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Selfish Empathy

‘It breaks my heart to know your heart is broken. When you suffer it feels like I am suffering too.’

She looked at him like he was a fucking moron.

‘You think you’re feeling what I am feeling? You’re a fucking idiot.’

She turned and started to walk away.

He followed her.

‘Get the fuck away from me.’

Fire was in her eyes now.

‘What? Why? I care about you so much! Can’t you see that by how crushed I am?? No one cares for you more than I do.’

‘Your a fucking Idiot Chester. Don’t follow me. Make your own fucking life. Let me grieve how I need to grieve. Whatever chemistry we may have had, you’ve killed it.’

She ran into him a few days later.

They made awkward small talk, and then he tried to apologize.

‘I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking straight. I understand now…’

‘You don’t understand shit.’

She looked at him up and down in disgust.

He tried to follow her again until he realized he was now chasing her shadow. She was long gone, had been for some time now, and what he was after now was the memory of her–an imaginary person that no longer existed. She had changed, and it was death that had changed her. He clung to the past in desperation for it to repeat itself. It did not. Life moved forward. He made himself miserable for years dreaming about her. She never thought twice about him.

Then they ran into each other again.

‘I’m sorry…’

‘You have to stop saying that man.’

‘I’ve learned to play the guitar, and I write poetry now. I read the Russian classics, and everything Bukowski wrote! I’ve listened to your music so many times. I’ve changed so much thanks to you. Thank you for being in my life.’

‘Dude, I didn’t do shit.’

She chugged her drink and walked away once more.

This time, he stayed. He rested his chin on his palm, and stared off into the distance. He ordered a drink and continued to stare. He stayed right there, in that chair, in that dive bar, for weeks. Beautiful women approached him, asking about what it was exactly that he was staring at. He never acknowledged any of them, he just kept staring. Months went by, then years. His hair grew down to his shoulders and his beard down to his nipples. He kept sitting there, staring at the wall.

‘What is it with that guy, Greg? He doesn’t move?’

‘Not in years, man. Not in years. He came in with a blonde once, and when she walked away, he just stayed right there.’

‘Weird guy.’’

‘Yeah… weird guy. Kind of feel for him though. That blonde was dynamite.’

‘He kind of seems like a fucking idiot to me.’

‘Oh yeah, he’s definitely one of those.’

He’s become part of the bar now. The tourist come to take pictures with him. He never moves, even when kids stick chopsticks up his nose; or when a woman braids his hair, or even when some guy tries to get tough with him and punch him in the shoulder–he just sits there.

The bartender finishes mopping up and kills the lights, he just sits there.

‘Goodnight chester!’

The door slams shut. It’s total darkness in the dive bar, when he finally stands up and says to himself,

‘She didn’t do shit? She didn’t do shit… She didn’t do shit! Oh shit! She didn’t do shit!’

He walked out of the bar, and headed right towards her. He had to tell her how much she had changed him again.

The poor guy spent years doing nothing but thinking, and still, he hadn’t learned shit.


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