I knew this guy when I was at uni. Dan. He was like that. Fine sober, horrible drunk. I hung out with him a lot until his best friend, Dave, slept with his girlfriend and he got leathered and threw a brick through her window. It didn’t hit her, but after that we kind of distanced ourselves from him. We understood, but, you know, his girlfriend and Dave were friends too. Friends without brick throwing tendencies.
From then on I only ever saw him a few more times, usually when he was sober. He would always complain about his new girlfriend whose appetite for sex was apparently insatiable. He got into a fight and broke his leg, and still she wanted more.
Eventually, he disappeared and I disappeared, and he became one of those people, along with hundreds of others from my life, acquaintances, friends, people I spent a few days with travelling, who I’d reminisce about. I’d remember them and think when I did they were remembering me too, at the exact same moment.
Years later, I saw him, or thought I did, when I was doing that working holiday thing in Australia. I was on a train in Melbourne on the way to work – I was working in a printing workshop – when I looked up from my book and saw this guy who looked exactly like Dan. He had the same short blond hair, the same ill-fitting clothes hanging off his body like rags on a scarecrow.
He sat down to my right, two or three rows in front, and put these big ear muff headphones on while I looked at him trying to decide whether to get up and speak to him. I thought it couldn’t be him, it would be too random. And if I got up and said hello, and it wasn’t him I’d look like a dick. If it was him it would be great to catch up, though what we would talk about after five years, I didn’t know. We probably wouldn’t have anything in common, and it’s ridiculous when twenty-somethings reminisce like pensioners.
In the end, I didn’t get up. It was my stop next. I didn’t want to be late for work and, anyway, I’d been thinking about him so he would’ve been thinking about me too, right? Thinking’s enough, isn’t it, especially when it involves bricks going through windows.
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