I hide in my writing. It is clear in my notes for The Young Chronicles series. I didn’t write about things that happened – seeing Beatlemania in Saskatoon, not even the guy who offered me a blow job – but instead about drivel that would embarrass an illiterate.
Much of my writing is like that – everything from my bullshit poetry to my first attempt at prose – a lowlight reel proving I should have stopped long, long ago.
I went on to write about prostitutes, 9/11 and outer space, everything but me.
So why blog about it now, you ask? I’m getting to that. (I hope.)
I just needed a couple of keys cut, but these guys needed everything. I couldn’t tell if they were drunk, on heavy meds or just done with the whole Covid Thing. They had masks on, although the older guy’s mask barely hung over his disheveled beard while his younger companion pulled his mask down every time he talked. That’s a weird pattern of many people during these trying times. Makes you think they don’t understand what the purpose of the mask is in the first place.
Anyway, drunk, drugged or just weirded out by the Covid days, neither of these guys used an inside voice nor seemed to care about the others in the store.
“I need a chair!” The older guy half yelled, almost like he was in pain. “I got to sit down.”
His companion, maybe in his early 30’s, pulled his mask down and went up to cashier. “I need a chair.”
She frowned. “You need what?”
“You know, one of those folding chairs, for camping. A chair.”
The older guy sat down heavily on the stairs. “I don’t need to buy a chair! I just need to sit!”
“Oh, okay.” The companion wheeled back and forth. “We don’t need a chair then.”
“I need a lock!” The older guy slumped forward, his hoodie cloaking much of his face, an exhausted Obi Wan Kenobi. “Come on!”
“What kind of a lock?”
“You know! A lock!”
“Okay.” He turned back to the cashier. “We need a lock.”
“What kind of lock?” She asked nervously.
“What kind of a lock do you need?” The companion asked the older guy.
“When I get home, I need to lock my stuff up so no one can get in, right?”
“He needs a lock.”
“Do you mean the cylinder?” The woman asked.
The companion looked back. “Do you mean the cylinder?”
“I need the damn lock, man! Get me the best one!”
“The best one you have, all right?” He repeated to the cashier.
The cashier wandered off, unsure of what to do, while another cashier came available for me. I gave him my keys. “Three copies of each, please.”
The other cashier returned. “What kind of lock do you need?”
“I need a damn lock to keep people from taking my stuff, man!” The old man was really yelling now. “Like you have when you come home? I need that!”
“We don’t have that. I’m sorry.”
The younger guy didn’t seem to care about any of it, like it was all a long and winding game. “They don’t have it.”
“What about a pressure cooker? They got that?”
He turned to the cashier. “Do you have a pressure cooker?”
“They don’t have it.”
“Pots and pans. I need pots and pans!”
“Okay.” The young guy was smiling crazily, like he was unsure of where he was and what this was all about. “Do you have any pots and pans?”
My keys were cut. “Thank you.”
“Soups! You got any kind of soups? Jiffy Pop! I need that.” It didn’t look like they were going anywhere soon.
Hassidic Elder: In the street! Even in the street.
Middle-aged Non-Hassidic: It will pass.
Hassidic Elder: Next they’ll be strip searching us.
Middle-aged Non-Hassidic: All things will pass.
Hassidic Elder: I hate it.
Middle-aged Non-Hassidic returns to reading his paper.
It’s a half-crowded train on the AM rush hour. Everyone wears a mask. The train pulls into Fulton Station where more people get on, masked except for a slight black woman. A policeman comes to door of train. She looks up, ready to argue. The policeman offers her a mask. “Would you like this?” She smiles sheepishly, takes it and puts it on.
Rosie Perez comes on the intercom as the train pulls out. Wearing a mask shows respect to others. And it’s the law. Come on, New York, we can do this.