He stepped into the car, and the driver didn’t wait for him to fasten his seatbelt. In one small but strong movement of the foot, he rushed the car into the traffic and turned on the radio. Kevin didn’t even notice the music, he just felt something, a tiny vibration to his ears, that was all. He was looking out the window; cars moving forward, backward, turning right or left without any indications, people inside them honking and screaming and giving the finger, some others smiling, thinking. He saw the clouds up there, just passing through the blue sky, as if they felt they had no business being here in the first place – they moved fast, they were on a clock, probably. The driver took left all of a sudden, Kevin was surprised and his head bumped into something he could not quite identify. She had smacked him, right there. In the head, in the chest, in the feels. Not a real hit, obviously, but something that felt like one. Something that felt like one direct punch to the gut.
It was dark and late and rainy, and they were still sitting in his hotel room. She was sitting on the edge of the bed and he was sitting in an armchair. They had fallen silent for a couple of minutes until he asked what had just happened. Did we really just have this conversation? Because it seems we did. And it doesn’t make any sense. She didn’t reply anything; she got up and paced around the room. He looked at her, going forward, backward, making circles, right or left. She scratched her head and finally came to say that they fucked it up. She had come too early, and thus too late. What does that mean, he asked. It meant that their introduction, and whatever followed, was bad timing. OK, he said, what now? And then, nothing.
She had remained silent after that; totally silent. She had nodded from time to time, but that had been the end of it. When he finally fell asleep and woke up, he quickly came to realise that she had left. She had vanished, almost as if they’d never spoken. As if they’d never exchanged anything more than civilities. That, all that realisation, was the gut shot. He was knocked down for a while, down for the count. And then got up. Whatever. It is all about getting up. And if she’s willing, she knows where to find me. That was the logic.
He remained in the hotel room for a few days after that; didn’t move from the bed, didn’t leave the room for fear of missing her. After seven days of waiting, he decided he was time to move, and booked tickets for a trip in Ireland. That was the project, get it out of your system. Leave; leave everything behind. And drink; drink everything you can.
The cabbie said something which drew him out of his reverie. Kevin asked him to repeat and he did. They were getting close to the airport, he should not worry. I don’t, Kevin said. I don’t worry. Aren’t you worried about missing your flight, the cabbie said. Nope, nope. I’ll have a drink and take the next one. And if there’s no next one, I’ll have a drink and another and wait ’till there’s a next one. That’s it, Kevin said. The cabbie looked into the rearview and raised an eyebrow : tra-la, you’re not suicidal are you? A woman in the car next to them honked her horn. Kevin cracked a smile. If I wanna die, I’ll have to pay for it.