The teenagers are bored, having nowhere else to go, but not wanting to go home to the drab familiarity of housing projects and apartment complexes. We too are directionless, but directionless in the same place and time—between jobs, between loves, between ambitions; we are loitering without intent. Hank Williams echoes from a small dusty speaker, quarters tumble from the change machine, pool balls click with soft indifference. The ceiling-high windows are veiled with steam, and it is impossible to tell at first glance if it is summer or winter, daylight or evening. There is no stampede of years here, no memory rushing in either direction, insistent on its own inherent beauty—only the rhythm of machines in cycle, that constant turning without arrival. We could come back decades from now, pick up where we left off, wait it out for one more song before returning to the world again.
Gregory Watson’s work has appeared in numerous literary publications, including The Seattle Review, Tulane Review, and Poetry East, and has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. His most recent collection is What Music Remains, published by Nodin Press. He lives in the Mac-Groveland area of Saint Paul.