This Is Maybe a Story


This is a story in a loose sense. There’s three of us in a car, my car:

I’m at the wheel sucking vapors,

Amy’s in the passenger seat gazing intently at the passage of darkness,

and Mat’s in the back chain smoking and rambling on.

He’s had about 12 beers in all. I had five, but I’ve since sobered up, and Amy, she’s had one to herself and stolen a few sips from mine.

It’s 2:30 in the morning now, and ours is the only car on the road. We’re on our way to Gettysburg to grab a late/early bite at the Lincoln, which is an old style railcar diner. The food is good, but it’s overpriced for the tourists.

I put Ought on the stereo, “The Weather Song”, and Mat digs it, he tells me so in between raving about how the owner of the 7-11 up the street from his house dislikes him to a disturbing degree.

He’s severely inebriated, so he keeps repeating himself over and over, before switching topics to how he almost fucked a girl in the bathroom at the Lincoln, but didn’t go through with it because he was afraid of being caught by the staff.

I tell him they’re probably used to that sort of thing, seeing as how the place is within walking distance from six different bars, and is always swarmed by college kids on the weekends. Amy assures him they wouldn’t care.

She’s returning to college herself in the Fall, to finish up her nursing degree.

Mat and I, we don’t have that sort of ambition, and in fact, this trip is about as ambitious as either of us have been in months.

Mat’s been hung up on his ex, a girl who cheated on him 17 times with the same guy, and had the nerve to tell him about it in detail. He’s also hung up on recently turning 28.

I’m hung up on having to leave California because of financial troubles. I’m also hung up on not having a solid weed connection, and on recently turning 27.

Amy is hung up on her family, but not hung up on being 21.

We arrive at the Lincoln and seat ourselves.

There are three other customers, some students lingering like cigarette smoke at the counter. Two nerdy guys, scarred with acne, and a girl who looks far too attractive to be hanging with them.

We opt for a booth near the bathrooms.

Our waitress is friendly, but has a deadpan and sarcastic manner, which we understand.

Mat orders a coffee and a chicken parm sandwich.

I order a water and a burger.

Amy orders a Pepsi and French fries since she isn’t a carnivore.

Mat is still rambling on, at an unnecessary volume, about his ex-girlfriend, the one who cheated on him 17 times with the same guy and told him about it in detail, and then he starts ranting about the ex before her.

The latter breakup was his fault, he explains, because of his dissatisfaction with a decidedly good thing.

He seems to be down on himself for not being as gentle or kindhearted or supportive or intelligent as this girl’s new beau.

Amy chimes in a says she knows the guy, and that he’s an asshole.

I tell him that from what I’ve seen of this new guy, he’s a certifiable bore, which seems to make Mat feel better.

Nevertheless, he still feels lousy because his most recent of ex-girlfriends cheated on him 17 times with the same guy, and more importantly, he feels lousy because he didn’t do anything about it, since, as he says it, “I’m a fucking pushover.”

Amy and I tell him not to worry, that he’ll find someone else, someone who will be supportive of him and vice versa, and besides, being single isn’t as bad as people make it out to be.

This probably doesn’t mean a great deal since Amy and I are together.

We sit in silence as we finish our food, and the waitress tops off our beverages.

I take care of the bill since I just sold my old car.

On the way home, I put on Archers of Loaf because Mat is in a bad mood, and that band always cheers him up. We both sing along to “Web in Front.”

-r. miller


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