my sister (on the phone): no, no! i forgot! i wanted to surprise you. no good deed. my boss is being a real bitch this week. i can say that cos i'm female. cancel the cable. we'll install it at my place.
me (on the phone): i appreciate all you do for me, all the things i don't see. it's fine, online porn these days is better than anything Playboy has to offer...
i loved going to the store. thank god it's walking distance. i hate driving. too nervous to drive. i actually don't mind walking. it's the only time i see myself outside of a square bubble. let the rain fall i say. yes, let it storm, no coat for me. the harder it rains the milder it gets, it's never cold when it rains, people are too busy getting wet to notice that.
the first thing i notice when i reach the power center lot is all of the cover trees are big wooden poles with bare branches on top. the canopy is gone! you can see the raindrops now, it's weird, they used to be filtered and strain out into green puddles. when did they do this? i didn't hear anything. meaning i didn't hear the buzzsaws going. i approach a nice-enough man delicately balancing himself opposite a tree with a wide beige belt hugging them both as he slowly saws away at it. it's amazing how quiet a hacksaw can be. his hardhat bears the logo of the Store. the overcast sky blurs his face. the tree couldn't be more than two feet high.
me: leaping from tree to tree are we?
lumberjack: no, just this one then i'm done.
me: nevermind. (i had a women's clothing followup but y'know i probably wouldn't have been brave enough to say it to his face anyway) what's going on here? i'm not a cop, just wondering. why are you doing this to these poor trees?
lumberjack: just in case.
it struck me again as i entered the energy-efficient automatic sliding doors. that thing about choosing man or nature. who knows, maybe slicing these beautiful trees, stripping them of their leaves, saves their lives, maybe they're rotten, not in a personality way, but a sickness way, they have a disease and scalping is the only cure. at any rate i hate that nature is at the behest of man. should be the other way around, nature came first. man is too small-minded to see the big picture, nature should win in the end. see? i like Miyazaki for more than the pretty colors and Disney characters, the message filters through. tv-movies cut for broadcast will save humanity. whenever i see a lone tree, like the one along the Mile Drive by the golf course, i want to pluck her out and return her home to her brothers and sisters in the forest. no, not the golf course, her home forest, the mother country, to the dark complex German wood from whence all trees and fairy tales are born.
i pick up a few things. but soon a few things turn into bonafide items. specials even. i'm starting to need more of a cart than a basket. that's not good. i shop here, with my sister's credit card, every week, so after awhile you tend to get the same 25 items. exactly the same everyweek. if i'm gonna live this way i have to stem the boredom where i can. list memorized in my head. no list required, muscle memory now. i try to see if there's one new thing, one new brand, one new iteration of water or bread i can try. i usually manage it. today there were two! just like my fried egg this morning was a double-yolk! today is my lucky day.
i get to the cute little conveyor belt in the express lane. the checker has his head down buried in the keyboard of his cash register. oh shit, how many is express lane again? i come here every week but that's something i don't exactly know. i usually shop with my sister when i can and we do the full shopping. 25? it looks like i have 25 items. i could lose the strawberries. no, keep the strawberries, get rid of the Pom, the glass bottles are cool but that red liquid is like tasting my own blood.
the checker never lifts his head using his arms and hands to feel out the items he passes over the red infrared line of light. he probably has his job memorized by now, too.
checker: save the Pom. you can use the bottle for a bong. hey, what is this?! this feels strange, it's like when i'm stroking my dick at home.
i am distracted by the magazine headlines next to the gum: apparently Prince Charles isn't the true heir, his illegitimate son who lives like a pauper is. Angelina Jolie is dying secretly. Joan Rivers wants to sue.
me: what? oh, i arranged all my items in the shape of a long pole. in protest, looks like a cut tree. hey, at least it saves space.
i think the mob behind me agreed, i made sure not to see directly.
checker: oh come on! sorry, whatever, my boss says i complain too much. you have 26 items here but.......whatever, thank you for the instance. life lesson learnt. thanks, i needed the sigh break. *beep* *beep* *and so forth* i hate my job, you know how it is.
i sure don't.
the checker next door: coming through, boss.
the other checker squeezes an errant shopping cart around me. good thing i'm skinny enough for that.
i hate being called boss.
Trinity: i'm right at this place. the rectangle. is amicus coming back? it's been...time. i hear a knock. that's not good. jangle, that's the good sound. those are the keys. burglars don't have keys.
me (rapping at the door): boy, it's me. open up, babe. just kidding, it's just me, Trinity, coming home. let's have this be a welcome this time, not an awkward stare.
Trinity: who's there? i warn you, i'm in my attack stance...behind the couch! it's, it's, amicus! with a bag, no!, oh it's not a clear bag, it's a strange rectangular brown bag. that's even worse but i'm less scared, doesn't throttle like the clear bags, it rustles in a low murmur. what are you doing amicus? he sits down on the couch and extends his hand. i extend my paw...to lick my paw. amicus sighs and takes out his items. first a couple of boring things. then a Coca-Cola pint can, how festive. and a carton of some Fairlife Ultrafiltered Milk. he makes a philosophical joke about the milk i can't quite comprehend. is it for me? thank you, amicus.
me: sorry it's taking too long to open this thing...why won't it open? what is this?! i need a screwdriver to poke a hole in the side...oh, there's a cap on top.
Trinity: you can just pour it on the floor and i'll lick it up. my tongue has grown six inches since you last saw me. this is like what? nevermind. oh, put it in a bowl, yeah that's better, what royal treatment from my amicus. do not bother for my sake. i'm not fancy like those fluffy white cats on tv. oh, and the treats! YOU REMEMBERED! thank you, good sir, no need for a dish, just put them on the floor, i have a hard time seeing them, i can't see them when you place the treat in the palm of your hand despite the genuine care of effort. i appreciate the gesture and take note of your generosity. thank you for sharing your wealth with me. i will earn your respect. thank you for caring for me. i will not become society's lowly opinion of me. i know of self-fulfilling prophecies.
the phone rings.
Trinity: i know that horrible sound. but i'm not scared of it. i hear it from before. it was worse with the other guy. nothing good comes when amicus puts his mouth to that plastic dog bone. that dog on the other end is a monster. they're always arguing, amicus is flustered after his sessions with that stick. i look at his face and he looks back at me but it's strange. he's weirdly reflective in my oval eyes. his forehead is red but not from anger, from embarrassment.
me: Garry Shandling? independent-researched him on my own pleasure way after the fact. i remember when Larry Sanders was the forbidden show all the adults talked about watching under their decadent Dynasty silk sheets while the kids were brushing their teeths as the sideglance eyes on the Felix the Cat clock darted left to right, wagging its tail 8PM. the mockumentary forerunner. then at breakfast the mom and the dad would inside-joke each other about last night and the kids would have no idea, just catch a showbiz name here or there as they rummaged through the bottom of the Raisin Bran box for a California Raisin. it was the beautiful secret, a gift to the parents for being parents and old, taboo for toddlers. Garry was great. he wasn't a comic, he was a soul sage. laughing through the philosophy. pain as school. his funny-looking face was the serious visage of a sad clown. he was the comedian with heart.
sister: i can't keep doing this. a dollar can only stretch so thin. it is just paper after all. when he gets here i don't want him on top of my counters sniffing my food. you gotta meet me halfway. Forever Alone is not a sacrifice, gotta get off the computer and travel. all of us aren't special. i like cats, too, but i'm not a cat lady. what are you working on now? i still have the Burger King application on my hard drive, i can fill it out for you and send it.
me: you cruel witch. fast food is my last remaining joy. you know i could never enjoy a Whopper again if i see how it's made! i gotta scrape poop off the scoop. i gotta get Trinity a new bowl. i'm writing something right now, it's gonna be big, it's the deepest piece i've ever penned, well typed. well, i'm thinking about it anyway. i need quiet. this blessed house gave me the seed, the concept. but i need a log cabin to hammer out the details.
oh the joy of slamming the phone down on the carriage in disgust. that's something these kids today with their cell phones will never experience. it's smart to filter your anger on inanimate objects.
Trinity: amicus always sits down on the couch after each call. he takes a glass bottle out of a brown bag and drinks it heartily kissing the lip. is that for me? *meow*
me: oh that's so cute. no, son, not for you. this is my messy water. for adults only. you are a baby. please stay that way. change is for fools. she still has four hours of work, take advantage. this move is gonna be hell. i love when it's quiet around here, i can think. really think. i need to live in a log cabin up in the hills with the other mansions. sorry, boy, i know you're bored all the time. indoor cat, actor uh playwright, you can only be what god made you. raison d'etre. oh, sorry, idem, i forgot, my cat speaks Latin. everyone needs stimulation of some sort. i'll get you some toys next time.
i see Trinity by my foot in the catloaf position.
me: and some bread. heehee. thanks, i needed that. it's nice to have your own personal nuthouse nurse in the family. cheaper anyway. i try not to think about the pills, i think more about the liquid i use to down them.
Trinity: i wonder if amicus knows about the hole. i race over there when you're not looking. the screen is always just ajar enough that i can open it. i go outside to the lawn and fresh air and take a big whiff. the perfume of the swirling dandelion seed head takes me back to my roots. i can relate to the ruderals. i would never leave you, amicus, but i keep my sojourns to the garden secret cos i don't want to worry you. outside by the water filter is an old tin bowl not like the chipped bowl i have you got me. i always check to see if it's filled with milk or something, some magic elixir, but it's empty. i take a nap next to it when i can, it's my other place i feel comfortable in your home. i don't want to hurt amicus, he is not the other guy. i cut my nails now.
Trinity perks his ears as the wind perks sideways. he slides his long tail around the tin bowl outside and runs his four paws against the blunt lip of the bowl, edging his pointy claws sand-smooth, making them round and flat and dull.