You don’t know what I’m saying, he snaps. You can’t possibly understand.
I don’t pretend to, you say. But you don’t need to know why something happens to want to do something about it.
So you ask John, and he says, We all have our demons. He pauses, long enough to take a drag on that ever-present cigarette. Sometimes they get out, he continues, while you wait and resent the smoke.
That’s when you find your friends. And sometimes you find them in the most surprising places.
He looks skywards, and you think he’s about to give the heavens the one-finger salute, but he surprises you, just as he always does.
And sometimes someone’s listening, he says.
That grin again.
And sometimes it’s not who you think it is.
You’d ask the question, but sometimes the one you want to put it to is beyond words.
But he’d tell you this one thing.
It doesn’t always work out that way. But sometimes, you don’t see that without seeing a bit of heaven, too.
And sometimes, it isn’t enough.
You’d ask the kid, but you’d be keeping your eyes on the meter, because we all run out of time, and Heaven knows we’re paying for every second we’ve got. So before you step out of that door you turn to him and put it to him.
The look on his face tells him he’d rather tell you to fuck off right away, but he holds that tongue of his and thinks about what you’ve said.
And then he tells you something that can’t be printed without the words he’s said sending the paper they’re written on up in flames, and you never knew something could be said with quite so many imprecations, but hey, you take what you can get, especially if you think it’s all you’re ever going to, when it comes to him.
Libraries make you sneeze. Nothing’s different this time, but you try to hold instinct in when you’re standing on thick-napped carpet, wondering how a boy can make you feel like a child.
You watch him as sunlight pours through the glass windows and falls over the both of you.
Behind those unusually thick-lensed glasses waits a mind sharper than anything you’ve ever seen, so you know you’re not waiting in vain.
The world is quiet here, he says, and he runs a finger reverently down the spine of the book he’s holding.
Peter is quiet for a long time.
Then this is what he says to you:
It’s cold. And the rain won’t stop falling. You come in and see him there, silhouetted against the New York skyline, face upturned to the rain.
And you know there is nothing you can say that would make him believe you. Nothing you can tell him which he hasn’t heard before. Nothing which would change anything. Nothing which would make him do anything differently. Nothing which would change the past. Nothing which can move the future. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.
You know this and he knows this as well as you do.
But you go to him. You go down on your knees before the wide window and put your arms around him as if it would change something, anything. He’s like steel under your touch, and his mind is a labyrinth he’ll never find his way out of, because he’s caught up in the ghosts of his past, but you touch him, nevertheless, as if you could make the moment real.
When his arms come up around you, you know it isn’t enough. He knows it, too.
But sometimes that’s all we can do.
That’s all we can do.
/For What Reason/ is the song that keeps playing in my head, but that’s not really the question I want to ask you.
I say the words that lovers whisper in the dark, that men have said to women, that men have said to men, that women have said to women, that I now say to you. Except they don’t really mean what it looks like they mean. They mean everything in between the lines that I write because I can’t find the words to say what I want to. They mean everything I can’t put into words, everything I can’t say, because words – they can be a chain just like everything else, can’t they? You know best of all.
I’m always listening. Even when it looks like I can’t hear.