The last night was long. A nine-hour Greyhound, leaving Montreal midnight, to Portland, Maine by way of Boston. A near five-hour, several-hundred-mile detour, just because you don’t have a car. But, the night bus was the only bus there was, and so you’ve arrived, only eleven hours before the show.
You feel ill, and sick, and gross. In the arrivals and the departures, they are playing daytime television, and so you floss, and you brush your teeth, in the bathroom, and you shit. “It’s just like any other day,” you tell yourself. The long walk from the depot will be a good thing.
On the side of the road you can feel your spirits, if only a little, come almost something to life, as you pass a donut shop—some of the local colour—at which you will never eat. Bacon, and eggs is what you want, a greasy spoon, not because it will make you feel any better, but it is because what you do, it is because it is whom you’ve become.
Every person you pass really is wretched. But, then, that is what it is like along the freeway, amongst those who walk along the freeway. Hobos, and bums, and guys with nothing but jokes to tell. You know, that if you had more than just jokes to tell, you wouldn’t be on the freeway.
Almost downtown, eventually you come to an old man: he is old, and poorly shaven, dressed in terrible clothing, and a veteran, waiting for a bus. “He will know where I want to eat,” you think. You turn back around, deciding yes, you will speak to him. But, he is hard of hearing, and you have to repeat yourself.
“I don’t know,” he says, “there are lots of places to eat.”
You walk into a third diner, and finally sit down. They won’t allow you a booth, as you are only one person, but you are too tired to write, and too tired to think anyway, and so a space at the counter is ok.
Before you, all the people running around—breaking eggs, taking orders, while talking—are working harder than you will the entire day, you know. But, are they happy?
The meal is good and warm—hash browns, bacon, eggs and coffee—and you eat it all up off the plate, perhaps too fast, you worry, as what you want is a place to sit. Worse, though, is the man on the stool beside you, in fact an animal, snuffling and snorting his way, a disgust, through his food.
You stand up. You close your eyes. You can feel him, you can hear him, in the space of your nose and throat.
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David Heti is a stand-up comic sort of. Available on Stand Up! Records, his debut album, It was ok
, has been described as outlandishly harsh and thought-provoking; nihilistic and death-dark; and a rare, endearing blend of stand-up and stand-off. David’s podcast, other writing and this and that can be found at @davidheti too.