15 Views of Orlando: Part 1 (of 15)
Location: Town House Restaurant, Downtown Oviedo
15 Views of Orlando has been stolen from the tubes of the Internet and is now in book form, due out on 1/31/12. Read the first story in full, get hooked, and pre-order it here.
I didnât realize how much I loved the guy until he was gone. Not only that, but I didnât even know if he was coming back in one piece. So there I was, thinking about my friend (infantry, Afghanistan)âwho might as well be the brother I never hadâwhile standing out in the back of the Town House Restaurant with a waitress named Eve, who gently balanced a cup against my lips and poured water into my mouth because I was too busy throwing a tennis ball against the wall.
âThis is impossible,â she said, rolling her eyes. âThe ball is solid and the wall is solid.â She said this as if I didnât know that already. I told her I wasnât stupid, despite the fact that I felt pretty stupid. I recently got laid off (editorial assistant, newspaper). I was 32 years old. I was a dishwasher. I moved back in with my mother.
Regarding the tennis ball: I was testing something Brian had told me twenty years ago, something called quantum tunneling. I had been throwing the ball since early that morning. I was waiting for it to pass through the wall. Brian had told me, when we were twelve, that a ball was made of wave functions and, according to quantum physics (and his father who was a physicist), those waves can spill into and through a solid wall. Because of this, there was a chance that the entire ball could pass through to the other side if it was thrown against the wall enough times. So I wanted to throw it as many times as I could each day before getting back to work. Eve said sheâd help out. Sheâs a good person. I knew Brian would like Eve, too. She was sarcastic and silly and sometimes she flicked rubber bands at people just to get their attention.
I threw the ball until the diner opened for business, but nothing happened.
The following morning, I went running before my shift. The good news: I was running farther and faster than ever, which I knew would make Brian proud. He was always there for me, always trying to make me a better person. Healthier, smarter, more optimistic. People would pay good money to have his optimism. He was the kind of guy who would cut the glass in half and say how it was completely full.
The bad news: I was diagnosed with joggerâs hematuria, which is what doctors call it when your urine is tinged with blood due to your bladder walls banging against each other like a couple idiots. When the doctor told me this, I thought of cymbals clashing together, like my insides were having a parade. Peeing didnât feel good when this happened either. Most people would stop running after being diagnosed with joggerâs hematuria, but not me. During my runs, I pictured my bladder walls banging into each other, imagined the capillaries within them exploding like tiny fireworks releasing little sparks of blood.
The good news: the house Brian grew up in was on my route. The bad news: it wasnât the same house. His old house had been knocked down several years ago to make room for a larger, newer house. Some would see this as a tragedy, but, to be honest, the new house was pretty damn nice. Iâd live in it. If I could have afforded it. If I still had a career, something that didnât involve the words âdishâ and âwasher.â
Growing up, Brian and I had become so many things in that old house. Spies, novelists, detectives, musicians, boxers, songwriters, television hosts, ninjas, news reporters, scientists, directors, writers, architects. Weâd roll out a sheet of butcher paper in his living room and design roller coasters with a pencil, drawing twists and turns as the room filled with the scent of all-day gravyâcrushed tomatoes, garlic, sweet pork.
I ran down the old road that used to be just a blinking yellow light dangling like a citrine, but was now a full traffic light. I passed what used to be an empty stretch of grassland and was now home to a mall with a movie theater. The old was still mixed in, though. Near the Town House, there was still the plateau of one-story businesses rising above the sidewalks, and there were still places where you could catch the scent of cow patties scattered within a field bordered by chickenfence. If you went deep enough, you could still find a home turned into a tire depot with masses of black rubber stacked in the yard like mountains at dusk.
After our shift, we went out back and I threw the ball. We were out there till 2 a.m. I told her about the time Brian and I sat in his backyard and cut our palms with a knife and rubbed our hands together and became blood brothers. Then we were quiet for a while until, looking at the tennis ball, I said, âMaybe youâre right. Maybe this is impossible.â
âItâs fun anyways,â she said, and then she sat down next to me with her legs crossed, looking up at the stars. If only he could see us. If only I could take a picture of that moment to show him when he came back: the two of us, Eve and I, outside the Town House Restaurant in Oviedo, the night heavy and black and blue, things chirping, not a human in sight. There was the thud of the ball and then there was the happy thought that pieces of the ballâimpossibly smallâwere passing through the wall and into the diner and the idea that, one day, the entire ball could pass through if I just kept throwing it.
About the Author:
Gene Albamonte graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida. In 2010, he attended the Sirenland Writers Conference. Thus far, his fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Southern Indiana Review,Â Clapboard House and Fragmentation + Other Storiesâan anthology published by Burrow Press. He was a finalist in Glimmer Trainâs January 2008 Family Matters competition and earned an Honorable Mention in the April 2008 Family Matters competition. He writes a weekly column for PANK Magazineâs blog and two columns for Burrow Pressâs blog. Read more at www.mynameisgene.com.