But then how long does a lifetime last?
The curtains of the compartment crawl to the ground shadowing a sea of black silhouettes outside. Glowering high in the firmament is the moon.
demonic notes tapping on my nerves like small jolts into my brain. Tuff-ta-tuff. His voice was trembling terribly then. "Can't talk now." Talking is for politicians. Fuck democracy, to hell with it and with this empty compartment, to hell with the night, to hell with women and children. I shift in my seat and make contact with that old guy's luggage. My glare, however, softens, is torn apart by the mighty melancholy of a man that seems more morose than the early morning outside. "Excuse me how can I get to Park Slope?". She looks at her watch, excuses herself and runs. And you, gramps, do you know? Weak early sun goes for my eyes. People galore, suitcases, suits, ties and honks, cars, cafes, dresses, purses and rain, splashes and umbrellas, hats and overcoats, concrete and glass, and metal, bellowing drivers in leather seats, veins on their foreheads, bags under their eyes, beggars in the sunshine holding signs, blurry motion and noise galore. Old wheels shriek to a halt and I step off the bus. "Fifth floor? Thanks." Up some steps, knock twice and the smell of coffee envelops us, mixed with carbon dioxide, cigarette smoke, male and female perfumes, omelets and French toast, melted butter, croissants with butter, cafe au lait. He looks at me under his thick black fringe, a cool face that women lose their shit over at first glance and I tell him he's an asshole and I fucking hate him for being good with the ladies, oh and he's a faggot and can't push thirty on the bench press and he laughs, and I laugh, and the waitress is hot and winks to him and I look unto my buddy with an eye of pride and inner understanding and we laugh about something he said, or maybe I did, and we laugh again as he drags his black suitcase, matching with his black suit, I think we laugh because he hit it with the waitress, nono, that's not it, we laugh because even though we don't see much of each other, we know each other like ourselves. And a woman shouts a long sad "Aaaa, ye-eah" and I pick up and its him, damn I haven't heard from him, says he's in town and he thanks me, says he wants me to meet his son at Prospect Park, twelve sharp, right, right, where the trees are streaked with yellow and the paths are covered in change, where the sun shines clearly and you feel calm and I see his dark-blue linen suit heading towards me, his son a goddamn copy of him, another ladies man on the way. I shoulder him in the stomach and he laughs and thanks me and says his wife sends me regards, and I ignore his tear as we tap each other's backs and stroll through the green to the smell of coffee while his son dances circles around us, calls me uncle Ronnie and asks his father who I am and we sit, and his father tells him uncle Ronnie is "a friend, son, a good friend" and somehow these words and his expression send the kid hugging my foot, four words as compared to a million and a half spoken every second; a three second lifetime, and we are dragged by the aroma of coffee and its Irish now, packs a punch. He grins, missing a few teeth, white hair still in perfect form, but his liveliness is gone and his grin is fake and I slap his goddamn face, and scream, and the people look at two old guys fighting, but he smiles and we leave and I tell him he's an asshole and dreams are nothing, nothing goddamn it and he just nods, and I know he doesn't agree with me so I tell him four words and his smile is genuine and we laugh, and I ask how his kid is doing, fine, fine, nice and we stand in silence, letting the city speak to and for us, the dirty air and car traffic and the taps of our walking sticks on the cold hard pavement, the lights and the rush and he's gone and I am alone in a black suit, walking slowly in the incinerating sun and I stop in front of a black blob that mutters nonsense and wrong things and I greet his son and he nods and his ex-wife is here with her husband and she's sad too, and I stand on the podium so they can see me, and my head rings
"He was a great man, a best friend."
"He helped me when I was down mentally, financially, love-wise. He was always there for me from miles away even, always grinning smartly" and I realize I muttered twenty four words than mean nothing to the thirty people staring at me with false understanding of my rue, and it occurs to me that the four words from that day is all I have left from him as he is six feet below ground now and nobody here understood him, only me and my son looks at me, but he doesn't understand, he can't, I am alone, all alone and...
"Dad, dad, are you okay?"
I swing on my rocking chair on the porch, awake now and I break into tears. My suit is still on, I must have drifted off after my best friend's funeral. My son walks next to me and stares at the sky. He looks sleek and somber and after silence has takes its tow from our lives, he says,
"I do not think I can understand what you are going through, dad, but...maybe if you tell me about you and him. What were you two?"
And my tears subside, as four words boom in my head,
"Friends, son, good friends."
And he smiles. And I smile, and look at the firmament, but there is no sun. What was it, Bellamy? "If we lose touch, well, the eyes and ears go further than the hand, right?" And the memories go the furthest, don't they?