NOTE: I don't post to this blog super-duper often anymore, because I'm busy writing, well, books. (Read more about that here.) For more up-to-date, day-to-day ramblings, visit my Facebook page.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Saga of Colin & Mike

Here I sit in the coffee shop of my local junior college, as I do most Friday mornings. I feel hip, like a college student. I listen to the jazz on the loudspeakers; I sit opposite an abstract painting entitled Impending Doom. I am a regular now.

Last semester I had occasion to spend a few hours here most weekdays, for reasons I won't go into now, and I got to know the other regulars. Oh, not know as in, "Hi, Jack, how's it going? Ace that chemistry test?" Just know them as in, There's that deliriously happy couple who always hold hands over their steaming lattes. There's the heavyset guy who holds one-on-one Bible readings. That kind of thing.

Three seats away from me is the Talker. I discovered him one day last semester when he came in with two or three other people and proceeded to hold a very loud monologue on all sorts of subjects, most of them related to pop culture. He was at one end of the coffee shop; I moved to the other end, and I could still hear him, loud and clear. I'd forgotten to bring my earbuds, so I couldn't drown him out with music or white noise, and there weren't any other seats to be had in the student center. I was trapped with him and quickly developed a raging headache.

Today, the Talker is alone--but not entirely silent. He's working on some kind of math problems. I know this because he just now boomed out: "Bingo! I knew I was on the right track! So that's blah blah to the blah blah power ... yes! Wait ... Oh no! Oh, yeah ... duh."

Over in his customary corner sits Colin*, a slightly built young fellow who wears a stocking cap. I can't help feeling a bit lonely for him. Last semester he hung out every day with Mike, who wore heavy black-rimmed square glasses and a cool black Fedora. Every day they sat together for a couple of hours and chatted about their lives. Tired of living at home, they were planning on getting an apartment together; Mike wondered how to approach a girl he liked; Colin talked about how he wanted to have a daughter someday. (I found this endearing; how many young college men are even thinking about such a thing, let alone talking to their buddies about it?)

But this semester, Mike has disappeared. I haven't seen him once. Colin sits at the same table in his stocking cap, his head slumped onto his hand, listlessly staring at his laptop screen. Does he miss Mike? Did the apartment thing fall through? What happened to the car Colin was going to buy? The story has been cut off midplot, and I'm left to finish it. Did they have a fight? Did one of them confess to a gay crush and the other snubbed him? Did Mike drop out to play sax in a smoky nightclub?

I know that probably Colin is listless because we're all listless and tired of this endless winter of snow and cold and wind. Mike's spring semester schedule probably doesn't allow him time to hang out in the coffee shop (and when does Colin go to class, I'd like to know?). But my writer's mind spins out alternate scenarios. Maybe Mike's endless chatter and hipster attitude broke Colin at last. Maybe Colin has actually murdered Mike and hidden him in their new walk-in closet! Does he regret it now? Well, shouldn't he?

The Talker has finished his work with a triumphant bellow: "I hate math! Math is evil! At least it's done." Colin has given up and closed up the laptop for the day. The cute couple have gone to lunch. So now it's just me.

And the writing.

*I've heard these guys use their real names, but these are fake names. Just in case they're reading. As if.

image by Rüdiger Wölk (photo taken by Rüdiger Wölk) [CC-BY-SA-2.0-de], via Wikimedia Commons.

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