Speak

You move close to me and softly tell me to
speak.
I move away at first because I’m quiet, but again you tell me to
speak.
Not now, I think, not in this place. Somewhere warm maybe but not here.
Not this run-down, downtown, dive bar.
The amber color in my glass and it’s emptiness and their presence tell me it’s not safe.
But then suddenly, and without warning,
I speak.
It comes out far too loud.
Everyone quiets down and listens.
I’m monologuing about it all.
All the fakeness.
All you phonies, and I point to them while I say it.
They look taken aback but they’re listening.
I seem to have their full attention.
I say it just like I practiced in my room.
With all the gumption and gusto that my bedroom walls only knew before.
I really let them have it.
You could hear a pin drop at the end of it all and I’m standing there in front, with my breath all heavy and I’m panting.
But then something happens.
They cheer for me.
Two of the ones closest put me up on their shoulders and parade me around like some sort of hero. They’re all chanting my name.
Now we are out in the open and the street crowd joins in.
I don’t know what to make of it. I’m sure I’m looking stunned when I turn around and see you still in the bar; grinning from ear to ear like you knew it all along. You turn and make your way through the throngs so I can’t see you anymore. I’ll have to thank you later, I think, you midnight marauder. Too bad I never caught your name.

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