Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Riding in the back of a cab as it headed north up State Street, Wallace saw another ad for Amos' Carpet Cleaning posted on the inside of a bus shelter.  Asking the cab to pull over, he jumped out, snatched the flier and jumped back in, his patent leather shoes barely squeaking as he whirled.  Amos had a lot of nerve making off with his Kinko's card in the middle of the afternoon and then using it to advertise a barely existent business founded largely on constantly borrowing Wallace's upright carpet steamer.  

Wallace's own carpets could use a good cleaning, he fumed, as he stared at the block letters handwritten with sausage-sized Sharpie markers and poorly spaced so that the phone numbers crowded together at the right hand of the page.  If Amos had ever so much as learned to turn on the iMac, he could have made a much more professional flier.  On the other hand, then he probably would have used all the ink and paper in Wallace's aging printer, which would have coughed and sputtered and frustrated even Amos until he gave up and took the salvageable copies to Kinko's and still used all the money on Wallace's card.

Wallace ground his teeth and kicked the seat in front of him.  Swearing in Swahili, the driver turned to glare at Wallace, still moving forward in traffic.  "I know those words, you know," cried Wallace, gripping his armrest, "I ran track with KENYANS!" he screamed the last word as the car coasted to a stop inches from a bicyclist.  The driver turned back forward, but glared at Wallace in the rear view mirror.  

"What?" Wallace sneered.

"Wamos Brothers Cleaners," the driver replied, "They are not nothing.  AND there is one brother. It makes no sense."

Wallace frowned down at the flier and then held it up to the light.  "AMOS," he said, "Amos... Brothers."  He pointed at the A.

"Wwwamos," nodded the driver, "with a double you.  Funny name!" He laughed and threw his head back as he changed lanes.

Wallace squinted at him and then at the flier again, and finally he saw it--a large, flowery W before Amos' name, which he had mistaken for a decoration.

Staring out the window he thought very hard about the name, about his copy card, and about his upright steam cleaner.  He came to no conclusions, but he decided he wouldn't ask Amos about the card at dinner tonight after all.  


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Three Names

Regina Amanda Wilson had huffed all her shopping bags three extra blocks because the sales clerk had pointed the wrong direction to the bus stop, and so she woofed out all her breath when she sat down on the fire hydrant.  Her dentures were loose and they were starting to bother her gums, so she sucked at them, making a chirping sound like a bird, and said "Summertime.  Summertime" to herself, thinking of the November heat.

Jennifer Lawndale Montgomery was never one to stare, so when she heard the chirping noise she glanced for no longer than 2.5 seconds and then gazed off at the wooden artists' dummies in Blick's window.  She had also had great difficulty wearing lipstick, and found the waterproof/smudge-proof/nuclear-attack-proof kinds made her look like a Kewpie doll, so she felt only sympathy when she noticed the woman had bright red smudges staining her front teeth.

Regina's back was bad and her legs were worse, but the words for both conditions always eluded her when she needed them, so she just gave voice to her complaints with a low pitched "Oh.  Oh" and "Oh my" as it occurred to her.  She stretched her neck around and around and thought that the twitchy young woman in front of her might be wearing a wig.

Jennifer stared intently in as many other places as possible, but she felt that the chirping woman  was staring at her and it made her scalp crawl.

Regina noticed that the young lady kept touching her unusual hair, and she murmured "Mm Hmm" to herself before going back to contemplating her sciatica.

Jennifer snuck a peek at the woman on the hydrant and found that she was, in fact, staring at her, and so she felt justified in rolling her eyes before turning away again.  When Jennifer's bus arrived, she boarded it in relief and quickly made for the very back corner seat where she could safely pretend to sleep.

When Regina's bus arrived, she noticed that the unsettling wigged woman boarded it ahead of her and considered waiting for the next one.  But the hydrant was starting to put her legs to sleep, so she heaved herself up, gathered her bags, and boarded the bus.  On the back bench seat she sat beside the young woman and inspected her hairline from another angle.

Jennifer almost opened her eyes when she heard the chirping approach, but instead she screwed her eyelids closed even harder.  As the bus picked up speed a nice breeze came up the back of her neck and cooled her head.

Sitting beside the young woman, Regina could tell that her hair was real, especially once the wind started to batter her from behind.  She felt sorry for her, that her real hairdo looked so much like a wig.  "At least she don't have cancer, though," she said to the man to her right who nodded and looked out the window.