King of Spades
- Jun 24, 2004
"$20 on Pump 2. And get me a pack of Marlboro Reds."
"You got it."
Just another normal exchange in the gas station and convenience store world. If it was bright day, the haggard looking black man in front of me might be an equally tired white woman with three screaming kids in the car, yelling at Mom for a candy bar. But it's not day. It's those dark, truly dark hours of the night, the slice of time in between the bars closing rush and the sluggish arrival of the dawn. It wouldn't be nearly so quiet were we further south in this barren state, in that schizophrenic city with untold glitzy casinos next to slum neighborhoods.
But here we are, in an unremarkable city. No reason for tourists to come. No reason to live here or do anything at all for that matter. Switch out the desert that encompasses everything for trees, the Mormons for more mainstream Protestants, and we could be Anyoppressedtown, Midwest USA.
I ponder this further as I watch the man shuffle to the door, fingers already fumbling with the strip to unwrap the cigarette pack. I'm sure for some people there's reason to get up, go out, see other people, do things and all that. Not me. I have no friends here and a 35 year old gas station cashier, even one with two failed efforts at masters degrees, doesn't have much in the way of career advancement. No, the only times I leave my apartment are to go to work, and to travel someplace that isn't here.
I guess you could call me a shut-in, a recluse, a hermit, just plain weird. There's a list of girls who will tell you the last for sure. Some days I think about ending it all, just snuffing out this sad life of mine, if you can even call it a life.
But not today. Today, I have a reason to live.
Today is the day I become a Crusader King.
...Well, count, really. And I probably won't crusade. I might not even be Christian, since Paradox, the Crusader Kings producer, now allows you to play Muslims. Maybe I'll even write an AAR about it. Probably not, though. I mean, it isn't like I could compare to the old-time greats of the Crusader Kings I era, like phargle, General_BT, etc. Even that guy Jestor's really odd story about a beautiful girl and a history class was cool. Sure wish I could meet somebody like Melody. I'd even settle for a Becky.
I'd bring my laptop to work and start playing right now, but having a computer in a gas station at night isn't the smartest idea. Hell, working the night shift at a gas station isn't exactly bright, either. But it's all I could find.
Oh, the Nighthawks painting up there? My favorite work of art, ever, and in some ways, the story of my life. But you don't want to hear about me. You want to hear about the game.
After my shift is over.