Sunday, August 9, 2009
“Can I buy you a drink?” Gio asked. He smiled and stared directly into his eyes, but he met a natural resistance that didn’t happen often. He wasn’t able to penetrate his thoughts; he couldn’t find a way to control him.
The guy smiled back and made a face. But he said, “Ah well, no thanks, buddy. I’m a recovering alcoholic and I don’t drink anymore.”
“I see.” He continued to peer into his eyes, but it was no use. His will was so strong Gio’s right eye began to twitch. He’d seen this before with recovering alcoholics and people who had conquered serious addictions. They’d learned to concentrate so hard and had trained themselves so well, it was next to impossible to penetrate their thoughts. And for some reason, this only attracted Gio even more.
“But why don’t I buy you a drink instead,” the guy said.
Gio laughed. Then he said, “I don’t drink either.” Alcohol didn’t influence him; mortal beverages were tasteless and provided nothing he needed.
He blinked a couple of times, then extended his right hand and said, “I’m Colin.”
“I’m Gio. Do you live in town?” Colin’s handshake was strong and dominant; his fingers were long and thick.
He told him that he lived across the river, in New Jersey. He’d just moved back to the area, because of some “trouble” he’d had in college. He didn’t go into details, but the “trouble” had been serious enough to cost him his driver’s license for one year and a long, expensive list of legal fees. So he moved back home to work in the family construction business to help pay his debts. He smiled and said, “I like your name, Gio. Is it short for Giovanni?”
Gio's eyebrows went up; the guy wasn’t stupid. Most Americans called him Joe, because they didn’t know any better. “Yes. It is.”
“My mother is from Italy,” Colin said. “I can understand most things in Italian, but it’s hard to converse if you don’t practice often.”
They sat there talking like this until two in the morning. Sometimes in Italian, but Colin shrugged his shoulders most of the time. Gio kept ordering club sodas and tipping the bartender with ten dollar bills so he wouldn’t lose money on them. When it was time to close the bar, it occurred to Gio that he’d forgotten all about food that night. And he didn’t care either. If he had to, he could go days without sustenance. Besides, the night before he’d taken three football players, one long-haired musician from a rock band and a married guy from the suburbs. He’d be fine for a while. When they stood to leave so the bartender could close for the night, he asked him, “How are you getting home?”