My previous post was a work of fiction, meant to mirror where I am in the final edit of Darker Prometheus and possibly stir up interest by burring the line between fact and fiction. But unfortunately, art doesn't always need help down here in New Orleans when it comes to imitating life. Literally hours after my post, there was a real shooting on Bourbon Street around 3AM that killed one (who apparently was someone close to a friend of mine) and left two injured.
My thoughts go out to the victims and their families.
NOPD reports confirm that shots have been fired from inside of Samson's Live Music club located at 433 Bourbon Street. There is no further information at this time, but TedTorres.com will check in with regular updates as they develop. Tune into WWL-TV for their live, continuous coverage of "Crisis in the Quarter."
Last night I had a cocktail or two or three, and it was one of those sensory experiences that catapulted me back in time, right back to the very beginning of my work on the Trilogy. And by this, I mean the Special Collector's Editions, the ones that were being given new life just as I felt I was being reborn. The first sip last night took me directly to the kitchen table at Kim's house, obsessing about how easy and great and satisfying this work was going to be, even splintering off to write a short story or two, we're talking full-on writer mode here.
And there were guns, plenty of guns. I'd buy a replica air gun (BB and pellet) practically every week off the Internet and become excited immediately, my take on compulsive, online shopping. I'd discovered small cigars, and a flirtatious rekindling of my relationship with alcohol, and the best was that divine mixture of Absolute Vodka and Minute Maid Grape Cranberry
Now it's past noon on this Saturday, and I'm starting up again. I'm drinking more Red Bull and feeling more determined than ever. I can't think of two better drinks than my vodka and my taurine, and perhaps one day I'll mix the Absolute with the Red Bull and write a full set of encyclopedias.
That's right, know when to stop. Don't be like Ted. He's been on a steady drip of taurine since about 8AM. But what Ted remembered eventually is that the level of intensity he needs to get through these last, action-packet chapters comes only in short supply. It's maddening to Ted. It's enough to get Ted speaking of himself in the third person.
Begin first person: It's been a good weekend for Book III. Lots done. Finding a new momentum, or it found me, like a hook being reeled-in by a fisherman named The End.
A mild weekend here in New Orleans that will have devoted to it many cans of energy drink and a determination to bring this tale to a close. There is panic currently at the nightclub, at Samson's Live Music, and everyone is looking for answers. It's the momentum that I need to match, this need to understand why those questions need to be answered and answered now. They need to be answered by this weekend, and then the rest will just flow from that. Less cryptically speaking, I've reached the revelatory section of Book III on this overcast Saturday, and with a head full of taurine and nicotine, I plan to let my characters all know where they stand before it all explodes and everyone starts running towards the ending, which by the way, happens somewhere in St. Bernard Parish.
What the fuck is Ted talking about?
It looks like we're here, at that moment when the ending begins. And it starts with an observation, a shifting of energy that prompts the question: "Did you hear that?"
Can't think of a better way to come around the straightaway. It's been a grueling but rewarding road, and this third book, Book III, will bring with its completion a sense of satisfaction that I can feel twinges of already. The Trilogy will exist, will be out there to grow with the rest of the universe, and with this end will come the beginning of the next phase of my work. I'm certain I'll revisit the material, or at least build on it to create titles with subtitles that say: "A Blanket Story," and I look forward to that absolute new page turned.
Next up will either be that new Blanket Story or a completely different novel altogether, one that's already near completion and has in fact occupied me during a good portion of my end in Alabama and my new beginning in New Orleans. What can I say, this is only the beginning. Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end. --from "Closing Time" by Semisonic (1998).
A few nights ago, Kim and I settled on "Jaws" as the movie to watch on Netflix as one or both of us fell asleep. Can you believe that? Fucking "Jaws" to lull us to pleasant dreams of not swimming.
“Jaws” was one of those movies that as a kid I couldn’t shake due to a certain imagery, but it wasn’t the imagery of the shark. We barely got to see the shark thanks to the prop reportedly never working correctly during the production, and this has been argued to be the reason why the shark was so scary in the first place. It was because we couldn’t see it, couldn’t take any long stares at the thing, leaving what we remembered of it really just memories that we created using our own fears as fuel.
But glimpses of the shark are not the images I’m referring to here. It was instead that one scene, the one scene that I remember being so affected by as a child that it sent me off to draw pictures of it, to re-enact it using my Star Wars action figures and any number of rubber sharks bought for me during road trips to Florida. It was Quint, and it was the image of him sliding into the mouth of that shark, screaming and kicking at the teeth of the thing, trying desperately to sway its intentions by stabbing it on the nose over and over again. And then it was that close-up of Robert Shaw spitting blood out from between his teeth, and that agonizing scream, never having seen the teeth penetrate mind you, but hearing it. That was it. That’s what defined “Jaws” for me.
And I’ll be damned if when that scene happened during this past viewing, I felt that same sense of horror, that same visceral reaction that I’m guessing the less sophisticated audiences of 1975 had when they first saw it. It was what made “Jaws” one of the first blockbusters in cinema history, that reaction, and it was done so masterfully by then wunderkind Steven Spielberg that even now it’s up there with any of the more gruesome, leave-nothing-to-the-imagination computer effects of today. I thought about what it would be like to be inside of that animal, and it was because of that scene right there, that one that made my toes curl in a bad way.
I've gone on record before the release of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" as saying that I was worried, worried that the film and the entire Star Wars franchise was about to take a dangerous turn, quite possibly jeopardizing it past the point of recovery. And I was basing this entirely on gut instinct, that feeling of impending doom when I read stories about the choices that were being made, about the overwhelming effort that the filmmakers were making, that to me, seemed to reflect a certain insecurity with the project on a whole. Of course I had no real proof to back this up, nothing to point to and say, "See, that right there might be a problem."
Dare I say, I just had a "bad feeling about this."
But I know I wasn't alone. It was as if there was a secret that all of us knew, including Lucasfilm, a secret that we knew but were too afraid to admit, and that secret was that this movie might have been put into the wrong hands. First and foremost to me was the $10,000.00 question, the elephant in the room that I think most Star Wars fans were just too puzzled by the decision itself to even acknowledge: "Who was this Rian Johnson chap?" I joked with a friend of mine that this decision had to have come about by someone standing in the pre-production meeting and declaring, "Bring me the 'Looper' guy!"
Yes, this young exec said, they wanted the guy that directed the series finale of "Breaking Bad" to take the helm of this all-important middle installment of a trilogy with literally decades of anticipation riding on it. Be damned that George Lucas was nowhere in sight, and who cares that it would seem this Rian Johnson fellow was being left in a hotel room with a typewriter ala Barton Fink and then just told to go! It seemed to me a decision made by the maverick new guard at Disney, the ones given this new plaything called Star Wars to try on for size, and all they wanted to do to it was change-change-change.
Even the trailer gave me a bad taste to the point that I began referring to the movie as "Star Wars: The Red Album," which made it obvious to all that I had pretty much had dismissed the idea of having any new hope at all.
But that same friend I was confiding in told me to keep something rather important in mind, and it was a comforting thought that sort of began my push towards the other side, and it was that Disney was going to have to put their name on this thing. And not just their name but also their theme parks, their toy merchandising and brand recognition, and they were going to do this with every cog in their Disney machine whirling at full speed. Yes, someone you never heard of may be writing this dissertation, but in the end it would still have to pass the approval of the professors.
And so on the Thursday before opening night, I was treated to an advance screening of the movie, and damned if I didn't find it to be "a triumph" as they say in the biz. The movie hit all the right spots for me, and I posted on social media that same night that in a way it was "infuriating" to me because it had taken almost 30 years to get it right. Of course, I was referring not just to "The Force Awakens," but also to the mire of prequels that we were all forced to wallow through in order to get here.
Then the strangest thing happened … the film grew to be called a "divisive" one, and this in spite of all the glorious praise by both critics and fans alike. What the hell was going on? I mean, an actual petition was started to remove the movie from the official Star Wars cannon altogether, I shit you not.
But then I thought to myself, "Wait, I think I get it."
And now I must address you, the naysayers, the ones who actually had the nerve to walk out of this movie "disappointed." You are all entitled to your opinion, of course, but know that all of your opinions are wrong. This is not a perfect movie, but … wait, you know what? Yes, it is a perfect movie.
(The above was a bit of satire meant to reflect the divisive aspect of … ah, never mind.)
I would like to invite everyone who went to this "Star Wars" movie to explain to me how this was not a "Star Wars" movie. Or at least, how is it that it was so much not what you expected that you walked out shaking your head? I wonder what it was you were expecting to see.
I know what I expected to see, and that was the grandeur of "Star Wars," the epic space battles and a good story where everyone was motivated to save the day. I wanted to see good versus evil, regardless of which one triumphed. I wanted to squirm with excitement and giggle when I saw something I'd never seen before, like, I don't know like a certain controversial scene involving a jump to hyperspace followed by 10 seconds of silence.
I wanted to see the intermingling of the old cast with the new, knowing that there was such a thing called time which tends to move forward as opposed to say, back to 1977.
I know, I know: the characters are just as important as the action, or at least, that's always been the supposed charm of these movies. Well, to that I would say yes, in the past R2-D2 and C-3PO were great comic relief, and Yoda and Chewbacca and the machine-half of Darth Vader was mesmerizing. But I dare you to tell me that the human characters had any less emotional resonance now than they ever did from 1977 to 2005.
I quote Harrison Ford's comment to George Lucas regarding his original scripts: "George, you can type this shit, but you can't say it!"
The result of such writing was what gave that sense of comfortable familiarity with Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia … and that was okay. These characters were speaking in a barrage of clichés, and they were applying it all to what George Lucas thought was at the heart of his movies. And it worked, of course, it really worked.
But weren't you really just waiting for them to get on with the space battles and the lightsabers?
I know that the five and the eight and the eleven-year-old versions of me were waiting for the fireworks, and who were these movies really for anyway? I saw that Star Destroyer like every other kid did, chasing that small rebel ship that was carrying the plans to the Death Star, and I saw it pass right over my head! From that moment on, I just wanted more of that, preferably two or even eight more movies about them wars up in the stars.
Take that away and you've got nothing, or at least, nothing to define Star Wars or anything of merit even close on which to build such a tremendous fan base. If you had a problem with the direction that the story of "The Last Jedi" took with these characters, and if that alone was enough to make you thumb your nose at this movie, then you might want to re-examine why you consider yourself a Star Wars fan in the first place. Take away the spectacle, and you have a bad cable-access play at best, and you always have.
I suggest that J.J. Abrams find a way to work a time machine into the plot of Episode IX, shooting everyone back to the time where Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher were all still young lads fighting the Empire, but without using too much of that realistic fancy talk. Maybe this could be a way for Disney to do a crossover with Star Wars and a reboot of the "Back to the Future" franchise. But please let's keep Doc Brown the old spastic guy, because I really don't care to go back any further than when he was standing on his toilet hanging that clock, and then falling to hit his head to have his subsequent visions of the Flux Capacitor.
Cynthia watched two lone figures downstairs in the food court, one turning to leave the mall and one remaining at a table by himself, the one sitting at the table a big man with a bald head that Cynthia had seen many times before now riding his bike sometimes right through the food court entrance doors. Eventually, she would recognize all of the regulars, would fabricate their origin stories and their motives for being there and interacting with one another without ever properly knowing them, and soon they would populate her already crowded imagination until she'd have no choice by to try to forget about them altogether. She was a writer, and with it Cynthia new that she could never truly switch off such a high-powered perception. These people were as real to her as any of the characters that she'd created in all of her creative writing classes.
And every evening after class she would ride this elevator up to her family's penthouse and gaze down at the inhabitants of this mall, the shopping center connected but a separate entity from this high rise building that was home to her and to dozens of other professional office spaces. This was where she lived with her family, in a dwelling that resembled nothing more than a rented beach condominium of sorts. The beach, Cynthia thought about now as her and everyone else in the elevator car were swallowed-up in the darkness of the elevator shaft around the sixth floor, all of them riding the tube now with no more visual input than their own thoughts, than that surf that broke on the shores of Cynthia's imagination.
She thought about how this glass and steel structure was in fact so alien from a beachfront resort, and she recalled how strange those resorts looked when juxtaposed against the sand, sitting there as if having been placed awkwardly against the wrong backdrop. And she remembered now how from the inside those beachfront resorts, the presence of the beach itself was always a shock when she would walk from the front door and opened the sliding-glass balcony door of her father's condominium, gasping as if never truly ready for the beach to be there, no matter how many times she'd seen it. She should write a story about that, she thought.
But Cynthia knew that such memories were reserved only for those privileged enough to experience them firsthand, like herself and her sisters who all lived under the luxurious wing of their father's success. And from their father, her sisters had acquired the same business-savvy skills in real estate that allowed them to raise and support families of their own, the two women marrying up and moving on from this strange tower in which they'd all been raised. Cynthia gained no such insight being the artist of the family, the black-sheep middle child of three sisters who themselves did what they could to nudge her into the real world.
But writers can never move into the real world until they were comfortable with the ones that they were creating. She should write a story about that as well, she thought, and then she lost her balance suddenly and fell into one of the two businessmen who rode the elevator with her. After apologizing to the man for having drifted off, she wondered why these men were going to their offices at this time of night in the first place.
Immediately a story formed itself out of the void, and it had to do with drugs and prostitutes, with after-hours executive parties in which these businessmen were entertaining clients from overseas.
Okay, she thought. This was one of those times where she wished she could shut it off. But doing such a thing was like applying the brakes in a vehicle that was already moving at too high of a speed, carrying her as the passenger of her own imagination just a little further than she would've wanted. Then in correlation with her desire to stop the forward progression of her writer's mind, the elevator car came to a stop on the fourteenth floor.
And there came the calm that Cynthia had always found so fascinating, yet never thought to write about. It was that sense of solitary purpose once the car had stopped, the one that had nothing to do with where she was in life or to where she applied her mind, for her only thought during those seconds when the door opened again was how long was it going to take for this passenger to leave. She'd try to guess which direction in the corridor the person would turn upon exiting, and rarely was she right.
Then the doors would close, and like rain her thoughts would soak her again, her mind flooding with background stories and conflicts, with the story of this businessman to her left who remained in the elevator once it started up again. But before her mind could mercilessly exhilarate out of control again, Cynthia felt the momentum of the elevator car change again, the G-forces working against her body as much to her surprise the car stopped only two floors higher. The doors opened, and there stood yet another businessman of approximately thirty, his hair a sculpted duel wave of platinum blond, clipped short and combed perfectly above his ears, and he was staring down at his mobile device.
"This one's going up," the first businessman said to this new potential passenger, and Cynthia sensed a certain discomfort from this first man that she hadn't noticed before now, as if elevator travel was somehow a source of anxiety for him. But this new businessman looked up from his mobile device, and upon hearing the news of which direction the car was going, he hesitated only briefly before stepping inside. Cynthia, lost in her Zen state between floors, listened to the exchange, fully invested on the matter at hand.
She regarded the man who'd chosen to stand just inside of the doors as they closed, near to where the climbing lights of the floor indicators moved in sequence. And comparatively, this man seemed much calmer and worlds more collected than her once only travel companion. From him came an air of authority and control that launched such a tangle of background stories in Cynthia's mind that she couldn't stand it anymore and held her hands to her ears.
"Are you all right?" the new passenger asked her, and then he smiled at her, keeping his eyes on her longer than she would've liked.
The seventeenth floor made itself known with a single chime and another shift in G-forces. The doors opened, and much to Cynthia's relief, both men exited.
And there it was, she thought, or perhaps didn't think at all. The closing of the elevator doors worked to pinch-off all of the stories of debauchery that were haunting her, and now she was moving away from the possibility of any of that being a reality. Here was the Zen of elevator travel, those few moments when all that was required from her was to occupy the space without thought, in the calm silence of a mind desperate only to reach its destination. She knew how this story was going to end, and she was well aware of which direction in the hallway she would go once the elevator stopped on her penthouse floor.
It was startling to Steven as he turned the corner on that late summer night, the front tire of his bicycle catching the curb and nearly causing a spill as the random activity caught his attention and jolted him from his meditations.
A man was emerging from the driver's side of a car parked in a driveway, standing to meet a woman and a child who were walking toward him from the curb, and he could've sworn that the man was carrying a gun.
And what a contrast this burst of life was when compared to the silence of this suburban neighborhood, lined with single-story brick homes inside which most people his age had the good sense to be in bed in front of the glow of their television sets by now.
But Steven let the scene in that driveway pass over his shoulder with the rest of the neighborhood, giving those people no more significance than he would have given any of the other parked cars and garbage cans and stop signs that he passed with each strong push of his pedals.
He took in a lungful of the night air and enjoyed the freedom of this neighborhood ride. After all, it was his plan all along to tap into this feeling, to rediscover that which made him so happy as a kid to pedal his red Mongoose through his own neighborhood streets. He could still see David and Peter and Clark and Lenny, all getting on their bikes and pedaling alongside him to catch up, as free as any humans could ever be, or would ever be again.
The Mongoose was long gone, and Steven was now riding a brand-new $99.00 Roadmaster that he'd bought over the weekend at the local Wal-Mart. And he had to admit, the bike was taking the imperfections of these streets better than he would've thought. The bike was red, because it had to be red, and the bike looked just as modern and sturdy as all of the other bikes that hung from the racks at Wal-Mart, even the ones that the salesman said were reserved for the more serious cyclists.
He'd therefore expected the bike to fall apart right out from under him by the end of this ride. But by then, the bike would've already served its purpose as the gateway to his remembering. And so he loosened his grip and slid his hands off the handlebars to drive only with his fingertips, turning them ever so slightly to the left and to the right to create those broad, semi-circular patterns from one curb to the other that he loved to make as a boy. And he felt saddened suddenly by the effort that this was all taking, the absolute chore that it was to clear his adult mind just long enough to enjoy the simplicity of this ride.
The sense of wonder that he was attempting to conjure wasn't lasting long, but was rather coming in waves of memory with varying degrees of clarity, images with just enough potency to convince him that if he tried hard enough, he could quite possibly pedal his way all the way back to the beginning.
Steven began to wonder if he should've at least purchased a helmet and some reflective clothing. But that's not what a child riding through the night would even begin to think. And so he pushed the concern to the furthest most grownup corner of his mind with the rest of his adult concerns, the ones that were all fighting for position to get in front of these fresh new ones.
There should be only one concern tonight, Steven thought, and that concern would be to make sure that he filled his tires with just enough air to make all of the jumps that he had planned.
Up ahead, a bump materialized out from the darkness, and so he stood on his pedals and picked up speed to hit the bump and pull up on his handlebars. And as planned, this series of movements sent him up and sailing over a good three feet of untouched concrete before landing with a cushioned bounce, a bounce that required only the slightest correction of his handlebars. This excited him, but a young boy would never celebrate such a small feat as was that jump, would never think to distinguish that jump from any of the other thousands he'd already made or planned to make, and so Steven moved on without fanfare.
Approaching an incline in the street now, Steven could see that he was about to connect with the main boulevard up ahead, and so he stood again on his pedals and picked up just enough speed to make the incline and stand with his bike between his legs. And upon arriving, he marveled at how deserted this boulevard actually was at this time of night, far from the gridlocked morning mess that made a winding trail of fiery windshields all the way down to the Interstate on-ramp. The businesses along this street were lit up as if open, but in fact they were far from it, and Steven folded his arms and stood there with his bike to enjoy this special solitude.
And it was here that he noticed someone else engaged in the same activity at the same intersection, just a few yards over to his left, only he was sitting quietly on a bus-stop bench. The individual sat with his arms outstretched along the back, a large and foreboding man with a bald head, wearing a tattered jumpsuit that revealed an even dirtier, stained undershirt. And leaning against the garbage can was a bike of his own, a red Huffy.
Steven wanted to nod to this person, wanted to acknowledge that perhaps they shared a mutual enjoyment of night cycling. But this man paid him no mind, instead staring out into the night behind what seemed to be a veil of thoughts so thick that it blocked out any awareness of his surroundings. Then his head dropped, and his arms fell from the back of the bench, and within moments this bald giant of a man was standing and reaching for his bike, mounting it finally to pedal off down the sidewalk with a slow and rhythmic cadence.
And that was the last time Steven had ever expected to see this man.
Only the following afternoon, as Steven drove home on his usual route in the stop-and-go wall of red brake lights, he spotted through his passenger's-side window the very same red Huffy bike with its front tire tucked into a bike rack outside of a public library. The bike was parked there by itself, strange to Steven at this early-evening hour, and he wondered if perhaps the bike had been parked there all day. The library was more than likely where the man had worked, but Steven wanted to think otherwise, wanted to believe that the bald giant on the red bike was perhaps some sort of mad intellectual.
Maybe this man arrived at this library every day just to sit quietly and comb through academic journals in his particular field, or maybe he engaged in long shifts of writing that would produce a finished work of his own, a biography, or a novel of fiction.
And so that night Steven took another solitary bike ride to have his questions answered, eventually finding himself at that very same intersection. But the bus-stop bench was empty tonight, the garbage can not working to serve as a prop for the red Huffy bike.
Alone again, Steven thought, alone as the only member of this new club of neighborhood night cyclists.
And Steven would've been content to call it a night right there had it not been for the sudden materialization of the red Huffy, coming up the sidewalk now with the large man rocking slowly from side to side with each casual turn of the pedals. This time the bald giant was wearing a backpack, and immediately Steven figured the bag to be filled with his work, with books and drafts of pages scribbled with red-pen edits. The bike passed directly in front of Steven as he stood there with his bike between his legs, so close to him now in fact that he could see that the man's eyes were still vacant and lost, staring ahead, or perhaps staring at nothing at all.
But within only a few more yards the man stopped pedaling and applied his brakes, sliding off of the bike seat and standing to catch his breath for a moment before leaning his bike against the bus-stop garbage can. He took his seat on the bench, again resuming the posture that Steven had first seen, with both of his arms stretched out along the back of the bench and his chin held up high as if he were a king that was leisurely surveying his sleeping kingdom. Steven held back the urge to approach this man, not wanting to disturb his meditations on some particular subject, or his efforts to work his way out of a potential plot problem in his novel.
Yes, Steven thought, this man was a writer. No other possibility made more sense to him now than this, that the bald-headed man with the red Huffy and the backpack and tattered jumpsuit was in fact a brilliant man who'd chosen to work independent from the world. His solitude, Steven concluded, was more sacred to him than anything else in the world.
But Steven had to know.
Which was why the next afternoon, when Steven saw the bike parked again outside of the public library, he turned out of his gridlocked commute back home and parked.
Still dressed in his workday suit and tie, Steven entered the library and began the pantomime of casually browsing the stacks, placing himself finally just close enough behind the bald giant to observe without his being noticed, watching the man as he sat at one of the public computer cubicles typing away with great agility.
Steven repositioned the books in front of him to make the perfect peephole through which to examine the computer screen over the bald giant's shoulder.
But it was only a video game.
Standing suddenly from his peephole, Steven felt betrayed, embarrassed that he'd given so much credit to this man, thinking that he possessed genius when in fact he was just a lonely man who played video games. No works of great prose were on that computer screen, no indication of any document of any kind. The bald giant was simply, and now tragically so to Steven, just passing his time.
And so as the weeks rolled by following Steven's revelation, he found it odd that he was now seeing the bald giant more than he'd ever. He saw the man no less than a half-dozen times around his neighborhood, at the local supermarket where he spotted him pushing a basket as he gazed at the shelves, on random streets and in scattered parking lots where Steven spotted him pedaling slowly in a circle. Even the red Huffy had become a landmark now, always at the library when Steven passed it every afternoon on his way home from work.
Solitude. Alone at the library. Exploring empty parking lots in the middle of the night.
But as the days went by, Steven began to understand this behavior, and it was precisely what Steven had intended for himself all along. Where Steven had failed trying to tap into that mysterious corner of his mind, this man had now surpassed him in both experience and opportunity. Such was the bald giant's life, a life that began in practice long before Steven had ever thought to attempt such a thing for himself.
And Steven began to wonder if perhaps no one listened to this man as well, if maybe when he spoke, no one even attempted to understand his worldview. He wondered if perhaps the man was being ignored, and if what he was doing now was nothing more than just holding his cards close to his chest. Steven wondered if this man was married, like himself, and he wanted to know if this man had kids of his own, kids who like their mother had established that nothing of any importance would ever come out of his mouth.
It was enough to put Steven back on his bike that very next night to cycle past all of the sleeping storefronts again along the boulevard, out of his neighborhood altogether to ride under the orange glow of the highway overpasses. He'd made it as far the mall, a total of three miles, when out of fatigue and hunger he chained his bike outside of the food court and went inside.
He stopped and stood in the center of the food court, slowly turning to scan his options, trying to find a counter that wasn't being wiped down for the night, when among the scattered shoppers who still remained, Steven spotted the bald giant sitting at one end of a table with the other end hidden behind a column, and he was engaged in some lively discussion. He was speaking with his hands waving expressively before him, his eyes and facial expressions and nods of affirmation telling Steven that the bald giant had in fact some interested company there, if only Steven could see who that company was. But now a janitor was obstructing Steven's view of the other end of the table, lifting a bag out of a trash receptacle and hoisting it over his shoulder to be dropped into a tremendous, rolling barge of a cart.
Steven waited for the mall worker to finish the task and move on, to push that cart away from between where it separated himself and the bald giant's table to reveal what would perhaps give him some idea of what a friend to such a wandering soul would look like, or if he, or even she were no one more than just a fellow vagabond in tattered clothing.
He wanted to join the conversation, if for no other reason than to serve as a gateway to speaking to the man himself, this mysterious bald giant on the bike who it would appear was articulate after all, who had a mind filled with ideas and opinions that he wished to express.
And then the mall worker's cart moved, and with it, so did Steven's expectations.
No one sat listening across from the bald giant, regardless of the fact that the giant was still attempting to explain something, something that seemed to be a story of consolation, a gesture to a friend who was not there at all. The bald giant was smiling as he spoke to this phantom, reassuring it with this gesture that everything was going to be all right.
Steven imagined himself to be sitting across from the bald giant, there in that chair hearing those words of consolation, being told that everything was in fact going to be all right.