Monday, February 23, 2009

King of the World

This tall, bald fella with glasses came into the Red Eye, set his coat and a tote down at an empty table and began fluttering about “helping.”

He took magazines from the rack on the wall and added them according to some random internal pattern to the tables in the rest of the shop. He put creamer packets in a neat row under the non-functioning payphone in the back room while having a conversation with no one at all through the dead receiver.

He arranged a fist full of straws on the bench by the phone. He went into the bathroom, pulled the liner out of the trash can, set it on the floor, flushed the toilet, locked and closed the door with himself on the outside to prevent anyone from messing about with anything. He randomly informed customers that the coffee was very good and there was plenty of it.About the time he pulled out the duct tape and began looking for a place to use it, the owner thought maybe he should go.

Why?!, he yipped. "I’ve made myself very clear! I’m tired of being polite to you about this! Fine…I’ll go. You know where to find me. You know where I work. Why do I have to leave? You should be doing all this (with an expansive hand gesture)! It’s not my job to stock the shop! You can call the Chinese place around the corner! I’m busy! I’m in the phonebook, you can page me. There are pagers all over town. There are clocks all over town – you probably have one at home – and they watch you through them. I don’t need this! I’m going!”

So he was gone. Pushing determinedly off to the next obsessive compulsive crisis where only he could save the situation. I’m not sure about him: is he to be pitied because he doesn’t know he’s gone momentarily crazy, or does this make him king of the world?

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