Steven Carl Gilbreath
2014 South Mill Street
Kansas City, KS 66103-1812
By Steven Carl Gilbreath
week it came to me that about two years of my life are missing. I didn’t lose them on purpose and they
didn’t go by accident.
My body was aching
back then as I sat in the movie theater with an ass numbing that was heading
down my legs. I knew a girl once
who said she thought guys who sat alone in theaters were pathetic. Anyway, I closed my mouth and turned my
head and watched the couples in the flickery dark. They nuzzled up against one another, eating popcorn from
tubs and chittering like horny squirrels.
Middle row, middle
seat was my place and I had waited until it was thick with leaving bodies to
stand up. In the press of the
crowd I could hear them grunt simple ‘liked’ ‘didn’t like’ phrases. I am well on my way to finding out that
two years or so are gone.
know my car is always cold but I never turn on the heat.
There’s nothing in
my little half fridge at the tiny apartment I rent except packs of ketchup and
mustard and I was starving. In
five minutes I’m at the grocery store, wheeling a rickety cart, carefully
maneuvering through all the brown boxes of stock strewn in the aisles. A stock guy is on a cell phone standing
in my way. I guess he didn’t see
me so I squeezed around him for a can of ravioli.
when I saw them. Two young girls
and a guy and… I know them. Their
faces register but I’m helpless on where I should know them from. It seemed silly not to know. They passed me and pairs of eyes passed
over mine. Then they wheeled their
food-filled cart out of sight.
in the aisle with only two cans of ravioli in my cart, I tried to place
them. I couldn’t go down another
aisle and have them see me again not remembering.
“David? David, I thought that was you.” came at
me from behind and made my shoulder twitch.
I turned, two slim arms swallowed me up.
I don’t like to be touched.
She was pretty, though I had no idea who she was.
it’s been a couple years. How have
you been…you look good.”
uh thanks,” I said. She stared,
like she was waiting for something.
I graduated in December and I’m working over at Sprint. What are you up to now? I figured you left town already.” She smelled like potpourri.
I’ve been working mostly. Two
jobs, like 80 hours a week. I’ve
got some debt to clean up.” I read
a ravioli label.
should take care of yourself though.
Get out sometimes, you promise?”
Her eyes must have gotten bigger.
was 20% more in the can. I looked
up at her nose. “Oh yeah, I
do. Every chance I get,” I lied.
was playing with her hair real nervous.
“Well, my friends are waiting in the frozen-food section. I hope I get to see some more of you,”
Here she paused and looked at my cart.
”Give me a call and we can go do something.”
“Sure. Yeah thanks. Good seeing you again.” Not using a name was getting tricky.
too David. Bye!” And she left my aisle.
I took out the cans and placed them on a shelf that held cookies, the memory
loss stuck out like the electronic coupon dispensers.
apartments in two years, no real friends, and a job working at a warehouse that
sold office furniture is my life.
The gaps I fill in with video games and television. Most of this life I remember as a
single unending day.
It is not the two
years. Those are right before this
day when I was still at college.
I know that I
graduated, had classes, made acquaintances, but that seemed to be all. Everyone had known my name and yet I
couldn’t remember theirs.
Assignments done at 3 a.m., research papers slapped together in short order, classes sat through hour after hour. It was all gone, poured out of my ears
I guess. I am too young to lose
two years, years that should have molded me into a responsible… whatever.
left the store, no longer hungry, and turned on my car heater. The smell was like dead flowers stuck
drove and drove. Not with a
destination, but just unable to turn toward that cramped apartment. It was Tuesday and I had to be up early
for the morning shift, but I let the car and endless highway drive me. My mind was banging about, held up and
alert by the obnoxious heat. Don’t
remember any other cars, or signs, or even road, washed out by the thumping of
the cuts on the shoulder. The
pretty girl’s face rolled across my eyes back and forth like windshield wipers. Eventually it faded and I tried to see
how far back the missing memory went.
When I pulled off the road three blocks from my parent’s driveway many
hours after I started, the sun was rosying up the sky.
I knew I hadn't
been home since my graduation party. That night too was now a blurry
was uneasy and I dreamt of a large parking lot. It was so large that I couldn’t find my car in it.
The car was too
hot when I woke up from a tapping on my window. It was my mother and she was wide-awake. Her little hatchback was behind mine;
she must have been on her way to work.
I had groggily rolled down the window she said, “Are you all right? What are you doing here?”
I’m okay. It was late and I didn’t
want to wake you guys up.”
didn’t know you were planning on coming down, but that’s all right.” She said, the look on her face made
me nervous. “I don’t like you driving in the middle of the night though, you
through the fragments of hole-poked thought I had it. Her name is Julie.
guess I said part of that out loud because my mom said, “What are you mumbling
didn’t answer, and three blocks later I was out of the car and in the house,
taking a shower.
Later I met Dan
and James, two lifelong friends still living in town, for a movie. They know better than to touch me.