frozen farewell

Moon

when misery laughs in my face
and convinces me it was a good joke

A man walks into the back of a bar. This isn’t a joke. He walks, no, runs, in to escape the freezing air on his pale skin. Who cares, you think to yourself, it’s nobody you know. With your own troubles, you could use a stiff one yourself. You grab your coat, a long scarf and a pair of ripped gloves. You mosey down uneven sidewalk, lose your balance and fall down, hands first, on the ice. Actually it’s a fallen tree branch, but who’s watching? Only a priest, a rabbi and a lawyer from your first marriage — you think. Who cares, it’s over, good riddance. Now you suddenly need a double. You unsteadily get up, with the help of the light post, limping toward the neon sign over mounds of snow. So a man walks into a bar, freezing, but more so in his sunken eyes. He dreads his life, tired of being alone. Everyone thinks he’s a joke; at work, he’s the butt of them, and it doesn’t help he’s found clowning around with a half-assed smile on his boney face. Not a bright one, this one. He thinks he’d be better off dead but doesn’t know how to go through with it. Drink after drink, he numbs himself. Frozen breath begins to warm. You snag the seat next to him. Before you know it, you’re both two losers getting plastered and telling each other riddles. Why is there something rather than nothing? What do you get when you cross a joke and a rhetorical question? If God is good, why do the weeds of evil take root deep into our soil, and what is there to stop us from turning an apocalypse onto each other? Why does pleasure always coincide with pain? The bartender takes your glasses, signaling you to leave. You stumble across sticky floors, through the door, and there you are once again standing in the freezing wind and now fallen snow. Two loners stand at the corner, with one turned to the other and murmurs, “Why did he leave?” She gets no answer. The snow begins to fall more rapidly, wind turning in cyclonic directions like when her lover left, water droplets freezing in seconds just as her body stood still and blue when he said goodbye. But the strangers, with love still planted deeper into their souls than any evil rooted deep into the earth, stood frozen until his last breath, “I will never forgive myself that last goodbye. That aching, pounding, fading, frozen farewell.”

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