Really thought the Sonic was burning down again, but it was just one car with white smoke spewing from its tailpipe. The descriptor here is “engulfed.” A cop pulled the driver over when he pulled out, but didn’t arrest him or beat him—they popped the hood and looked in together. From my vantage, it was all relatively good news for me. I was watching from the Piggly Wiggly parking lot, just rapt with how all this action might play out.
Then a shopper dropped two dozen eggs in the parking lot. She started to cry. My day was going better than literally everyone I had encountered so far. As a sight seer, I was providential. This was the good life.
Now, in the store, they are selling pink Himalayan salt! Chili-infused honey! The rewards program got me $2.37 off! Was that a fresh jackfruit? It’s ugly, enormous. I bought one.
I got married two weeks ago. Every single woman and man in the Piggly Wiggly wanted me, but they cannot. The only reason I’ll take off this ring is if I have to work on some small motor, which I have never done before. An accident would shred the hand.
Can I believe someone loves me? Can the myth of divorce rates be true?
When I get home, my bride is gone. A tomcat has carried off two of her friend’s new kittens, and they are out listening in the vacant lot for them. To find them would be a victory, but also a crisis in the local cat ecology. When our own cat was finally fixed, it was filled with kittens.
So true that what pleases upsets some. That guy, who I mentioned, with the car, the smoke? I know him, in another manner, to be a neighborhood creep, but I was rooting for him. I was. My bride’s exes? I hope they neither moved on, nor ever show up.
AS A NEW RULE, I DON’T MISS THINGS
I remember thinking, This is the Future, when I saw a whole hotel lobby of people smoking what they then called electronic cigarettes. It was like each had a little flashlight in their mouths, like they were about to do some repair work in a tiny hole. The hotel was old enough not to have rules against this. They were humidifying the place with nicotine and I was jealous. I had just learned, like some ancient cowboy, how to roll my own mess of paper and plant, and here were these…geniuses.
Still, I slept with a woman I probably should not have, I but I refused to be embarrassed. I attended a speech by a famous cartoonist. I was just a kid. Another woman who was taller than me flirted the next night, and I thought, I am legitimately Superman. I was really happy about this trip.
On the train ride home, I shared the smoking car with five men who had just been released from federal prison. I just listened. The sun was coming up on Memphis. None of them insisted on their innocence. It felt romantic.
We all supported each other, regardless of our specific enterprise. That was all years ago.
Today, Grace has arranged to buy a new car. They are going to ship it, though we all know the post office is trash nowadays and you can tell with jokes like these I’m channeling my Dad, like getting ready to talk to salesmen. But there’s no haggling and my gags in the live chat are just not landing. We have to accept the car for who it is. I won’t smoke in it.
The new car, when it shows up like a bill, will get us to work just fine. But it will be bright blue.
Sean Ennis is the author of CHASE US: Stories (Little A) and more pieces from this project have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Bending Genres, X-R-A-Y, Diagram, Rejection Letters and HAD. More of his work can be found at seanennis.net