Abdominal muscles hurting from laughing so hard. Hurting from core work, too, but mostly from laughing. Thursday evening. Morning at a café, and now the evening at a pub. Mostly laughing, but there's a sobering moment, too, when a couple of guys we don't know think my friend and I are together. Dating. He's my height and thin like a distance runner, this friend. Built like me. Gaunt is beautiful. So these guys. They approach us at our table. The big one looms over my friend. "You ever been knocked out?" he leers. He's doughy. The pale skin of hours spent playing video games. Ball cap on backwards, a Bluejays supporter. S looks at me. We think it's a joke, it must be a joke. We laugh and answer No, but the guy isn't smiling. Number two is wearing a green shirt, ball cap facing forwards. He sits down at our table. Six of us now, the four of us plus these two new guys. The big guy is still looming. Blocking S's exit. Four of us who arrived together, and these two goons who seem to want something from us, we're not sure. The band in the background, finishing their last set. Three pints of beer on the table and an empty scotch tumbler. Four of us dancing in our seats, moving with the music, our arms in the air. The guy in the green shirt sitting at the end of our booth, anchored like a tent. We're still laughing and the big guy still isn't smiling.
The manager at the Bard arrives. He gets the green shirt out of his seat and sits down. "These guys bothering you?" he asks. Before we can answer he asks me who's in our party. I point to the four of us. L, J, J, S. "But not these two?" He's pointing to the guys in ball caps. Not them. "So you were just sitting here enjoying your evening, and these guys approached you?". That's right.
It isn't long from then the Bard closes and we pay our bills and leave. The manager is standing just inside the exit and as we're leaving we shake his hand and thank him for sending those guys away.
It's quiet in the street and it's dark, too, except under the street lamps and the awnings lit from above, light diffusing near the buildings. Mostly quiet in the street. Five guys huddled under a tree near the exit of the Bard. One of the guys steps out from the shadows when he sees us. It's the big guy who was looming over S in the pub. He's moving unsteadily but his general direction is toward us, and we see his fist is cocked. It's up near his face, his fist, and his elbow is bent like he's carrying a Glöck, but it's only that meaty fist aimed at us. He lunges past the girls at S. But we've clocked him. We see him coming and S moves like a butterfly. S moves like Neo in the Matrix. The big guy throws his fist and S watches it coming in and bends willowly from it, without moving his feet, he just kind of bends away from it through his torso at same rate it's coming in, on the same arc, like some kind of choreographed dance. The guy stumbles forward, and then the bouncers are on him. They take him to the ground. Four other guys in hats still standing in the shadows under the tree, unmoving. The guy in the green shirt yelling after us as we walk away, telling us we should be ashamed. Ashamed is not one of our feelings. Disbelief, yes. A sudden alertness. There's comedy, too, in a tragic sort of way.
Book 20: Sweet Tooth - Ian McKewan. Compelling. But it's about a writer, a beautiful mathematician, and espionage, so I was hooked from the book jacket.
Book 21: Oblivion - David Foster Wallace. Not my favourite of his, but still some brilliant sentences.
Book 22: A Single Man - Christopher Isherwood. Yes.