I met John outside of the ferry terminal, Berth 3. It was late in the evening, growing dark. He offered me a cigarette, said “misery loves company”, lit them for both of us off the same flame. I could not disagree. He was upset to have missed the earlier ferry by four minutes, he was astonished of the lack of internet services at the ferry terminal. I concurred with all of his points. I was carrying 2 large black bags, one rectangular, the other puffy and a slender cardboard box filled with pictures and cutlery tray.
He had very reasonable points of contempt.
We smoked. He repeated his points in a number of different ways and in the same ways. His conversation looped, as if he was forgetting and remembering. I ruminated on how I was to get from where the ferry docks’ to home. The public system was cheap but took a long time. There was another costly bus, and that company made my travels difficult previously. We discussed the various options of each.
He opened a very tall can of beer and drank it quickly. A woman near by suggested the costly bus, the public one is a “milk run”, she said.
The ferry arrived. I agreed with the woman on the Berth 3 platform. No milk runs in a bus for me. John was suggesting the public bus, but his arguments were not very compelling.
The boat people, disembarked. The Berth 3 people embarked, chatting. It was twilight.
We found a spot near the ticket sales booth and chatted some more. I told him of my hard times travelling and how I always seem to travel broke. He was still annoyed at being separated from his data in the cloud. I understood. He thought that there was a connection on the ferry and if you had a laptop you could access it. I assured his that there was nary a signal on the ferry, except maybe in some fancy lounge, where there is a charge to enter. He resigned to further data separation.
I got a ticket for the ride home. I offered coffees as the next step, we got two and moved on to the front of the boat, cups in hand. I suppose, I was already aware that John took lots of drugs when he could and that the inelegant chemicals had harmed him, made him more like them. I could not leave. The twilight was closing, just a faint light on the horizon. I remarked how you never see anything filmed at this time because it doesn’t work well on screen and how perfect and empty it is. John is 43.
We went back inside, trying to remember the direction of the boat,as to allow us to sit facing forward. There were empty seats ahead. We sat behind a mother and child. We all started chatting, except for the baby as he was too young for conversation. The baby boy was remarkably charismatic. The mum was also as chatting as John and I were. We spoke of her sons future political career. John went up to the bath room.
I took out the Complete Encyclopedia of Cats by Rebo Publishers. I talked with the mum about books for a while, she asked how long I knew him. I said just today. John returned. We had a strange moment of cross talk that kinda fell into a loops about some silly topic. John went away again. I felt in a spot. The mum was beckoned to by some others sitting near by. Probably to protect her from such strange men on the ferry and then John returned. He brought with him a small cardboard box, containing a black leather wallet.
I got this for you, he said, so you will remember ol’ John when you take out your wallet. I think I must have shuddered. I need to ask you for some money and I thought I should give you something in return. Ummm lets go for another smoke, I say, worried, surprised and tense. He kept offering me the wallet, as I like a small planet with orbiting bags and a slender box, hoped to avoid the gift, with no receipt. In a open area where two hallways converge I accept, with the abomination. Could you be more subtle. He laughed and said, don’t be so paranoid.
John was so different than I. We stand outside on the deck, lit by incandescent bulbs, in the cold wind and he tries to get a smoke from a group of young people, they turn him down, he makes one out of a butt in a nearby ashtray. I wonder if it was the same one I smoked and did not burn it down to the filter. We talk a bit more and then it is announced to board the buses and cars. I tell him good-bye, a quick handshake. John tells me he is going to try and talk his way on to the bus. I am defensive and say, ok, well good luck. We are walking together and as we near the bus, I rock back while I collect my ticket from my wallet, so that he goes first. He stops too. I start again and show the ticket and board.
The driver doesn’t accept his story, we are divided. I sit in the dark bus, blushing. John never mentioned films, a job or love.