We’re sitting in silence, just watching tv, no one is saying a word. I grab your hand, and start playing with your fingers, you think I’m being cute, and you smile and kiss the side of my head, I return the kiss, but on the cheek. We get into this cute little kiss fight that results into kisses on the lips, and it’s starting to turn us both on a little bit. I grab your face and kiss you with more passion, and it’s getting more intense with each kiss. You grab my face back, and I feel your tongue caress mine, not a lot but just enough to tease me. I bite your bottom lip, and you grab my neck and kiss it, i whisper in your ear how badly i want you.
That’s when the 7:14 came screeching past in a cacophony of metallic scraping and rushing wind. I was awake. “Dammit.” The barely audible explicit tumbles from my mouth, and rolling over away from the sun and the now speeding aboveground subway train. I blink as a room comes into view. My room. And what a shithole it is. My eyes find their way to the digital face of an alarm clock through blurred and groggy eyes. The large numbers reconfirm that it is in fact, early-as-hell o’clock a.m. Another morning greets me and I am still nobody.
Somehow dressed in five minutes and out the door, I find myself tracing the steps I follow every day. A pair of jeans, some old shoes ripped around the seams, a worn looking pea coat as per my usual attire. Out into the sprawling intestines of inner city of Chicago I walked. Not one crumbling sidewalk, builders scaffolding, or rag-pile of a homeless meth addict has changed from yesterday, or the day before, or the day before, nor will it ever. I make my way to Gus’ Place, the same dinner I have come to everyday for the past eight years of my miserable life. A second home, shitty, grimy and as greasy as my own apartment I just walked from. The three blocks passed quickly under foot, and soon I was at the decrepit eatery. It is the most pathetic excuse for a 50’s-style-diner that you hopefully have the privilege of never laying eyes on. The bells jingle as I walk in to my intimately familiar environment.
“Hey champ, how’s life?” greets me as I walk in. A solid looking man, now a bit bigger around the middle than our college years. Born in the Netherlands, but raised in America, we had been classmates at a local community college, before both dropping out. Somehow we had both wound up within walking distance of each other in this crummy city.
“Same as always ‘is, Chris. Same as always.” I dismissively respond back to the only person in this town I have known for longer than I have lived here. Chris turns his attention back towards an odd looking man at the far end of the bar. His look, slightly suspicious while he absent-mindedly takes down a customer’s order. The man on the other end of the questioning glance seemed sane, but had the air of being contemplative, with his head bent over his eggs, idly poking them with a fork. I put it off as some down on his luck schmuck. Various tattoos spread across his bare forearms and up into his rolled up sleeves. A big man, one I wouldn’t want to see in a dark alley.
I make my way to the left, past six red enamel topped and chrome trimmed booths that have seen better days. I sit in the seventh. A vacant booth that I have grown accustomed to over the years. An unfamiliar face in a waitress dress, bustles over to take my order. Glancing at her name-tag, I ask her: “So its Allison is it? New here Allison?” “Yep it’s my first day. What can I getchya?” she said brightly. I quickly give her a glance up and down: cute. But new. I don’t like new. “Well Allison, what you can get me is Beth so that she can take my order. Thanks.” I said with a smile. A frown. “Beth is not here mister, so is there anything ELSE I can get for you…” she trailed off as if she were finishing the sentence in her head with a few descriptive expletives directed at me. She smiled painfully. “Eggs, scrambled, bacon… crunchy, hash browns… but only lightly browned, and extra ketchup. Tell Jason its Thomas. He has been making this for eight years worth of mornings. Thanks.” She scribbled it all down, and curtly turned around and walked straight back into the kitchen. Irritated, I watched her walk away and disappear. I looked towards Chris and caught his eye, gesturing towards the swaying kitchen doors. He shrugged his shoulders in an apologizing manner.
I turn my attention out the grimy window watching people hurrying by for the morning commute. I used to be a part of them. Like a school of confused fish, the sidewalks are trampled by a herd of drowsy low income workers of to their shitty jobs within a small cubicle in a white walled room. Once the funds from my dead, worthless father had been wired in to me, I acquitted myself of the rush hour. I resigned from the dead end miserable job I was headed towards for the first three months of Chicago living. A plate clanking down on the table in front of me brought me back from my daydream. Staring up at me was a frowning face of egg, bacon, and potato. “Funny how the angle of the bacon can alter the expression, inn’it?” Allison remarked spritely, before turning around and stalking off to bus a table. Great.
“What the hell? What’s with all this shit?” I muttered under my voice. The man who had received Chris’ conspicuous glance as I had entered lifted his head, still facing the bar and to know one in particular audibly spoke. “You have the answer to that question, you just don’t know it yet… Thomas.” My mouth dropped… how had he heard? “Excuse me?” I managed to emit through my paralysis. He turned his head slightly, so as to examine me out of the corner of his eye. “I said you just don’t know it yet, but you will. All in good time.” With that he turned back to his plate. Growing bold I stood up and approached him yet he did not turn around. I made to grab his shoulder but before I had even touched him, he spun around with a freakishly inhuman quickness and his gaze stared into my surprised eyes.
As he looked me in the eye, I could not move. I stood there for what seemed like an hour. He spoke again. “That’s not a way to treat an old friend.” I stared blankly at him with my eyes as I could not move anything else. “You have not in fact met me yet. But in the future, you will see me as somewhat of a good friend and mentor. I am Just In Time. You may call me Just.”
“You and I have some talking to do. David Franzke is a man you will also come to know. He has everything to do with your future, your life, your entire existence as you know it. As miserable as it is.” What the hell is going on. My eyes darted around the room, everything and everyone was frozen. Wax figures from a dingy diner. When he was not talking, not a sound could be heard. Then, as if controlled by someone other than myself, my gaze was slowly averted back to him.
“Do not seek out this Franzke, as he will find you in due time. I was just a messenger in this meeting. We will meet again soon.” He turned back around, and as if our surroundings had been muted and paused, the celestial DVD player pressed play again. I could only stand there with my arm outstretched towards this man, if that was in fact what he was. The man pulled bills from his pocket, laid them on the bar, stood and brushed past me towards the door. With a sideways glance, he looked at me, then was out the door.
“Wait. WAIT.” I called after him, and rushed out the door with the bells jangling. He was nowhere to be seen, and I was utterly confused. Frustrated. This is not how I like my mornings to go…