it's dark in the back. people are murmuring in low voices, scanning across topics from the weather to the apocalypse, looking for a hit. college kids come here - the nice ones - to flirt a bit over coffee, to work hard on their homework. a group of UCLA transfers are in a huddle over their mathematics homework, trying to reconcile heisenberg with discretion.

the music fanatics have staked out another corner, and they're sneaking shots of vodka out of a green backpack they keep passing around, and the two silliest ones - a tall thin guy and a sturdy, warlike girl - are going out to the parking lot behind the cluster of banana trees to curl knuckles around a pipe and suck flame through it. somewhere in a corner two of the kids who came from the city and didn't have much money are playing chess, and they've brought their own radio; jazz plays, but it vanishes in the hush of conflicting noises which creates a grey space between tables.

at bar is that girl i always thought was cute. she's big boned and has really alert eyes. she's intelligent but would never throw her hand in with a slacker like me. i guess i'm a slacker now. stringy curly hair like cotton candy around my head, some vietcong pants and a fleshcrawl tshirt. i must look broken to normals. there's a few town parents, l.l. bean cotton shorts and polo shirts, pagers (before cells and PDAs were so common) and business card bulging wallets. their children are off somewhere in town, but since you have to rebel against parents, they're probably out at cow skull mixing with the college kids who are too antisocial and rebellious to just have nice fun. maybe even the heroin frat.

outside the front door there's a relationship fight. i'm so glad i'm single right now. the room is full of possibilities, and i'm afraid to close the door, because then they pass into memory and they're not alive like they are right-goddamn-now.