Following is dated 5/6/2023 at 9:21 p.m. EDT. Location is Johnny Mac's.

Had dinner at Mogo then came to Johnny's for a beer. Had a Voodoo Ranger then pineapple juice for the rest of my stay. I noted a tall, skinny girl covered in black line tattoos. They went down her arms, her back, and legs and I noticed because she was wearing torn jeans and a little bippy-top showing parts of her midriff. Her hair was a faded pink on top while the rest was a dirty blonde. With her body art and unique hair colors, she stood out and possibly wants the attention but she's talking to two guys at a table near me.
With that scenario in mind, all I can hear are the negative voices in my head, tearing me down with "too old", "too fat", "too boring", among other demotivational phrases wielded deftly and dangerously thanks to decades of practice.

10:19 p.m., same location and date.

While browsing TV Tropes in hopes of some inspiration, I'm interrupted by a kid named Cross.
I ask, "Ross?" thinking of Friends.
"No. Cross."
He's complaining about his peers. His thesis is people are too keen on being negative and talking shit rather than building people up or extolling things they enjoy to share with others. Being annoyed at first I told him that everything is meaningless.
a depiction of a dark-skinned man of middle eastern extraction claimed to be a historical reconstruction of the christian messiah known as jesus christCross is really drunk. He reminds me of a historical depiction of Jesus with a close-cut curly beard, olive skin, and dark hair. Plus the kid is really thin and probably weighs a third of my current weight that I presume to be 340 pounds / 154 kilos. Doubling down on the religious iconography is that I can see the hands of God and Adam from the Sistine Chapel ceiling panel for The Creation Of Adam. Cross is going on and on about getting out there in the world with one's writing or music, saying fuck all to the haters and just persevering which makes me start to like the kid rather than tolerate him.
A few times I told him to drink more water.
We chat a bit and I take it slow considering his state of inebriation. The conversation turns to politics and I blame myself for saying there needs to be an age limit for politicians and more kids his age running for office. My cherry on top? "I'm old. My day has come and gone. I'm not going to force my world views on younger generations when it's their world they're inheriting."
Cross then went on a tangent about Biden not doing enough for America, rightfully disparaging the previous ruling regime but any time he criticized Biden he'd always end the sentence with "I don't support the other guy."

Cross's friend Cory, a young, light-skinned African American man straight out of Hollywood casting for the friendly and safe black friend of an ensemble sitcom cast, came over to fetch him, remarking upon Cross's inebriation then introducing himself to me. "Make sure he drinks plenty of water." Cory nodded and they vanished into the crowd.

Overall the message Cross was conveying to me was to take a chance. I'm grateful for it. Doubling down on the religious iconography, perceived or otherwise, I was thinking some very weird shit to myself.
"Oh god, I'm in a simulation and someone broke through and created Cross to contact me so I wouldn't give up hope" or "Maybe Cross was really sent by God to lend some hope in what I perceive to be a hopeless existence."

A little while later I settled my tab and began walking back to my car. Wound up complimenting two alt, grungy chicks who were having an in-depth chat and kept walking when I should've stayed and tried to at least get to know them. Further down by the Asbury Park post office there were two girls waiting to cross the street.
"You goin' to Johnny's?"
"No" they responded in unison.
"Where ever you are going, you are going to be the belle of the ball."

Walking west on Summerfield towards my car I passed the Studebaker building which always caught my attention. I noticed a new metal door painted black and decided to see if it was unlocked.

It was.

Inside was empty, some walls were just white sheetrock while others were the original bricks. A long table stood in one corner with a few chairs. There was a little back room but I didn't venture in there despite the place being obviously empty. Since it's 2023 I whipped out my smartphone, opened InstaGram, and videotaped myself walking around and slapped a caption of, "Remember to lock your doors" or something in that vein. Then I wrote "Remember to lock your doors" on a sheet of notebook paper and left it on the table for whomever may come next.

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