32nd of May

-by Tony Volpone and Jim McGinley

Chapter 1 & 2

Chapter 3:  Home Sweet Home

Chapter 4:  Lady, If Ya Gotta Ask...












Chapter 3:  Home Sweet Home

It's still sometime in the early morning when I finally get back to my modestly simple yet extremely tasteful apartment.  Lately it's become apparent to me that what I lack in personality I more than make up for in style.  Compensation is so very important to me.

My abode is exactly as I had left it; I don't know that I expected anything different.  I had just given the place a thorough cleaning before I left and spent the night with whoever was in that apartment that I had just left not so exactly as I had found it.  I hope she doesn't move out on account of the bitter memories that I helped her to create.  God, my sense of self-importance is ever so inflated today!  Actually, it feels kind of good. 

Unfortunately, these proud moments are few and far between in my life, and even the basest pleasures are fleeting.

I feather through the mail that I removed from my box on my way inside of the building.  Looks like it had been accumulating for a good three days.  Postcards and letters, bills and money-saving coupons, all addressed to yours truly -- only it looks as if the post office has decided to add another name to my name:

Stenson Goshe or Current Resident

Guess even the United States Postal System has taken notice of my recent foray into anonymity.  Christ, I don't think that I've told anyone my real name in the past six months.  It would seem that I've turned into some kind of liar.  Only question is, what makes me any different than anyone else in this miserable existence?  Once again, I find it far too challenging to answer questions that I ask of myself.  Time for a drink.

I drop the mail on the floor next to the table which I had specifically designated for disregarded mail.  The old hand-eye coordination just ain't what it used to be, but it is of little consequence; those letters aren't worthy of table placement anyway.  After a glancing inspection I determined that there were no personal letters that I couldn't simply ignore, and no bills that The Inheritance wouldn't take care of.

It is with little difficulty that I find a bottle of Scotch with a few mouthfuls left in it.  After debating as to whether I should enjoy it with some seltzer or simply on the rocks, I decide that it would be better for all involved if I just swig it out of the bottle.  Grabbing it by the neck, I haul it across the room to my favorite place in my apartment:  a small landing that sits just in front of a decently sized picture window.  God only knows how many hours I've spent looking out of this window.

From where I am on the second floor, this window provides me with an excellent view of Wayward Park, situated directly across the street.  Well, it really isn't called "Wayward Park"; that's just what I call it.  I figure that I shouldn't have to refer to places by names given to them by people who have been dead since long before I ever came into existence.  People are always going to do what they want to do, so why should I be any different? 

So, why "Wayward Park"?  I can't even begin to recall all of the dreams that walked into that park on my arm, only to leave riding on the coattails of ever intrusive reality.  I honestly believe that that's the place where good dreams go bad.  As a matter of fact, I once saw a rainbow's end unknowingly find it's way into that dark place, whereupon that very same rainbow, choked in the vice-like death grip of Wayward Park on one end, suffered a sickeningly cancerous outbreak over it's magnificent arch straight through to the other side.  Fifteen shades of gray effortlessly overpowered what had once been a seemingly invincible array of colors, until only a frown of ash remained on the canvas of already ominous skies.

It is the place where dreams go to die.

From far, though, it doesn't look like such a bad place; a couple of trees here, a small pond there, a couple involved in what would appear to be some kind of domestic squabble. . . Wait a minute!!  That's not supposed to be there!  Now I can't pretend that I have a lot of respect for the opposite gender, but if there's one thing that I truly can't stand, it's the sight of an oafish male beating on a frail woman.  Question is:  Do I do anything about it? 

The bottle of Scotch is already resting on the windowsill before I have time to think.  I'm almost instantly out the door, save for a brief stop at that mail table, where hidden in the drawer I keep a just-in-case blackjack.  Always good to have one of those around.  Shortly thereafter I'm racing down a flight of steps, through the front door and out into the street.  It is indeed time for a blackjackin' at Wayward Park!

Chapter 4:  Lady, if ya gotta' ask.....

She was eating dinner, I was enjoying breakfast. It was exactly 6:37pm, on a Tuesday.  Tuesday is my day off, no piano playing, no Willy's, no radio, nothing remotely related to music. Years ago I set aside Tuesdays as a day of taking care of all the crap that builds up during the week.  Returning phone calls, shaving, getting my one good meal a week, laundering my clothing and tasks of similar weight all pile up and are dispensed with.

I somehow managed to catch the eye of this girl (the one sitting across form me eating dinner as I enjoyed breakfast) when I was placing my order. For some reason she found my standard Tuesday ordering ritual to be a source of endless amusement.  I've noticed her in here a few times but paid her as much attention as I do wrist pain form too much practice. It's mildly annoying but goes away with a drink and a few aspirin.  In  fact before coming out here this evening I imbibed a whiskey sour and took half a dozen aspirin in  what is turning out to be a pointless offering to the hand of fate. I had hoped it somehow would insure a peaceful, solitary meal but instead I find myself forced to make small talk with a creature I have little or no chance of relating to. At least it will be interesting. Maybe.....

"Are you lactose intolerant?" As she spoke I was jarred from my thoughts.

"Huh?" I ever so smoothly replied as bits of scrambled egg and toast nearly flew form my mouth.

"Well. I see you in here all the time and you always get the same thing. you even order it in the same fashion.  'Two eggs scrambled, toast dry, not Rye.  By dry I mean no butter. Hash browns, and coffee.'  You never put anything in the coffee, no cream no sugar...I thought you might be lactose intolerant because you never use butter or cream or get milk."

The only reason my mouth didn't fall open in a gesture of freaked out disgust was that for some reason this happens all the time.  People find eternal fascination with my sleeping and eating habits.

"You forgot to notice I never use salt, pepper or ketchup"  I replied. "Might I ask why you observe and retain the eating habits of strangers? Do you work for the government or something?"  

I'm not sure why I threw in that last bit. I wasn't sure if it was a pathetic attempt at flirting or a comment meant to drive her from my table thus reestablishing my  peace of mind during my weekly Tuesday meal. She did the last thing I expected. She laughed.

"You always this funny?"

Jesus Christ, I thought, here we go can't wait to see how I screw this up. I gave myself three and a half minutes before I somehow offended her and she left in a huff.

"Yeah I'm a living joke,"  I replied.

"My name's Holly. What's yours?"

I told her my name was Nick then filled my mouth with the last bits of hash browns left on my plate then I glanced at my watch. One min. to go before I figured she'd storm out of here ruing the decision to eat across form me.  She talked a little more as she polished off her dinner.  The waitress came by to refill my coffee.  It was my third cup, two more and I would be out the door, that's how it goes on Tuesdays. Two eggs, hash browns and 5 cups of mud then out the door with an "I  have important matters to deal with" kind of way but in reality I go home and wash my clothes.

During that last little inner dialogue she kept on talking to me and oddly enough I retained most of it.  She's and artist and stumbles in here after work a few times a week  to sit and watch.  I was her second favorite exhibit, the first was an old man who always sits at the counter and paid entirely too much attention to his bad toupee.  Glancing at my watch I noticed that 15 min have gone by since I figured on her splitting.  I figured it was almost time for me to say something.  I don't enjoy talking about myself but there appeared no way out this time.

"So what do you do?" she asked, and appeared to really care about what I would offer as an answer.     

"I'm a pianist." I told the truth , that is to say I made a mistake.  Women always find that, coupled with my bizarre eating habits and Disturbing circadian rhythms to be intriguing. This often leads to their utter and complete disappointment when they find out how boring I am. I should have told her I was a fire eater.

"Really?" she replied.

"No." I quickly inserted "I'm a fire eater"

She laughed again....a laughing girl? It was like talking to some strange other worldly beyond the moon woman. I'm used to them screaming and complaining but not laughing, oddly enough I found myself enjoying this verbal exchange. Too bad I only had one more cup of coffee left before I cashed out and went home.

After her mild guffawing subsided I lit a cigarette and mulled over whether or not I should screw the dirty clothes and invite her to my dump for a drink. I was afraid I would say "want to come over to my place for a drink?"  and she would hear: "Lets go back to my house so I can try to fuck you."  Years of dealing with women have proved to me that it is impossible to clearly communicate with them, they seem to always be searching for things that aren't there in words and phrases that they fail to fully comprehend.

"I'd love to." she said.

"Love to what?" I answered.

"Go back to your place and have a drink. But don't think that's an invite to fuck me."                 

She smiled in a way that somehow managed to look sincere.  I settled our tab and we left. Rooked into paying for her dinner.  Good thing it was Tuesday.

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