Saturday, August 25, 2007

Someone's Million Dollar Ending

"Okay" mumbled Lars.

A short blur did a lap around him...or that is to say, he couldn't have recognized what it was because he was engrossed in a book. There it went again.

"Right" said Lars, a little louder this time.

The blur wasn't really that fast, but it was frantic. It was short man with his curly hair in a quasi-ponytail. Lars wasn't so interested in the man, as in why the man had an over-sized footprint on the back of his velour shirt.

The man slowed down this time around and situated himself in an alcove just to the left of Lars. Lars was sitting at the streetcar stop and was now regretting that he had not made more of an effort to catch the streetcar that he had just missed. The man's feet were perfectly still, it was the rest of him that was going in about ten different directions.

Lars's first impression was that the man either had Tourette's syndrome or that he was one of those schizophrenics that wig out towards the end of the week, because they sell their medications down at Sixth and Market Streets. The man seemed to be on the verge of a panic and he was looking at everything and everyone but Lars.

During his visual sweep of everything to the left of them, Lars got a chance to get a good look at the footprint on the man's back. It was that of a boot, bigger than a size twelve and as the man turned around, Lars noticed that the man had dirt on all over the front of his shirt and a bloody nose. The man's eyes widened and then gunfire erupted.

The flying debris from the bullets shattering the safety glass of the streetcar stop behind him, forced Lars to close his eyes.

As the last piece of the glass settled, Lars opened his eyes and saw the frantic man would never be agitated again. He was completely still now, except for the blood that was slowly pouring from him and the vacant glass that was now the man's eyes. Lars looked down the street and saw a man with identical hair and clothes as his victim, running away with a small pistol.

Lars took out his cell phone and called 911. He felt bad for the victim that lay before and felt even worse for feeling relieved. Because for the last five months and up until a few minutes ago, Lars would've paid a million dollars to get rid of this bout of writer's block. Now he finally had something to write about.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Wrong Number

She has called twice so far and voice sounds completely familiar, only because my mind deceives me into believing so. She sounds just like this cashier I know of. Her voice was probably sweet as honey long ago, but too many cigarettes and other things that are not good for the body beyond moderation have effected her vocal chords.

The cashier I know is probably in her early sixties, though henna and the amazing advancements in makeup would make you guess that she was at least three or more years younger than that. She is pleasant to the eye in a way and if I were a single septuagenarian instead of a married man in my twenties, I would probably find her ideal.

The cashier always remembers me because our grocery discount card is in my wife's name and that name happens to be that of a movie starlet from days gone by. The cashier would bring this up from time to time and it would always lead to a discussion that would end in a quasi-argument, about when another starlet co-starred with her, got her big break. That is, which movie was the exact one that put the other starlet on the map.

I would try to be polite and point out that a particular movie was not the latter starlet's big break as it were, then she would emphatically say differently. I would've brought a book or printed proof off of the Internet to prove my point, yet I doubt somehow that she would be convinced. Furthermore, what would be that prove? Because in our own minds, we believe we are both correct.

So now when I see her and it comes up, I change the subject. As a matter of fact, for the last few months, we pretend this point of contention never existed.

As I said, this woman has called twice so far. She is not the checker, though their similarity in timbre, inflections and intonations do give me pause. They both call me "hon," though many women of that age do.

The woman who sounds similar to the checker, calls and I can tell right away that she seems two sandwiches short of a picnic.

Our first conversation was:





I tried to keep my temper in check, though it didn't sound like it when I said through clenched lips "yeah, uh, what?"

"Henry? I'd like to speak to Henry."

"There's no Henry, here."

"Is this 2xx-xxxx?

"Yes, there is nobody here by the name of Henry."

"Henry Shanks isn't there?"

"No, I'm sorry, no one living here has that name."

"Are you sure?"


"Oh...okay. Thank you."

"Take care."

"Bye." Hmmm, listen to that name. Was that a put-on? If most surnames were derived from the craft or appearance of the people of a particular country or era, how did the last name "Shanks" come about? Was it someone who was particularly marginal butcher, or was it a butcher that specialized in just leg work? Maybe it was someone who specialized in prison stabbings.

And why would they name their kid "Henry," when all the kids in school were bound to call him "Hank Shanks?"

Three days later, she called again. Before she got through the "H-e-n" in "Henry," I told her that she had already called before a few days before and that she had the wrong number.

"Are you sure Henry isn't there, Hon?"

"Yes. I'm sorry, you have the wrong number."

"Oh, okay. Thank you."

She sounded a little more lucid the second time. Of course, that is like comparing her to ten watt bulb deep in a coal mine, because while she shines...she'll never be able to cut all the way through the darkness. I felt bad for her and I still do.

Hopefully somewhere, Hank Shanks actually exists and his love will help her shine through the approaching gloom.