I went for a drive today; I didn't know where I was going, but I did.
It had been a while since I had been there, and he was there, smiling, with a beer in his hand, at the end of the bar, raising it, waving me over; and I sit. I sit because I have no choice in the matter, I sit because he knows I am going to sit down.
"How's shit?" he says, outside, smoking a cigarette, he doesn't offer me one so I don't take one.
"Good," I say, "really good," and I'm not lying, but he smirks, takes a drag, exhales something that resembles a laugh.
There's a stray down the street, a black lab, some little girl looking for him, but no collar, and no one in this neighborhood would have a dog like that, and it paces forward and back, pawing on and off the sidewalk trying to find the moment when it will be able to cross without becoming roadkill.
"Until I got here, at least," I add, looking away from the dog and at the ground.
In one move, he tosses the cigarette in front of me, stamps it out, and shoves me against the bricks, his right hand pinning me.
"Fuck you. Why the fuck are you here then?"
I shrug, or try to, but he gets it. He lets go.
"You're a fucking faggot, y'know that?" He lights another cigarette. "A fucking pussy, and a fucking faggot."
"Fuck you," but it isn't the same.
The stray has decided against crossing, and it looks up the street at a row of broken streetlights and turns to head down our way instead.
"Don't fucking look at the dog, fucking look at me."
I surrender my gaze to him, and he squints, he's looking for something, something he's seen before, something he wants to see now.
Something touches my leg, and it's the stray, its nose at my knee, its big black eyes begging.
"I said fucking look at me. Don't fucking look at the dog. You fucking know this dog? This fucking dog is more important to you than looking at me? You fucking know this dog?" and I'm shaking my head no but he's still kicking it and I clench my fist to stop from saying anything, I dig my fingernails into my skin so hard blood runs down.
"You fucking know this dog?" he says again, "You fucking know this dog?" and when he can't find what he's looking for he takes out a blade and stabs it in the throat. There is no last gasp. It crumples to the ground. The stray is dead.
I surrender my eyes to him, but it is pity now, and what do you fucking know, there it is, I barely catch it, for a second, a flicker of pain, consuming his face, replaced immediately by rage, an even more furious anger from him knowing that I saw it, his weakness, for however long it was there.
I turn from him and walk, towards my car, away from here, anywhere but here.
As I walk, I can feel him come up behind me, his breath sticky and his voice deep, I can feel the blade go into me, and I can watch myself die; but this doesn't happen, and when I finally look back, he is walking, too, in the other direction, away from me, toward the broken streetlights, into the darkness.