Johnny America




I went back to my hometown.

In the su­per­mar­ket I met a guy I’d been in a band with many years before.

He had changed.

I felt like he had changed more than I had changed.

He told me a strange sto­ry about his grand­moth­er. She’d fall­en down the stairs in her house and died. Now he was liv­ing there, in his grandmother’s house.

When I went to the bar, he was in the bar, too. This time we weren’t sur­prised to see each other.

I don’t re­mem­ber what we talked about. Maybe he told me about his grand­moth­er again. Or maybe he hadn’t told me about her in the su­per­mar­ket and this was the first time. I re­al­ly don’t remember.

I kept look­ing around the room for peo­ple I’d known when we were younger. There were a lot of peo­ple there. Most were my age or old­er, but I didn’t know any of them. Who were they? It was like the peo­ple who’d lived there when I’d lived there had been re­placed by a new set of peo­ple who had noth­ing to do with me.

Then an­oth­er guy I knew came in. He had the same first name as the guy I’d been in a band with, and, in fact, the two of them had been in a sep­a­rate band together.

He shook my hand. Then he asked what it was like liv­ing in a for­eign coun­try. I told him it was great at first but that it pro­gres­sive­ly wore you down un­til you wished you’d nev­er gone there.

But there was nev­er any al­ter­na­tive, I said. Stay­ing put would have killed me.

He said he couldn’t un­der­stand why any­one would leave our town in or­der to live in a for­eign coun­try. I shrugged. I couldn’t un­der­stand why any­one would stay in our town when there were for­eign coun­tries to go to. I didn’t say this, though. I didn’t want to sound like an ass­hole. Even af­ter all these years, I want­ed these peo­ple to like me.

Af­ter that we prob­a­bly got drunk. What else were we go­ing to do? I prob­a­bly got drunk­er than the two of them put to­geth­er since I didn’t have to wor­ry about dri­ving or get­ting up for work in the morn­ing. At some point a guy at the bar said he re­mem­bered me from kinder­garten. He seemed pret­ty ex­cit­ed about it. He smiled and shook his head like he couldn’t be­lieve I was ac­tu­al­ly stand­ing there, right next to him at the bar. I re­mem­bered him, too. He looked ex­act­ly the same, but big­ger. I won­dered if I looked that way to him. I felt more than just big­ger. I felt alien. Be­cause that’s what I had be­come  —  an alien. Se­cret­ly I doubt­ed I’d ever been the child he was think­ing of.

The next day I went to the air­port and flew home with a hang­over. I haven’t been back there since.

Filed under Fiction on May 23rd, 2009

Care to Share?

Consider posting a note of comment on this item:


Previous Post


Next Post


Join our Irregular Mailing List

For very occasional ramblings, word about new print ephemera, and of course exciting investment opportunities.