Whatever Remains

Mike has just got back from Alaska by way of Florida. “Tell you something,” he says. He says, “Went up to watch my father die. He never liked me, we never got along, but he sends me an email, says, I’m dying, come say goodbye. And I’ll tell you, I was there when he went and I saw his spirit coming right up out of his body like a fog. My sister looked at me and she says, did you see that? I never believed in anything but now maybe I do.”

He smokes cigarettes he rolls himself from tobacco scrounged from discarded butts, long fingernails thick and yellow from picking apart paper and filters. He grew his hair out last year and it trails around his ears and gets caught in the collar of his windbreaker. “Tell you something,” he says. He says, “I was in a bar in Florida and who walks in but Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise with his little wife. He says no pictures, no pictures, please, we just want to get something to drink, please, please. I walk up to him and I say, hey, I know you’re busy, but I just wanted to say that I liked you in that movie, and he says thanks you, and I say I wanted to say that I think I could beat you at pool. I bet you a thousand dollars I could beat you at pool. There’s a pool table right here, and I’ve got a thousand dollars that says I can beat you. And his wife says, she says, honey, no, you promised but he says no, I can do this, it’s not a problem. And wouldn’t you know it but I beat him. No problem. Made a thousand dollars off of Tom Cruise.”

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