Mistaken Identity at City Brew

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There’s one vacant seat, and I ease into it without spilling. Two women to the right share a long forced laugh that ends in an awkward sob. One of them is trying to absorb what it means to have a dead husband. The other one is helping, such as she can. Not long ago, her husband died too.

The man directly in front of me is typing, fast and loud. A swarm of words hovers above his keyboard, landing occasionally on his glasses. He has to wipe the lenses. I’m not sure if it’s words or tears and I don’t want to look too closely.

Sticky muffins punctuate the shiny table, and an older woman, her skin, deep purple, is texting and sipping from a tall black cup while a younger woman sighs, making her way through a stack of bills, paying with her phone. The devil is in the details. But if that’s where the devil is, where’s God? Where are you? Do you hang out in the details too?

Yeah, yeah, I know. You’ve dropped a lot of hints about this over the eons, but remember how dense we are, how sheltered, avoidant, afraid. Have mercy, Royal Master of the Known and Unknown. Peek out at me. Wave or wink so I can get my bearings. Who should get the lion’s share of my love and attention? Is there anyone here I could scorn, just a little? I need to scorn someone right now. Oh, how I need to scorn.

A train rolls by. The conductor waves, the whistle blows, I stare out the icy window and then refocus back in the cozy room. Halleluia! There you are! I jump up to offer you the last muffin. I’m a dog, licking your wounds. I’m a bird, nesting in your hair, I’m an apple, a warm coat, a shiny red car. God, do you want a ride? Can I give you a lift? Where shall we go? C’mon God. I need outta here, outta here, outta here.

Oh, no! Not God? Oh my. Excuse me. I mistook you for an old friend of mine. Very sorry.

I’ve caused a ruckus. I’ve been asked to leave. God is laughing from the belly of a very pregnant woman. She shouldn’t be drinking coffee anyway. How could I have known? I cross the street, dazed. I hear the caw of a crow. The twisted feet of a hundred homeless people have frozen to the sidewalk. They can’t move. I can’t move. We will wait for the sun together. I am at peace.

 

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