NOT ONE OF THE MORE IMPORTANT THINGS, BUT AN OKAY THING ANYWAY… THAT’S THE WAY WE’RE MADE TO FEEL, AT LEAST. NO OUTFIT WILL EVER MAKE US FEEL WHOLE AND, “WITH THIGHS LIKE THIS, WHO NEEDS ENEMIES?” A WHOLE BOTTLE OF SAKE? DON’T MIND IF I DO… ALSO, IT’S RAINING.
It started raining as soon as they got to 2000, and it didn’t stop until they’d already decided to go back to 2004.
In 2006, they met a man who didn’t have arms and had to eat face first like a dog, but without the benefit of front legs to keep its face out of his chow.
“Does it bother you?”
“Does what bother me?” He seemed angry and had what might have been microwavable beef wellington all over his snoot, but how do they keep the pastry from getting soggy? Timothy wondered
“Not having –” but Rodan pulled him away before he could finish the sentence.
“Imagine not having arms?” he asked later.
“Imagine not having arms,” Rodan said, “and having to talk about it with some boogerman while you’re trying to eat only your dinner without arms?”
He had a point. But imagine not having arms?
“Someone throws a baseball and it hits you right in the face.”
“Who would throw a baseball at someone without arms?
He had a point.
By the bus stop (still 2006), Timothy bought a grape soda and a buttermilk breakfast cake that made his throat itch in a nostalgic-sorta way he couldn’t describe and wasn’t asked to.
“Am I getting stupider?”
He was, but why?
Neither of them understand – for different reasons.
He was getting stupider after all.
He shouldn’t have been expected to understand, or expected to explain it properly.
“Why anything?” Rodan repeated.
“Are you mad at me?”
“Yes, I am mad at you. It’s like you’re already getting stupider!”
Words didn’t line up anymore and when they did – no sense.
Sense, but not streams of it.
Lemon candy-sized drops that clunked down on you and smoothed things over but not permanently… It was a war-zone for thought, brain in the foxhole and eyes on the flags.
Even that, a misrepresentation.
“I expected you to get stupider much slower?”
Was that a question?
Rodan wrote a quote about bears on a napkin, attributed it to Karl Krossman, handed it to Timothy and sighed.
Timothy said, “thank you.”
A ball of hair passed the pair on the sidewalk, picking up little pieces of little leaves and it rolled with the wind. It made a sharp turn on the corner after the deli, thanks in part to a nice city cross breeze, and rolled and rolled and rolled and rolled and rolled and rolled and rolled and, who knows where it ended up. Maybe somewhere beautiful we’d all have to strain to understand.
A ball of hair getting to some promiseland by just rolling and rolling and rolling and, well, you get it.
Also, without arms.
Also hungry to pick up things it passes and to keep moving and do/go new things/places.
It’s not meant as anything beyond what it is. Really.
It’s just a dirty ball of hair in Los Angeles, or wherever they are. (It’s hard to keep track and might not really matter even.) There are some tall buildings, but nothing that humbles a normal-sized person. There are ponds and green patches that, from above, look like perfect squares of sod dropped down so people could remember what perfect squares of sod looked like in case they forgot.
One magical things to make all of this feel unreal.
Timothy begged for it.
“What the shit do you want from me? I already dragged you through the world and through all-time and you whine for something unreal?”
“We only traveled within a 30-year span!”
“Well boo-damn-hiss! Who else brought you anywhere expect tomorrow?”
Who else brought you anywhere except tomorrow? What did he mean?
So, instead, imagine anything: Mona, Health Care, Chinese Food, The New Testament, Baby Llamas, an Affaire de Coeur With A French Exchange Student.
“What did she call herself?”
“Was she good at sex?”
“Oh well. What do you want for lunch.”
“I don’t know what that is.”
“I know those.”
“I don’t know again.”
“Let’s just go there.” Timothy pointed to a place that advertised its hot dogs as “the best in town,” and they began walking in that direction.
“Sorry for giving you a difficult day.” A rare apology from Rodan.
“It’s okay. Do you really think I’m getting stupider?”
“Yes, but there’s still joy for you still. At least you still remember that you used to be smarter.”
Timothy laughed and ate four hot dogs, Rodan frowned and wolfed down three.
They never saw the ball of hair again.
Where did it go?
Roll. Roll. Roll.
A storm drain? A Pogues concert? Detroit?
A wolf den? An aquarium gift shop? A missile silo?
A store that repairs bath tubs? A factory that makes gum, but also maybe processes tree nuts? A Denny’s where the staff is adequate but not terrific?
Maybe it goes off to an antique shop and settles beside a mug that matches the mysterious one (the one with the quip about Catholic dinosaur oral sex during Lent).
There are so many places to go whether you’re a person or a mug or a ball of hair, and it’s probably easier to go to most of them if you’re the mug or the ball of hair.
Being a person is okay sometimes, but it’s not a terrific thing to be.
It’s adequate, I guess.