I stood under the bridge and listened to the train pass over. The squeak of the wheels echoed down the dark street and the lights of the passing windows illuminated the scene in rapid, strobe flashes.
The express sped off into the dark and I was left under the dim orange glow of ancient street lights. I walked away from the bridge, through the neighborhood. The night had closed in, swaddling all life in stifling blankets. The only souls about were of the lost variety, mine chief amongst them.
I walked past a convenience store, the only place open that I could see. Its bright lights blazed, a lighthouse of capitalism, a flame for consumer moths to find irresistible in the night. I walked in, found the beer coolers in the back, and picked out the largest can of the cheapest beer they had. I paid a bored cashier who barely registered that I was there in the first place. If I wasn’t trying to lay low I could have just walked out, the fucker would have been none the wiser.
I continued my sojourn through the neighborhood, sipping my beer, and succeeding admirably at my goal of killing time. I found a park with a stream running through it, it was an oasis of nature amongst the boulders of man made non-sense.
I grabbed a seat on a bench and watched the water bubble by. The stream seemed to have a pretty fast current for such a small size. I wondered if it was real, or some simulacrum made to give the residents the illusion of nature. They all know it’s fake, but the power of the shared illusion is too powerful. We all just shut off the part of our brain that points out the exceedingly obvious and does its best to enjoy what it can.
I sighed at the folly of the whole enterprise. This is supposed to be one of the nicest places on earth, if this is what civilization is supposed to be, we massively fucked up somewhere along the way.
The beer was nice, I was startled by how good a value it was for the price. I checked out the label, I’d have to remember the name. It looked unfamiliar. It was a head scratcher. I’d lived four train stops away from here for years. I passed it at least twice a day on my way to and from work. How could the beer be so different just a few neighborhoods over? The convenience store is the same chain I always use for fucks sake. Why does this one get the good hooch?
It made me wonder, as I dipped into the latter half of the can, just how many other areas I’d sped over on that train. I passed them and assumed they had their charm, sure, but nothing too markedly different from where I live. None of these places are the cool or hip areas of the city. Nothing more than middle class bedroom areas. Nice, good schools, nice places to walk, convenient yet quiet at night.
But fuck this one has way better beer. What delights might the others hold? I shrugged as I finished the can. I gave it a shake, a sort of ritual I seem to have picked up somewhere. I checked my watch. The misses would be finishing her dinner with the friend who lives around here somewhere. She wanted to meet me at the station so we could go out to a bar and gossip about her friend. They’d been friends since high school and she always liked to dish after. I wasn’t so much of a fan, but it seemed to make her horny after so I never complain.
It estimated I could stop by the store, grab another beer, get to the station in time to meet her, with just enough left to give her a taste. I stood up, stretched, and looked at the stream again. Nice try fucker, we both know you’re fake as fuck.