by David Francis
A man comes in,
sits at the bar. Apropos of nothing, he says:
Im so tired.
And he does
returns: But how are you doing?
complaints, he says. I have no
complaints, he says with glee.
says, Im tired
And he looks
tired: his jaw is set, some spark is missing, he
is going through the motions. Gravity sits on him
like a fat woman squeezing him around the neck
with her legs.
contagious, the man at the table feels. He
almost sees currents of eviscerated air flag from
behind the counter. Psychedelic ribbons wave like
doing this. I hate doing this every day.
you doing? says the relief bartender.
lemons, making lemonade and limeade for the
what he was doing, thinks the man at the table.
What, he thinks with annoyance, are they
A couple at a
table are staring directlythere is no doubt
about itover his head. This is too
absurd. To acknowledge it is out of the question.
Theyre way off the flight path of the three
perched TVs. One side-glance, as cold as a
lizards eye. Its a ceramic cow, stood
up on the ice cream counter. A hideous thing,
painted like a Dalmatian with a garish pink and
blue udder. The couple are transfixed by and
commenting on that udder. Its a
curiosity, a novelty.
look forward to them, you die to reach these
holidaysand everybodys dead and bored.
This is a law of far more authority than anything
Marx or Hegel dreamed up. It feels as if
ones living inside a deflating life raft
with a single undetectable hole that no one cares
to remember, the search is so ancient. Everyone
is crestfallen. A too-passionate word for
blah. Everyone except for some kids who
havent learned about the hole yet.
The manager is
on his cell telling his wife about obstacles
encountered on the way to work. Train
crossing is heard and then, emphatically,
another train; trains crossing
freeways seems oddly bad luck to the man at the
off? the bartender asks.
Good Friday, says the man on the barstool.
barstool to the manager standing at the salad
smorgasbord: Ive got to go to church
all day tomorrow.
better come back with calluses on your knees.
can do that.
The man at the
table notices a pigeon walking on the wrought-iron
fence to the patio. Suddenly it takes a dive,
in the same gravity-bound mood as us, he thinks,
and reappears alighting from one cafe chair to
another before it again flops.
slings his shoulder bag, dressed in his white
uniform, trim and petite, and without glancing
back walks out the door.
even say goodbye, the man at the table says to