To take my mind off of recent events, I decided to go see to the mall. Took the bus there, wandered around Border's for a while (ended up buying Jeff Vandermeer's The City of Saints and Madmen), then went to the theater to see The King's Speech (good movie, especially to someone who used to have a speech impediment as a kid).
In the hallway before I entered the theater that was showing the movie, however, I was stopped my an old couple - they looked to be about in their sixties. "Excuse me," the woman said. "What's that movie about the boxer?"
"Um, The Fighter?"
"Oh yes," she turned back to her husband, "that's what it's called. The Fighter." Then she turned back to me and said, "You can't fight him, dear. Fighting only makes you fall faster. Like , what's the word..."
Her husband chimed in: "Quicksand?"
"No, no, not quicksand, the other word, what's the other word..." While she was busy talking to her husband, I turned around and walked into the theater, where it was dark and comforting.
At work, we have a new phone system in place. Debtors call in and can push a button to speak to various people. Thus means, unfortunately, that I get a lot more calls than I should - people who don't need to talk to me and I can only forward along to the people they do need to talk to.
After almost a full day of this, I'm tired and just want to clock out. But before I could, I get a call at 4:55 and so I picked it up and say "Law office." There's no one on the other end. "Law office," I repeated. "Hello?"
Suddenly, I heard "Law office. Law office. Hello?" My voice was echoing back. I hung up the phone. As I left the room, it started to ring again. I turned off the light and let it ring.
I've been going around the construction on my street. They are tearing up the sidewalks and widening the roads, so I just have to cross the street and walk on the other sidewalk. But this day, they started to tear up the other sidewalk as well.
I was standing on the dirt and gravel of the torn-up sidewalk, next to a sign that stated "Open Trench," waiting for the green walk sign to light up. I heard a voice say "Be careful," so I turned around and there was a construction worker standing next to the sign. "Be careful," he said again and then smiled. His teeth were yellow. "El esta a la espera de la tormenta."
The light turned green and I rushed across the street.
I felt sick, so I stayed home. Slept until noon. Watched television. When I went to pick up my mail, there was a slip of paper sticking out of my mailbox. It was a copy of the Tarot card The Fool. I crumpled it up and threw it away.
On my way home from work, I stopped off at the grocery store to pick up some things. When I checked out, there was an old man in front of me taking his time packing up all his groceries. I couldn't start paying for my stuff because he was standing right in front of the debit card machine. Finally, I said, "Excuse me."
He turned to me and said, "He's waiting for you, in a sense. In another sense, he has already met you, killed you, given you life. He is, has been, will be." Then he turned and shuffled away, holding his groceries with two hands.
My computer screen went wonky for a moment and when it went back to normal, I saw that Notepad had been opened and in it was typed "The Quiet Claims Us All" several times.
I decided to do my laundry on Saturday instead of Sunday. It takes approximately two hours for the entire laundry process to be finished, so I wait at Starbucks reading my book (currently One For the Morning Glory by John Barnes).
Finally, my laundry was ready and I started folding it and putting it into my basket. A woman a few feet away from me is doing the same thing, but then she says, "This is a fucking disgrace. These machines ruined my clothes." I tried to block out her voice and kept folding my clothes. "Hey," she said in my direction. I looked up. "You'll back me up, right? You saw me put my clothes in the machine. They're fucking ruined now."
I just shrugged and said, "My clothes are fine." I don't even attempt to explain to her that I never saw her until right now, that I try not to look at people on the street or in the laundromat, that I try to block out people's voices, try to hear only the silences and empty voids. Not listening is harder than listening is, but it helps with my sanity.
She doesn't take the hint, though, and walked over with some clothes in her hand. "Look at them!" I tried not to look, but even a tiny glance showed that there was nothing wrong with them.
I finished folding my clothes, picked up my basket, and started to walk out. "Sorry," I mumbled.
The woman evidentally wasn't satisfied with such a mumbled apology. "This is a fucking disgrace." She walked back to her pile of clothes and then said, "Next time you see him, tell him it's a fucking disgrace. He can wipe away everything and leave it to the fucking birds." I tried not to listen as I walked away, but I heard her say, "He can wipe it all away."
Sometimes, forgetting is easy.