Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Someone with a big heart

(from Two Guys from Garfield)

June 1, 1980

The month changes with a bright sunny day and a chorus of birds cheeping and flapping outside my window.
Rent is due and the landlord’s man prowls outside like an enraged bear.
This is a monthly routine started once Stella sold the place to the new owner. I should be used to it. And the super should be used to the idea that I don’t yet have rent to pay him.
And here I sit on my muted-colored rug listening to his voice roar through the fan.
I want to tell him I really do have a job again and he’ll get his money when I get mine, but I’m scared even to do that. Money had been sparse since I left the band.
It rained last night. So the air is fresh and clean this morning, like air near the sea, and I wish I was on the beach listening to the ocean’s roar rather than my landlord, feeling the sun scorch my skin.
I heard the cry of a gull – not from the ocean, but from the nearby river – and it is filled with despair. And I see it in my head as it dives towards the surface of the water to dip its beak into the ocean surface. I pretend the fan swish is the swish of its wings. I even envy it a little as it comes up with its silver fish for breakfast.
But I am not near the ocean, but here in Passaic, getting ready for my morning jog along the river.
I think of my job at Two Guys, and oddly, of a quiet girl named Ellen, a sweet, yet lonely girl who runs the pet department. This fits her personality.
She comes from an old fashioned local family, who might find her interest in men at the store a little disturbing. Even she feels a little put off, trying to balance her desire with her need for restraint.
She looks like the all American girl with her shoulder length hair and her polished nails. But she always wears a pull over blouse that is far too tight, drawing a lot of cautious stares from the warehouse crew, who also eye the wedding ring she wears – although she has no husband to go along with it. This is a defense against the good time boys who hit on every woman in the place, hoping to get lucky.  But they’re scared of her, partly because she seems to see them the way she seems the pets she keeps, looking to put them in a cage. They say hello to her, but they keep their distance, and word has gotten around that she is “the serious type.” She wants marriage and won’t settle for anything less.
She constantly talks about her father, “that wondrous man” who guide her life.
The psychologist from the office claims she’s looking for a father image, and she laughs when she hears this.
“No, not really,” she says. “I’m just looking for someone with a big heart.”

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