||[Aug. 7th, 2003|01:17 am]
|[||In the Moment
|||||Ringing in My Ears.||]|
grat·i·tude Pronunciation Key (grt-td, -tyd) n.
*The state of being grateful; thankfulness.
dis·ap·point·ment Pronunciation Key (ds-pointmnt) n.
*a feeling of dissatisfaction that results when your expectations are not realized.
ex. "His hopes were so high he was doomed to disappointment."
Somehow, it's mixed with more.
The moment will pass.
Certainly, there is a negativity about me right now.
I watched the oaf stroll out of the pharmacy, head down, a slight hurry in his step.
The only reason to watch him was his question after the 176 others he posed:
"Do you have any child's metal handcuffs?"
What the fuck? I said to myself, quietly, being nice, so as not to alarm him or the others.
The man didn't smell right. 4 day old human skin, coupled without so much as a touch of the soap bars we stocked in aisle 5, near the deoderants, also from his reach. Sweat, old skin, non-blinking stare, and strange questions.
I'd been working in the Arse-Runn Pharmacy for little over a couple months at the time. A long haired, strange boy myself, shoulder-length hair, bobby-pinned in front, so I could see the customers. Those days blend together . . . mostly boring, generally useless stocking of shelves, as we thought those days, 'just to perpetuate the ever-growing bank account of Da Man.'
I waited about 5 minutes or so, and I let my manager know.
"Did you know what Stanky asked me today?"
We had a soap opera of sorts in those days. 'Twas the kind of day that sprung into years that tends to warp a young person's mind into the older version of the elderly, homely-looking dudley-do-rightish lady who was the 'real' boss of everything, a Ms. Ethersbee.
Right away, the ol' strumpet pretends to fumble with the organization of 'her' film counter. I could see those ears perk.
"No fucking way." Erraik, a curly fro-ished but short-cut white guy who I secretly idolized, gave me the usual stare, in now focused disbelief, just a slight bit of difference from his perpetual confusion and frustration.
"Yes! Yes way," I said, continuing on about my theory about how this guy could be a serious offender, unlike Jittery Steeve, the old condo-alcoholic across the street who would buy a 30 pack of Milwaukee's West and return it by the late evening for 2 40s of the same brand. He'd repeat that process daily. God, I loved him so . . . He'd sign his bottle returns with a wink, and every time, I'd read "O.J. Simpson," right as he said it. It was around this time when he jittered his way to the back where the booze and cases were, Aisle 8, Aisle fucking 8.
The other old lush, Ms. Bartlesake, never seemed to know where that aisle was for her precious Seegone's Gin. She always asked me so sweet, but I was on to that bitch. She did the best she could, but there was no cheesy-comedy, no fire, only a perpetual sadness hidden beneath her shriveled visage and pleasant smile. Her garments reeked of Pall Mells and the gin. Quite possibly, her vintage outfits came from the old Hudson's.
"So, wait a minute," Ernie says to me as he walks up to my register. By this time, I know it to be my time to go front the shelves, and he starts his weekend register duty before he heads back up to Michigan State for more chaotic hijinks that I'd surely hear about next Saturday night.
"No, no joke man. This guy is a total wacko. 'child's metal handcuffs?' He's too dull to fuck with me. Dude's an unclean dimwit with a lust for kinky acts with kids."
"So what did you say to him?"
"Well, I asked him if he tried the police station. After all, they have a great share of the metal handcuffs."
Ernie's surprise turned to laughter.
"No fucking way you said that to him!"
"Well, it made sense. He told me some story about already checking there. Maybe he WAS fucking with me."
On I went to front the shelves. That night, I found animal cookies from a local bakery on the floor, Aisle 3. I checked the due date on the package, as I'd begun my recent fancy after cleaning out the cooler of unbought spoiled milk.
I hit the jackpot. The cookies went nasty last year and two months, right around the time the store started to change hands to the mega conglomerate.
I tucked those in my company-issue vest pocket. It was destined for the returns bin. From that find, I front 'n' centered the goods, right where they should be under their places on the planogram.
"Listen, do me a favor."
Though, I didn't finish, as Erraik strolled up behind me, silent-vampire style.
"Sure boss," and I strolled at his behest to the back of the store. On the pharmacy waiting bench, a shabbily dressed man, dirty face, too many clothes on his body for the warm temperature outside, laid prone. For a moment, I figured him dead.
I walked back down the main aisle to 3. Erraik had moved back to the main office, barely visible behind the not-so-two-way glass. I moved behind the photo counter to the office door, and I strolled in, watching him relay information back and forth on the phone with the night pharmacist, who happened to be closing up the pharmacy, who first spotted the man.
"So, what's wrong with him?" Erraik asked me, nodding his head back in the pharmacy's direction.
I proceeded back to do my master's bidding. After a poke and a 'hey buddy,' the dirty-faced bum muttered, "Ain't everythin' glitters always gold," and he rested his head back on the bench, not so much as an eye opened. I headed back to the office.
"He's not dead. I saw him open his mouth. His finger twitched."
"So, I guess we're going to have to call the police then. Go back there and nudge him awake if you can."
I did, but to no avail. The bummish-looking young man merely stayed comatic, slightly rustling, only to settle again on the bench.
The suburban police made their show, hands on their holsters of their police-issues. They walked to the back of the store, and after a few minutes or so, cb radio blasts in-between, they carried the man out with them, feet dragging.
A while later as I was sorting the can returns into their bins, Erraik strolls into the back room.
"So, what with the comatose bum?" I asked, sheepishly.
Erraik had bigger to-dos. He kept fumbling through similar boxes to find a particular stock of paper towels. After helping him for a couple of minutes, I leeched the information.
Apparently, the police found bus tickets in his overcoat. The man had been on the run.
I left that night, perpetually confused, in a way . . .
Days turned into weeks into months, as they always do in crappy job-settings. Bad became worse. The worst was the point that followed Ernie around at a couple other jobs, the day that I became privy to the talk that my buddy, Mr. Eddie, was indeed a homosexual.
Ah-ha, I said to myself. Now I think I should find another job. The rats! They don't know Ernie, I said to myself. I've drank plenty of nights with the good man. He's not once given me flak for my also-gayish long hair and bobby pin. Nor, has he ever copped a feel of my rear end. How DARE they think or say things about my friend . . .
Surely, the work environment would become better elsewhere, or so I believed. Onward I forged to greater and sometimes lesser pay, blue-collar, white collar. Again, at every change of employment, the mongers of gossip reared their ugly heads.
I returned to the pharmacy one day to buy a cola and gummy worms.
I began to return to the store from time to time, once a day. Sometimes I struggled through the choices of which whiskey to buy in that damned Aisle 8. Gone from the store was Erraik, moved on elsewhere to different haunts. Never did I see O.J West, nor did I see Sweet Sad Shrivel, nor did I see the terrible Child Cuffs and Qs guy.
I did see that crazy bastard at a coffee shop one day. He was with an equally crazy friend, and in that way, the way of the old strumpet, I ear-tuned into the strangest conversation of clandestine plots, and how much the ice cream cost in the joint.
Then, one day, as I looked for a card for a graduated friend, I noticed her.
Strumpet was still there. Ever the stalwart, she continued to fiddle with 'her' photo counter. I went up to her to buy the card. She did not notice me.
In some ways, I began to click. Something had grown in me. Suddenly, I longed for her kind wisdom.
What a fool I was.