It took a while for me to notice them. I’d been in the sun for a while and it’d been as hot as it’s ever been and I wasn’t handling it very well. The bus was late again. They were at the bus stop across the street from mine waiting for the 12, just like me, heading south as I was heading north. I’ll blame the heat and say I couldn’t be sure, but I’m certain they were twins. Triplets if you count me. The three of us were identical.
We are bald, heavy set men wearing blue denim and checkered shirts, sitting cross legged and staring at each other through the heat from July asphalt. They don’t seem as confused as I was, but otherwise, we were all me. When we realized we made eye contact, we all looked at our cell phones and pretended not to see each other. But we did. I did, so they did. We did.
Our buses came, exhaled air conditioning out into the world and we got in, whisked away to our days in our offices, in our buildings with our other routine strangers, panicked to lose the jobs we hated ourselves for having, crammed in our cubes, pretending and pecking away at nothing until it got dark enough for the heat lightning to show through the clouds, all flash and no substance.
After work at the bar watching the baseball game, I saw them again. We all got there at the same time, and had to hold the door for each other. We all wore a Giants jersey like we were nine years old. It’s a nice jersey but we thought we were the only one who had it. It’s fake, but you can’t really tell. A well made copy of the real thing but looks exactly like one of the expensive ones, you can only tell by the sleeves. A little too short, but they show off our tattoos, so it’s ok. We got the tattoos when we were younger. We got the jersey last year when we got Hamilton from the Tigers. It was an incredible trade for us. We were happy we got him.
We all ordered the same IPA from this little local brewery that nobody really knows about. It’s a rare, pure original from a mid-sized brewery up north somewhere you’d never have heard of otherwise. They only make two hundred barrels at a time. The other two of me sat on opposite sides of the bar, visible, just within our peripheral, we rooted for Hamilton and we won. After a few specialty beers and the final out, we raised a glass in our direction, but we ignored each other, like we didn’t see each other that morning, like we didn’t have the same shirt, the same tattoos and the same face.
That night I fell into patchy sleep again and sweat through the sheets to dream that I was forty feet tall, could see out over the buildings to the sea and felt important and different and alone.
In the morning, head down, hot and exhausted, I sat at the bus stop and stared at the pavement until the edges of my vision got cloudy and the back of my neck burned so much that I stared at a puddle in the gutter and thought just for a second that I should drink it. Put my head down in front of the bus and drink it all down.
When the 12 arrived, it breathed out cool air and routine and I got in and went off to everywhere with everyone I never thought I’d look just like.
Next Week’s Post: Snail Shells