Monday, November 8, 2010

Tricked And Retreated

Giggles and chatter whirled in the wind and echoed the leaves propelled by the evolution of autumn. Mark stepped off the curb and entered the street. One hand held a cup of cider warmed on a stove and fueled by brandy. A dollop of whipped cream floated on top and swirled around the surface like a goldfish mapped bowl. His other hand was pushed inside his pocket and protected his phone. He looked across the street and smiled with recognition. A neighbor intended to cross. Mark pulled his palm from his jeans and extended a greeting, "Hey! How are you?"

"Oh great," Alex sighed. "Hello."

"Happy Halloween." Mark retreated his unwelcomed hand and pushed it back inside his pocket.

"What are you supposed to be?" His cooled delivery hadn't masked his disinterest.

Mark sported a white button-down with paperback covers billboarded down the front panels. "These are what?" He pointed to each placard.

"I don't play games."

"They're book covers. My name is Mark. I'm a book mark."

"Seriously?" Alex shuffled his feet and crossed his arms. "That probably sounded like a clever idea when you thought of it."

Mark controlled his temper. "Okay, we have a new neighbor. I'll make sure you meet him."

"Why?"

"Why what?"

"Why do you have to make sure I meet him?" Alex took a step forward and put his hands inside his jacket pockets.

"I'm just trying to be social bro. What's up with you? Why are you being such a prick?"

"I'm not being a prick. Why do you have to push social situations? Why can't I just meet him in due time? Why do you always have to push people to socialize?"

"Jesus. Back it up. I've been the new guy. I just wanted him to feel welcomed." Mark took a sip to salve his sadness.

"Well yes, but that makes sense." Alex removed his hands from his pockets and recrossed his arms.

"What?'" Mark pulled his hand from his pocket and dangled it at his side.

"You push people because people aren't normally nice to you. Make sense."

"What the hell does that mean?"

"I'm just saying that it explains why you're so pushy. You have to be."

"Oh Christ!" Mark looked down the street and saw the children toting their treats in swollen sacks. He saw his friends’ shared smiles around a bonfire. He looked into a house and saw people klatched inside a kitchen. He returned his neighbor's stare. He heard the muffled shrieks and the hissed howls of the holiday. He deemed it needless to add to the hostility. "Okay look. Whatever. I'm not fighting with you. Meet him. Don't meet him. Fuck it."

"Exactly."

"I thought we were friends."

"We were never friends."

Mark returned and headed up the hill. He stood around the bonfire to warm his chilled soul.