Another day of being here, but not open. I am working away. Listening to magnificent life working away outside in the sunlight
‘Do you want me to get your fukn smoko or something?’
This is a green ute and two men, one seated in the car and one standing by, wanting to get at the food but having to wait for the fool in the front seat to finish scrolling.
‘Ok, whada you want?’
‘Oh yeah, you know, whadever. Get me a savoury.’
‘Jesus. All right then.’ He walks off, heavy with duty. The man in the front seat goes back to his phone. Things to look at.
I go back to sorting. Wiping covers, chasing dust, changing the displays. I am heavy with duty.
‘That’s expensive, two dollars…’ Two ladies pass quickly, a flash of gold, a shopping bag swung lightly, containing small contents of great value. Must contain a book.
The back room is arranged. Ready. History is organised for once. Fiction translated from other languages is full for once. They sit lightly, containing no small contents of great value.
A group of three pass the windows.
‘Yeah. I thought, what’s he going to try next?’
‘Ha ha he he he. The laugher laughs in careful laughs. Emphasizing how funny the joke is, and also how funny it probably isn’t.
“Yes, the bloody idiot.’ The voices fade. Another group take over.
Yeah, I’ll have a potato pie, and a hotdog and something with cream.’
‘You allowed all that, Alan?’
‘Oh, it’ll be all right, here’s me money.’
I stop to go to the bakery. I want a potato pie, a hotdog and anything with cream. I am careful to stand on the crossed crosses. The bakery staff look sad. I go back and eat in the back room by myself underneath mystery and crime.
‘Come on.’ A clear call. I am cleaning the windows.
There was a chirping, a tiny voice I could not hear. They are just out of sight.
Chirping. It goes on and on. The listener, a young mother listens to all of it. Patient and kind and exhausted.
‘You are not listening.’
‘Come here and take my hand.’
‘There are no mushrooms growing on the road.’ The voices fade.
I am finishing. Everything sparkles again.
Two ladies pass and look at my door, and one asks the other if she has ever been in there. The other lady answers, no, but it’s too late now, it’s gone.
I laugh. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.
Only this morning, a teenager asked to be allowed in. In she came, pacing back and forth for an hour, obedient with hand sanitizer, piling books, pleased and wanting, as young people always do, the classics; have you got To Kill a Mockingbird, have you got this, have you got that, have you got basically everything that is really good. Frowning and wanting and needing to read stuff, so no, I’m not gone.
With thanks to Holly.