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Judgement Call

Tamarind and I walked the produce section of Ralph’s. I stopped to check the ripeness of the Radicchio.

‘I need a painter,’ she said as she squeezed melons.

I watched her meticulously unpack and then restock cantaloupes out of the bin, but made no decision. She didn’t find the ripeness she was on a quest for.

‘Mathias will do it.’ The Radicchio looked fine. I mean how do you even really tell the difference anyway? Must be a color thing. Outside of iceberg lettuce and tomatoes and basic table veggies, I really haven’t a clue.

‘I need my apartment painted.’

‘Oh, he’s not that kind of painter.’ I looked over the herbs and spices. I don’t know. What am I doing? All the sudden I was overwhelmed with everything in the store. Where does all this go if nobody buys it? Right in the garbage, I presume. What a waste.

‘Oh? I see he’s a painter painter?’ Now she was on to the bananas. She took a combo of half-green and half-yellow. Smart move.

‘Yeah but not a paInter’s painter.’

‘So like a man’s man painter, canvases? Like a gay painter.’

That threw me, ‘No not gay, but angry and edgy. Does oil paintings. Like most artists. a self-centered prick.”

‘Is he a drug addict, an alcoholic? Any redeeming damage that would spell talent?’

‘No. He’s very green, still lives at home. Paints still life stuff, country cottage shit, but with a twist.’

‘What possible twist could make those Kincadian abortions palatable?’

‘Whoa! Easy! He paints them with military scenes, foot soldiers & drones. Like, circling the cottages and bombing them. It’s  kind of cool.’ I picked up a bag of lettuce, “pre-washed” it said, with what? Did some guy squirt it with a garden hose while it’s in the picking basket? Did it get sprayed with reclaimed water on a conveyor belt? While all this spun in my head.

‘Oh my god! No way!” She squealed. She picked up a watermelon. Can’t check that for ripeness. Or can you? She tossed it in the cart, smashing the bananas.

‘Fuck it! I want him to paint that scene on my living room fucking wall!’ A young hippie(ish) mom quickly covered her son’s ears and shushed her. She waved her off, ‘are you kidding that is unique and cool as fuck!’

‘On canvas or on the bare wall?’

‘What’s the difference?’ Tamarind was now just throwing things in the cart, grapes, mangoes, obviously, she no longer focused or cares about freshness or ripeness. She was obsessing on the “Kincade” cottage explosion scenes.

‘Well there’s a big difference, if he puts it on a canvas at least you can take it with you when you move.’

‘Oh yeah. I want a canvas. Definitely’ she said simultaneously squeezing peaches. I picked up a plastic box of spinach. “Organic,” it said. Was it? Was anything organic? Isn’t there carcinogens free-floating everywhere at this point? But that wouldn’t have to do with organically grown I guess. I placed it in the cart.

‘How big is the wall.’ Seriously who would want to put a whole scene of an apocalyptic Kincaid on their wall? Maybe I can make a commission if I get him to paint it?

‘Oh like,’ she spread her arms across and up and down.

‘That’s like 8×10 feet. You’re talking like thousands and thousands of dollars.’

‘I don’t care call him!’ I decided it best to give her the number directly. I don’t need a commission. They’ll both have to fight it out.

I wrote a piece of fiction Dude


 

Against my better judgment, I picked up the phone. It was a blocked call.
‘Yes, hello?’

‘I wrote a piece of fiction dude.’ It was Martin, his voice sounded flat, monotone. I didn’t respond. I didn’t know what to say. There was a pause.

‘I wrote a piece of fiction dude,’ Martin said it again in the same banausic tone. Still, I had no idea what to say. Again a pause.                                                                                                    

‘Hello? You there man?’ A light wind through the screen door blew a couple of fur balls across the Pergo flooring.  

‘Yeah man, I’m here.’ The furballs tumbled and settled by the dog’s water bowl. Maybe I should buy a broom?    

‘I wrote a piece of fiction dude?” Now his statement was in the form of a question.                                                                    

I realized that buying a broom would be the obvious choice. But I had a vacuum. It was an old Hoover upright.

It developed a bushing or gear problem though; as a result, it made a sound that I imagined a blender on high-speed that was filled with hex nuts might produce. It had no suction problems though. It worked just as well as the day I rolled it off the ‘Sears Home’ showroom floor. I wore ear protection and even put the dog outside when I used it, because he literally tried to cover his ears with his paws and forearms, or forelegs as it were. It was a lot of pre-production to vacuum. It had been a while since I geared up to do it, and as a result the fur balls tumbled to and fro depending on the direction cross breeze. I’ll get to it. It might be a while, I was single, and it didn’t bother me. The dishes, the laundry, and the dog shit piled up. It didn’t matter.        

“Do you want to hear it?” He asked.

“Hear what?’ Occasionally my mother visits and she will clean and do laundry and even pick up the dog shit. But I realized I felt no different either way.                                                                              

“I wrote a piece of fiction dude,” now his voice sounded stressed and desperate.      

“Sure man, read it.” I pondered the whole bachelor thing. Fuck it. I tried. I guess I’m not a relationship person.  

“Chapter One, the deputy loaded his gun, it was going to be a hot sweltering summer day of crime on the streets of Chicago…”

My mother and father weren’t relationship people either, 11 marriages and or partners between them. Subsequently they gave birth to the same, it doesn’t take Dr. Phil to figure that out, so no mystery there. He continued,      

“…Smithers was a veteran of the Chi Town P.D. He had 40 days and a wake up to a beautiful retirement in Tempe Arizona…”

Maybe just a select few can actually really pull of the relationship game. I mean really pull it off, you know?                                                    

I mean like love cherish respect, death do us part, type of deal.      

“…his wife had begged for the house in Tempe for health reasons, but Smithers had an autistic brother…how do you like my piece of fiction dude?” I didn’t answer, Martin continued reading.