City Stories

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Chapter Two

 

Vincenzo had left his workplace in a hurry, in the hopes of compensating for the hours and hours of attempting to complete mind-numbing, repetitious tasks in yet another cool city office. The general feeling was of exhilaration. He knew he was bound to run into some interesting cats from any of the other teams.

The meeting place was this sort of franchise restaurant, definitely an early symptom of gentrification that everyone chose to ignore. Yet, one couldn’t deny the appeal of cheaper-than-average drinks and food, so no one really spoke of it.

Vincenzo tried to spot his friends and acquaintances in a sea of desperate people, and he found them seating lazily over and around a table. He greeted everyone with a handshake and the occasional hug. The cool kids offered a seat, which he recognized positively with a gramercy.

One of his friends, Lukas, stood up in a heartbeat and haggled for a beer. It was not the first time (nor would it be the last) but it was Friday and Vincenzo couldn’t be bothered with an argument. It was imperative to keep the good times running.

Vincenzo came back from inside with a tray of beer mugs, full and fresh, and he was pretty sure he saw some of the people at the table, trembling and salivating with anticipation and desire. It was going to be one of those nights and he confirmed it with a single sad look around.

Several rounds of beers and unnamed drinks later, the mood had transmuted severely. Some people were scrolling on their phones, bored fingers at disposition. Others were discussing current issues enthusiastically. One or two friends were glancing at each extreme, hoping to find a connecting wire to let their true electricity flow.

Pyotr was hungrily searching for a familiar face, to settle his doubts and sensibilities. The only person that nodded in his acknowledgement was Vincenzo. Maybe they weren’t always present for one another; nonetheless, the friendship and especially the extreme admiration and appreciation were there permanently.

Vincenzo snapped Pyotr out of his people-fueled funk and dared him to spill yet another random fun fact. No one else really paid attention to it; some may have believed it to be pretentious, but Vincenzo felt like the world needed more relentlessly curious and passionate people such as his friend. Enamored, he listened to the words flowing from his lips. History was being made and uttered simultaneously. There would be no such moments anytime else. The memory would last an eternity, if only they were to live that long.

The night was in full motion and everyone was noticeably drunk (and some, possibly, on other substances). In any case, that fact wouldn’t be a deterring force. Although some cats were bound to run for their cozy cots eventually, others were just waiting for an opportunity to snatch a mouse.

There’s a Portuguese saying that goes something like “At night, all cats are obscured.” This translation is beyond rough, but here, the main idea I am trying to give away is that, in the end, everyone shares the same surface and coming out of it is not always feasible, sometimes due to circumstance. Everyone is destined to become similar to the ones surrounding them; however, this fact shouldn’t be confused with actively becoming them.

Vincenzo knew, in his heart, he was fundamentally different. Not in a way that meant to disconnect him from everyone he knew or crossed paths with; simply different. He had no desire to become an obscured cat, and that was enough.

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