My old college roommate, a year and a lifetime older than I, was telling me about his and his wife’s latest adventure while we drank beer in my new Brooklyn apartment.
“You’ve never felt terror until you faced a bear on the Appalachian trail.”
Robbie was a good guy, but he bragged too much and took himself way too seriously. Like he was the only person who ever faced a bear or hiked “The Trail,” as he called it, with his gorgeous wife. Others didn’t talk about it is all.
Of course, I didn’t talk about it because I certainly never met up with a bear. Few bears roamed the streets of Brooklyn, and it was my policy never to be anywhere a bear might be. That included the Prospect Park zoo.
I told him this, but he ignored me.
“The bear stood between me and moving on. You gotta move on, you know.”
He was determined to tell his story, but he really wanted to talk about Leyla, my ex-wife.
Robbie grabbed another beer from my fridge. Brought me one, too. Which was nice of him, considering it was my beer. “You ever hear a bear growl when it’s maybe twenty yards from you?”
“Can’t say I have.” I might have rolled my eyes. “Or I’d ever want to.”
“Look, if you don’t want to hear my story….”
“You have pictures? People always take pictures when they meet a bear.”
“No. No pictures.”
“Good. Then continue your story. I hate vacation photos.”
Robbie knew I was playing with him, stalling. But he had a story to tell and, apparently, it had a point. Besides, we had already had a few too many of my beers.
“When this bear roared, I felt the forest shake.”
“Was it the forest or your knees that shook?”
“So did the bear attack you? Tear your chest open, bite off your head?”
“Of course not.”
“Not much of a story then.” I looked away.
“Speakling of tearing your heart out, Leyla called us last week. She’s worried about you.”
“Hey,” I said, finishing my beer and grabbing us two more. “Did I ever tell you what it’s like facing down a whining hipster at Whole Foods when we run out of fresh-caught salmon?”
“Did the hipster bite your head off?”
We drank in silence for a while before I asked, “So how did you move on from that bear?”
Wayne Scheer has been nominated for five Pushcart Prizes and a Best of the Net. He’s published numerous stories, poems and essays in print and online, including Revealing Moments, https://issuu.com/pearnoir/docs/revealing_moments a collection of flash stories. His short story, “Zen and the Art of House Painting” has been made into a short film. https://vimeo.com/18491827.