He gave up his seat on the train to an elderly woman who nodded her appreciation. Moving further toward the back of the passenger car, he found no empty seats, except for one where a young lady, probably a college student, or maybe even high school, had settled her backpack. No sense asking her to move it so he could be seen as creeping on the girl. Another seat, or part of a seat a few rows back, held the overflow of a passenger who didn’t look all that comfortable sitting in one-and-a-half seats anyway. So he looked for a strap to hold onto, and realized, just as the intercom dinged the approach of the next stop, that all the straps within reach were already in use. Too late, the brakes hit, his weight shifted, and, facing the wrong direction at the wrong time, he tumbled, first into the rotund passenger, bounced off, and landed in the lap of the school girl. As he tried to extricate himself, apologies all around, several people gave him cold looks as they stepped over or around him to exit the train. The elderly woman stood up, crossed the aisle and bopped him over the head with her purse while yelling one word at him. “Pervert!”
“Did you know that the cost of the computer technology that sent a man to the moon, if you invested that in the right stocks, like Microsoft, Apple, Google, would be worth more now than the entire debt of the US Government?”
She looked at him, noticed the unkempt scruffy beard, the food-stained striped shirt, that appearance of hope on his face. Should she call him on it? Yell ‘BS’ and tear him apart? Reduce him to the emotional equivalent of a four-year-old? Did he get that from a quote on an internet messaging board?
“You’re cute, you know that?” she asked. “Now go get me another cup of coffee.”
He gleefully pattered off to the kitchen in search of coffee. She knew he didn’t know how to make it, but better to send him off on a task than to try to reason with his irrational side. And who knows? Maybe he’ll check that message board and find a how-to on using their coffee maker. Mister Coffee. That’s what she’ll call him, the pet name she’ll use when in public and introducing him to her friends.
Damn, where’s that coffee?
The first book of his that I found was misplaced on a shelf of detective stories between a couple of Hillerman novels. I say ‘his’ but with the two initials and a last name, the author could be anyone really, a fifty-year old bald guy or an angst ridden teenage girl tormented by acne and a fear of PE classes. Anyway, the books all have a distinctive cover with bright violet and scarlet motifs. And the story? Total stream of consciousness with layers of philosophy and metaphysics. But I couldn’t put it down! Seriously. Until I read it from cover to cover the book stuck to my hands but truth be told I didn’t want to put it down anyway. I was hooked. I scoured book stores for more, checked libraries, even Googles for more but no, only one book per store, independent booksellers exclusively, no national chains, but there they were, more tomes of the enchanting prose. Each book a singular event. And published on its own. No bar code, no ISBN, not even a price tag. Weirdest of all, I swear the author is writing them just for me.
Digging in the back yard, I came across a lowly centipede. I marveled at the efficiency with which it trundled along on all those legs, each side of appendages rippling in concert, a wave of protuberances propelling the small creature forward. Backward was another matter, for when I interrupted the insects progress with the blade of my shovel, it coiled up over itself as if it were a snake. Perhaps I should have paid more attention to where I had sliced into the lawn, as I managed to sever the sprinkler system, resulting in a miniature geyser. While the water feature might have been appreciated had it been intentional, the erstwhile centipede did not appreciate the need to learn to swim. I can only say that centipedes do better on land than they do at sea.
A baseball bat, a fresh orange, three mailing labels, and a nickel.
“Look, lady, I don’t make up the list. I’m just here to collect, and according to the work order, I need to collect a baseball bat, a fresh orange, three mailing labels, and a nickel. Now are you going to help me out, or do I need to turn this over to my manager? No, I don’t care what it says on the mailing labels, and so sad if the baseball bat belongs to your kid. I’ll even make things easy and throw in the nickel myself. Yeah, I’m a nice guy like that. No, they don’t pay me enough to think about what’s on the list. I got to pick up this stuff, that’s all.