Germaine Installment II

Like all suburbs, Clayola had streets so wide you could fit three humvees side by side. Cookie cutter houses developed from some nobody’s drawing board vision of what comfort would look like if it could be marketed, a commissioned vision obtained and computerized in some high rise building in a city on the other side of the nation. Here they were, green lawns symbolic of the American Dream, stucco pink brown houses with 2 inch wide blind slats and bedrooms bigger than a trailer home. Johnson pedaled slowly down the gently serpentine blocks, alternating between the sidewalk and the radiant expanse of tar. He stopped to take a pull from his thermos, sweating faintly from his roughly 3 1/2 block journey. All part of the Woodsdale gated community. He wheeled his bike up to the yardsale at 1132 Dandelion Drive. A trio of women who may have been in their late 30s but looked like they were in their 50s manned the scattered goods. There were boxes of knicknacks, swaths of dusty fabric, well-broken in shoes from boys long dispersed from the fold, icecube trays that formed icecubes into clovers, lamps that seemingly existed in a universe apart from any given purpose of lighting, hardback books that had never been reprinted, and all sorts of other things that were pleasurable to browse amongst, simply for that moment of juxtaposition between the worn, dusty object and its possible function in your own life, the moment of wonder, when it almost seems that you might actually find a place for this thing on your bookshelf or in your closet or your kitchen–until you snap quickly back to the simple reality that this thing you are holding is sadly mere junk, in fact the purest definition of the word. Junk. But you continue browsing, relentlessly, even through the bins that are quite apparently only fragments of things no longer existing, in the hope that out of the jungle of junk there will be that one item that will give you greater comfort, greater mobility, greater prowess in the kitchen, but that you just could never suck it up to buy new.
But junk, too–it must be said–has its place in our lives; those purposeless objects that we put into storage or that sit unused in the farthest reaches of our rooms. They are symbols of memories and aspects of ourselves that we just cannot let go, even if no longer relevant–like totem items, imbuing our everyday outer world with secret meaning. Someday, perhaps, you think, these objects might serve a function, even though they never have. Or at the very least, you can pass these magic objects onto other people, such as your children or grandchildren, or–if in need of a few bucks to feel that your years of ownership were worth anything–to some stranger lured in by the prospect of cheap usable wares at a yardsale.
Johnson lived down the street from these ladies, but had never seen them before. One of them, head topped with a paisley silk kerchief, offered free lemonade, made from lemons which grew in their own backyard. The lemons were lumpy and sometimes grew in jointed doubles–or once, even triples–as if they had been subjected to nuclear radiation. The lemonade, as Rawlins had stated, was certainly of the mouth puckering variety, and Johnson found that it mixed quite well with the vodka in his thermos.
Germaine came waddling down the street, looking haggard from the journey, his tongue hanging desperately out the side of his snoot like a piece of gum trailing off a shoe.
“GERMAINE!,” Johnson piped, his face feeling doubly warm from the dual forces of the sun and the vodka-lemonade, “What in the hell has gotten into you?” The dog sniffed amiably at a box of old dress shoes and then curled himself into a spot of shade behind a broken grandfather clock.
“Excuse me, but is this your dog?” one of the yard-sale ladies, with a distinct red mustache, asked, pointing down at the german shepherd.
“That’s a tricky question, madam,” Johnson responded, sipping gently at his thermos,”because when one lives with such a dog, as I do, then the issue of ownership becomes somewhat complicated. As in, when I am a slave to his need every afternoon for walks, or to his constant hunger for milkbones, for example, the question is then raised: does he own me, or do I own him?”
“Well, he can’t be sitting here, he’ll drive away customers.”
“Madam, I assure you that young children will be lured into your yardsale in ever increasing numbers by his large furry ears. He poses no immediate threat to your commerce.”
A child then came running from across the street and began to pet the dog avidly.
“He smells like mildew,” the lady with the red mustache said, unrelenting.
“He has no fleas and has been rendered infertile by surgical procedure and he has been given all shots required by law. I have his papers here if you care to see them. Observe the nobility of his snout. 100% pure bred.”
Germaine rolled onto his back to be pet, and his pink penis could be seen flashing wetly in the sun. The child ran away cursing. Johnson quickly diverted attention by asking the price for a handsome set of polished nutcrackers. The rouse turned out to be unnecessary, for just then Rawlins pulled up in his Jetta.


Author: manderson

I live in NYC.

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