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The Good and the Bad
“So why do you believe Kennedy had it coming?” I asked Richard intuitively, hoping his logic was a bit more reasonable than his question.
Richard sat slouched in the booth seat across from me. His hands twitched and jerked on the table, spreading ashes from his Marlboro onto the oak table. His eyes bulged out of his head to the point of escaping, but nevertheless he was still a handsome fellow. He was wearing his burgundy aviator jacket for which he adored deeply, and somehow despite buying it from a consignment store, it seemed brand new. Probably from months and months of dry cleaning to restore the relic.
“Kennedy was an emotional basket case. He had numerous affairs, and for god sakes he was nearly a kid politically. He was a great man no doubt, but way before his time. I mean just look at Lyndon Johnson, for example. The guy didn’t know how to tame Kennedy’s antics. So he figures ‘I‘ll get rid of this prick, become President, and ship some boys out to Vietnam, maybe earn a little money on the side‘.”
Richard was quite the character. His voice only lead me to believe that at one time he sounded like a normal man. But now the pitch was so high, that even a dog couldn’t bear to hear it. Richard was fond of conspiracies, hence the conversational topic. He had worked for a private firm investigating things like that years earlier, but it of course was funded all by him and a few co-partners. It was a hobby more so than a career, but he loved it. The recent economic crisis was enough to bring that to a close. Richard seemed eerily distraught by the collapse of his livelihood, and since then I tried to pal around more frequently to aide his recovery.
He raised the cigarette to his mouth and puffed from it, and motioned for the ashtray beside me. I passed it along, and Richard placed the butt snug between the indention made special for it. The smoke cascaded and quickly enveloped the small cubicle of a booth in a fog fit for England.
“I don’t know, I always though it was Oswald.” I said while attempting to fan the smoke elsewhere.
“Nah man, Oswald was a pawn.”
“A pawn?” I asked.
“Yeah, he didn’t even fire a shot I bet. I’m sure the police were tipped off by some of Lyndon’s goons, and Oswald took the fall.”
Richard puffed again, and the waitress whom we had been waiting for arrived. Richard and I both smiled at her, but of course the evening rush had the woman’s positive image cluttered. She was beautiful despite that though. Her blue eyes reflected magically in the low lit bar area. Her face ,milky and pure, was no less attractive than that of a hand-crafted porcelain doll. I could detect her fragrance, which wasn’t that of appetizers and sweat, it was a light perfume that managed to escape the haunting odors. She gazed at us quickly, reaching for her pen and notepad tucked away in her apron. She seemed like she would be usually kind and quaint, maybe even entertaining due to the number of quirky pins and button’s lining her apron.
“S*** Happens.” one read.
I giggled at the irony. I’m sure the waitress would have too, but today wasn’t the day for that. I worked as a waiter before in a restaurant twice the capacity as this, so I knew the challenges. Because of that, I never got pissed if I didn’t get the absolute best of service.
“Hello, welcome to Kerry’s, serving the best of food for the best of you. My name is Cindy, I’ll be taking care of you tonight. Now what can I get for you to drink?”
Wow, she tried harder than I thought she would. Richard, dangling the cigarette loosely with his chapped lips, took the initiative and began speak.
“Yeah sweetheart, I’ll have a Sam Adams Light, and my buddy here will have the same. Right Dick?”
I despised that name Dick. Although correct, my name is Richard too, but Richard always loved to embarrass me with that vulgar name. Aside from that, we both shared common preferences in beer.
“Yeah.” I mumbled incoherently.
Cindy smiled, and laughed to herself.
“Will that be all?” she questioned.
“Don’t mind him, he’s just a bit cranky.” Richard whispered while cupping his hand over his mouth, hiding his mouth, but not his words from me.
Cindy looked puzzled, but nevertheless jotted on the pad hastily with a deep grin on the face.
“Alright then, I’ll be back in a second.” she spoke, and the proceeded to dash away and disappear into the crowd of tables and restaurant patrons. I watched carefully as she trotted gallantly, becoming induced into a sort of trance.
“Nice ass huh?” Richard blurted out.
He wasn’t lying. She did have a nice ass, but there was more to her than that. I saw a sort of humanity in her that you don’t see in most waitresses anymore. I liked her, which was a first for me. I hate everyone, of course everyone but Richard. I decided that I wouldn’t let Richard get the upper hand, so I moved back to the previous conversation.
“So, about Oswald.” I started. Richard realigned the cigarette on the ashtray, scratched his chin thoroughly, and continued his rant.
“Yes, I think Oswald had friends in high places, so either way he would have gotten out. By escaping the murder scene, or eventually getting out of prison early. But, Jack Kirby knew this and decided to end his endeavor with the shot of a gun.”
“You’re not seriously hearing yourself talk are you?” I said smirking to the point of near laughing.
Richard wasn’t impressed.
“F*** you.” he stammered, furrowing his brow at me. “You know I’ve researched this! I know it to be true. Sometimes I wonder why you even argue with…
To my luck, the waitress returned, and Richard paused. She was carrying only one beer and one frozen mug on her serving platter, which immediately upset Richard. Before she had the chance to place the brew on the table, Richard opened his mouth.
“Sweetheart, I believe you’re forgetting something.” he declared politely.
Again the waitress, Cindy, appeared bewildered at Richard’s asinine way of communication, and presumed to cock her head slightly and raise her eyebrow.
“Pardon?” she asked, her mouth drooping exhaustingly.
“Another beer for my friend?” he asked, again being pompous, but nevertheless refraining from becoming ill with the young lady.
“Um,” she began, “I guess I could get you another.” She placed the first beverage onto the table and began to pour its contents into the glass. The froth raised to the surface, but as Cindy was more than likely trained to do, it didn’t overflow.
“I’ll be back in a second.” she said, leaving us once more, but still remaining was a baffled expression on her pretty little face.
“You’re an ass, Richard.” I proclaimed reaching for the beer, “You know how people forget.”
Richard rolled his eyes at me, reaching for his lit cigarette.
“I was nice, didn’t b**ch or anything.” he said. “I could’ve been a prick if I wanted to, but you seem to like her, so I didn’t. Aren’t I a nice guy?”
“A nice guy he says. You know I’ve been coming here for the past two months just trying to build up the motivation to ask her out. Now you screw it up.”
Richard shook his head while revealing his pearly white teeth.
“I think you do a better job noticing people than they notice you. You can do better that what you have been doing for the past two months.”
I lowered my head in condolence, and Richard began to stare at the cigarette as if he were trying to learn something from it.
“You know, you ought to take up smoking. It would suit you.” he said.
“Sorry, but lung cancer isn’t for me.”
“And liver cancer is?” he remarked.
“No.” I said bluntly ending his statement. “The two are quite different.”
“Agreed, but their difference is needed. A bad can’t be a good you know. We need a mask over the bad, so we get the warm feeling of comfort in alcohol, and the relaxing adrenaline from a cigarette. Kinda like me. You need me to relax. And at the same time I like to think I’m bad. That’s why I’m here.”
Richard made a point. He could always make a point. I didn’t know why I didn’t smoke. Maybe it was the cost, but then again alcohol was pricey too. It relaxed me somehow, I suppose like that of a cigarette of a constant smoker. I grew tired of holding the frozen mug of beer between my hands, so I tilted it up and sipped it like it was the last drink I would ever have. I closed my eyes, and drowned out the world and it noises with the drink. It felt like hours had went by after I placed the drink down onto the table again. Richard was gone. His cigarette ,lit and still smoldering in the ashtray, was an opportunity to take him up on his offer. I reached for it, and placed it into my mouth. In the distance, I saw Cindy rush over to the table, another Sam Adams in hand.
“Here you go, sir.” she said, placing the beer and another empty glass onto the table.
“That one’s for you sweetheart. You need it. ” I said, reaching into my aviator jacket pocket and pulling out a crisp $100 bill, and a ink pen, and placing it onto the table. I jotted my phone number down onto the bill, and slid it over to the waitress, all the time keeping a thin smile on my face.
“Thank…you?” she said, her voice was severely muffled.
I nodded in recognition. I didn’t have anything else to say, so I left her standing in awe.