Monday, April 7, 2014

Does It Matter?

“Does it matter?” Anabelle grabs a handful of gravel from the railroad bridge deck and launches them into the tributary below.  Hundreds of small stones make little splashes that are quickly absorbed into the waters of the mainstream with indifference.

“I dunno.” I reply trying to balance on a rail and think at the same time.  “Just be nice ta know what I’m gonna do.”

“Ferget ‘bout da future.  It doesn’t matter.  Ya just gotta think ‘bout whatcha doin’ now.”  She lights a cigarette as we head east.  “Now’s all that matters.”

“That a Zen thing?”  I ask as we cross over Kennedy Drive.

“Nah.”  She takes a long drag and exhales in seeming ecstasy.  “It’s a survival thing.”

“What’s that s’pose ta mean?”

“Tell me, whatcha plan ta be doin’ in five years?”  Anabelle demands an answer.

“Mmm…  Well, I guess I’ll be workin’ somewhere ‘nd maybe find some girl ta be with.  Get some stability so I can ‘grow up’ like everyone else.”

“Okay, where were ya five years ago?”

“Let’s see.”  That seems so long ago now.  “I was back in Milwaukee workin’ da loadin’ dock ‘nd goin’ ta school.”

“When ya were in Milwaukee, is this where ya thought ya’d be now?”  She smiles mischievously, but with sympathetic eyes.

“Uh.  Ya know that answer.”

“Yeah, but I wanna hear ya say it.”

“Well…” I look at Anabelle’s pudgy face to determine how serious she is.  Very serious.  I quickly pretend I see something interesting in the vacant lots nearby.  “I thought I’d be a musician.  Tourin’ in our van ‘nd recordin’ an album somewhere fun.  Ya know, be a rock star ‘nd all.”  I smirk at my youthful naivety.

“Whadda ‘bout da girl?”

“We’re not talkin’ ‘bout her.” I bark.

“Okay…” She backs off the question, which is rare for her.  I throw a rock at an abandoned warehouse.  “How ‘bout livin’ here?”

“C’mon Anabelle.  I get it.  No, I didn’t think I’d be back in this town ‘nd sleepin’ in my granpa’s spare room, okay?”

“Whoa, calm down.”  She discards unwanted shoplifted goods from her jacket onto the tracks.  “Just tryin’ ta prove a point.”

“’Nd what point is that?”

“It’s point-less ta plan fer da future.  I don’t know what I’m gonna do in five years or even next week.  So much can happen that it’s impossible ta predict.  I get what I want now.  Why should I hafta sacrifice taday?  Da future is unknowable.  I could be dead tamorrow.”

“If we all lived like we’re gonna die tamorrow, we’d be screwed.  Everyone would be hungover ‘nd useless when we wake up with empty wallets.  No one would trust us.”

“TRUST!?!”  Anabelle laughs with her own twist of evil.  “Ya can’t trust anyone.  Life’s ‘bout survival of da fittest.  It’s all a big game of ‘winners’ ‘nd ‘losers’.  We live inna society that considers ‘greed’ ta be a ‘good’ thing.  Someone is always willin’ ta take all ya have if they can get ‘way with it.  Ya hafta watch yer back ‘nd commit ta nothin’.  Ya survive this world alone.”

“Whadda ‘bout you?” I ask to her cynicism.

“Whadda ‘bout me?”

“I trust you.”

“Ya shouldn’t.”  She’s bored again, like usual.  “I don’t know where I’ll end up but I’m gonna do what it takes ta survive.  Ya’ll never know what I’ll do.”

“Ohhhhh.  What crazy thing wouldja do?” Anabelle gives me the stink eye and looks around.  Her back is suddenly upright with confidence.

“How do I look?”

“Like a femme fatale.” Anabelle ignores my snarky remark.  She skips though a patch of overgrown grass to the cheap hotel/bus station on Schuyler Avenue.  I watch her talk to a bus driver and she motions toward me.  The driver’s sleeves are rolled up on his grey uniform shirt.  His matching company baseball cap sits lazily askew on his large head.  After a few moments looking in my direction, he starts writing on a pad of paper.  Anabelle climbs aboard the filthy bus.  The doors close and they head north to god knows where.

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