A bruit of wind trumpeted in the man in the hats ears. He had awakened to meddled thoughts, not knowing which were true and which not, the two often interchangeable; a ledger within a ledger. He felt a waning in his neck, where breastplate meets collar, a siphoning of moans and crackles. The sky, as it was wont, was threatening rain, a gray mottle of clouds just above the flap in his lean-to. Today was like any other day, trickery and sham, cold, drizzly bone-gray. He remembered a time when the sky was blue and the rain sweet as candy, syrupy alchemic pulque.
Monday, December 18, 2006
The shamble leg man awoke to a bumping in his head, railheads and tacks jingling and thudding against the inside of his skullcap. This had happened before, after falling into a lamppost, so he wasn’t unduly surprised or taken off-guard. This siege in his head, as he referred to it, was a reaction to night sweats, jimmy-leg and dampness, a cajolery in the distaff of his thoughts, some thought forwards, others backwards and some to the left. He whacked the side of his head, redressed his thoughts, and lit a half-smoked cigarette that looked like a peg. A grey sky hung in his thoughts, a caper backwards and to the left, causing him to feel peckish, sweaty and imbalanced. He recalled running into a beggar who went by the name of the jujube man, as he like nothing better than to suck on jujubes and twiddle his thumb, as he had but one, the other having been sheared off by a cog-pin. He counted out the red ones, as he preferred those to the green, yellow or black ones, and arranged them in even rows at the end of his foot, as he had but one, the other having been axed off by a dumbwaiter.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
The boy in the hat tipsy-toed onto the rope, nimbly, so as not to snag a golfer’s tack or an untied shoelace, and balanced himself with a rake handle, which he held even with the trough of his pelvic bone. He had read in the back pages of a comic book, where the advertisements for spyglasses and fake moustaches always caught his eye, that expert tightrope walkers seldom lost their balance, as they learned how to hold their breath, breathing morosely through their noses. He wondered why they were sad, and then realized that tightrope walkers, especially experts, had clawed toes and trenches in the bottoms of their feet, from creeping along ropes like thieves, their eyes trained on some imaginary spot in front of them. He checked the rope for tautness, corrected the jib of his belt and practiced holding his breath. He coughed, then sneezed, dry blood zigzagging from his nose, checked his pant’s for the washers he’d put in his pockets to ensure a proper distribution of bodily freight, and checked the rope a second time. He decided to kill a squirrel instead; the one that had built a nest in the elm out of twine and rotting leaves, and was now scurrying along the rope like a defiant child. There was room for only one tightrope walker, as the tautness of the rope could accommodate only eighty-five pounds, so he had figured out with a slide rule and a plumber’s grease pencil, both pilfered from his father’s tool chest that he kept stowed under the workbench in the garage next to his coveralls and a rusty grass scythe.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
When the man in the hat was a small boy, a farthing, he had wanted be a ventriloquist. His mother forbade him, saying it was imbecilic, so he took to tightrope walking, the nimble art of heights and balance, long sticks and soft-soled slippers, the sort worn by ballerinas and fancy men. He strung a rope from the porch banister to the elm in the furthest corner of the backyard, jerry-rigged with box-twine and copper brads, and rosined it with dried soap flakes, pilfered from his mother’s washer cupboard. He bought a pair of second hand golfer shoes, removed the prickles with a claw hammer, and rubbed them with otter oil and a damp clothe.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
The shamble leg man awoke ambivalently, not wanting to jump willy-nilly into the day like a walnut-cracker without a pip-splint. His leg, the shambled one, ached and whittled. Perhaps today was a day in between, one of those almost but not quite days that seemed to have snuck into his life like a pickpocket. He patted down the ache in his leg with the heel of his hand and lit a cigarette, one he had snubbed out the night before. His father smoked shag tobacco he swept from the floor of the lunchroom where he worked, the chaff from other’s hastily rolled cigarettes, churned with dirt and oil. The morning sky, in peril of rain, tucked its knees up into its chest and cowered; the threat of hailstones the size of a beggar's ankle-stump, Nature’s distemper and bilge.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
The man in the hat bought a spoon collection from a fat woman, some with crested handles rubbed smooth and flat; others bent and twisted by a circus strongman or a starving child. Molloy, off-cantor and bilious with ale, his Monteux soiled with mud-wagon, bilge and cockney, trying to dissuade the constabulary from running him in said ‘you dear sire are a dupe, a mountebank and a fool!’ The detective shoved Molloy with the curd of his boot, saying ‘and you, my imprudent man, are a taproot and a burbler, a roughneck and a thug’. Molloy, with ire and scourge, said ‘you and I, we’ll have it out in the parking lot at the A and P, then we’ll see who’s the imprudent burbler, you ass!’ The detective shifted his weight from one boot to the other, his eyes two black smears of anger, and said, ‘milquetoast, burbler, retard, we’ll see, won’t we…yes, so we will!’ Molly looked to the left then the right, sneered at the detective and hightailed it as quick as his imprudence would carry him, bawling, ‘molester, savant, fool, burbler!’
Thursday, December 07, 2006
‘You have a thief’s heart’, the spoon man said. The man in the hat, fingering the loose change in his trouser pocket, replied, ‘and you, sir, are a scoundrel and a Peabody’. ‘You pilfered his hat, you thieving blackheart, the ambassador’s hat, his special official hat, the one he wears at special occasions and to supper.’ ‘I dare say that eating at the soup kitchen is a special occasion,’ the man in the hat said. The spoon man pointed the curd of his finger at the man in the hat, livered with tar and puck, and said, ‘I have spoons you know, a collection, silver ones, some with curlicues on the handles, so don’t push my ire, I warn you, thief!’ The man in the hat cock his hat, smoothing the brim out with a wetted finger, and said, ‘you, sir, are a scoundrel, a mountebank, and I have little time or patience for either.’ With that, the man in the hat turned round, tossed a handful of coins into the spoon man’s hat, and made his way back down the street, the spoon man bawling at the top of his lung, for he had but one, ‘thief, blackheart, Peabody!'.
Monday, December 04, 2006
He remembered eating tinned smelts, skin creping from the bone, a bottle of whiskey that came in a wooden box he jimmied open with a pocketknife; shoulder and flank shot with grit, his jawbone working furiously, friar’s toque pulled tight over his head, he remembered these when it rained, or he was too hungry to chase remembering from his thoughts.
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