MZ and I argued about whether he was “giving me a ride” to Alameedy, or whether I was “riding along” during his Alameedy errand. In this way we have become some horrible cross between a Beckett play and the guys in the balcony on the Muppet Show.
As he walked up the ramp to the post office door, I stayed in the alley below walking parallel and cheerfully bidding him farewell. Are you serious? he asked me. He held the post office door open in case I wanted to vault up there and join him in line, talking, ostensibly, about Beckett, or Muppets. In that instant, I felt for him. Then the feeling stopped, and a more diabolical feeling took residence. Then I reeled that feeling in, and flooded the mental cavity with the journalistic observation of my surroundings. Didn’t look back, just ahead: trailing vine, brick, curb, traffic, alluvial fan of high school students issuing from the campus two blocks ahead, burmese food, barber, newsrack.
I have 89 dollars to my name, so I peeled nearly 50% of it out of a machine and wandered into the Pampered Pup, purveyor of pork to poor people, and pate a phot pdog. I pforked over pfour bucks because it included the pchips and pmedium psoda. From there I saw the bookstore across the street, which was announcing it was going out of business. This realization caused the phot pdog to turn to psand.
In that instant, I felt for the bookstore.
The feeling just wouldn’t go away.
About an hour later I was still in there, building a ceiling-high stack of books that I want at their desperation (or actually any
other) prices, while realizing I can’t have them because the cash I’m holding still has to produce dinner by seven, two separate admissions to shows, half a bridge toll and as many drinks as I can eke out of uncouth bartenders who are just at the beginning of their long lives.
The owner of the bookstore had put Tom Waits’ Step Right Up on infinite loop, which I found to be a surprisingly witty stab in the heart of his lackadaisical Alameedy clientele who permitted his business to fail by approving the Horton
urban shopping development which pickled the brains of local developers and compelled them to raise the rents on this street to
stratospheric levels. Neither am I his favorite. He held up my half-off selections of Khalil Gibran (The Prophet) and Jean-Paul
Sartre (Nausea) and asked if I’m bi-polar. I looked right in his eyes and said
Ring it up, loser.
And he laughed and laughed and laughed. I hoped he would laugh so much, seeing that he’s gone mad with grief at losing his bookstore, that he would forget to charge me for the purchase ($8 = 2 pints), but the little thread I’m swinging on snaps right off right about here.
Everything. Everything in here must go. Every Thing. He kept repeating it to each incredulous customer, pointing to the giant, and apparently invisible, correspondence they had tacked up in the windows, in hopes they wouldn’t have to say it over and over and over and over: Everything.
I left with a burning in my eyes.