Chasing the Enemy (a short story)
A first person account to a bartender (from a bystander):
It started off just like any other day: rainy.
I threw my coat on, for all the good it'll do me, and went about my business: getting my morning grub.
I walked down the block to that 99cent store and grab myself a milky way. Then I make a pit stop at the bodega for a small coffee, two sugars and cream, plus a bagel with butter. Finally I pop by the liquor store for my Jameson (that's for the coffee), and then I walk down to my regular spot by the pier to enjoy my breakfast in peace.
It's nice and quiet that time of the morning, you know. People running, about they business and such, but quiet...
I go to sit down on my regular bench, you know, like I always do: lay out my goods the way I like them and then eat, they way I like to, only there he was. Right there on my bench. Now, there's a bench just a couple steps away so I'm thinking why he don't go sit over there. This here is my bench. Always been. Everybody knows that. So, I ask him real nicely if he could move to the other bench, cause see, this here is my bench. I got my morning ritual and I need this bench to do it. I got myself ready for a fight or at least a verbal altercation, but would you believe the guy just got up, walked over to the other bench, and sat himself down. Didn't say nothing. Just like that, he did it.
Of course, now I'm curious... I sit down and lay out my stuff, but my eye be on him the whole time, so my ritual ain't working for me no more. You understand? Even though he moved, he ruined the ritual. I'm sitting there, looking at my breakfast, looking at him looking straight out at the beach, and I can't enjoy my breakfast. I'm thinking, maybe I could ask him to move to the other side of the park. The side on the left of that big oak tree down there...
I muster up all my courage and I begin to say... "No." he says. Even before I say anything! So I say "no, what?" "I have to sit here for a little while longer" he says. He sounded kind of Irish, I think. You know, like them guys you hear on them TV shows. Them gangsters hanging around some cathedral in Dublin or something, just brooding, talking, planning, waiting for a fight to break out. That kind of voice, he had.
So, I says to him "Ok...? I was just gonna ask you if you could move to the other side of that tree right there. You could still see the beach, and I could have myself some privacy." "Pre-vacy" he says back to me, like I said the damn word wrong. "Yeah, privacy" I says back to him. He chuckles, turns and looks straight at me. Whoa, was that freaky! His eyes look like miniature hammers. I know, don't make no sense, but I ain't drunk my Jameson coffee yet, so this here is real. He turns back to the beach and smile to himself...
Now, I'm sitting there for what's starting to feel like hours. My head's spinning. My coffee is getting cold; my bagel is turning to brick, and I'm thinking I could switch up my routine and eat my milky way now, but no, I says to myself. This here is my bench, my space, I've been coming here every morning for going on a decade now. No. Would you know he turns to me like he heard what I was thinking and says to me "You really should drink your coffee, it's getting cold. Eat your bagel before it becomes inedible. Save that chocolate bar for later, it's the smarter move.
"Ok, that's it!" I says. I says "you got weird eyes, man. Who are you!?"
"You are either a really brave man, a man who has seen so much that nothing frightens him, or simply stupid."
I get up that second. I've been around the block, as they say downtown. I know when trouble is knocking. I says "Fine. Keep the damn bench. Have yourself a nice day!"
"Sit down, eat your food; really, I'm no trouble to you."
I'm looking around me and it seem like everybody done disappear or something... It's quiet round here, but not this quiet.
"I'm here to find my parakeet. She escaped in the middle of the night and I believe she's making her way here."
"Yeah, that's not weird at all" I'm thinking. Sarcastically, of course.
"Sit. Please. You and I have more in common than you realize. I'm not here to hurt you. Just to find my bird."
So, fool that I am, I sit. Although, maybe my sitting made him think I done seen a lot so I'm fearless, and not plain stupid?
"What's your bird's name?" I ask. "Ash" he says. That's a terrible name for any creature, I think to myself. He laughs like he heard what I was thinking, again. So I straight up ask, "do you read people's mind?"
"I'm a demon. It comes with the territory, sometimes" he says.
I chug my cold Jameson coffee.
"Did you know that female parakeets generally don't learn to talk?"
I start chowing down my brick of a bagel.
"Well, mine loves to sing. She believes her destiny is to be star, here in Los Angeles. She's enamored by the bright lights! I can't shake this feeling she's got Las Vegas confused with Los Angeles. Anyways, she's been going on about being on the heels of destiny. It's no surprise she finally made the leap..."
I wipe the crumbs off my mouth, wrap up all my trash and get up. "Good luck with your bird" I says to him as I walk away. He says back to me "good luck with yours."
The hell he mean by that? I ain't got no bird.
I walk off from there as fast as my legs would let me, Birdie. Serious. I came straight here cause all I could think was I needed a drink.
"Well, that's a story..."
"You're telling me!"
"Hm. I do love singing..."