“You Promise? Come on, man. you have to. Promise!”
“Please,” Glory added.
“I promise!” said Salim, the cab driver.
“On the Koran?”
“I said yes.”
“And you promise you will curse at us?” Asked Glory.
“No. I will not,” Salim shook his head.
“It’s part of the whole experience. You have to.”
“Come on, you have to curse at us? Please! We are sorry very about the kissing.”
“Fine. Yes. It was not a nice sight.”
“I have some hefty gratuity in my hand. You’re in? Positive?” I waved the fare and a twenty.
“Yes.” He took the money. “Thank you.”
“And everyone knew Bin Laden was in Pakistan?”
“Yes. I told you. Everyone knew. Even my sister’s goat knew,” Said Salim.
I knew it.
I kissed Glory, I picked up our six pack of Hofbrau I bought back in the city, “Right here is fine, sir.” I said as I leaned in close to her and whispered, “Remember the codeword?”
“Yes.” She mouthed in an overdramatic fashion.
“The fare is 32.50.” Said Salim, overacting.
“Well, that is a fair rate.” She said, winking.
“Indeed, allow me to retrieve my wallet in order to pay this handsome man from Pakistan.”
“Take your time,” said Salim.
“Faith, unity, discipline!” Glory screamed the codeword.
We flung the cars doors open and ran from the taxi, the streetlight caught us for a second, like the flash of a camera as we passed the prehistoric pay phone and into the darkness of the park. The bottles chattered in my arms as I ran. All the times I did this when I was younger I laughed so hard, this time was no different, even if it was staged. It was still thrilling. Glory was ahead of me, completely in character, running from the law, running from everything. The trees lined our path, and I wished there was a bit more light so I could see her ass better. Salim was behind us, he gave chase, running farther than I expected him to, leaving his car unattended. Good sport! When he stopped, he shouted, “Come back you dirty mother fuckers! I hate you! Pay your fare, sister fucker!”
We ran, stopping near the opposite side of the field, smiling under a ponderous moon, catching our breaths.
“Did you hear that guy? Whoa.” Glory stretched, touching her toes.
“I know. He needs a little soap for that dirty mouth of his.”
“This is a nice park and you said you live nearby?” asked Glory, slightly distracted.
“Yes, that way.” I pointed in the direction. I have lived in every direction from this park. “Here, you have to sort of, climb under the fence then hop over the wall.” I pulled the clipped fence away from the wall to make it easier for Glory to slide under.
“Am I going to die?”
“Most likely, yes. By the way, does anyone know you’re here?”
“Creepy. Yes, my therapist.”
“Well then, my plans are foiled.”
I handed down the beers to Glory and jumped into the track. I ran here from time to time. I had executed this action hundreds of times with my friends since the age of twelve. We sat in the center of the track, on the soccer/football field at about the fifty yard line.
“May I have a beer?” Glory asked
“Of course! Where are my manners? Let me open it for you.”
“Do you spend a lot of time here? Cold.”
“No. No. The Hofbrau is still cold. I’m comfortable. Thank you.”
“I haven’t spent much time here lately, at all anymore really , but growing up my friends and I practically lived at this park, between those two schools, Bleecker and P.S. 21 and further down the street at the red house, behind the handball courts. All over this place. You could come to the park at any time and someone would be here to hang out with, the is pre-dating cellphones, of course.”
“That’s nice to always have a place to go when you don’t want to be cooped up at home.” I thought about all those times I left catherine behind. I left her alone with them. Regret stabbed at my conscience.
“I don’t want to talk about me. I want to learn about you. What was it like upstate? Did you have any pets?”
“I had a German Shepard as a kid named Olaf. Back home we have a cat named Barker.”
“Do you have any pets?”
“I have a cat, Pangur Ban, she’s dying though. More about you?”
“Well, it appears I had the opposite of you growing up, not a lot of friends since there just wasn’t many people in the town, I spent most of my time isolated. Just me and the woods behind our house. I always wanted to go off to big cities, a lot of day dreaming, pretending I was in New York, Paris, or Tokyo. Anywhere but home. I was, I guess I still am very imaginative. My Dad was so influential in terms of art and all things creative. We would put on productions, he built a stage in the backyard for my sister and I. My father can build anything, super handy woodsman guy. I had an art gallery when I was seven. Its funny, I never wanted to play with my sister. I was always like go away, stop bothering me, what a brat I was. I miss her now though. My mom is nice, she is currently obsessed with Netflix.”
“What is her name? Is your sister older or younger? I have a younger sister named Catherine. ”
“My sister’s name is Evelyn. She is two years younger than me. She is so smart. You know what’s weird?”
“What? Tell me.”
“I used to feel so alone at home, and I thought if I went to a big city with all those millions of people I would never feel that loneliness there, but I was wrong. I feel the same here as well.”
“I get that. I kind of want the version of loneliness you used to have. I want to meet your parents. Is that strange? Your dad seems so sweet. They seem, for lack of a better word, hip. I wish I could say the same about my own.” I wish a lot of things were different with my own parents. Everything really.
“ You do? For real? I’d never use the word hip to describe my parents.”
“I normally would never use the word hip to describe anyone. I apologize for my use of the word hip. Didn’t mean it, meant to say cool. Moving on, at night you can see bats here.”
“No way. There’s no bats here. I’m from the woods where there’s real bats and owls and salamanders. There are no bats here.”
“Yes, there are. They used to love these creepy dilapidated bleachers that used to be here but there are still around. Alright, I am baffled and I need to ask you something very personal.”
“You can ask me anything.”
“What the fuck are these things on you hands and arms?”
“That is all? Softball questions. They’re socks. Just socks. Nothing special at all. I buy nice comfy socks and I cut off the toes and wear them on my arms. I like the way it feels.”
“Okay, that’s not weird.”
“Want to hear something embarrassing?” Glory smiled.
“Sure do. I love embarrassment.”
“I was obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t watch that show.”
“Me either, I’m referring to the movie.”
“Oh! Great movie. Kristy Swanson is a piece. Pee Wee was superb. Love him.”
“Wasn’t he? Yes! I was so into it, I watched it so much I broke the VHS, I taped it off cable. I had my dad widdle me wooden stakes, he would dress up as Donald Sutherland.”
“Can I call your dad Merrick?”
“He’d probably like that.”
“So lets recap, you have a cat named barker, you carry wooden stakes and wear socks on your hands.”
“Vampires are back in, so that’s schnurrbart.”
“Schnurrbart? I heard you say that earlier, what is that?”
“It is the German word for Mustache. It is my favorite word. It is a word substitution for me. I sort of abuse it and I don’t pronounce it correctly. But I think it’s great.”
“So, this Hofbrau is fucking schnurrbart.”
“You got it, just like that.”
“Your black eye is pretty schnurrbart. Are you going to tell me what happened? Did a girl hit you?”
“Well actually, a nice girl did hit me.”