Dear John.

His motorcycle lets off a rhythmic putter as it comes down the slanted lane right off of 92. It glides to a stop and he dismounts. I was, in the least surprised he made it. I stir my drink with the straw as he walks in. He has an ache to his walk as he sits down two stools away from me and orders himself a beer.  How do I tell him that his drinking will kill him, how his bike will pull away from him and toss him down the road. I was trying to come up with something when he speaks to me. “I haven’t seen you here before. I’m guessing that you’re not from here are you?” He slides his beer over and sits down next to me. “Me, from here, no, no I’m just visiting some family friends in the area and wanted a drink. ” He reaches out his hand as I finish. “John.” he said as I shook. “Karl.” I return. With one drink he kills off half of his. He takes one look at my moleskin book. “So you’re a writer, by chance anything I know?” I pull the book closer to me. “Nothing of importance, I just take down mistakes.” I finish by taking a hasty drink. The cheap gin makes me wince a little.  “Writing can be a little exhausting, though thrilling. It can..” He pauses to take a drink. “It can take a lot out of you.” He finishes his beer and orders another. It started to feel like he wasn’t really talking me, just using me to hear himself talk, needless to say, I listened.

We moved to a small table, the sun bounces off the river giving the small pub a glow. I watch the ripples dance on the ceiling. John sets his empty glass onto the table which pulls my focus, with a wave of his finger he orders another. “Don’t you think you should slow down a little?” I ask speaking out of turn. “Maybe.” he replies. The barman sets the glass onto the table, the amber beer gives off a nice color. He slides his hands over the glass and looks straight towards me, maybe past me. “What do you think of morals?” His hands now cover the most of the glass. “Morals? Well, I guess I vary on the idea, I want to say I have a moral backbone like Kant, where it can be such a duty or an obligation to do what is the obvious right, but I think, maybe, I am the opposite. I’m not saying I don’t have a backbone, no, more like I disagree with it constantly.” He scowls at my answer then produces another question. “What does it mean to do what you should have done?” He takes another drink, the glass rises slowly to his lips as I go over his question with the tip of my tongue. The glass makes a hollow sound when it returns to the table, empty.

The conversation shifts and he began to talk about Tolstoy and other authors.  Soon another round is brought to the table, was this his fifth or fourth, I couldn’t recall. His question begins to course it’s way into my thoughts when he asks me if I was listening. “Oh- yes, yes!” I said in a near feverish tone. He clears his throat and continues. ” Pluralism, and far away from any sort of Christian anarchism, that is to say where I can willing disagree with someone like Tolstoy.” His eyes dart to the wall where the outline of a clock was.” Do you have the time?” I look at my watch. “Two twenty.” He finishes the rest of his beer and stands. “I guess it’s been nice.” he says pulling some cash from his wallet. As he walks outside, I try to make myself stand but my knees feel weak.  The engine kicks to life and begins to putter once more as he slowly backs up. I watch as him and the bike pull up the slanted drive and out of view.

I sit at the table as a car pulls quickly into the drive, a young man runs in and heads straight to the payphone. He talks about an accident up the road involving a bike. I sit and listen, trying hard to make myself invisible. The conversation ends and the man sits down for a drink. “What does it mean to do what you should have done?” His question again rolls in my head. I pull some cash from my pocket letting it fall onto the table as I run outside. Out of sight I grab my device and let it click.

Standing in between some trees I can hear the engine of his bike roar its way down the highway. I move closer to the road when he passes. I was sure this was right but needless, my device clicks again. I stand in a field and watch him go by, I’m not sure but I think I see a smile on his face. I click the device once more and I’m standing on the road. I wait to hear the putter, to see him, but he does not show. I check my watch, the minute hand is a sliver past the six. The young man’s car passes by me in a hurry on his way to the pub. “So may we all.” I think to myself as I click my device and head home.