This writing is based off the prompt "I remember."
I remember your face, from somewhere. But I don't know where. I can't place you with certainty in any single memory or general chapter in my life. Were we children? Was it a dream? Were you crossing a New York street when I briefly registered you walking toward me? I just don't know.
It's dark in here, this corner bar in the middle of nowhere, Beloit, Wisconsin. The jukebox leaves everyone looking a little red in the face. But those eyes. They recognize me too, I can somehow sense that now. My heart rate picks up a bit as you approach me.
"Hi ... do I know you?"
You smile. That part of you is new to me. A clue - I haven't seen you smile before now.
"What are you drinking?"
You didn't answer my question. I feel strange, but you are warm and I'm not afraid.
"Whiskey. Rocks. I'm Jo."
I hold out my hand, formal. You reach into your pocket for a twenty with your left and flag down the barman with a quick wave of your right.
Tom. A name to a face that I just can't recognize. The intensity of this deja vu - slash - memory gone is haunting. Am I losing my mind? I'm only one drink into the night. I look around to assess the situation. You're alone, or so you seem to be. A couple of regulars sit heavy on bar stools permanently indented with the shape of them. A questionable blonde flirts with an unknown shadow in the corner of the room - the only other female. Rain moves like an Atari game down the dirty glass. The clock says 1:00 a.m.
"I'm sorry, you didn't answer my question - Do I know you?"
You hand me my drink.
You sip your own drink, gin and tonic, and take a breath.
"I'm not sure. A lot of people pass through, don't they? It's hard to say you know anyone here, even if they've given you the time. Wouldn't you say?"
"I suppose that's a fair assessment..." I'm grasping, holding my composure by stings. "What brings you here? Or I guess I should ask, where are you from?"
"Keep...?" You're not talking to me. You want another drink. You get us both one. "Where was I born? Los Angeles. Where am I from? Harder to pin down. I'd say all over."
"OK. And Beloit? What's here for you, family?"
"Nah, no family. I'm just passing through."
"I see..." I finish my first drink and ask Tony behind the bar for some water. I stir that too, anxious habit. I'll wait for your lead from here, because I can't read you and my discomfort is palpable. Seconds feel like minutes, and minutes like days. I look to Tony for support, but he's busy closing out the blonde's tab, and she's busy groping no-names cock under the bar.
My hotel is 10 minutes away walking, and there aren't any cabs around here this late. I'm lacking an exit strategy, and I'm feeling drunker than I should off this Johnny Black.
"Well...I, um, have to go to the bathroom. Thank you for the drink. If you'll excuse me..." I smile, politely, hoping my angst isn't too obvious, and head to the loo. there's not an exit this way, but but at least I can have a moment alone to think.
I stop, but I don't turn around. Did I tell you my ...
"You still have an untouched drink here, you know. I'll watch it until you get back."
I walk away, more quickly now, without a word.
Chicago-born citizen of the globe, rich in the things that really matter. Let's get weird.