There was somebody up on the third floor and they were pretty busy yelling out the window at various passersby and waving some kind of home-made flag that was supposed to represent Freedom and Righteousness. I was never really able to figure what they were saying. I like to imagine that they were delivering some powerful sermon all about snakes infesting the land and people being trapped on the intestate in the grip of some incredible disaster…or maybe just a super bad traffic-jam. And maybe there would be huge monsters emerging from the sea and devouring all the children as some kind of cosmic punishment for mankind never really taking the bull by the horns.
Either way, I felt sure that they were probably just yelling out random, incoherent gibberish about all the pussy they didn’t get and how their boss was an asshole. That’s usually what most people who end up yelling out of windows tend to yell about. Right? Right.
We were just sort of moving down the sidewalk, goofing and grooving and dropping little, tiny atom bombs of pretended wisdom on all the freaks who made it out that day. We were determined not to let them spoil our Good Time or our never-ending quest for cherry/vanilla ice cream and cheap cigarettes.
She said, “Good. Good. Double Good.”
I just nodded and we talked a minute about leaving the blanket out on the porch the night before.
We stopped to listen to some kid on the street who was playing guitar and singing about how -if Jesus really loved us- He’d probably call a lot more often than He had in the last two-thousand years. You know; just to at least check up on things a little bit.
We laughed at him and moved on again. That’s when she pulled up the front of her shirt and showed me the pearl-handled pistol she was carrying.
I nodded and grinned and said: “Double-Good.”
It was Love about to happen; right there in the street for God and everybody to see.
“What ever happened to Raymond?” She asked.
It was this thing we had…where we’d make up little stories about people we knew who had drifted off into mysterious lives of misadventure or maybe had been lost in abandoned coal-mines with their little sister.
(You don’t hear about things like that any more and I wonder if it’s because they don’t happen or if it’s just because they do happen and nobody talks about it much.)
“Oh,” I said. “Yeah. Raymond got caught with some teen-aged girl when he was working the late-shift at the Drive-In over in Tula. Yeah. He was busted for statutory rape and the girl’s dad came down and bailed him out so he could haul Raymond off and kill him with a bullet from a gun that he’d bought off an Iranian pawn shop owner. But, now don’t mistake me, he didn’t buy the gun from an Iranian pawn shop…because the pawn shop wasn’t Iranian, it was American; the pawn shop was in America, right? But the owner…well, he was Iranian.”
“Yeah,” she said.
“Now, the dad had this gun and he was gonna go all crazy on Raymond and start pumping him full of hot lead.”
“Lead,” she said and smiled. (She loved it when I talked what she called “Hollywood.”)
“But it turned out that the gun was just as Iranian as the owner and it misfired when he tried to snuff Raymond out. Those Iranians…they can’t make any good guns.”
“But I thought it was American,” she said.
“No,” I said. “I told you he didn’t buy it at the American pawn shop, he bought it from an Iranian pawn shop owner but he bought it from him on the street.”
“But the street was American, yeah?” she asked.
“Well…yeah. But that’s only because they were in America.”
“Well,” she wanted know, “are there American streets in other countries? You know, like Iran?”
“I don’t know, man,” I told her. And I really didn’t. It was one of those things where you start thinking about diplomats and embassies and all kinds of rules for criminal immunity and International Politics; maybe trade agreements and Peace-Time Non-Aggression pacts. I mean, you can imagine the kind of the far-reaching Geopolitical implications that a thing like this could have.
But I didn’t get to think about it too long because she pulled me into the Ice Cream Place and we each ordered a scoop: One Vanilla and One Cherry.
We ate them down in silence with only shared grins and we licked the melted stuff off the edges of our cones and sucked all the juice out through the bottom, the way you will. Then we just sort of shrugged at each at other.
I had visions of us heading back home to the blanket that was still out on the porch and maybe making it out there with the rest of the day almost finished behind us. She was wild when she got all hot on the porch and she would look down at me with that weird, far-off look in her eyes and her lips lingering somewhere half-way between a smile and a grimace. And I could imagine the feel of the roundness of her hips when my hands finally got to where they wanted to be and the way the sun was going to look on her shoulders when she fell forward and spent the last of what we had on that Final Moment. Yeah. That’s what I was thinking when we got up to go.
We were back on the sidewalk and I was mentally double-timing it to get back to the porch when she tugged on my hand and said:
“Now, what happened to Raymond?”
That’s when I realized that we’d forgotten to get the cigarettes.