Hopeless |
by David Stockdale

Smoking pot in my basement. Me and John pace around anxiously, having our own separate conversations. “I really should get one of those waterproof radios for my shower,” I say. We are listening to a band called Badfinger. John nods his head in my direction and says, “Why can’t people just be peaceful? Why do we have to have war?” And then a thunderous sound resonates through the walls from outside. A bike is driving by.
We move to the garage because it’s getting stuffy down there in the basement. Tends to happen after we smoke. I want to tell John of my woes, because he can tell I’m depressed. But it doesn’t seem right unloading all my problems on him, considering that his brother is being shipped off to Afghanistan next week, and he is about to leave for school. It’s a lot to handle. And I’m not about to bother him with my menial women troubles. So we talk about Pink Floyd instead.
“The thing about David Glimour is that his playing isn’t all that complex for the most part,” I say. It’s simple pentatonic stuff. But the way he bends the notes, and the way he adds just the right about of vibrato—it’s genius.” 
John looks at me as if I’m speaking another language. I go on to say, “It’s like, he plays these blues riffs, which would sound mundane and cliché from any other guitarist, but he plays with such passion.” I’m sort of trailing off.
“Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd,” John says with conviction. “Everything else is secondary at best.” I go to nod my head, but stop mid-nod. John shifts in his chair. “What about The Rolling Stones?” I ask. John goes into a long diatribe about how The Rolling Stones are good, but not great. And he has a myriad of very good points to support his reasoning. But I can’t seem to focus. I start thinking about her. 
“And like, I saw this interview with Keith Richards,” John says. “And they asked him what he thought about Led Zeppelin, which is totally a legitimate thing to ask. And he got like, stand offish and pissy, and he was like, ‘Oh, they were okay.’ Okay? Really Keith? Cause I think Jimmy Page has more talent in one finger than you do in your old ass drug riddled body.” I laugh. 
Then we started talking about like, how some of the most basic words in the English language are palindromes, e.g. words that are spelled the same backwards as they are forewords, like “wow,” “mom,” “dad,” etc. The bass break in “You Can Call Me Al,” by Paul Simon is palindromic. Fun little fact. And like, there’s got to be someone upstairs there fucking with us. There are too many weird little things like that in life. It can’t be a coincidence. That’s what I think at least. John says that humans are very egocentric and they look for meaning where there is none. And I guess I see his point.
After not returning my calls for, like, a week, I left a nasty message on her answering machine, basically saying, “You know, after all the times I gladly listened to all your problems and tried to help in any way I could, I don’t think I deserve to be treated like I don’t fucking exist. Just don’t expect me to be around for that kind of shit anymore, because I’m done.” It is a remarkably articulate and pointed message, for a drunk. I do not tell John this part of the story, just the fact that she isn’t speaking to me. 
John says we should start trying a whole lot of, like, diverse kinds of beer, and that we should keep one bottle from each brand and put them on the mantle in my basement. I kind of laugh and shrug, as if to say it was an okay idea, but I’m not all that enthusiastic about it. Honestly, I’m not all that hopeful about the future. I have, like, a very small glimmer of hope. That’s it. But that’s more than a lot of people have. Some people are completely without hope. I say this to John in more or less the same words, and he agrees. And he adds, “Especially the ones that are dead.”
David Stockdale is an aspiring writer and musician. His short story Nature of the Disease can be read in Midwest Literary Magazine's Soft Corners Anthology. He also contributes nonfiction work to AND Magazine on a sporadic basis