“When did he get back?”
“Who, Eddy’s brother? Last week Tuesday. He’s been quite busy, that’s why I haven’t had a chance to see him yet.” Vince says.
Uriel takes a lengthy sip of his now lukewarm bottled water. He lights himself a Marlboro Gold then tucks the almost empty packet back into the chest pocket of his cream shirt. The sun beams down while the two young men sit on a bench. Birds glide skillfully overhead, supple branches sway in the gentle breeze.
Vince and Uriel are seated outside a small sandwich shop. Opposite the bench is the main road which the duo gape at whilst conversing during their lunch break. It’s an early-Spring afternoon, a little before 3pm.
An easy silence swings between them momentarily, then as if suddenly remembering he’s with Vince and not alone at home, Uriel throws out, “What’s he like?”
Vince, who chomps eagerly at the remains of his toasted BLT sandwich, squints his eyes at a spot on the ground, trying to come up of a brief but reasonably conclusive answer to Uriel’s question.
“Hmm, well, I’d say he’s an awful lot like Eddy, but just only a little more… out there, I guess. Or rather, was. I mean, sure it’s been only four years since I last saw him, but he might have changed. People tend to when they move away to a different place. Environment and associates can have a relatively substantial influence on an individual, whether they realise it or not.”
“Quite often they don’t.” adds Uriel
“He might not be the same Ian as I remember him.”
“What d’you mean more out there though? In what sense?” Uriel ashes his cigarette as a cluster of smoke follows his question out of his mouth into the air around them.
Vince stops mid-chew, trains his eyes at roughly the same spot on the ground as before, then relaxes this stance.
“How can I put this?” he mumbles half to himself. “Well, he’s more talkative than Eddy, for one. He’s spontaneous, he’ll be up for anything. The most random of things at that. He does crazy things for crazy reasons. Don’t get me wrong, Eddy does crazy things, too, but the reasoning behind it is often later revealed to be somewhat justifiable. Somewhat [As he says this, Vince looks at Uriel and gives a half smile, who offers the same smile and a monosyllabic laugh back]. But Ian, he’s totally different in that sense.”
“Okay, take this example: one time, Ian, Eddy, this Dutch chick called Romy who I met through Eddy, and myself were chilling out at Ian’s place, right. It must have been around eight or nine in the evening, we were all drinking beers. Now, Ian lived near a park stadium. Not a huge one, just your average sized stadium. It was used mostly for sports days, charity events; things like that. It’d close around six in the evening, and by eight it’d be completely locked off and empty. During that whole summer, we used to sneak in through some back entrance and climb over this nine-or-so foot iron gate and sit in the stands, just talking and drinking and laughing and fooling around. We were, what, eighteen? It would be ’round about midnight hours, so no one was around. Nobody could hear us. All the cameras directed at the tracks and at the stands were shut off ’cause, I mean, there wasn’t much to be stolen, unless some weird bloke decided he wanted to loot some stadium seats or something like that. Anyway, so we were virtually undisturbed. It was summer so the air was nice. We used to spark up and everything. You ever got high at a closed off stadium in the middle of the night? Shit’s epic.”
Uriel’s face bares a very slight smile as he jokingly shakes his head, then slyly peers at his wristwatch, and continues smoking as he listens for the rest of the story. Vince scrunches his wrappers up and tosses them in the bin beside the bench. He rubs his hands together and strains his eyes as if trying to focus in on a visible scene of where his story left off.
“But anyway, that particular night, Ian had a few too many beers I think. So imagine this, right: on our way back to his place, instead of going towards the back entrance we came in through, he thought it’d be a great idea to start a fire at the entrance to the stadium. Right by the front! Of course it was locked off from the outside, but the way we came in gave us direct access to the main entrance. He took a little bundle of flyers he’d found somewhere inside and set them alight with a clipper. At first, we thought, Hey, Ian, what are you doing? Stop playing, but we weren’t paying all that much attention to it. We were all too high and tipsy. About five minutes later, this flame was huge! And I’m not talking one of those fires you and your friends start in some deserted park when you’re sixteen. I’m talking a great big fire! Right inside the stadium.”
“Man, are you serious? Inside?” questioned Uriel, taken aback. The tone he carries conveys less bafflement than it does disappointment.
“Dead serious. None of us had realised it was growing that rapidly or vigorously, either. I’ll never forget how tall those flames were. The smoke… It ended up on the local news and everything. The cameras by the entrance must have been shut off, too. We never got caught. No suspects, no nothing. There wasn’t even a smoke alarm. The investigation didn’t follow up any much longer than say a few days. They were probably lazy and ruled it off as some unexplained accident. Someone left something on, and it sparked up and caught fire or something.”
“What, like how the guy in Fight Club thought his apartment exploded because of a jolt from his fridge triggered his gas-filled apartment into it exploding?” Uriel interposes.
“Yeah maybe something like that.” Vince says with a small laugh. “The security in that place was a joke. Awful. At times when I look back, I think maybe they deserved it. For lack of care and proper security.”
Uriel’s mien bears residue of perplexity as he mulls over the story of Eddy’s brother again. He tosses the end of his cigarette to the ground and lightly stomps on it. His left hand then reaches to caress the fresh stubble on his neck and chin.
“But anyway, you know why this was all so crazy?” Vince continues. “The next morning when we asked Ian why he did it, he said to us, I wanted to see what they’d rebuild, or some B-S like that. Can you believe that?! The guy is nuts. Whose curiosity drives them to set fire to a park stadium just so they can see what would be rebuilt after it’s all been burned down to the ground? Nuts.”
“To see what they’d rebuild.” Uriel repeats blankly. He then looks to Vince with a playful expression, saying, “He sounds kind’a interesting if you ask me.”
Vince rises to his feet, dusts remnants of his sandwich off of his smart navy blue trousers, and reties his left shoelace. Uriel, too, gets up and stretches his back slightly and scans his clothes for any stains or crumbs or ash.
“We’d better head back,” says Uriel. “don’t want the boss getting cranky again now, do we?” Vince smiles. They both get into Uriel’s Peugeot 206 and head back to their office.
Thank you for reading. With this particular piece, I was focusing on dialogue. Criticisms and feedback are always welcome and much appreciated!