Friday, December 16, 2011

The Albatross Man At Christmas, Part Three

Question of the ages.  Why does my dog stretch both front and rear legs after eating a meal?  The other question of the day; Will the today's sunshine be followed by more miserable weather.

In search of a can of diced tomatoes, I stop at my Amish friends' farm.  The new bulk store building is complete except for one window on the far side.  The building is typical Amish white steel with a green steel roof.  They have beans, tomato paste and pumpkin pie filling , but no diced tomatoes.  Wilma greets me outside the front door as I step down from the old building.  "Nice weather we're having," she says, grinning.  Their farm is on a ridge top. Frequently I'll forget that detail and wander over without a coat and regret my failing memory.  Today the wind gusts to 25 MPH.  The ambient temperature makes the real chill index of -20.  I look at her bare legs.  "I'm cold but you're wearing a dress."  Sheesh.

In the dark closet that is my imagination, I realize that I have traded places, bi-located if you will.  Parallel life. I'll explain this in a bit.

I pull up to Jorge's place hoping he'll have a can of diced tomatoes so I don't have to drive 25 miles to town. I see his shadow in the window.  It's 2:30 pm. He's  taking a nap.  Perfect timing.  The printed sheet that serves as a curtain is torn from the window. One of his dogs has made a flying leap over the couch at the window.  He opens the back door and flying leap dog jumps up at my chest. I grab Chase and give him a hug.  The other dog is barking viciously.  Jorge  puts him in a wire cage that takes up most of the living room.  "Come in," he says.  Sam's loud barking in the wire cage forces us to retreat to the kitchen to talk.  Jorge notices that Chase, the flying dog is chewing on something.  He takes the something from the dog's mouth.  It's a push pin with the plastic top.  He repeats the procedure several more times, muttering, vet bill, dumb dog, until all the pins are located. I have a brief enlightened moment when Mandy, my dog comes to mind.  She's got a golden halo.Wings would be too weird.

Parallel lives.  I have traded bizarre times in the city for more zany antics in the country.  The atoms are all the same . They've just reversed polarity.

The Albatross Man makes his way slowly through the entire store.  Too slowly.  The cloud of dead seagull germs hovers over his head like the cartoon character in Peanuts. He steps up to the front counter.  "All set?" I ask eagerly.  He gives two grunts and a head shake-yes.  Ringing up the $9.95 piece of buckskin, a few bells and assorted crafts items which escapes my memory because of the sight of dirty hands and filthy T-shirt, the total comes to around $37.  Relief, satisfaction, guilt follow.  Am I taking all this man's money?  Will he be able to eat tonight? It's the first sale of the day.  Christmas is two weeks away. Sales have been down.  If we don't have a good holiday season, we may not last another year.  When he hands me the money, all thoughts of remorse disappear. 

While I'm packing his purchase, the Albatross Man begins the reverse procedure of getting dressed in the stairwell.  The feathered cap I notice is actually the wings of the dead seagull attached to either side of the cap like a Mercury headdress. He leaves the store, forgetting one of his garments.  I figure he'll be back for the vest, when he notices it's missing. Oh, no.   


Anonymous said...

The world has its disadvantaged and less fortunate wherever you go - big cities, small towns, villages. It's possible that in smaller towns people are more accepting of them. Or is that true? Your story says much about tolerance - if different and odd is spending money, do we tolerate them better than if different and odd is not? I hope you'll continue this series. I love your writing with the details - just the right details - captured with a sort of matter of factness. That's an awesome skill to have. Some detail sharing can be so forced.

Gavrillo said...

Thanks for the comment.