Ron is a nice guy, but Ron is mostly an idiot. Ron drinks a lot of coffee, eats a lot of candy and doesn’t own anything more than the clothes on his back, and the bills that dog his heels from low rent joint to low rent joint. He’s a smooth talker, if you’re up for a line of bullshit that smells as bad as his cologne, and when he agrees with a thing said by the boss, you can almost hear him huffing ass crack.
He’s got a friendly manner that’s slight and almost transparent the closer you look at it. You can see the sinews and tendons of his brain, what he’s really thinking or feeling if you get close enough. You can see his skin ripple and pulse like still water disturbed by the thoughts of water skimmers, and I’m stuck with him on a perfectly wonderful rainy Saturday afternoon for the next thirty minutes, having survived the previous four-and-a-half through sheer force of will and the power of my imagination to make him into, alternately, a performing bear, a komodo dragon, and the Michelin Man. This is survival. When I leave here I’ll go to work at my other job and the world will right itself of Ron’s incandescent aura of failure. I only have to make it for a few more minutes. I don’t know if I can make it a few more minutes.
I can see a pattern emerging in the tissue that covers his skull, a network of fine veins splitting from one another into infinitely smaller and smaller capillaries until each skin cell must be made up entirely of the mucus the man uses to power his body. His mouth moves and his mustache rises and falls like a heavily forested hillside in an earthquake. He’s talking about wanting his 1989 Toyota Tercel hatchback back. I look at his dull, bloodshot eyes. I can see my face reflected in the lenses of his glasses, a double barreled shotgun of shut the fuck up, Ron, that he will never understand. Blue veins, red veins, all veins and mucus and the wet leather sound of his mouth moving and his tongue touching his palette, the slow and inexorable tidal wave of his voice boiling up out of his frog neck, resonating baritone notes that you want to have read someone else’s words.
When I leave the store and get in my car, I watch Ron cross the street to the liquor store where his truck is parked. I think about running him over. It’s raining, I could claim I didn’t see him as it’s been twilight for the last six hours and I wasn’t paying attention. I could just run him over and hope for the best. My car is light, but it’s still a car, and I could accelerate to a killing speed in the time it would take me to kiss his shins with my bumper, but traffic gets a little heavy and he’s across the street before he can be killed by “accident.”
Next time, Ron.
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