Tonight John and I sat in the back of a pub on Telegraph Avenue and listened to strangers laugh and scream about terrible things that couldn’t possible matter to anyone anywhere. I said to John, leaning over the wooden table: “They may as well be slamming stones down on coconuts while the rest of the apes watch on with vacant grins.” John nodded but his eyes were all bad. He’d been out of it all night.
“Maybe that was a mean thing to say,” I went on, not sure if he was paying attention, “but let’s not pretend it isn’t true.”
I stood up and walked over to the door. Outside it was raining like a real bastard. I was glad we had driven our old Fremont police car to get there. The “DOOMSMOBILE,” as we called it, was parked on a nearby curb and I wanted to walk out of the bar and sit inside the damn thing while the rain came down on the windshield.
John said he was going to use the bathroom and I went to the bar to pay my tab. When I got back to the table he was gone. I found him leaning against the windows out front. His hood was up and he looked shredded. We walked down the sidewalk together, not saying anything, and I got in on the driver’s side and unlocked the doors. The two of us sat down and put on some good music.
In the rearview mirror I saw the only sign of aging I had experienced in ten years, the spiderweb crack of flesh beneath my eyes . . . little trails going nowhere. John lit a cigarette and I thought that maybe I needed to either get laid or jump off the Golden Gate Bridge.
We drove west in the rain. On Peralta Street I let John out and he put our rent checks in our landlord’s mailbox. I watched half a month’s salary disappear and the rain came down harder.
John got back in the car and slammed the door behind him. He leaned his head against the glass and closed his eyes.
I stomped on the accelerator, letting those cop tires squeal against the asphalt, and aimed the DOOMSMOBILE toward downtown Oakland hoping maybe we’d see a body or at least a few sparks.