You’re running late. Poor planning. Stuck in Brooklyn traffic, waiting for the Queens Midtown Tunnel to clear. Must be an accident, the driver says. You consider the importance of the appointment with the billionaire who owns Dr Pepper. Sure, there’s background and a good reason, but you choose not to think about any of that.
Instead, you consider touching and waiting. The kind of touching that ends up in specimen bottles on scientific research tables. Rows and rows of the tiny movements on shelves. The kind of waiting that hurts people. The actual event of waiting is more philosophical, than touching, although both have very unsure outcomes and no one can really define their emotional meanings.
You look out the window of the limo and you are there as she lifts her hand up to your shirt and removes an invisible hair, a thread and you look into her eyes. On a different continent you reach toward her face and move a wisp of hair out of her eyes and her face is bent downward and she begins to cry. Your hand brushes against her hand as you walk down the path toward the grave of the king and later that night you move her hand over your dick and she squeezes it as the snow falls.
She’s sick and you didn’t return and she lies on the couch as Timmy tells her about you, the kind of person you are, but you don’t care since you’re catching a flight out of Houston. You excuse yourself and leave by the side door in the Burger King and she sits there looking at the clock on the wall and when she goes to the bathrooms, she can’t find you and as she walks home, she thinks about you and later she calls, waiting for you to pick up, but you don’t. The doctor who waited in vain for you and then they came and took him out of the bar and killed him in a ravine.
The traffic is starting to move. Maybe your wait is over and you can make the appointment, but then it stops again.
You change subjects and start to think about the worst person in the world. Who might that be? Some dictator like Hitler or Stalin, Mao or some insane commander somewhere. Death and destruction on a very large scale, surely that counts for something. How about the serial killers, or the people that torture in the dark chambers underground? Do the individual deaths count for less than the entire city firebombed? Surely they count for less, but who are you to say? Why is it so much harder to witness and later drink over the death of children than old people? Why does a life half-lived seemed so much sadder than the eighty-year-old who dies of a heart attack in their sleep? It does, but you can’t put your finger on the absolute truth of why. Good word, why. It keeps everybody on their toes.
The traffic starts to move again and you’re in the tunnel. The driver asks, when do you have to be there? You reply, does it matter? Does this traffic care? And he laughs.
You always loved Dr Pepper when you were a kid and for that reason alone, you want to meet with him again. He is an odd individual. You picked him up on a side runway of the Zagreb airport and this was the kind of guy who didn’t have to go through customs. As you drove through the city, you pointed out where the Serb rockets had hit the city and finally you got to the meeting of emergency nurses and doctors and you had already practiced the sort of Bosnian horror stories they would tell.
You’re finally out of the tunnel, but you check your watch and you should be sitting in his office right now, but you’re not. No, you’re in the backseat of the limo trying to get into Lower Manhattan and your driver is from Somalia and you talk a bit about Mogadishu and the Technicals, the boys that John organized, and you could see the birth of the gangs and the extortion and the totally fucked up situation and then the Marines and the Army came and the whole thing turned into a shitshow, but you didn’t really care. As someone once told you, we’ve been trying to make Somalia a good place for sixty years and nothing works. It’s all a waste.
Maybe this meeting isn’t in the cards, you think. Again, you don’t really care. The damage is done and it’s hard to come back from snubbing a billionaire. Particularly this one, who staunchly opposes the redistribution of wealth through progressive taxes and is a noted takeover artist in the equity world. He’d coined the phrase, the barbarians at the gate, or so he says.
Later you learn he’d cancelled the meeting long before you should have gotten there and he didn’t wait for you. Maybe he knew you were a fuckup. But there you are in Lower Manhattan and so you go into a bar and call the Christian girl from Honduras and make a date to meet at a restaurant in Soho, but you don’t go and she waits for you, but you really don’t care and prefer to walk up and down Times Square, looking for someone you never find.
A week later you’re in, of all places, Bangladesh and there’s nothing good about that. You step over a pile of vomit in the doorway as you disembark from the Biman jet and you begin to go through everything you know about Islam in one of the darker corners of your mind.
4 thoughts on “Waiting And Touching”
There’s a very Groundhog day feeling about this piece – no matter where you go, the days come with you. I saw a quote from Paul McCartney “I’m still looking” and wondered what the heck he could still be looking for but I guess we all go to our graves still looking. I had a boss who was addicted to Dr. Pepper – he called it Dr. Piss. I don’t know why but he was Israeli and sometimes they can have a strange sense of humor. I hear he has dementia now and is doing all kinds of strange (though comical) things – it was probably the Dr. Piss. He was a lovely guy though – fed the mice and would never let us exterminate the ants or chase away the homeless man who insisted on using his office window as a urinal!
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Evil dictators are bad enough. I believe I’d consider the Spanish Inquisition zealots who, deep in their hearts, knew they were wrong, but enjoyed torturing others simply because they themselves were under the thumb of their so called god and wanted others to suffer as they did. Sadists, those who actually get off on controlling others climaxing in inducing agony in their captives.
Bring on the AI revolution. I figure a superintelligence will realize how inequitable society actually is and right the wrongs of the rich.
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Hi A. Mole,
Hope among the robots. Nice thought. You belong in a Ray Bradbury story, fuck, we all do. It is really too bad we don’t have the finger electricity that drove Clark and Brandbury along the lines on the pages. I once went to Unawatuna in Sri Lanka looking for Clark’s house. Never found it, but did end up staying in a nice little bungalow along the Unawatuna bay. What would I do without my past? I’d be really, really boring instead of just boring. Yawn, yawn. I have a friend who I have to tell about stuff that happened to him. Example: Hey, Bill, put your hand up to your forehead. Ok, do you feel that indentation above your right eye? Yes, that one. Kinda deep, huh? Well, let me tell you about how you got it. And it goes on like that with all kinds of stuff, women, fights, drinking, drugs, naked in public, etc. Fuck and fuck again. What a fucking place to occupy. Where are all the women who used to occupy my space? Thankfully they are only history. Past tense in my walks with the dogs up to the peaks. Thoughts louder than bombs. Which leads me to this bit of advice: have you seen The Worst Person in the World? It is a movie by the Norwegian director Joachim Trier and like I told Aaron, Jan, and John, it makes me feel not so alone. If you haven’t seen it, you should. It will make you feel young again, tired perhaps, but overall very human, which I am assuming you are. Just like me, we are both human, right? See you later. Thanks. Duke.
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song from the movie good soundtrack https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1XwHrGV9TA Also, you really need to see Thelma by the same guy. They are both for free on Kanopy if you have that. If not, all you need is a library card to get it. 10,000 great movies, if you can believe that. Duke
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