Of course, we are only chatting about money. But it's the loneliness of the
adjunct in some small town that seems overwhelming. I did this once -- took
a low paying job (I only had an MA) in some railroad town in No-where to
bring the beauty of great literature to just there.
I was 41 years old and living once again in a small apartment above a
marginal business. All night the neon light from the store across the way
blinks on and off -- with the lights off and me in my trundle bed the cycle
is the darkest dark and then an ugly nuclear green followed by an outlandish
pink then dark once again.
But I have the light on.
The phone rings. I put down my Travis McGee novelette to answer it.
Could it be...?
That evening in a fit of middle aged angst I had flirted with the 22 year
old bleached blonde tatooed waitress in the dive across from my apartment.
We -- it seemed to me -- generated a rough magic.
I gave her my number.
The phone... could it be that impossible she?
It was her boyfriend...of course...and his buddies
"You goddamn #@#@#** we know where you live look out the window"
So I did. He was outside the phone booth giving me the finger.
His buddies were there.
The impossible she was there.
"Get the %$#@ down here and I'll..."
I replaced the phone gently on its cradle.
Picked up my book.
Travis was just about to beat up Boone Waxwell the swamp rat.
Tried to forget.
But -- oh yes --- I was judged.
The phone rang again and again, of course.
I thought: "Shit, what if they come up here?"
All I had was my trusty Charter Arms 44 revolver. Only five shots.
I peeped out the window. They were still there.
And I had a 8 AM lecture on the poetry of Keats and Shelley!
Oh, well -- the Great Romantics would have to wait.
Of course, I brooded all the next day and by 6PM knew what I had to do. I
got out of bed and walked over to the restaurant. She was there, of course
and I sat down at her table. She saw me and I smiled. She was a bit startled
of course. I waited. Another waitress came out to take my order.
I took out a book -- probably "Being and Nothingness" and covertly glancing
up now and then as though I were considering "Nothingness." But my thoughts
were far away from philosophy. When my patty melt arrived I asked for the
check at once. Her friend delivered it. I waited. I was lingering over the
last fry when she went to the cash register to ring out a customer.
I leapt up and was there before she could escape. I handed her my check.
She averted her eyes but it was too late for her!
"That was your boyfriend last night."
"Yeah." (There was some defiance in the voice)
"And all his buddies."
"Yeah." More defiance.
"I want you to tell them one thing."
She sighed and looked up. "Yeah, what do you want me to tell them?"
"Tell them," I said my voice trembling – "Tell them that there was once a
man who loved the pilgrim soul in you."
I thrust a ten dollar bill into her waiting hand. Turned. Walked into the
No more I decided. And so I was off to make my fortune. Plastics or
computers. I chose computers.
The Pleasant Reviewer
Headmaster, St. John Boscoe Laboratory School
Switchboard Captain, Hollywood Colonial Hotel
All complaints shall be directed to:
The Fallows, 200 Fifth Avenue, Fredonia City
"That's Double Dependability"
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