The fuck was he doing here? More so, “How the hell did you find me, mate?”
He was staring down Sean from the top of the porch, barely dressed in sweats and an old white shirt. You never expected anyone to show up on your doorstep at nine in the morning on a Tuesday.
Then again, weekdays usually were late afternoons of work with BYSI. “Rick said you were out here when you replied to his WhatsApp. Said you were Berkeley.” Cameron bitterly thanked auto-location-tagging for his sacred privacy in a time like now.
“Damn. Well, how’s Rick anyhow?”
Sean covered his eyes with his hand like a visor, squirting through his deeply inset eyes beneath a brooding brow. He could have been British, but he wasn’t. American through and through– really the only person from his old job that Cameron gave a damn about. With his visored position he awkwardly shrugged.
“Good. I don’t know. We’re talking about you here, Cam.”
“Okay, you know why I came out to you.”
“Cheers! How thoughtful that I was the first one to know, I’m quite happy for you Sean.”
“Oh fuck it.” Sean turned, kicking up some dirt that dusted over Cameron’s sweats as he skipped after him.
“Oh come on, mate, you know me taking the piss,” Cameron began again. “Fuck’s sake, I’m just surprised. More like, this is just awkward!”
Sean, still annoyed, fired rather smoothly, “You don’t know awkward– awkward is trying to talk to Dave fucking Madison about why one of his senior coaches have gone AWOL. I was just feeding him all sorts of bullshit when in reality the first thing I heard about just came from Rick two days ago!”
“Well,” Cameron paused, now not looking into Sean’s face, “I’m sorry.”
“What are you getting at with all these theatrics?” Cameron sighed, and walking backwards towards the front door he seemed to be retreating again, dropping the unexpected and unwanted confrontation right there on the front lawn.
“Let me put some jeans on,” he said in defeat, “I’ll explain, but let’s go get something to eat, eh?”
Peggy’s was an old coffee shop diner on Telegraph right near the overpass that served cheap burgers for the taste of an In-N-Out. On the walk there they two old colleagues fell back into warm waters and talked casually but enthusiastically about random things– the new summer inductees, how close Chelsea got to signing some really good players from Barcelona, if Sean was really that into Jay Z because Cameron had seen his new album sitting in the passenger seat as they passed Sean’s car. They got a small booth at Peggy’s where the tight blue vinyl on the seats began splitting and the laminate was chipped on the edges of the white table between them. Picking up the loaded cheeseburger, Cameron looked deeply into it and professed, “Yep. See here? This is what America is made of.”
“Cholesterol?” Sean smugly said, eating pancakes with bacon drizzled in syrup on the side.
“Nah, that was in the 2000s. But nowadays,” Cameron took a sharp bite, “in the present, it’s all about opportunity again.”
“Hasn’t it always been?”
“Well getting what you want. And right away. Well, I’m guessing not for Americans, anyhow. You all still work hard for one shitload of a government that doesn’t hesitate handing guns out over proper health care. Work hard and get rewarded– somewhere down the road, if it ever ends. I mean for us, foreigners, me. America is in fact so quick to open their arms about giving the best to us, warming up to our foreign fantasies of what America is all about. We’ll get things quick from America because all she has to give is her image.”
“Deep.” Sean wasn’t really listening, as his half-eaten pancake stack proved the victor for his attentions. “That’s not true. Think about all the Mexicans struggling to get on here in the country.”
Cameron smiled with a full mouth, and swallowing hard replied, “The only Mexican I really care about is Javé.” They both laughed with this nod to another one of the coaches. Sobering up, Sean got back to the underlying subject of all: “So somewhere in these philosophical thoughts you just spilled out to me I’m supposed to understand that you think it’s simple as that to walk off the face of the Earth?”
For all his talk, Cameron didn’t really know how to yet formulate a reason for his actions. He slouched back in the blue booth, slowing his thought. “Not walk off,” he began, “but just get away and see what else I might accomplish out here. There’s still so much to do, and I’m chained to EYSI.”
“You’re not chained. You’ve been with the company for three years now. You’ve seen lots. And trying to come back now for a fourth spring and summer is seemingly impossible now with this little dip of yours. Well, even so before your disappearance your fourth chances were slim.”
“I’m well aware of that. And so, why would I want to go through all that tedious processing again? The London overnight, tucked in tailored suits, awkward answers to the U.S. Embassy over questions that are complete bollocks. I can’t. I’ll just have to not go back home for quite some time.”
“In the long run however you’ll get caught,” Sean replied, “and deported. And it’s goodbye USA. Nothing works out the way you want it, ever. Don’t be stupid, Cam.”
“I just gotta avoid authority,” Cameron resolved. “You know, dodge the cars, not get in fights. Seriously, fuck the police!” Sean laughed. Cameron didn’t like it.
“Well, basically you’re telling me the plan is to keep your time here focused on just avoiding cops. Avoid the public then. Avoid life. That’s the reality, and you know I’m right and that you’re being stubborn.”
The waitress brought them both new cups of coffee and neither of them spoke until their coffees were fixed. Sean dribbled some creamer in his– Cameron was still warming up to the institution of coffee and especially after the incident with Nick’s hazelnut, opted for more sugar in his cup of straight black. Thought of that time sparked the same panic he had in that moment.
“How long has it been?” he asked Sean.
“Just a week,” he replied. “As far as anyone’s concerned, told them you’ve been sick.”
“Wouldn’t Madison know though? As in, he’d check in with Stacy and John?” Then he remembered that his host family, the Redmonds, had been gone half the month on a cruise soon after he moved into their Danville home. Housesitting, or sick to everyone else.
“Good thing they’re away still,” Sean acknowledged. “Nothing to tell.”
There really was, wasn’t there?
“Fuck. Just give me a reason Sean. A fucking good one at that please? Why should I?”
They could hear the SFO- bound BART train pass somewhere south and out of sight, the bullet right before hitting its target at the MacArthur station. Then passing into silence, more nothing. From anything. There was nothing to getting back into the game, Cameron realized.