Killing Time on the Killing Floor

by Brian

He seemed sober, but it wasn’t noon yet. That would change soon, in the dark confines of a restaurant one mile from the winter’s beach, on a cloudy last day of the year, amidst wood paneling and benches.

This place, in the style of a German beerhall, is the sort of place where the as-yet-to-be-named Führer proclaimed to stunned, sodden patrons that the Revolution had begun.

The Führer before me, wearing epaulets of tanning bed flesh, unbeknownst to him carries on the fractal discourse of history.

All of this has happened before and will happen again.

Over several pints we discuss the relative merits of libertarianism, which seems to be the party of choice for high-functioning alcoholics.

Sensing my disinterest in what he has to say he turns his attention to the waitress, a woman of vaguely Eastern European appearance (I guess Polish; he says Bulgarian). Her eyes reflect the ancestral ache of recognizing this little Führer before her. Heading him off at the pass she informs us that she will be attending First Night with her boyfriend.

Rebuffed twice now he sulks in-between long draws of ale.

A thinly veiled hatred is what keeps our friendship alive, because we secretly require the admiration of those we disdain.

Hate, not love, makes the world go round. If all were love equilibrium would quickly be reached. There would be no more “progress.” All Führers great and small know this.

We get into his BMW and drive the coastal highway, remarking on the stunning regularity of seaside strollers. During winter the world is more opaque. Words hang in the air like breath. The long easy days of summer seem unthinkable. Everyone complains about the cold but without it their lives would collapse under the weight of levity.

He turns the radio loud, lights a cigarette. I ask him to stop so I can stretch my existential legs. The sea—rolling uninterrupted all the way to Mars, tides unable to break the spell of destiny—is so dull it makes me furious.

There are seven hours left in the year, though you wouldn’t know it by the god awful slow plodding walkers who flap their arms in the cold mist like drunken seagulls.