I walked up to the local bookstore, and… as I passed the counter upstairs where they, uh, serve coffee and have some jars with cookies in them, I heard an old man—and he can’t be that much older than me, can he? How old is old? I’ll be fifty-four [throat clearing] in less than a month… Say that guy was seventy-four, that’s not that much older than me, but I don’t think he was seventy-four, even. And he said, now there was no one around except me, and he didn’t see me, I was passing behind him at the time, and he said it with a… contemptuous, uh… pout, “Huh! One dollar for a cookie.” I believe that was the phrase. It was—it couldn’t have been “A cookie for a dollar.” Or “One cookie for a dollar.” Maybe that was it. “One cookie for a dollar!” he grunted… disapprovingly.
I thought, “What century are you from, mister?”
Stuff is expensive now. This isn’t a cookie store.
And even if—especially if it were a cookie store, your cookies would probably be even more expensive! Some kind of fancy cookie with a macadamia nut in it. [Laughter. Coughing.]
You should be thankf—you don’t have to buy the cookie! Nor did you attempt to buy the cookie. I guess you’re just lamenting the ways of the world.
And then I was poking around the bookstore some more, and… later, as I was leaving, that guy was comin’ back in! And I thought, “What? Are you comin’ back to scoff at the dollar cookies again? You didn’t get enough… contempt, uh… in your veins? Comin’ back for one last buzz over the dollar cookie jar?”
Well, that guy was, was not happy.
How am I different from this man?
Tex is still here. He plans to stay for, uhm [coffee being poured]… some amount of weeks. He ordered… some tripods… He’s eager to set up his state-of-the-art virtual reality equipment in our house and, uh, insists that we invite our friends over to, uh, experience it. But the tripods are gonna take a while to get here. So.
He’s still at the place he calls the “haunted chicken mansion.”
Anastasia texted her friend Darrell to make sure it’s okay that Tex is still there. Tex intends to fix a sprinkler that shoots… a ten-foot stream of water straight up… uh, and it… arcs, and… lands in the street. He has sat… I suppose on Darrell’s porch, and watched—or maybe gazed from a window and watched… uh… cars being… attacked by this… stray spray of water.
His intention is—did I say this? To… I guess he’s ordered a part and he’s gonna fix the sprinkler. That’s his way of… that’s his way of saying thanks.
He bought a squash at the farmer’s market. Uh, with some fanciful name like a—it’s not a “pity-pan.” Can it be? Ah, that’s very close. And he, and he, and he wanted to fry it… and he did fry it, but he said he made a terrible mess of it. It was a very attractive squash. Looked like a flying saucer. A UFO. A pale… a pale greenish… like one of the horses from… the book of Revelation, I guess. Isn’t there a pale green horse? Did I [short laugh] make that up?
Anyway, he almost washed the cast-iron skillet before somehow recalling… I, you know, I imagine, knowing Tex, he looked it up on his phone and realized he shouldn’t wash this cast-iron skillet.
Tex comes over every day. I’m not used to having company every day. Tex is delightful company. I mean… as Anastasia puts it, he’s “easy.” You know, he just sits and… we just go about our normal lives and he’s part of it now [laughter].
Tex and I ate some frozen yogurt yesterday on the square. We sat on a bench and a storm gathered. And it began to lightning, and, and the clouds were furious, roiling, dark, menacing. And a woman walked by on the sidewalk and, and looked me in the eye and said, “Hi!”
And I said…
“How are you,” she said.
“I’m fine, how about you?” It was obvious that she knew me, but I couldn’t remember… [bird tweeting] who she was. [Bird tweeting.]
And then I thought, oh, I think I recognize her. I think she worked in the film documentary department at the university. I said, “Are you still at the…”
And she said, “Nella’s?” Which turned out to be the name of a women’s clothing store.
I kinda made a vague, “Uh-huh.”
And she wouldn’t let me off the hook. She said, “What were you going to say?”
And I said, “Oh, uh… uh…”
And as Tex told me later, I just made a gesture with my hand for, he said, as long as six seconds. [Laughter.] And I was [stifled laugh] trying to, with my hand, trying to… show the shape of the… of the hallway where [laughter] this woman used to work, I guess, or the woman for whom I had mistaken her.
And she just stared and wouldn’t let me… wouldn’t interrupt my hand gesture [laughter]. And I was, uh, obliged to say, “You know, the university.”
“No, no! Of—no! I haven’t… no!” Indignantly. And then she left.
She really wasn’t going to let me off the hook. And Tex told me that this same woman had already made the circle and walked by us once before, with her—and he demonstrated how she was looking at the ground with her head cocked slightly toward us and a… and a strange smile on her face.
So I don’t know… for whatever reason she had to circle… circle the square, so to speak, and come back around to make her approach, her rather intimidating [laughter], uh, approach.
It’s a mystery.
Maybe she mistook me for someone else, you know? Maybe I’m not who she thought I was.
This way, please to the next chapter.
Jack Pendarvis has written five books. He won two Emmys for his work on the TV show Adventure Time. During a period of light employment, he spoke into a digital recorder whenever the mood struck him and transcribed the results, accumulating the two thousand pages from which this column has been extracted.