The Seven Five Nothing

The Seven Five Nothing are a collection of hyper-short stories, each written in a single sitting with no editting.


14. Dylan Tape.

Bob Dylan brought us together. It was how we bonded. Sitting together, up there, on that roof, all times of the day or night, a beat up old stereo that we didn't mind getting wet, listening to an old cassette. The little teeth of the tape would turn, pouring out a subtle hiss to accompany the poetic troubadour sounds and the background beat of the city.

'You think you're a romantic?'
'Sometimes,' I replied.
'When sometimes?'
'What do you mean?'
'I mean when... When are you romantic?' She held the neck of the bottle in her fingers, then glanced out at the city on the horizon. 'You think you'll ever leave?'
'What's gotten into you tonight?' She didn't look back at me. Instead, she just fixed her eyes on the distance, like her heart was somewhere else, even if her body hadn't yet left. 'You thinking of travel?'
'Not really,' she responded, qualifying it with an absent turn of the head. But I knew it wasn't genuine. I knew this was the start of the end.

A week or so later, I was listening to Bob on my own up there. It wasn't her fault - she was at work. But I needed time. Time to contemplate the internal. Time to contemplate that this might be the beginning of an end I had never wanted, let alone thought about before. This is the problem with falling in love with a moment, with running free in the darkness; it feels so good it'll blind you to reality. Running blind in the dark.

We'd hooked up in a beat, no great thought. Just meet, have lots of great sex, fall wildly into stupid love, stay so long that it feels weird to leave. Before I knew it I was paying rent, we were getting a cat, everything was splitting down the middle. Bills, meals in restaurants, TV's. It was so different to what we had both signed up for. But we always had Bob.

'Stay away from my window, leave at your own chosen speed...' I sang to myself idly as I shaved. From the street, the sound of kids playing in the summer street, throwing water bombs at each other, squealing with laughter. It made me stop a moment, just to watch the world outside. Where had my laughs gone? Where was I hiding now? A little guy threw a fat watery red balloon at his friend. It exploded on impact, and I got that belly mix of excitement and nerves for him, urging him to run before fire was returned. He did, and the bomb that came after him splashed hard just behind his feet.

'You think... You think we should?'
'Should what?'
'Leave,' she said.
The roof. It wasn't reality. It was somewhere else in this world.
'Really?' She was surprised.
'Of course.' She looked at me with an honesty neither of has shared in a long time. 'Look,' I continued. 'We've been here what, two years now? Think how much rent we've spent.'
'Don't remind me...'
'A lot, right?'
'Too much.'
'We could've flown to the fucken moon by now. But instead, we've been plugging the all that money into some shit we don't need, living some half-relevant life. And for what?'
She didn't have an answer. At least, not right away. Instead, she got up, walked to the edge and kept looking.
'Over there, you see that light?'
I got up to go take a look.
'That's the bus station. That's the first place I saw in this city - the inside of that bus station.'
'Yeah,' she nodded. 'I remember just being so full of... I don't know... Desire. You know what I mean?'
'Of course.'
'But now...'
'But now... What?'
'I don't know. It's all gone. But it's not this place. It's not changed. Well, it has, but not enough for me to be bored of it. It's me. I'm the one who doesn't appreciate it anymore.'
'But that's normal. That always happens. Doesn't matter where you go.'
'Then what's the point?'
'In moving you mean?'
I didn't really know. The unease was still there, but at least I understood her better, and sometimes, that's all we can hope to do. Bob carried on quietly behind us.

The sun was hot that day, making it hard for me to look back to the sky. I was trying to see if you could make out the roof from here, from this bus station, but I couldn't.
'You ready?' Her hands slipped around my waist, her head nuzzled into my back.
'Sure.' I kissed her on the top of her head, and then we walked to the bus.

I tucked my fingers in my back pocket, just to make sure I still had it. I did, there it was, my Highway 61 tape.

Bob, we're hitting the road again.
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