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September 7, 2020

Following Signs

D.T. Robbins

I mean, I’ve always been a believer in signs. Why wouldn’t I? I think the key is to just be open-minded and follow them once they show up.

So, I’m riding the train on my way to work when a bright beam with my name written on it shoots through the car and circles back, hanging a few feet in front of me. Well, obviously, I call my boss and say sorry something came up, I’m not able to make it in today. It’s a few stops before the beam leads me off the train. We go above ground where a taco cart is giving out free churros. See? Score! But it gets better. It takes me through a park where this hipster guy is busking. He’s really good, too. He asks if anyone has any requests. I shout out Mr. Jones by Counting Crows and, what do you know, he asks me to sing it with him. Needless to say, I sing the shit out of that song and we pull a pretty good haul. End up with thirty-two bucks each just from that song.

I’m thrown for a loop when the beam takes me to my office. I think maybe it’s just messing with me but sure enough we head inside to my cubicle. I turn on my computer and do a solid two hours of work and another solid two hours of watching old WWF videos on YouTube. When my boss walks by around noon and sees I’m back, he commends me for my work ethic and my willingness to push through difficult circumstances in order to get the job done. He tells me he’ll be keeping me in mind the next time someone is up for a big promotion.

After work, I follow the beam to a bar down the street. Some of my other coworkers are already there ordering Guinness.

“Who told you we were coming,” the IT guy asks.

“Oh, no one, really. I just had a hunch this was a good spot to be,” I say.

“Well, that’s a little weird,” the receptionist says, looking at the IT guy with a side-eye.

I apologize for intruding and follow the beam to an empty booth at the other side of the room. The beam tells me to try the French dip and I do and it’s good. I watch as a few more coworkers pile in at the bar, laughing and drinking and flirting with each other. The receptionist keeps looking over at me. I look at the beam but the beam isn’t moving so neither am I. I order a few whiskey and ginger ales and listen to whatever punk band is playing on the jukebox.

Her glances turn into staring. Before long she’s over at my table, asking me how long I’ve been with the company and other work-related shit like is my degree in editing and do I plan on staying or changing careers in the next few years. I don’t know the answer.

“You never come out with us. Why’d you come today,” she asks.

“Do you believe in signs?”

“One time my sister heard Bruno Mars singing from her toaster,” she says.


“Yeah. So, we went to one of his concerts the next month. He pulled her up on stage. Now she does real estate and she’s super rich. Does that count?”

“I think so.”

“Do you have a crush on me?”

The beam starts moving toward the door. “I gotta go.”

She asks if she can come with me.

“Yeah, but I don’t really know where I’m going.”

“That’s ok.”

I throw the money I’d made from busking on the table.

I’m having a hard time following the beam and she’s having a hard time following me because we’re both drunk and the beam is moving quickly. I trip over some raised cement on the sidewalk and fall flat on my face, cut my chin all up. She tells me we should slow down but the beam is still moving and I say no way, we’ve got to follow the signs. She laughs and thinks I’m joking but I’m dead serious. This is the best day of my whole life. We’re holding hands and running across the street and dodging cars and passersby and laughing when they honk or tell us to watch where we’re fucking going, assholes!

The beam takes us a block or so to a Krav Maga dojo. It’s packed with women in their mid-forties who look mean as hell. We sign up for a free trial and get our asses handed to us. I watch her get thrown across the room just as I’m blacking out from the chokehold I’m in. I think she might be the one. Neither of us sign up for any lessons when it’s over but the ladies say we can have a couple free t-shirts since we were good sports about our beatdowns.

It’s dark now and the beam is the brightest it’s been all day. My name floats across the sky like my very own honkytonk sign. We talk about growing up, the nineties, the strangest places we’ve had sex. For her, it was in the back of a UPS store. For me, a cave.

“Like, a cave-cave?”

“Yep. Like, Batman’s cave.”

“Were there any bats?”

“I don’t think so, but I wasn’t paying attention.”

“That’s disgusting,” she says, laughing.

“I’ve seen worse.”

“Uh huh. I’ve had a really great time with you today.”

“Today’s been the best. But I haven’t been entirely honest with you,” I say.

“Shit. You’re a psycho killer, aren’t you?” She puts up the sign of the cross with her index fingers.

“Maybe. But, you asked me earlier if I have a crush on you. I kinda do.”

“I knew it,” she says.

I lean down and kiss her long and hard. Her lips still taste like Guinness. I like it. She seems to like the kiss. That’s good. I always worry I’m a shitty kisser. When it’s over I tell her how I like her eyes and her nose because it’s so small. We keep following the beam. She’s definitely the one. 

She squeezes my hand when she realizes the beam has brought us to a cemetery. I tell her don’t worry, it’ll be okay, let’s go. The beam zig-zags through a bunch of plots and stops at one about fifty yards away. Her arms wrap tight around mine.

“Ugh. This is weird,” she says.

“I guess.”

At the point where the beam stopped, there’s an empty grave. Dirt is piled up next to it. I feel her tense up. She’s shivering, staring at the tombstone.

“That’s my name,” she says. “The dates are wrong, but that’s my name.”

“Oh, yeah. Weird.”