A crack between two high-rises in downtown Chicago is home to a quaint little French bistro run by an elderly Chinese couple.
On May 12th, 2003 Mark Trout sat in that restaurant feeling like a punchline to the cruelest joke in the universe.
He cried into his escargot.
A young man ordering Lo-mien to-go glanced sideways at him.
“Hey, you alright man?”
Mark Trout sucked in a bit of snot and nodded.
“Do I know you?” The young man continued.
Mark Trout nodded again.
“I can’t place it. How do I know you?”
Mark Trout sighed. “Same way everyone does I suppose.”
The young man squinted at him. “Ah! You’re that preacher! Oh.” The Chinese woman behind the counter handed the young man a grease soaked bag. He took it and slipped into the booth across from Mark Trout. He smiled and held out a hand.
Mark Trout nodded “I suppose you already know my name.”
“Of course!” Billy beamed, “You got a lot of people out there a riled up with all that RAPTURE IS COMING, REPENT, ONLY THE TRUE OF HEART SHALL FLY INTO THE BOSSOM OF OUR LORD.” Billy had deepened his voiced to better give the impression of being Mark Trout at the head of a large crowd. It wasn’t far off.
“Sure did.” Mark Trout sighed.
“That was supposed to be yesterday right?”
Mark Trout nodded and began to cry again.
“Well, for the best I suppose,” Billy said.
“How so?” Mark asked.
“Well, you know, the world didn’t end. It’s all good. People will be upset for a while but they’ll bounce back. No reason to sit here crying about it.”
Mark Trout chuckled wetly and locked his blurry sad eyes into Billy’s.
“I’m not sitting here crying because the world didn’t end. I’m crying because it did.”