The first couple of times I stood in that queue and had my poise gathered up about me, looking sharp and feeling like I’m looking sharp and she said, “Can I help you?”, I’d turn in her direction and look her in the eye. She was goodlooking, I’ll tell you that much for free, but for someone who seemed as emotionally cooled-out as Dr.Spock she was pretty easy to read.
As I approached, she’d do this adjusting the glasses thing; a certain way of lifting them off the nose, the way a thumb and finger are positioned at either edge of a framed lens. Lifted up, set down in a place marginally higher on the bridge of the nose. The lens thickness was such that, to me, there was the illusion of eyeball ripple due to magnification.
It was this habit that gave me the idea that she at least recognised me and might even say yes if I asked her to go kite-flying with me.
Not that I thought it would be a fun or quote-unquote “romantic” thing to do, it’s just that for reasons best not gone into, I needed to go K-Fing and had literally run out of people I knew who would agree to come along. I’d get hoisted by winds and land on busy roads or roofs too tricky to get off of, unless there was a 2nd person’s weight involved.
I have to say, each time I stood there at that counter sneaking glimpses at her so severely drawn back hair and beady eyes, I became a little more intrigued.
Her voice wasn’t what I would’ve expected – a little higher than that – and the way my head measures voice in spectrum pegged hers at yellow, and the texture of cheese without having anything else to do with cheese. I am highly effected by voice, and while hers was not great I could deal with it.
Coffee at her house: Boy was I hangin’ for that cuppa tea. It was mid-afternoon and I was in real danger of falling asleep, head dropping onto the formica kitchen-table top right then n’ there. It mostly was a very normal house, very clean, ordered. She stood there aside the kettle like a gameshow model as it came to. But instead of filling the two awaiting cups, she glided along a little further and, pouring from a height, tipped the water into the sinkhole. She made this hideous screeching-pain noise while doing it, which was explained to be the noise that the pipe-dwelling bacteria and other flora would make when they got a taste of that boiling water.
“It’s a jungle down there”, she said.
“Whoah. Did you swipe a load of liberry books or what?” I asked, looking at a long book case through some smoked-glass, sliding doors.
“Then why do they all have labels on them like library books?”
“Let me tell you about a brilliant young man named Melvil Dewey. The year was 1876…”
Coffee at my house: I’d be lying to you if I were to use the expression, ‘I didn’t have the heart to tell her that…’. More like, Telling the truth would ruin my plans, so I didn’t mention how I’d never understood the Dewey Decimal system, and often wondered why they didn’t just arrange it all like in Fiction — with the author’s names in alphabetical order.
Further to that, as we walked up the street to where I lived I remembered that I’d sorted my bookcases according to the colour on the spines. I panicked and decided to break into someone else’s house and pretend it was mine. I said I’d forgot my key and would pop ’round the back to open the front door for her in a tick.
I pulled it off pretty well considering I didn’t know where anything was. After a little well-masked fumbling about I had beverages poured and was pleased with how things were going.
I spied a jar labelled ‘biscuits’, pulled it off the shelf, whipped the lid off and looked down in.
“Would you like a … Chips? … Ahoy?”
In a beautiful place out in the country: That summer evening we sat picnicking on the chronically chemically abrased buffalo grass, in the cool, sweet shade of the refinery stacks. The main incineration chimney’s flame got a hold of something specially toxic and shifted from orange to blue, a special kind of blue that the two of us could share for those short moments.
Maybe it was ’cause of the oily vapour from the catalytic cracker, or maybe it was the Dewey-induced fervour that she kept on yabbering with – order, structure, purpose – but her eyes gleamed, and gleamed.
I looked into those eyes – through the goggles, at those flat 2-dimensional, brown irises and I knew sadly that she could never be any more than kite ballast to me. ah.