City Story II


Hunter keyed his way into his building and climbed the six sets of stairs to his sanctuary and prison. His refuge and battleground. The answering machine light bleeped in repeated four minute intervals and he was excited to know that someone had wanted to talk to him. He pressed the play button and listened to the voice of a friend he hadn’t heard from in a while re-crafting the connections that made her immediately present in his life again. It was good to know that love continued, that it was not simply a bubbled world lost like Atlantis to the submergence of time and fading memory. Hunter executed a quick dance-step, a little kung-fu jig that expressed his joy to himself that he was alive and recognized.

Hunter sat on his floor and stretched. It was something he did daily when he got home from work, something he did with religious conviction–exhaling slowly as he inched forward, stretching different leg muscles in a few various poses. It was yoga except that he didn’t know that it was yoga. He thought of Yoga as a sweaty room with an Indian pretzel guru guiding huffing middle class white people through feats of balance and groin pulling. This was mere stretching. He was working out the kinks in his system.

The light of the Corolla sign across the street blinked, a stuttering blink that was annoying to the point of driving him insane at first when he moved in, but now it was reassuring, a crippled reminder that he was home, largely unnoticed except when he stared at it. A stammering blinking that whispered at the edges of his subconscious apartment visual space, the way the repetitive ticking of an old grandfather clock goes unnoticed until suddenly you hear it again for no reason at all and then you can’t stop listening to it. But it was reassuring, this monotonous stuttering. It was reassuring in the way that the muttering homeless man with his white sneakers and plastic cape on the corner was reassuring. It assured you that the world was unknowable and mundane and that it was consistent as long as you didn’t pay attention to it.

Hunter put some bread in the microwave to thaw it out from the freezer. He chose some Dixieland jazz from his CD collection and put it on. He changed into what he liked to call his flappy pants and he puttered about the apartment with his shirt off, feeling the cool hardwood floor against his feet. He liked to do this, putter about without purpose. It felt good to putter about and feel the cool floor on his feet and have nothing to do. He fluttered about in his flappy pants and took bites from a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The trick to making a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich is to put a ridiculous amount of both peanut butter and jelly on it. Even more peanut butter. The jelly is really just there to counter the dryness of the peanut butter, to provide a basic counterpoint. Damn a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich is just about one of the best things to chew on as you putter about your apartment, and it never lasts long enough. One sandwich is never enough. But you don’t want to make another one. Another one would be overkill, it would ruin what was good about the first one. Plus it just takes extra effort that really isn’t worth it, not when you’ve got bananas sitting just perfectly ripe on top of the fridge.

Hunter peeled the banana the way apes do, from their natural tops, the half without the taper, because he had read that apes peel their bananas in this way. He consciously made the decision each time he picked up a banana to peel it down from the non-tapered end, because this is the way apes did it. He figured that if apes did it, then there must be a good reason for it, beyond our immediate understanding. It imbued his banana peeling with deeper significance. He felt slightly righteous as he peeled the banana, like he was in tune perhaps with some primal forces that others who might peel their bananas heedlessly could not understand.

A banana which follows a well made peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a form of heaven, a slice of paradise. It is the little things that count, the cool floor on the feet, the puttering about and the meditational imbibing of the banana. The flapping of the pants as the Corolla sign flickers lonely but always going. The old time jazz, back when jazz was dance music, back when people did not sit down to listen and reflect on the solos, they did not see the colors flying in the spaces between the notes–they got onto the dance floor and shook their rumps to it, their asses were down in it, they were shaking inside of the music. Before the world came together and apart and grew self-conscious of itself.

Now in this post-modern time, Hunter thinks. Post-post-modern. Pre-something. In the middle of something going to something from something. To modernize was to become aware of oneself and to proclaim this, to make a song of oneself, to destroy oneself. To post-modernize was to deconstruct the self, to fragment the self, to see the pieces of self in the all self. Or something like that. To become lost in the primordial soup like a matrix mystic. Now where were we?

Hunter turned on his desktop computer and waited for the hard drive to stop clicking and opened up his word processing software.

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Author: manderson

I live in NYC.

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