Tuesday, May 27, 2008

gary

since e stopped calling, i spend most of my days off alone. it's cool because i can do whatever i want, and i have no excuses not to. no couch to veg out on, no tv to watch, just me in the world at large. i've been exploring the neighborhood near my parking spot, and last night i went into a bar a few blocks away to have a beer and read my book. well, one thing i know about bars and books--if you think you'll be left alone to read, you're wrong, and the point of the book is just to have something to do until a conversation starts.
the place was quiet, maybe 6 people there, one tattooed girl with cute bangs, one jock type guy in a penn state t-shirt, the sweet older bartender, and few men in flannel shirts sitting by themselves. after being harassed by the jock to quit reading and play a few songs on the jukebox, i sat back down and a kind looking older guy sat down two seats away. his name was gary and we started talking about our lives. i told him that i'd only been in colorado for just over a year, he told me he's never left. not only has he never lived outside the state, he's never lived outside the little town on the outskirts of the city where we were having a beer. he just never wanted to go anywhere else. i love meeting people like gary who are so different from me. i mentioned that i was writing to my friend who's in prison, and he opened up a story about his son who has served 8 years so far. he's up for parole in july for the second time, and gary is really hopeful he'll get it. he's only 25, he's been in since he was 16 for attempted murder. it's a 12-14 year sentence, which is weird because i know some people who actually do kill people get out in less than that. i tried to wrap my mind around what it would be like to be in prison before i graduated high school and still be there now....wow. i don't want to downplay the crime he committed, it was a terrible act of violence, but gary's son was protecting his girl and the guy he beat up lived. i mean, 14 years? really?
gary bought me a beer, and in the time it took me to drink it, he drank 4. he was so respectful and never once overtly hit on me, though he did invite me to come back to his place if i wanted to have another beer. i declined and that was all, he didn't act all hurt and didn't try to convince me it was a good idea. he took me at my word and that delighted me. when he left, we hugged and he told me he was grateful for our conversation and i really made his night.
i guarantee i'll be back in that bar sometime, maybe next time his son will be with him. drinks are on me.

1 comment:

owlblues said...

i loved this story, stranger.