Saturday, February 19, 2011


A disreputable aura hung over the building like a veil of low grade evil, but kept no one away.

Outside in the parking lot, a couple of teenage lesbians, dressed like skaterboys leaned into each other while they looked for a likely victim to buy them beer. The way they moved around each other I figured they'd be into each other's underwear about the time the evening news rolled credits and faded into a re-run, a game show, whatever.

They had that ridiculous puppy dog look; the old but always new gaze of fresh lust and brainless, unreasonable, irrepressible love. They couldn't keep their hands off each other and they were maybe 15; surely not much older. If they were older, they'd have a car or at least would have found someone dumb enough to drive them around.

They were just so besotted, drunk in their own company and so oblivious to everything around them.

They giggled and goofed and whispered little things to each other, but you could almost watch the second hand ticking down on them. Whatever this was for either of them or both of them, it would have its season then pass and never come again. This grubby, unremarkable parking lot on the edge of this grubby, unremarkable town was the scene of a golden moment where almost everything felt right, but it was fading fast and soon would be gone.

It was all so enviable and sad.

They watched the front of the building with something like curiosity, while a couple of part-time problem gamblers observed them from a safe distance, taking a break from their favorite loser arcade to suck down a bargain cigarette. Smoke, like gnats, hovered above them and clung to their ragged fingertips.

It occurred to me I'd never been inside one of these places. I believe in luck, but think gambling is for suckers and idiots. I never do more than hand a dollar over every now and then to the state to play the lottery, which is only slightly better than buying cans of tuna and tossing them into the sea with the hopes the fish will swim home.

Everybody needs to dream of something impossible. I dream of things I no longer talk about.

There was a record store. Inside, a couple of clerks talked with a pair of future meth addicts about a local politician's insatiable hunger for boys. At length, they discussed the times they'd seen the man in the company of smooth teenagers and thought he cruised local playgrounds for dates.

They were completely appalled by this. They told each other over and over how wrong this was.

"But the people of this town keep electing him," they said. "They know what kind of man he is and they still stand up for him every election."

They went on and on, somehow working in a bit about how one of the future meth-heads liked to watch women masturbate. His girlfriend standing next to him thought this was funny, though did not cop to providing the service. Eventually, one of the clerks realized there was a customer flipping through their stock and yelled back to see if I needed anything and also to announce I should not dwell on anything I hear.

I shrugged, while they continued on with their barbershop quartet damnation of sodomy and celebration of Cinemax-grade kink. I tried to detect some scent of dope underneath the dusty, uninspired aroma of cheap incense, but that was hopeless. They'd only burned it as a poor substitute for a neon sign proclaiming, "Counter culture, right here. Come get your counter culture."

There was nothing to detect, of course, just stale sandalwood, but they did have a fascinating collection of throwing knives and other weapons used in the far east by ninjas and other masters of the martial arts.


Autumn Dawn said...

Lotto, the tax on the poor.

primalscreamx said...

A tax on the hopeless sometimes.

Autumn Dawn said...

So true, I've bought my share of empty wishes.

Karin Fuller said...

What a great line. "...only slightly better than buying cans of tuna and tossing them into the sea with the hopes the fish will swim home."

You're an amazing writer. I hadn't stopped by for a while. Playing a bit of catch-up.