The next afternoon after work I decide to go by the gym, anyway. But after the time I know she has been here. Or usually is here.
Forlorn concrete boxes on the edge of some dusty Arizona town – that’s the gym and the nearby pool. They are as shitty as they look, but they have what people need.
To come here. Often.
They have it.
I step through the doors and then remember I haven’t brought any gym clothes.
“Hey champ!” Dylan calls from his cave behind the desk.
“Hey – uh – I guess I am getting old. Forgot my clothes.”
“Why did you come in then, champ?”
“Got nothing else to do, I guess.”
Dry laughter. My best attempt.
“You here to see Carrie?”
Dylan goes right to it. He has his lucid moments. Not sure I like that …
“No, I’m – ah, fuck it – I’ll go home. I just remembered when I got in the door … about the clothes … “
“I see. Well, champ, she is not here, you know. Haven’t seen her all week, in fact.”
“What? Not all week?”
“She is a regular – I know, I know,” he says and shrugs and begins to fiddle with his old CD’s as usual.
“But she didn’t come here all week.”
He looks up, right over those greasy glasses – right at me: “No.”
I look towards the gym hall, lost.
“Not in there, Jon.”
“I have to go.”
He doesn’t say anything when I go out. He doesn’t need to.
Then I am out, back on the burnt concrete, standing by the car. Or more like wandering around. Like a beast in some bloody zoo. Cage is gone and I guess I don’t know whether to stay or go.
I know where she lives, though. I drove her home a couple of times.
It wouldn’t be a problem if I just passed by, maybe because I am going to Studebaker’s shop and pick up those tools. Right around the corner.
Might as well just look.
But how the hell could I see something from the outside.
I could call …
I could look up her number.
I could do lots of things, but I should go home, because this is stupid and so am I.
I get in the car and get the engine going and then I just … fucking sit there. People come to and fro, some of the irritating teens from the gym. Some mothers with their children from that kindergarten over on the other side that looks like another slab of concrete dropped from the heavens and somebody couldn’t find somewhere else to put those kids.
So they bored a hole, made it hollow and put them there.
Hollow. Like there is nothing inside, even though I can see there is.
Hollow. Like … not real.
Like an impostor.
Which is it?
So I make the decision I have to. If this is to make any sense at all.
But not home.
I don’t know where I will end up, but I know where I am going.