Juxtaposition

            The sun was hiding behind a nearby brick building as it began to set. The air, a bit cooler than it had been just a half hour sooner, was now a breezy 73-degrees. Within the surrounding trees, birds sang their song adding to the chorus of the city around them. Cars whirled by nearly constantly, students hurried to class, the light rail buzzed by dinging its horn to warn any pedestrians who might not have seen it coming.

            In the middle of the normal hurried chaos of downtown Phoenix, two college-aged men sat across from one another, silent, save for the sound of one man’s rustling papers.

            Several loose papers and a legal pad of notes lay on the table. The man on the north end of the table was studying for an exam. Holding his pen in his right hand, he scrolled through his touch-screen smartphone with the other. Referencing the paper and then the phone, he scribbled notes onto his pad.

            The man opposite of him also scrolled through his phone, but he had no papers, only the crumbled wrapper of a recently consumed dinner. He wore a button-up shirt with thin blue, vertical stripes; the top two buttons undone and relaxed apart enough to reveal a white crew neck shirt underneath. He relaxed his back into a slightly hunched position and continued scrolling through his phone before breaking briefly to throw away his trash in a trashcan a few yards south of their table.

            After dumping his garbage, he yawned, and sank back into his chair. He picked his nose.

            The man across from him continued flipping through paper and taking notes.

            “Are there even any websites to describe this?” the man asked his friend as he lifted his right hand a little, palm up, so as to beg for an answer.

            He only received a small chuckle as a response.

            The man stopped looking at his phone as he slouched over the papers. A minute passes by and he quickly transitioned to an upright position. As he organized his posture, he did so with his papers, stacking them into one pile with which he then held between both hands.         

            He read the top paper to himself, mouthing the words but allowing no sound to escape his lips. After finishing the first page he flipped it over facedown on the table. He continued to do this with the remaining papers.

            He pointed at one paper, pushing hard into it.

            “Mmm, the Pentagon Papers.”

            He moved on, mumbling facts from his sheet to himself.

            His friend continued scrolling on his cellphone.

            The man studying his notes allowed his eyes to wander briefly as a blonde-hair woman walked by the table, but as soon as she was gone, his eyes returned to his work.

            Another light rail zoomed by, dinging.

            The man rubbed his forehead as he reread the first paper again.

            He stopped to check the time on his phone, and took the black Ray Ban sunglasses off the top of his head and put them in place over his eyes.

            “I should probably go. I’m going to try to finish this in 20 minutes,” he said as he gathered his things for a subsequent time.

            His friend nodded, smiled and returned to his phone.

            The man left, holding his papers tightly and neatly in his hand.

            His black leather briefcase, however, was left at his table in the seat that had been adjacent to him.

            The man who had been sitting across from him did not take notice of the abandoned brief case.

            He kept scrolling.