Friday, December 28, 2012

A test of wills

January 8, 1973

I held the cup of coffee near the open window trying to get it to cool enough for me to drink, at the same time, trying to keep the driver from seeing it.
A test of wills: me sneaking the cup onto the bus each morning despite the sign posted saying no drinks allow and the wary eye of the bus driver looking for an excuse to toss me off.
He’d caught me twice already and made me dump the cup before I got on, so as to be extra wary of me when I came on, eyeing my heavy coat for suspicious lumps.
I hate losing these little mind games, beyond the fact that I might get fired from the job if I’m late too often.
I like getting over on the guy, especially knowing he knows I’m getting over on him, but is helpless to stop me.
Yes, it’s petty. But sometimes small victories are you can expect, especially when you work dead end jobs like I do at the card company where I pick, pack and load orders all day.
Outside, Montclair passes into Verona, a once wealthy world for an up and coming one, with a line of mansions along the boundary I’d pull teeth to live in, even though I’m not much for playing big shot.
I live in a rooming house in Montclair where I pay $100 a month for a room with a bathroom in the hall, and the landlord bitches when I stay up too late tapping out poetry on my portable typewriter. I tell him I’m going to be famous one day. He tells me he can’t wait so he can raise my rent.
Another test of wills.
He doesn’t hate me so much, and thinks I’m up to no good. He’s convinced I deal drugs – sometimes I do, but only pot, and only because it’s the only way I can afford to pay rent and still have enough to live on.
I sip my coffee, but it’s still too hot, and look at the baseball scores, cursing the fact that the store sold me an early edition so the late scores aren’t listed.
I ache to talk to the pretty girl seated a few seats up from mine, but I never do, aching a little over the breakup I don’t talk to anybody about, trying to stay loyal in case the girl I broke up with takes me back and I don’t have to feel guilty about anything, when all I do is ache and know she’ll never take me back.
I’m always being loyal to the wrong things, always trying to keep ties that have long come undone.
I sip my coffee and stare up at the driver, waiting for him to look up into the rear view mirror and catch me.
That’s part of the game, too, tempting fate, leaving just enough steam in the cool air so that he knows what I’m up to.
Maybe I’m a sucker for pain, needing to get caught, or worse, needing to get a fix on being naughty while pretending I’m nice.
A test of wills with myself, maybe.
I sip, then lower the cup just in time for the driver to miss me sipping, I smile at him, he scowls. I hope the coffee cools soon so I can gulp it in time to reach my stop.
Yet one more test wills.

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