"So was it worth it then, lad? All that over one bird, I mean?" Dean coughed through a cloud of smoke, leaning forwards to fix me with his piercing eyes.
Was an instant of your insecure purity worth a lifetime of her deceit and ignorance...?
Well was it?
"I though so at the time...Yeah, I guess I did.....Just really stressed me out, the whole gig was twisted, you know?" I muttered back, resignation and emotion heavy in my voice.
"it's just the...disappointment of the whole thing that gets me about it - I've had far uglier stuff happen with birds before.....She's an amateur in that respect, like...But The ignorance...Blanking me...Fuck man, it's a killer. She ain't 18, she's 28...We're both adults....I expected much more than that Dean, y'know?"
He sat upright, His posture stiff, his face suddenly hardening, his voice strangely shaky.
"Yeah...I've been there, lad. Know exactly what you mean....Never easy is it? I had a terrible sketch with me ex - unbelievable, man. Really stabbed me through the heart....Drove me crackers, fell out with me family and most of me mates at the time...It was hell...."
He thumped his fist down on the arm of the armchair, making the floor shudder with his force.
"But, it's like the old saying lad innit? What doesn't kill yer makes yer stronger..... God knows I learned that the hard way with her ....Never gonna commit to a bird now... Sick of getting tormented and played like a fool by 'em....But still..."
This was interesting His demeanour and aura of confidence had slipped and he was now uncertain, vulnerable. I was caught in two minds whether to press him, or to drop it...
ASK THE QUESTION.
I'm getting bored now....
"Yeah? Go on..."
Dean grimaced for a moment, as though recalling some awful event from his past, his eyes screwing up and his lips wobbling. He seemed on the verge of tears. But then he took a deep breath, composed himself and fixed me with a stern look again.
"All..I'm sayin' is...They reckon women outnumber us three-to-one...So this is it: I reckon you drop this whole thing and move on, lad. Sure, she had you off and messed with your head, I ain't debating that. An' it's clear you really liked her an' all, I mean look at yerself... You've been miserable for a while abaar it, right? RIGHT?"
I was took back by his fierce, passionate response.
Dean had always seemed the most laid-back punter in the cubes...
"Y-Yeah..." I mumbled tamely in response.
He made a sweeping, expansive gesture with his right hand.
"See, after all this.......You'll get yer head together and start chasin' other birds...Birds that are WORTH it...Worth the effort, the dollars, the feelings, man....She seems evil to me, judgin' on what you're tellin' me....Honestly dunno why you bothered with her... And the family thing with her was WAAAAY too "out west", knowhadamsayin'?
At last someone talking sense for a change.
Pay close attention, class...
"Yeah...Yeah you're dead-on, Deano.......too right mate..." I nodded my head.
"Just relax, lad you'll be alright....Maybe when me giro comes in we can go for a bevvy, hit town, get into some decent women likes....12 bells? Is that the time?"
He sprang from his chair, and made to leave, halting as he reached the door, turning to face me.
"Listen lad, gotta get off...I'm down at me uncles tomorrow, gonna get a lift at half seven...."
"Sure, no problems Deano...Listen.....About tonight....Thanks, man I really appreciate it....A problem shared an' all that...."
"Not a problem, lad...You ever wanna talk, I'm only down the hall...Just get yer head right, stop thinking so much...Get on it...You'll be sound..."
"Right...Again, thanks...see you later..."
And with that he had gone.
I brooded to myself for an uncertain length of time, despite Dean's exhortations to do otherwise.
Despite the late hour and the fact I had work that morning, I struggled to unwind and sleep.
I threw the stereo on, some ambient mix music was needed to accompany my racing thoughts.
I almost absent-mindedly started flicking through the pages of a graphic novel I had left on the table at the centre of the room, absorbing the beauty and intricacy of the art and the scale and ingenuity of the story-telling for what felt like the first time.
It was no "Road-to-Damascus" moment by any means, but I had what one could loosely describe as a real "Epiphany" during that lost few hours, sitting there in my cube, red light glowing from the table-side lamp, me listening to music, scanning the panels of that graphic novel.
The fact that it wasn't in any significant place, time and that there was no-one present to relate it to made it perhaps much more of a self-affirming experience.
The endomorphins were surging through me - I was at ease, calm, serene almost.
And from nowhere... The thought struck me:
In this state of mind, this atomosphere, taking pleasure from such simple things....
Would this bird ever participate?
Would she ever be comfortable with it?
And I could see, it was all open now, I understood how it worked.
Right down to all the flaws and imperfections, which previously I had been blindly ignorant of.
In essence, I finally saw how ridiculous I had been acting.
It's wasn't Linda who was at fault - it was me.
Had she been in the same room at that time what would she, and by proxy myself, in all likelihood be doing?
I laughed out aloud at the observation that followed, so much so that I wound up lying on the couch, book draped across my legs as clutched my my chest and wheezed with tired laughter.
It would probably consist of you both enduring some shitty soap, followed by a soundtrack of cliched boy-band, R & B bollocks, coupled to uninspiring conversations....
There would be nothing to challenge me, no common ground between us.
All the personal interests and passions - the true individualities and quirks of character that I held - would be disregarded, ignored as casually as she had blanked my phone calls and text messages. What I regarded as high art and entertainment simply didn't exist to her. Whilst I would devour the works of Shirow, Otomo, Inoue and other great visionaries, she would have been stuck at the level of OK or Heat magazine.
I felt energised and entranced by this bust of languid introspection.
Put simply, it was a home truth delivered in a brutally honest yet eloquent and poetic way.
It's a rare thing when your mind lowers it's guard and lets you see the bigger picture.
That's right, kid........
Like you said once, I'm a gold-mine of good advice...
That thought comforted me as I drifted off to sleep on the couch, hypnotic synth bass lines lulling my eyes shut.