How different would my life have been if my name was Romulus?
A man died today, poisoned by asparagus in a seafood restaurant. I don’t like seafood, or asparagus. But it was asparagus sauce. How different might my life be, or not be at all, if I liked asparagus, asparagus sauce, seafood?
I light the stub of a cigarette I found under the seat of the car. I saw a man drop ten cents on the floor of the bus today. He looked to it, almost bent, then walked on. His price is more than ten cents. Maybe his price is twenty cents. Or more. If I could have picked it up from my seat I would have, but I was too far. He straightened his cord jacket when he turned back and walked on, but he looked sheepish. He thought about that ten cents later, I’m sure of it. I did, well, I am now, aren’t I?
I smoke with the cigarette out the window. I only have a few minutes of it, it’s that short. And this is the best way to savour it. At the lights you must be able to see a drift of smoke rising up from the car door, my hand careless with the stub, and I’m gonna drop it on the ground just when the light goes green. It looks good at night, I think. There’s a red ember on the ground, smoke teasing upwards. And the car behind me would think who’s that there up front? Who dropped their cigarette to shine like that at night?
You have to keep testing yourself. To find your price. Mine always seems to be lower. Or at least the test gives me lower choices. Later today I bet that man will want for ten cents more. And he won’t have it. Some kid, who doesn’t yet know about the prices, will be buying lollies with it. You can get three sour worms for ten cents. Well, you used to be able. It’ll make his day. He doesn’t care that he had to bend for it on the bus, that his shoulder caught the dress of the lady next to him, and rode it upwards when he stood again. He doesn’t even give a shit.
I met a guy in the surf the other day. He was looking around for something. So I looked around for something as well. Just because someone’s looking, you always think there’s something to be found. I was looking for fish – whiting, maybe – it seemed the obvious thing. But, turns out he was looking for a wedding ring. Just swim that way man, that’s the best thing you can do, I said and pointed West to the horizon. Poor guy, I shouldn’t have said that. I was swimming in my underpants, had forgotten my shorts. I wasn’t to be giving advice. I was crouching in the water, looking shorter than I am, but not giving away that I was in blue underpants that stick to your body and show the contours of your dick when they’re wet.
I found five bucks in the surf that day. Sort of felt bad for the guy without the wedding ring, and looked for him swimming West. Thought about giving him the five, but it paid for the parking spot right on the beachfront. It was worth it, that spot. Someone would have seen the Merc there and thought – what a spot. What a spot for a car like that. That guy’s just parked right at the front; last spot before the water’s edge, and just cruised in for a swim. He just doesn’t give a shit, just came for a swim, probably swimming in his undies. That’s a happy man there. That’s what I think they thought.