‘Yo! Chris! We’re waiting on you! It’s time for you to show up, now.’
‘Me again. You’re still not here. Come on, man, you said you’ll come. Don’t become someone you don’t like. Aka a liar, in case you didn’t get that one.’
‘Alright, it has been about… two hours, i give you five more minutes before i bring everyone to your place. And by everyone, I mean the entire bar.’
‘Three minutes left.’
‘A minute and a half.’
The place was crowded, dimmed lamp enlightened each table spread in the six hundred square feet of space. Some people focused on the glass in front of them hoping their worries and troubles would drown in it. Some people remained in their circles of friends. Most people searched for some excitement and entertainment for the night, eyeing and judging each other. A low music filled the background and blanks left by conversations.
Once he stepped in the bar, Chris was hit by a wall of heat. He made his way through standing customers, waiting for available tables, to join his stalker at the other side of the room. As he walked closer, he noticed that three girls had been enrolled in the group. One of them stared at him.
‘You’re here!! Finally. It only took seven calls, five voicemail and a dozen of texts. But hey! You made it!’ John said. The young man looked like he just had a fresh haircut with shades on the side and a little bit more length on the top. He was wearing a dark T-shirt with a ‘BB’ design on his left pocket, a black pair of jeans and grey snickers that matches with his snapback put on the table. Despite his dark outfit, John was actually a very joyful person. He stood up to greet his friend. They were around the same height, then he turned his back around and introduced him to the three incomers: ‘This is Chris, the one we were talking about. The one who never goes out.’ He glanced to his right. Piercing eyes were staring through him. He smiled then turned to the girls again: ‘And this is Karen, Charlotte and Sarah. They’re students, just like us.’. Simultaneously, they nodded and smiled. An awkward silent invested the atmosphere around them for few seconds, where Chris scanned the strangers in front of him. Once he was done making his judgment, he turned to his left and acknowledged the rest of his friends. He interrogated one of them with his eyes.
‘Yeah, I’m here too. Night off for my brain, I was about to go crazy.’ Malcolm said. He was in his third year of medical school and for the past few months, he had his nose deep into books and papers. He lived under the light of his lamp, sunlight becoming an utopia. ‘Why you decided to show up?’ he asked but Chris already diverted his look to the room around him, ending the conversation short. John sensed a discomfort on the girls’s face and immediately engaged a new topic of discussion, distracting them from Chris.
The latter never liked the attention, ever since they were kids, despite the fact that he’s always been under the spotlight: basketball team captain, major of each of his class, good looking, son of a surgeon and a lawyer. A born leader. But it aggravated since they reconnected in college. He immured himself in a heavy silence. In two years, his face didn’t crack for a laugh or a smile. Their way of communication was limited to texts and gazes. John thought that the drastic change was due to an event that occurred during their senior year of high school, where he went MIA. He was tempting to ask questions but knowing the man, John figured he will isolate himself even more.
‘Where is he?’ Malcolm wondered.
‘He left five minutes ago’ John replied.
‘He just got here.’. John raised his eyebrows and glanced successively at the empty seat in front of him and the exit behind him. One of their new friends was also missing.
Her pace was in between running and walking fast. On her way out, she knocked few people’s arms, spitting their drinks on them. When she emerged in the fresh air of October, she found him standing on the sidewalk, his gaze up in the sky. She walked closer to him. Her heels betrayed her ninja’s skills making Chris turn around. They exchanged a long look.
‘Hi!’ She paused, hoping he’d reply, but nothing. She glanced behind her, slightly shook her head with a smile: ‘You’re not staying?’. A breeze blew between them.
‘I don’t like crowds’ he replied. Karen was surprised: first because when his friends described him, they said he doesn’t speak at all. And second because his voice was calm, warm and oddly soft. Another silence settled.
‘Why did you come, then?’ she asked. No answer. She felt her heart pounding against her chest and her palms being a little bit moist: she was anxious. Why? A vibration on her thigh made her jump. She looked down then realized it was her phone. She searched in her handbag, pulled her phone out, stared at the unlocked screen then put it back almost immediately. She looked up at Chris, his hands in his pockets, a hoody covering half of his head and his eyes locked on her. When she showed signs of discomfort, he looked away. Her mind panicked, thinking of ways to decipher the character.
‘Do you need to go back in?’ he asked.
‘No. I don’t feel like it.’ She answered. ‘Do you have some other place to be?’ Chris blanckly stared at her. ‘Can you walk me home?’
To be continued.