Paula hasn’t seen her friend Isaac in years. Last time she saw her it was back in high school right after Isaac got expelled for cooking pot brownies and handing them out to teachers.
Classic Isaac. He always was in some kind of trouble. With the law. With the school. With his parents. With himself. Someone was always out to stop Isaac from doing whatever he was doing.
And for a while, Paula thought that someone finally did stop Isaac. For good. Figured him dead the last eight years. But just a few days ago, Paula switched phone carriers. Had to transfer all the contacts to her new phone. Isaac’s name came up on the screen. She figured she’d transfer it.
And later, she called.
And he answered.
Coffee at eight.
Paula found herself at the coffee shop downtown. The one that makes you go barefoot before you come in and has you sit down on bamboo mats. Marketed as “Traditional Japanese.”
She was escorted to her mat. There, Isaac was sat criss-cross style on his mat. He stood up and the two hugged and laughed. It was good seeing Isaac again. He’d lost some noticeable weight. Grew a beard. Taller. More life in him. So much so it puffed out his chest some.
The two sat back down on the bamboo and ordered their coffee. Not too long after, their coffee steam danced up into the coffee shop in front of them.
“So what’s with you Isaac? I thought you were dead. Are you still in contact with Amanda?” Paula said.
Isaac chuckled. “She was from a past life, Paula. That’s funny actually. The thing is I did die,” Isaac replied.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“Like I actually died. Motorbike accident back East about eight years back,” he said.
“Oh my god! What happened?” she said.
“Motorbike accident. I just said,” he replied.
“No yeah, but how did you, you know. Be alive again? Is that it?” Paula asked.
Isaac took a long, drawn out drink from his coffee. “I just woke up. Resurrected, if you will.”
“No, not like Christ. Christ rose up and floated to heaven or something,” he said. “I just got up.”
“Just like that?” she asked.
“Yeah, just like that. Buried on the side of the road. Woke up and dug myself out. I was super hungry and super needed to pee.”
The two continued to drink their coffee. The waiter came by and refilled their cups.
“Do you still play baseball?” Paula asked.
“Nope, stopped after the accident.”
“How about the drums. You still know how to play?” she asked. Isaac was busy sending a text. “I picked up the guitar. Maybe we can play a little sometime.”
“No, I don’t like the drums anymore. It’s too loud and spastic for me.”
“Oh,” said Paula. She looked around the coffee shop. Everyone was enjoying their drinks. There was chatter and laughter everywhere in the store but where they sat. “Do you remember that one time in high school where you took Tania’s backpack and dropped some fish oil pills in it. And then she smelled like fish oil for like a month before she found out about it?” Paula laughed aloud, but Isaac could only twitch his lips into a smile for a second or two.
“Yeah. That was dumb of me. I hope she’s doing well these days,” he replied.
“Me too,” she said. The coffee shop’s laughter grew louder. Paula leaned in a little. “Do you still listen to The Hangmen? They released an album the other month and it was so good.”
“I’ve been into alternative jazz as of late. I’m super into Neil Montgomery right now. He’s probably the best saxist in the industry, I’d say.”
“I don’t know who that is,” Paula said.
Paula felt laughter in her ear. Right behind her ear drum. Like within her. If she didn’t know any better, she’d think she’s the one laughing. She leaned in closer.
“So you just got up, huh?” she asked.
“Yeah. Just like that. Look, I don’t want to talk about it right now. I’m super into Buddhism right now. I like their style, you know.”
“I thought you were atheist?” she asked.
“What makes you say that?” he responded.
“The time you arranged the letters on the church’s sign to read Dicks out for Jesus,” she said.
“I was dumb back then, Paula. Understand I’m different now. I stopped going around like a madman doing whatever I want. I had to grow up a little.”
“I just don’t remember you being like this, you know?”
“Like what? Like an actual person with restraint and class? Not like a wild idiot who was a joke to everyone. Where no one took my serious?” There were eyes on them from around the shop. “Take me serious damn it. The old Isaac is dead and he’ll stay dead.”
The laughs in the coffee shop were as loud as ever. Except no one had been laughing. It was Paula who was heaving and snorting. She fell on her back and rolled around in her joy.
Finally, she sat up. Her face was red and her eyes were raw. She wiped away the tears as she let the final chuckles escape here body. She stood up and looked at Isaac in his eyes.
“Who the fuck are you?”