He sits and the clock ticks. He wants them to see him. He sees them all the time: at Higher Grounds, at Liberty Lands, at the Piazza. Here they are at 700 and he doesn't want much, just small talk.
He's employed various tactics already. At Higher Grounds he once spilled coffee at their feet. At Liberty Lands he tossed a Frisbee that landed right beside them. At the Piazza he did tricks on his skateboard, brushing past them. Never the most direct approach, though, a simple introduction. It made sense to him logically and yet felt like it would be weird.
Today, at 700, he eavesdrops. Their conversations sound so interesting, so appealing! Their dialogue so crisp. Even the pauses – he stares at them during the pauses – they look so happy during the pauses. How can people be so content during pauses in conversation? Is it because they're drunk? They drink it all down so smoothly – beer, wine, whiskey – the bartender keeps pouring and they just keep drinking. One speaks more than the other.
"Missanelli's right, you can't play a guy over Ryan Howard just because he hit well in Double A and Howard doesn't hit lefties."
The other guy shakes his head. "Can't do that to a veteran. Bad for clubhouse morale. . . ."
"She looks innocent but I can tell you she's not. I can assure you. . . ."
"We saw the Pixies that year, right after Bush's second term began. Where were we? Cleveland. Yes, Cleveland. . . ."
He hears these snippets and knows they could all be the best of friends. He's a Phillies fan, he's heterosexual, he likes the Pixies. He's even been to Cleveland.
He knows what he's going to do. It has to work! When the really chatty one is mid-sentence, he'll time it just right.
"So tomorrow night it's the Nationals. We still have an outside chance if—"
"Oh, excuse me," he says as he pretends to trip over himself, knocking into one of the two young men, the one called Garret.
Garret brushes himself off, repositioning his chair. "No problem, dude."
Garret and Joseph stare at the guy who just bumped into Garret, waiting for him to go on wherever he was going before he slipped and bumped into Garret, but the guy just stands there, staring.
"Fine day for a beverage, is it not?" he asks them, instantly regretting his choice of words.
But Garret and Joseph look at each other and then back at him, raise their glasses. Garret says, "Indeed it is! A fine day for a beverage."
His eyes light up. He's satisfied, then elated. "Good day, gentlemen." He turns and leaves the bar, goes about his day, feeling he's one step closer to his destiny, that of being their friend.