“It was a dark and stormy night,” right? That’s how the best or worst stories start; sets the scene, gives you a bit of a shiver. I mean, I say that, but it’s not dark and stormy here. The temperature is out of it, because this isn’t about a sort of mood like that. It’s like no-temperature. I don’t mean, cold. I mean, like, it’s warm without being hot and no wind. You don’t feel it on your skin when you pop out. But you wouldn’t be reading this because of what temperature I tell you it is. Funny, though, isn’t it? That you can feel something when you read about it? I mean, words are just marks on paper, they shouldn’t mean anything. Looking at marks on paper should be carrying coals to Newcastle, but for some reason, it’s not. It does mean something, but hardly ever the same thing, even though we only have so many words and letters and such. No real point there, just funny to think about.

I was with all my friends, who are complete idiots, mind, and we were talking about the state of things, you know, all the things that seem to be going wrong. I say “all my friends” but obviously I don’t mean all of them, that’s just something you say. They’re also not really idiots, but, I mean, we all do idiotic things sometimes but that’s not why they’re idiots. Really, they’re not, it’s another one of those things you say, and when you’re with your other friends, they get it right off. But, you know, they can be exhausting when you just want to have a drink and a talk. But I think that’s what makes them appealing, you know? They can be real smart about their work, or what have you, but sometimes you get to be the expert with them, and that’s nice. Right pack of curs, though.

So, we were talking and drinking, and it lead down the garden path to things we’d read. We’re not all of us what you’d call “readers,” you know. It started a right old debate about the dark and the stormy nights, and why you’d go on about that to start. I say, what better place to start? Not really so very different from the bright cold days in April, if you follow. I mean, it gives you a way to situate, as you read. I don’t much like getting turned around when I’m taking in a story, so starting with something proper about the wheres and whats is quite nice, even if it does give you a shiver. I like to read some, and I don’t care too much what it is, as long as I don’t get too mixed up during the story. I’ve tried the books that are like manuals for your whole life, or what have you, but I just can’t finish them. There’s no story. Same thing with the newspapers. Sometimes you do come across a grand newspaper story, that really takes you somewhere, but not very often. I don’t go looking for them, but sometimes one of my friends will bring one down. I can’t listen to stories, either. I get tired or my mind wanders. I guess you could say that I was read to a lot as a child, and old habits are hard to break, you know?

Sometimes my friends, the same idiots as noted above, give me a bit of a tease because if a story is really good I take it with me everywhere. I don’t care what people think, when a story has really got me! I don’t usually try to be obvious or, you know, stand out, but I just don’t mind at all when I’m reading something that I can’t put down. There’s this joke that my one friend tells me every time he sees me with a book out and about. It goes like this: Are you reading a book about anti-gravity? Seems like you can’t put it down! Do you see what I mean about my friends being complete idiots? Not much you can do about it, and I’m sure they say the same about me. Probably you can tell, they’re right, too.

We try to get together at least once a week, you know, because you need to have something that’s normal and the same, when everything’s going so poorly everywhere. Not everyone can make it, I mean, sometimes you have other things going on, and maybe a different group of friends you know from somewhere else you want to visit with. But mostly, the group there manages to all assemble week to week. Sometimes you get together with just one friend or two, too, you know to get lunch or throw sticks at the river or whatever you need right then. Funny, too, that sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do with some friends. You go to the grocer with them because you bump into them, and they’re just running out for apples, or what have you. Some of them, you know, you can’t picture outside of the typical haunts, like they don’t exist really when you turn to go. But you know, I’d still call them friend, because they care enough to make arguments when the tone turns that way.

I don’t know what you’d call a good time with friends, but I think sometimes it’s too hard to put a proper name to. It’s not like, in the place you are, or the regulars you see, even if you like them specially. It’s more about what you get to chew on when you’ve had a sleep and are just walking along the old alley on your way somewhere, and you can’t stop thinking about the stupid things you bickered over, like dark and stormy nights. Making arguments in your head for the next time, though you know you’ll be talking about something completely different next time, because it’s always something different, and that’s something that I like, too. You know?


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