Here Comes Your Man


Songs transform life into a novel. They render what we have experienced beautiful or faraway. The beauty later sets off the pain when we hear them again.
                                                                                           Annie Ernaux

“How many gin and tonics have you had?” he asked.

“Not nearly enough,” I said. It was at least five.

We hadn’t seen each other in over four years. The bar was crawling with groups of friends celebrating college graduations. Outside I could hear the Pixie’s song ‘Here Comes Your Man.’

I was sitting with co-workers from the coffee shop, talking about nothing and everything. It was a night filled with human intentions.

I sat down with my second drink and felt good. Someone made me laugh as I took a sip from my drink. I spit most of it out on the ground. As I pulled myself together, I looked up to watch more people filling the outdoor patio. Suddenly, I could feel my face become ghost heart cold.  There was a brief moment of eye contact and my trembling hands made me look away.

“Are you ok?” she asked.

“No, I’m not,” I said. I reached for my drink. The gin hit the back of my throat cold and harsh.

I got up because I wanted to keep drinking. I came back with two gin and tonics. I tried to explain to my friends who I had just seen. He was sitting across the patio, the back of his jacket haunting.

“We used to…” but then I got distracted when I noticed him turn his head around to look at me.

“He knows I’m here.” I can’t recall if I actually said this out loud.

“Don’t worry about him,” she said. “You’re with your friends tonight.”

I could feel the drinks toasting to the evening breeze. The air was warm and reminded me of young love. I finished the drinks from earlier and got up to use the bathroom. There was a wait so long. There was a line for the men’s room too. That’s when I saw him.

I was still waiting by the time he came out of the men’s room. The gin making me more confident than I actually was, I had to say something.

“Helllooooo!”

He would have walked right past me.

“Hey, what’s up?”

I was off-put by the casual disposition of the question.

“One of us had to be the first to say something,” I said.

He laughed nervously and asked what I was drinking. I looked down at my hand and realized I still had an empty cup in my hand.
        
“How many gin and tonics have you had?” He asked.

“Not nearly enough.”

The bathroom became free and we went our separate ways.

The night became louder and longer. It was probably after two in the morning when I ran into him again at the bar. He was closing out his tab and I was looking for a beer. ‘Here Comes Your Man’ was on the jukebox again.

“We didn’t get a chance to catch up,” he said. “You want to walk me to my car?”

“Sure,” I said.

Once we were outside the bar we started walking towards where I thought he had parked his car. Suddenly, he was holding my hand. The touch of his fingers interlacing with mine sent a chill so far up my spine I could feel it in my eyes.

Nothing felt accidental and everything was blurry.  It was as if his car didn’t exist. It was as if he hadn’t gone to Japan and come back married.

The car did exist. It had four tires, doors, and windows. A thousand pounds of a life I knew nothing about. There was a streetlight nearby and the harshness of the glow instilled the fear I felt when he looked at me.

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