For what?”

“I don’t know.”

“Fuck that, where’s the satire and..,”

“I thought the long wind-up amplified the emptiness, but..,”

“When it takes too much time to say.., it says, it doesn’t have much to say.”

“Don’t listen to that. I thought it was a lovely story.”

“She said be honest.., You need to put that away.”

“Look, you got the beginning.., but you can’t connect it to a solid ending. It gets confused.., doesn’t seem real.”

“It needs to appear to over-come from the outcome of created conflict; and do you want to live or die.., Need to master false prophecy, false narrative offering false choice appearing as ironic paradox - power trippin’ paradise – believing this cause we won’t believe that.., said so in the bible..,”

“Fucking gibberish man.”

“This does not have to be real, or not real; but you, through conflict; need to show, and not tell, that it either is or it isn’t. The only two choices; so when the one chooses the other one, it all makes sense..,”

“Hell I’d do that, too.”

“Cause if this exists then that can’t.., even as it does.”

“The main condition for accepting anything as real is its relative relate-ability.., “

“Relative relevance would be easier on the editor.., And that brings up another good point that should be avoided at all expense..,

“So they created a hypnotic program to make you forget the things you’ve already seen; so you can see them again, for the first time.., so it won’t be the last time.., and another idiot – some monied moron - thought this a good idea..,”

“I thought that’s what Weed was for.”

“Preach-on brother!”




© 2018 by Stephen Ian McNaught