Archives for: March 2009
Empty rooms below me.
Tuesday, March 31st 2009
The power went off again today. This wasn't so great for a number of reasons. Firstly, I was right in the middle of talking to @groombridge about dating and what his interests are. We decided that he was interested in cars, the news, music, making jokes, watching musicians perform and - boof, the power goes out. He's going to have to make do with just those interests I said there until my timeline synches up with his timeline and we get talking again. It's okay though - I think we covered some good interests in the time we had.
The other thing that happened when that happened was that I noticed all of a sudden how different the room sounded. There are a lot more empty rooms in the building now and they all make different echoes than rooms that are full of stuff and old people. I sat there listening to all the sound bouncing around those empty rooms, bouncing in the dark where the sound carries better, and pretty soon I had a headache. I fell onto my bed, got under the covers and put the pillows over my ears and the headache faded, but it meant that I had to stay in bed and kick my tail around a lot to fill out the empty noise that was coming in from all around. This got really tiring so I tried going to sleep but I couldn't even do that! I'd slept late in the morning.
So I lay there with the threat of a headache all around me, under the covers, just thinking. It wasn't long before I started thinking about David. Yeah, there's a lot to think about when it comes to David.
He was so close to breaking through. He was practically a shark himself before Carolyn got to him. We should have been watching him, looking out for him, but while me and Moe were mixing it up at the fair, and Leonard Cohen was playing to the crowd, she had David trapped in the attic of that little house of hers, the house that was full of her and her emotions. I'd heard the machines whirring up there, going round and round, and I knew they were for malice but if I'd known for a second that they'd be used on David... that she'd turn his thoughts into weapons to fight me and Sarah, well I don't think I'd been able to control myself. I'd have exploded and leapt on her and ripped her lies up for everyone to see. All of our lives would have worked out differently. Maybe not even for the better?
There's a part of me that understands why Carolyn did it though - why she'd keep David away from us, all to herself and her selfish tears. There's so much potential in David. He's still young. You could tell him to be anything you want and he'd be able to work at it and do it because he's got so much time. It's dangerous to try and think like Carolyn - you'll make a mini version of her inside your brain and it will do to you what she did to her house. But I think we're equals, in a way. I work out people's sadness and she uses that sadness to get people on her side. That's what happened to David - he saw her tears and then he was gone.
All I'm saying is that I'm glad I got Sarah. When it comes down to me and Carolyn, Sarah will beat David at anything he can throw at her. Her training will be complete. She was always better than him.
A metaphor for who you are.
Monday, March 30th 2009
I carried the garbage out this morning and although I wanted to clear out the bin bags in the back room too, I didn't because I was getting tired from all the carrying. My body is used to only carrying the garbage I normally make in normal week so, now I've got a backlog, I've got to reconfigure my whole body so it doesn't get tired on me. I'm going to do this next week.
Things got exciting this weekend. @groombridge got a message on his dating site. He told a girl that he liked her and she thought that was okay. She wanted to know if he really was an astronaut. He wanted me to tell him what to say back.
Burzumfan9999: Just go with it
groombridge: wont she find out
Burzumfan9999: It's a metaphor. It's not something you can or can't find out. It's part of you
groombridge: ill tell her its a joke
Burzumfan9999: Its not a joke
Yesterday I decided to get the future started so I asked the landlord whether Monopoly was available.
"You know, Monopoly."
"Oh - Bradley."
"I'd like to talk to him, please."
"That's just not a very good idea."
"You don't know him. It's okay that he punched me. I've forgiven him for that."
"Come now, Shark. Don't be silly." But I wasn't being silly. That's just his word for things he doesn't understand, like the internet.
Here is a list I made of all things the landlord thinks are silly:
NASA (and space in general)
Funny mash-up videos
What is taught in schools today
I saw some more moving trucks and people talking to the landlord this weekend. I don't know what the big hurry is - they've still got six months before the developers move in. People always want to be the first.
I'm not worried
Friday, March 27nd 2009
@groombridge said a funny thing to me. He said that he hoped that me and my family were all right and that the fire didn't get our houses. He'd seen something about a fire in the newspaper, he said. I checked on the internet and I saw that, yes, there had been a fire. The whole mountain had burned. It had looked like it was coming to get us (the city.)
When the landlord came over I asked him about the fire. I asked him if he'd heard about it. He immediately took the defensive. You could tell that he'd had this conversation already with me in his mind, which put him at an advantage.
“Listen Shark, we didn't want to worry about it. We were safe the whole time. It's safe here in Mowbray. If I'd told you about the fire you'd only have worried.”
“I wouldn't have worried,” I said.
“Shark, you always worry about this sort of thing.”
“You're the one who worries, not me,” I said and it was true.
When he'd gone I started planning all the things I'd do if there was a fire that broke through to us here in Mowbray. I'd have to get to the stairs quickly, they are the only way out. People would see me but it wouldn't matter by then. It would be the end. Afterwards, they'll just say that it was smoke-blindness that made them see the shark on the stairs. People imagine all sorts of things when they're in trouble.
I'm going to make a box of things I can carry away in a big hurry. I'd take the landlord's mother's box and my PC (not the monitor – too heavy!) and a blanket in case I have to sleep rough. I'd get to my car, put the box in the backseat and I would keep on driving. I wouldn't go back. I'd go to Sarah's house and she'd get in the front seat.
“Where are we going?”
“We're going to find David.” I'll say.
“But he doesn't talk to you any more,” She'll say.
“I think something's wrong with him. I think we need to save him. I think the David we brought back with us from Carolyn's -”
“You mean?” she'll say and I'll look at her, totally serious.
“I don't think that was our David, Sarah.”
The city will burn behind us, but it's okay. I've got everything I need. Let's go, Sarah.
Enjoyment +++ tnemyojnE
Sunday, March 22nd 2009
Sarah didn't come over today. I called her up and she said that since I'd patched things up with the grocery kid, she probably shouldn't fetch my shopping for me. Also, she was on the beach. Maybe @groombridge was right about girls and beaches and imagination. I wanted to tell her that I wasn't sure that things had been patched up with the grocery kid, but I didn't. I wanted to ask her about Francois but I didn't. People don't like to talk on the phone when they're on the beach. It messes up their enjoyment.
I saw @groombridge's profile picture this morning. It is of his face. He took it himself by looking in the mirror with the camera. He is in his bathroom and he doesn't look happy. He's trying to look happy but he isn't. He doesn't look anything like I expected from his chats. I thought he'd be older, kind of dressed better. I thought he'd wear a black silk shirt with a big collar. I thought he'd have this look of sadness in his eye – not the bad kind of sadness, the kind where you're afraid of what might happen and who might fight you next, but the kind where you're aware of what's already happened and all those fights you've lost over the years, and you're kind of okay with it. He's got an earring. I think that maybe the photo has messed up my enjoyment of @groombridge as a concept.
I was starving by the time the grocery kid came round. I spent just about all of yesterday tearing through my food so that he wouldn't get suspicious if he saw the kitchen. I was afraid that if he saw there was a lot of food left he'd tell the landlord that I don't need as much food anymore as I usually do and then he'll buy less food next week to compensate and I can see a cycle happening where I'm hungry forever. Yeah, the stakes were high.
I did the job really well. The kitchen looked just like it did every Sunday – empty. The food was all gone (into me) and the garbage made by the food was also gone (into the back room). The grocery kid didn't really look around the kitchen very much when he came, but I felt so much better knowing there was no chance he could find me out and punish me for not eating enough.
“I'm sorry for the other day, I shouldn't have got so angry with you,” he said as he put the bags on the ground like it was no big deal. “But sometimes I just want to grab you and shake you, you know? The whole blumming world is full of people and they've all got their stories, enough to fill a million lifetimes if they just told the best ones, all these people and some of them right here and you don't take any notice. You don't see who they are or what they have to say or the effect you're having on them. You don't see! Can you see why that could make me angry with you?”
My mouth was dry. It needed food. There was so much of it there on the kitchen floor and I couldn't have any before he'd stopped. I opened and closed my mouth a few times but I couldn't think of anything to make it all go faster. Anything I could possibly say would probably make him go on and on. I wanted to stop him, take him aside and tell him that he was wrong, that there were all these real people out there on the internet, the people who are pregnant or sad or getting teased a lot or really into their truck. There are people who clean the hair out of subway tunnels and people who are one quarter Cherokee and people who work the fryer at a chain restaurant to save up for an engagement ring. They've all got stories too and they tell them every day. I'm one of those people. I'm real. I tell my story. But I couldn't tell him about us. He wouldn't understand. I don't think it would be the same world at all if the grocery kid went on the internet and looked through all the pages I've got bookmarked.
“I like the people in your books,” I said and I surprised myself when I said that. “I like their stories.” His shoulders kind of moved down when I said that and I realised that I hadn't seen the grocery kid relax in a very long time.
“I know,” he said. “I know.” My mouth filled with moisture. We were patching things up.
“Do you think you could put the groceries on the counter instead of on the floor when you come in?”
“My back's gotten worse,” he said.
“But what about me?” I asked, but I didn't say anything more. I know how it feels to have your enjoyment of something or a moment or a TV show messed up for you. I didn't want to do that to the grocery kid right then. He left and he didn't say anything to his dogs.
The return of the pizza punk.
Friday, March 20th 2009
I saw Francois' name on the pay slip when the pizza arrived and I guess I sort of panicked. I didn't go along with the plan I made. I plan was to just be quiet and not pick up the phone until morning. I couldn't eat any more. My stomach was so swollen and it hurt to move and I kept thinking that dry spaghetti was coming out of my bullet-hole. I was already a bit full when I ordered the pizza but I ate some beans while it was on its way. It was a bit late, actually. So I was going to just lie low and wait for the pizza punk to go away but when the pay slip came through the letterbox and I saw Francois' name on it, I panicked. I said his name.
“You there, Ancient, hey? There's no money here in the plant, bru. Where's the money why won't you answer?” I tried to think through all the food.
“I was in the shower,” I said.
“That's funny bru, a shark in the shower. That's classic. So where's the money, it's not in the plant, bru – I see you trying to schnaai me, hey?” I swallowed. I felt like I was three seconds away from throwing up.
“Listen, please, I don't feel like it.”
“You don't feel like what? Giving me any money? Is that how you feel, hey?”
“No, that's not - ” I struggled. “I don't feel like any pizza.”
“You ordered pizza bru – two Groovy Greeks, it says here – no Butleritos. You must be feeling like pizza because you called for pizza and they sent me all the way over here and here's your pizza, bru.”
“No, but - ”
“The pizza is here, bru, but the money's not here. Where's the money?”
“I'm sick,” I tried.
“Okay, Ancient, listen okay – I'm out of time, I've got to go. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to take the pizza back with me, go back to the shop and then I'll put your name on the list, the 'Do not deliver' list. Then you'll never have any pizza again, all the pizza places share the list, bru, no one will want to come here.” I turned and I rolled and I felt my stomach contract with my movements. I wanted to call the landlord but then a bigger voice than the one that told me to call him told me that this is exactly what the landlord would want – to find a situation that would give him an excuse to pretend to get angry so that he could stop me from getting pizza any more. I was stuck here with Francois and I started to think then that he would shoot me. He'd shoot me straight through the door and then I'd have another scar on my belly and the two scars would look like nipples, only they'd be way too low down on my body. People would tease me about my low-down nipples. I'd get all shy about them and I've have to wear an apron all the time to hide them.
“No,” I started, but he was quick.
“Kay, bru - ” there was force in his voice. He was about to do something. I really didn't want to get shot again. I didn't want to be in danger and I really didn't want any pizza that might make me sick. There was only one thing I could do to stop him, to stop him from putting me on the list, to stop him being forceful with his voice and to stop him from shooting me. I stood up, which wasn't easy, I opened my mouth and screwed it up into its most terrifying shape, unlocked the door, opened it, spread my arms wide, jumped with all my strength over the door frame and “RARRRR!!”
He laughed at me while I stood there. I was breathing very heavily. He put his hand on my back while he laughed, like I was in on the joke.
“Jaysis bru! Just chill! Chill out, hey, don't have a cadenza, all right? Don't stress yourself out.” He laughed for a while longer and I put down my arms and waited. “Ja bru,” he said before he'd quite stopped laughing. “I know all about your shark thing, hey, Sarah told me all about it.” I fiddled with my hands. I was still out of breath. I wanted to sit down.
“How do you know Sarah?” I asked, quietly. He slowly turned his laughter down and then off.
“She's my girl, hey. She's told me all about this place. Now come, bru, go fetch me that money, I know you've got lots of it, your pizza's getting cold.” I nodded then I went back into my room, walked over to the cupboard, got the money out of the box and walked back to the door. I wanted Moe to be there when I got there. I wanted Francois to be Moe's little brother and I wanted Moe to be there suddenly standing behind him and punishing him for being so mean to his friends. Maybe Moe would have Francois in a headlock or a wrestling move. And Moe would smile and we'd go and play TV games. Francois wouldn't be allowed to play. He'd just have to watch.
But Moe wasn't there, just Francois with his face all grinning as he handed me a load of pizza I didn't want. Even the smell of the pizza made my stomach move around. I handed over the money.
“You haven't been tipping so nicely lately, bru,” said Francois, smiling weirdly. “That's very naughty, hey.”
“The landlord won't let me have so much money at a time now,” I said in a small voice. I wanted him to go and he did after he'd touched my back and grinned a few more times. I walked straight to the bathroom and I threw up. I haven't thrown up in a long, long time and I hate it now just as much as I did before. My heart was going crazy in my chest. I didn't even notice that I'd left the door open.
Afterwards, when my heart and stomach had learned the calm way again, I checked on @groombridge. He says he likes the profile I sent because it's funny, but nobody has sent him any mail or winks yet. He wonders if he should put on a different picture. He's got a picture right now, but he stole it off someone else's profile, it's of two tiny people walking across a huge beach. The people could be anyone. He says that's the whole point – it gets girls imagining. That's what you want them to be doing.
I didn't feel very helpful after all the excitement I'd had so I ate some of the pizza (it was still a bit warm), spent a long time brushing my teeth and then thought about going to bed early, but then decided against it because I didn't want to mess up my patterns.
You can date this man, Americans
Thursday, March 19th 2009
Here's @groombridge's dating profile I made for him. It's supposed to attract women in America / Canada, so if you don't like it, it's probably a cultural thing.
A man who understands
About me: I always wanted to be an astronaut. I could have done it – I went to all the training. They looked at my personality and said it was okay. They spun me around every day but I did not throw up. They taught me how to use a gun in case stuff went down on the space station. The President shook my hand and everyone clapped.
But I knew deep in my mind that I couldn't do it up there. You can't see the whole Earth at once and still care about tiny things like family or love that only involve a few people at a time. I didn't want to change, I wanted to still care about things. So I stayed here. I poured all of my energy into love and my kids and they've turned out pretty cool. One of them has a metal blender which was very expensive. I don't think they would have been good people if I'd put my energy into staying alive in a vacuum and trying not to cry into the void.
I'd like to meet: Someone who has been hardened into rock-like stability by the loneliness, someone who walked though the desert of life alone and came out stronger on the other side, who has practiced and practiced and is now ready for the third act. Smell is important, as is being an Ashkenazi or similar. A female Leonard Cohen.
He says he likes it and he'll put it up after he's changed a few things. I'm not entirely happy with that, with the changing. Now I have to wait until it's time for Americans to go to work and start looking at dating sites before anyone replies to him. That is hours away. I'd go and work on my statue in the meantime but there is too much stuff in my kitchen right now. I'm going to try and eat my way through it all tonight.
You can't have three grocery kids.
Wednesday, March 18th 2009
I'm making progress on the food. It's hard, eating more than you're used to. This morning I had to force myself to eat a whole box of spaghetti. I ate it right from the box. It's actually quite nice, eating spaghetti like that. It's like eating chips but healthier.
The landlord had a lot to say about the whole situation with me having two grocery kids. He had said that getting Sarah involved was a bad idea and now, apparently, the whole world had proven him right.
“Be cool,” I said, “I've got the whole thing covered.”
“What was that?” he asked.
“It's my gangster voice,” I explained. The landlord doesn't watch a lot of TV unless he's with me so he probably doesn't see a lot of gangsters. I guess they don't have gangsters on the radio, not real gangsters anyway. I went back to my normal voice for him: “I can do this, I can eat all of the food. I'll finish it by Sunday. No one will even find out,” I said. I'd even been putting the rubbish from the extra food into separate rubbish bags that I'm keeping in the back room, in case anyone checks through my garbage on Monday.
“That's not the issue, Shark! It's the money. We need to tighten things up with you. Once we move to Greyton there's not going to be any more rent coming in. All we'll have is the money from the sale and my pension. We can't have you spending all this money again.”
“But the grocery kid fired himself!” I protested. None of this was my fault. I didn't want to have to defend myself like this.
“Come now, he didn't mean it. He was just upset with you. And anyway, I'm not talking about this weekend, I'm talking about the bigger picture.” I looked at him. I wasn't too clear on what he was talking about. I'm only allowed R100 a time now – sometimes R200 if I ask for it a lot – what more can he take from me? “Hentietta -” he began, then sighed. “She told me that you said on your computer that ... when we move out, you don't want an allowance as a regular thing, you want all the money we plan to set aside for you given to you all at once.” I froze. It felt so weird that people were talking about me and making plans about me without me knowing. I don't think it's fair to do that to someone. Neither the landlord or Henrietta has the full picture of me. If they talk about me then they don't know what they're talking about and shouldn't talk about it.
“Shark, it's not going to work that way. You can't have all the money at once.”
“Why not?” I asked, reasonably.
“Because you'd spend it, that's why! You've have three people doing your groceries, three grocery kids in here, you'd eat pizza every day – you'd give half of it away to anyone who knocked on the door!” He said these things like they were obvious but I wouldn't eat pizza every day because that would make me sick and I don't even want to get started on the 'three grocery kids' thing. I fidgeted. I wanted then to stop talking to the landlord. I had more important things to do than deal with a man who is never fair. @groombride needed me. He'd said so earlier. I did all the signals that told the landlord I was done and I went back to my computer.
@groombridge was glad to have me back. He'd always fair. He needed help writing up his profile on a dating site. He's had the profile for a while but he doesn't think it's working very well because he still hasn't got a date. @groombridge isn't very creative, like me. He doesn't know what words can do.
I started writing and the landlord left after a little while. I'm going to save @groombridge from loneliness. Everyone deserves a second chance.
The system breaks down.
Sunday, March 15th 2009
Sarah came over at four, a little earlier than the grocery kid normally comes round. She doesn't have dogs to slow her down. She came in and put the bags on the counter, which is the proper way, it evens says so on the list I gave her, and then she put the kettle on and sat down on my bed.
“I'm exhausted!” she said.
“Poor Sarah!” I said from the kitchen. I was putting everything away. Sarah can't do that part, only I can because only I know where everything goes. I don't put the food away in the normal way that people would expect. I've got a system.
Sarah was exhausted because she'd been to the normal supermarket and not the rich-people one she was used to.
“Sharky, the floors are yellow and all the tiles are missing and everyone looks sad, Sharky. They carry so many bags when they leave and the queues are so long, oh my god, and most of the whole shop is cleaning products.” I nodded even though she couldn't see me. I've never been to a supermarket because there are too many people inside. I've seen them on TV though, so I know what the deal is. “I like it though,” she said after a while, “The people there are more real. It's like this whole other culture.” I stepped out from the kitchen. “You're real, Sharky. You're not like all the other people. You've got your own vision, you know? You've got your own path that's yours, it's not something that you'd see on TV, you're not just part of the crowd. You're the most unique person I know.”
I was so proud of her. I wanted to pick her up and tell her that I was going to train her up just like David, but she was going to be even better than him. She already is, in a lot of ways. But I didn't do that. I decided to move in slow. I didn't want to undo any progress.
“I've been talking to David,” I said. “Everything's cool with us now.”
“Really?” she said, jumping up to make tea. “Last I spoke to him he said he was kinda put off by all the e-mails you were sending him. David needs his space, Sharky. I didn't want to say, but - ”
“Well I spoke to him yesterday and it's fine now,” I said. I hadn't actually spoken to him but I did send him all those mash-ups I did of the grocery kid's books so I'm pretty sure he'll start talking to me again soon. I sat down next to Sarah. “David was the only person who understood me before you came along,” I said. “But then he turned his back on his training.” Sarah wriggled.
“What did you train him to do?” she said, uncertainly.
“I taught him meditation, spiritual stuff. I was his own personal Shark Of Wisdom.”
“Shark Of Wisdom?” she didn't know.
“I took him on an adventure,”
“Oh, I know all about that,” she said and smiled. She knew what we were talking about now. She knew adventures. We had been to Plett. “Are you going to teach -me- how to meditate, Sharky?” she said it like a joke. That was good. So many ideas burned in the air around us.
“No, you're beyond that,” I picked up one of the grocery kid's books and threw it lightly into her lap. “You need to read these.” She picked up the book and looked at it. She couldn't believe the book.
“ 'Die Plaas van Verlangend?' ”
“It's in Afrikaans,” I said.
“Sharky, where did you get this?”
“I've got a load of them,” I said.
“This is awesome!” she said. She kept turning it over in her hands. “Trashy Afrikaans romance novels – and it's on a -farm-, oh my god Sharky this is so cool!” I watched her laugh and turn the book over and over and I knew what would happen. She will read the books one by one and she will absorb all of the situations – every instance that lead to love or pain – and she'll put the data into a giant mathematical model that her brain will automatically generate as she reads. As the model grows and refines itself, she'll begin to understand the full geography of the human heart. She'll understand why people do the things they do and say the things they say. She'll be able to tell when they are serious or when they are joking, when they are truthfully angry or whether they are just pretending to make you feel bad. She'll get people. She'll know too much about them and she'll want to live alone but that is only natural.
Just as I was thinking this and Sarah was reading random parts aloud in a high voice – sure she could joke around now but later it would get serious – the intercom buzzed. I ran to it. The person on the other side was the grocery kid. He'd come with the shopping.
“Oh no,” said Sarah.
“Be cool,” I said. I was being a gangster. “I've got it covered.” I quickly went into the kitchen and got rid of all the bags and other evidence. When he came in I pretended that I hadn't just done that. It was hard because I was a little out of breath but I hid it.
“Oh, you've got a friend over,” he said. His little wheel-bag was full of pretty much exactly the same things Sarah had got me, minus a few things that he didn't think I needed when really I did, plus a lot of things that could be plastic but were glass instead.
“Hi!” said Sarah. “I'm Sarah.” He introduced himself and said he'd been told a lot about her, which I don't think is true.
“I've got a daughter who's a little older than you,” he said as he shook her hand. Then he saw the book in her lap. “You shouldn't read those. They're for old women.”
“Oh no, I like them. They're funny. My friend, Clar, she'll love it so much when I show her this. She loves this kind of thing.”
“It's just trash,” said the grocery kid, but he wasn't so sure now.
“That's the whole point, my skat,” she said and fluttered her eyelids. The grocery kid didn't know what to say about that. He smiled and looked at me.
“Uf, she's just like Bronwyn, isn't she?” he said to me. Bronwyn is his daughter. I honestly have no idea if she's anything like Sarah. It doesn't seem likely. I nodded anyway. “Well, I'll come back to have a chat with you later, bye for now,” he said. He got the shopping out (floor) and left. He didn't really come back later, that was just a fake-out.
“Sharky, what are you going to do with all this food?” said Sarah. It didn't fit in the cupboards. My whole system was out of order.
“I'll think of something,” I said.
Love happens every time.
Friday, March 13th 2009
I've been reading quite a lot these past few days. Actually, I suppose I read a lot every day. Being on the internet is basically reading and watching TV is like reading only you use your ears as well as your eyes. So there probably aren't many people who read as much as me. But I've been reading something different from most people. I've been kicking back, spinning up some Burzum and reading the grocery kid's books.
The book are really interesting because they make you want to find out more about the story and the characters in this great way. First there's the set-up: Every book has a different deal, but it always comes down to a girl and a guy. It always comes down to love. Sometimes there's a husband or wife on the scene but they are never a good person. They are an obstacle or a loser. This is kind of realistic because most marriages don't work out, for good reasons. The guy and the girl don't even always end up together in the end – sometimes the story is sad. The grocery kid isn't afraid to take risks like that.
I haven't just been reading the books, I've been playing around a bit with the text on my computer. First I type up a piece of a book, like “Hart van die Luiperd,” but then I change the names of the characters to the names of people I know so all these funny situations crop up, like the landlord and the kid fighting over Henrietta on a boat, or Celene hooking up with @groombridge (not possible.)
I sent a few e-mails to David with some of the remixed stories I made. I swapped all of the boy names to 'David' and the girl's names to stuff like 'Sarah,' or 'Nikki,' or once, for a joke, 'Clar.' Then I did a few scenes from the grocery kid's play. It turned out pretty funny.
Sarah says she will definitely come on Sunday. The landlord helped me draw up a list of all the things she has to buy. She's not allowed to buy any of the stuff she did last time. It's not all bad because some of the things she bought, the dips and the dry food, it's still around. You don't have to buy everything every time.
Die Hotel Eensaam Kelner.
Wednesday, March 11th 2009
The first thing I told the landlord when he came round yesterday was that I needed a new grocery kid. He stopped, halfway through coming in the door. He stayed there for two seconds then closed the door, folded his arms and frowned.
“Did you fire him again?” He said, a little sarcastically. I told him that he fired himself. He'd come to the conclusion that I wasn't caring enough. I didn't know that was part of the deal. I don't see which part of bringing me my shopping has to do with me knowing all the names of his dogs, or whatever. “Well, Shark,” said the landlord as he leaned his back against the door. “Maybe – listen here, I'm not trying to judge you, but maybe you -could- take more of an interest.”
“He doesn't do anything interesting!” I pointed out. “All he does is be old, moan and act like a jerk.”
“He only does that because he thinks you don't like him any more.”
“That's because he doesn't do anything interesting!” The landlord made a lot of sighing noises with his mouth and kept changing his arms around and touching his face.
“I want Sarah to do it,” I said.
“No, Shark.” he said.
“I want Sarah to be the one to fetch my shopping on Sundays. She's ready. She cares for people, professionally.”
“That's really not a good idea,”
“Why not?” I shouted. I didn't mean to shout but I guess that I just really needed to.
“Because...” he said and then closed his eyes until he could make up an answer that wasn't something about how he just didn't like Sarah because she was young and pretty. “You saw what she did last time she did the shopping. You saw how much money she spent. You can't trust her. She's bad at it.”
“I can control her,” I said, looking hard into his eyes. “I've thought about this. I can give her a list.” He came and sat next to me on the bed and looked down. I looked down too. I thought he was looking at something and by the time I realised he wasn't, he was already talking.
“Maybe you should think less about how to replace him and more about how you should make up with him,” he said.
“No,” I said. I was feeling assertive. “He's the one who quit. He's the one with a bad attitude. He should try being without a job for a while.”
“He has a job, Shark,” said the landlord. “He writes those books.”
“What books?” I asked.
He got up and left the room, but he made a sign with his hand that said that it was okay, that he'd be back soon. I heard him go downstairs to his house. Then after a little while he came up again holding a thin book with a colourful cover.
“I can see what he means about you not paying attention,” he said as he put the book in my lap. It was called 'Die Hotel Eensaam Kelner.' It had a name on it but it wasn't the grocery kid's name.
“I've got hundreds of these downstairs,” said the landlord. “He does one about every two weeks. It's good money and work's picking up.” There was a man and a woman on the cover. The man was black and dressed like a waiter. He was standing behind the woman holding a plate of food with a lid on it. He was looking at her and she was kind of turning to look at him but we could still see her face. She looked rich. She looked like she'd seen things.
“This looks pretty interesting,” I said.
“How about I leave it here for you?” He said. He did and I've nearly finished it now.
I e-mailed Sarah and she said that she'd love to get my groceries. She's going to start this Sunday.
I am good at television.
Monday, March 9th 2009
I spent most of last week watching TV. The only thing that really happened that wasn't TV was when the grocery kid came round. Every time I watch TV it feels good because it means that I'm catching up. It means that I've gotten a little better at TV.
I think that a lot of people must be a bit freaked out by TV, by how much of it there is. They must get this idea that even if they sat down and watched TV for the rest of their lives, they would never be able to get to the end of it. TV would beat them and they wouldn't even notice.
I don't have this problem so much, because I won't ever die. I can just keep on watching it at my own pace. I don't think they make TV as fast as I can watch TV, so I'm always winning. It's kind of funny that I want to start a TV company and will make my own TV show some day because it would mean that I'd be competing with myself. I'd still win though. A lot of people don't quite realise what living forever actually means. It means that, eventually, I will clock television.
When that happens, I'll still be me, but I'll have seen everything. I would get the context of every conversation and get every reference and new word. I'd be able to take apart a conversation in my mind and tell which part of it came from which TV show. Every possible phrase or feeling or joke or character type that has been on screen will be in my brain. You wouldn't be able to beat that. Nobody could.
So yesterday the grocery kid came round and I tried to tell him about how I was closer to clocking TV than ever but he didn't want to listen to any of that. He just wanted to talk about the crummy play he wrote years ago.
“Have you read it yet?”
“I've been really busy,” I said.
“You've been busy?” he said back at me.
“Yeah, sorry man, but I've got a lot going on.”
“You just told me you've been watching TV all week.” I didn't say anything. “Watching TV isn't being busy.”
“I kind of skimmed it,” I said. This was true. I think you can absorb a lot of something by reading just a few bits of it. Your brain seems to somehow know the best bits to read. It's all about recognising patterns and making theories about where the story would go, then checking quickly to see if those theories are true. I'm pretty good at it.
“You skimmed it,” he said flatly.
“Yeah, I just got the gist of it, you know,” I said. He was making me uncomfortable. My stomach hurt and I fidgeted.
“And what was the -gist- that you -got?-” He was definitely trying to make me uncomfortable. Even though it was working, I didn't let him see that it was having an affect. I stayed normal, even through this next part.
“There were these guys and they really liked each other,” I said. “They met in school and later on they did some plays that were a really big deal and then one of them died and the other killed himself. It was pretty lame, really, I don't like your stuff generally.” He drew up his face tighter than ever.
“Well, we knew that already, didn't we?” he said. “And he didn't kill himself. That was the whole point. The whole of the third act is him recovering and coming to terms with...”
“I didn't get to that part.” I helped. “I think it would be a better ending if he killed himself. It would be shorter, too. It's too long.”
“Do you remember a while back, a long time ago, when I went away and you all didn't know where I was? But then I came back - ”
“Yeah, you stopped being the landlord.” I said. I remembered that. People couldn't handle it. The landlord (who wasn't the landlord then) called me up every hour to say that nothing had happened.
“Do you know where I was? Do you know what happened?”
“Nobody told you?”
“No, I don't think so.”
“And you never got curious?” I looked at him. “Think about the play. The play is about me!” he was just about shouting. I don't think I was doing a good job of looking comfortable at this point.
“Oh, okay,” I said. It sounded so quiet next to his voice but I was just speaking normally.
“Okay?” he snorted. Then he laughed but it was fake, you could tell. “That's it. You're okay with it. It's all okay. Good. Fine.” He said and I nodded to show him that it was true, that it was fine and I thought so. Then he erupted. “You don't care about me at all. You know nothing about me. You don't even know when my birthday is. I'm just the 'grocery' kid to you now and nothing else.” The landlord must have told him about that name I use for him. Landlord! “Well you can get your own fucking groceries from now on. Here - ” he bent down and put all of the bags of groceries up on the counter where they should be. Then he did a fake smile as he walked past me and went right out of the door. He went downstairs and I heard him talking to his dogs again. This time I listened really hard and I heard a bit of what he was saying:
“Yes, Sam, yes Willy, -your- daddy loves you, yes he does.”
I tried reading his play again later on but it really isn't very gripping. Sarah will be the new grocery kid. She's got a lot less attitude and stronger legs. That means she can carry more.
I used to be able to hear further. There is more traffic outside now.
Sunday, March 1st 2009
When the grocery kid came round today he didn't just bring the shopping. He also brought words. They were all typed out and spiral-bound together. They were old and yellow and he'd made them on a typewriter.
“What's that?” I said.
“You asked about my friend. Well, this is everything you need to know.” He waved the words around in front of me. “He never finished it before he died. I finished it. It's about me and him.” He thrust it at me to make sure that I was touching it. Touching shows commitment.
“I don't really have time to read these days,” I said, but he was too quick.
“Yes you do. Read it.” He let go of it and it fell into my lap.
“I can't read it with you right here watching,” he stared at me.
“You can read it when I'm gone. I'm going now. I'll be back next week. Same time, same place. See you there,” he said.
“Wait, hang on,” I said before he could go.
“What is it?” he said, getting ready for a fight. But I didn't want to fight him.
“Do you still keep your dogs?” I asked.
“Of course I do. They're waiting outside for me because you won't let them on the premises.”
“Are they okay?” I said. He moved his body up and around and changed his voice.
“Barney got sick last year and the vet had to put him down, poor thing. I found a new Staffie a few months ago. Not a puppy, but a mature dog whose owner passed away, leaving him and another dog, a Weimaraner – Sam – who'd known him all his life. So I took both. I couldn't split them up.” He cocked his head and looked at me differently. He got defensive. “Why are you so interesed all of a sudden? Do you want me to bring them up here?”
“No, it's okay. I've just been thinking about dogs a lot lately.” I said. He folded his arms.
“Oh? That's odd, you're not really much of a dog person, are you?” I waited a while, then said,
“Did you get the dogs because you never got married?”
“Or did you not need to get married because you were using the dogs?”
“Oh come on now.”
“I was just wondering what order it came in. Are the dogs enough?”
“You're – I'm going. Goodbye.”
“I was just wondering.” He didn't hang around. He left and then I heard him walk heavily all the way down the stairs and then heard him talk in a high, loud voice to his dogs as he went out the gate. I couldn't hear what he was saying exactly but I'm sure it was supposed to be about me.
Later on I saw a moving truck move some things. The things belonged to someone who lived here. Whoever it was had a long talk with the landlord out in the driveway before he got into his car and left forever. I didn't hear what they said either but I'm ninety percent sure this one wasn't about me.