Crazy guy in bathroom.

Crazy guy in bathroom. I had given him a very long time, but then, I turned the key, and he was standing in front of the mirror, the floor entirely wet, and I was like, heh. And he was like, heh? I’m going to give you AIDS. This is how we do it in prison. I was like, you’re creating a really big problem for me and I need to leave. And he was like, I will leave, I am leaving (just as soon as you let me finish my business.) I said, please, five more minutes.

At the very moment I expect to breathe in the jogger’s perfume, I instead get a whiff of someone’s laundry being done. Strong scent of Bounce or similar product as I enter the jogger’s wake. Idea is not that “everything I think is wrong” but that “everything I think is wildly wrong” (that the area of what I think does not, perhaps will not, intersect the area of what is the case). Customer had had better than average day — having put contract on the house. (Wheat bagel with veggie cream cheese, plain bagel with butter, and two small orange juices.) Ice cube, just having melted, still seems to be in the glass, but now as a reflection of an overhead light. Customer told child he had to pick up his crumbs otherwise attendant would have to. Attendant, in the absence of an overwhelming personal imperative, felt it reasonable to work hard at tasks that were assigned and which were not self-appointed. Yet he wondered at the absence of an overwhelming personal imperative. Attendant must also make study of slippage of forks upon bagel plates when they’re grabbed from tables. … Would this qualify as “plate tectonics”? Architecture assignment: private residence or perhaps public pavilion based on half-creased napkins over sliding forks on a bagel-sized plate. Customer had done six month stint on Kitty Hawk. Customer retired from the U.S. Airforce accurately reported the year of its inception. Customer, having just come from church, could not recall subject of sermon. Could not recall scripture lesson. Customer asked if he intended to read Mueller report. (Customer had already read the report.) Customer asked, how far into the Mueller report was she (Customer had no intention of reading it.) Customer asked if he was going to read the report. (Had already read it, he said.) Yes, the customer had read the Warren Report and thought it was Oswald. What do you make of Jack Ruby? Somebody who really really felt strongly about Kennedy, who was angry at Oswald, said customer. Customer said the Continental Congress essentially pushed Benedict Arnold, who was a hero, into changing sides. Customer said her eye doctor told her she had blister on her cornea — tree pollen. No: attendant had not heard of Bill Shapiro. Was customer familiar with Francis Fukuyama? No: customer was not familiar with Francis Fukyama. Customer moving from here in a couple days to Charlottesville — good thing, bad thing? Bittersweet thing, replied customer. Customer ordered two bagels with veggie cream cheese and a honey vanilla latte with an extra shot. Customer ordered small latte and small iced mocha, with whole milk, and a bagel with cream cheese. Customer asked if attendant would like a slice of banana bread, which she had baked that morning, and which was still warm? Customer ordered medium medium roast coffee with room. Customer ordered two plain or wheat bagels with cream cheese and two medium iced coffees. Attendant would inwardly boast that on the basis of two data points –the amount of trash in the can beneath the mirror, and the amount of tips– he could guess what the day’s gross sales would be within twenty dollars, and was off today by about sixteen dollars. (Attendant had stopped making this interior boast after he was wildly wrong a couple consecutive times)

Dried gob of cream cheese on the indicator light of the panini grill: attendant’s thumb upon that.

Woman’s black straight hair in two strands — over her left shoulder and down her back– which with her right hand she makes into one strand and pulls over her right shoulder.

Pedestrian whose top and bottom “disconsonantly correlate” according to the attendant’s notes: very black socks and shoes with very pale white ankles and very black hair with a fade and a white pale neck.

Customer teased attendant for oldness. Attendant observed how one day some strangers had arrived and had a pleasant interaction together in the store and then the next day the very same strangers arrived individually at staggered times throughout the day, and didn’t meet. Attendant idly likened, in his imagination, customers to the cells of the body: individual came and went but the same general shape of the body remained.(At times the body grew thin. At times the body grew misshapen.) Customer wore London Calling shirt and was with mom — medium chai. Customer said a difference between working in army and civilian life was that, in the latter, you weren’t stuck with “poor performers”: in the Army you knew it was going to suck for a year because this person had been assigned to your detail, but in private enterprise people who don’t make a contribution were more easily filtered out.

Attendant recommended “Troutmask Replica” to customer who liked Frank Zappa. (Privately wondered if it would be interesting to compare “Replica” to Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks.)

Customer who ordered an everything bagel with veggie cream cheese ordered a plain when told we were out of everything. Customer who ordered everything bagel with lox and two iced coffees ordered only the iced coffees when told there were no more everythings.

Face on a young person which previously the attendant had only seen on old persons. Attendant’s sense of sexual inconsequence to young persons now that he is old as distinct from feelings of sexual inconsequence to young persons when he was himself young. Q: customer had a lot of ideas that he thought sounded cool but were wrong, which of the attendant’s ideas were like that? Customer asked if this area had ever been really bad crime wise, like with a lot of crack dens or whatever. Customer said that he never pronounces judgment on his new running shoes until he’s used them for at least a week. Customer said he’d moved to the area after they had closed the old shopping center but before they had built the new mixed-use building. Customer, saying she was a vegetarian, was asked what sort of things she found herself eating these days? Quinoa, seeds, she said first. (What sort of seeds?) “Chia, sunflower, which have good fat.” Vegetables of all sorts. “I hate egg plant,” attendant said, which were among those named. “I love it,” she said. “Whoa — you don’t like eggplant?” said eavesdropping customer. “Try moussaka.” Customer ordered chicken salad sandwich on toast and small caramel latte with almond milk. Customer was off to state park for picnic & family reunion. (Young black person with well-defined beard and girlfriend.) Customer reported having lost cell phone. Customer reported having just returned from Tunisia. Customer was waiting for family to arrive then they would go grocery shopping together. Longtime customer, martial arts expert, would be moving out of the area in the next two weeks — had wanted attendant to know. Customer loved key lime pie and sometimes made it but never with the small real key limes.

Customer ordered bagel with lox and small teapot, earl gray; hoped to see some live music that afternoon. What were customer and his daughter up to this after noon? Nothing said the customers — this. Customer said subject of today’s sermon was “when worship becomes risky.” Customer asked attendant if, because he worked sunday mornings, he could still got to church, or at least read from the bible. Pedestrian in dark blue muscle shirt performed minor acts of routine car maintenance on his mini S.U.V in a metered space. Customer declined other customer’s offer of dining room table, saying live-in girlfriend was really picky. Customer said when buying soy products to be sure to stay away from GMO’s. Pedestrian said he didn’t want to buy anything, just came in to leave a tip. Royal blue computer case of customer exactly matched blue leggings. Customer ordered large dark coffee and chocolate chip cookie. Attendant, idle, washed wainscotting and moulding. Construction workers seen getting on bus: their neon jackets and black backpacks. Customer asked what attendant was writing. Customer wondered if attendant had ever considered writing prompts. Customer ordered peach iced tea and glass of ice, a quiche lorrain and the muffin with the icing. Customer said he had the same problem with his own writing as he had with Ezra Pound’s (skeletal/ exo-skeletal). Customer said the price for a round trip ticket had increased 500 percent since her last trip. Customer, having grown up by the sea, loved to swim. Customer said his sister could do anything: so, if there was ever a case of something not getting done, that thing must simply not be the priority. But in his own case, one could be equally sure, added the customer, if there was ever a thing not done, which seemed like it should be, that thing had been simply neglected by him.

Bolus of Everything

Bolus of Everything bagel, it’s fallen seeds (two types, three types) in a cluster on the counter top. Myself with bolus, the oil painting portrait title, is suddenly conceived; looking at an empty room intended for a crowd of people –a small, currently closed, perpetually struggling, perpetually subsisting, mom and pop coffee shop with fourteen chairs, four stools, one couch, all unoccupied– with my elbows on the counter top. A large glass pane that looks out on the night scene of the street, a full mouth. (A person of an age that should know restraint instead gasping out of what is called stress for air from around the stale bagel quadrant he devours.) The dry mop leans on an arm of the couch; the wet mop is not yet wet, and stands upright in the dry yellow bucket at the stair’s landing. The bucket bottom is unclean and does not seem something one would clean with. The broom in my hand, part of a stale bagel in my hand, which, as I try to get the bolus that has come from it down, I unthinkingly toss in the trash.

Customer showed doctored image of rival party’s presidential candidate. Customer expressed enthusiasm for professional wrestlers circa 1980, Hart Foundation especially. Customer ordered everything bagel with lox (a sesame in the absence of an everything) and a medium iced coffee. Customer had been to all the bars around there but never actually to Fenway. Customer saw Stockhausen in 75. Comically, a customer attempting to display his skill as a salesperson drives off customer with his heavy-handed pitch. Customer, hair in bun, hand in brace: medium black iced tea and cinnamon muffin, heated. Attendant said we see it every day when poor people defraud the system, we don’t see it at all when rich people defraud the system, who do it more, and who do it less understandably. Customer expansive on the subjects of Stax records, Muscle Shoals, Otis Redding… “music is everything” customer said. Child smiling like he’d seen something he oughtn’t: briefly exposed breast of breast feeding mother maybe. Customer said how there was a high pitched sound that came from a pinsized breech in the cockpit and that even after applying ear protection (beyond that afforded by his headset) he felt nauseous and became disoriented. Customer’s blink indicated she was aware of being observed; with another, it was that the neck became taught; still others, a distancing of the stare, or turn of the head. Customer said a well known example of the principle of costly signalling was the peacock, whose magnificent tail, signalling prowess, impaired its mobility. Customer, before leaving, tucked book in back of his pants, by the root of the spine, possibly to protect it from the rain, possibly as the most convenient spot. Customer depressed by long line of cars at Chick-filet drive thru the other day: “Cars, man.” Woman (gal from the day of the total solar eclipse) looked back at attendant in surprise from her seat at the bar: that had been a very loud crack of thunder.

Q: why was the customer who wanted to work on public health issues, perhaps particularly in developing nations, studying art appreciation? A: Course requirement. “Mesa Verde, Bay of Fundy. (Default answer to the question: what will the attendant do when this place closes?) No idea — go to school? (Default answer to the question: Once you have returned from the Bay of Fundy, should you return, what will you do?) Attendant rearranged brownies from 4-1 “uneven stack” configuration to a 2-1-2 “post-and-lintel” configuration, also known as “ziggurat style.” “People really wear you down,” had said the English physical therapist taking a break (had said something of the kind) not in a self pitying way but in a way that indicated that folks had really worn him out that day. Attendant horrified to learn of a customer’s physical assault. Customer ordered everything bagel, sundried tomato on one side, plain cream cheese on the other.

It was incredible how people could draw one out of oneself though too: alone and miserable in his retirement, deep in his own head, the grim and glum attendant, so selfish and spoilt and moribund, watch how even he must leap out of himself to meet the cheer and pep of the customer before him.

So that even the selfish attendant must arise out of the grave and mud of his own head and be glad, interested and kind, in the presence of this customer, so kind and gentle himself.


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