April 5, 2015
I had the blahs last evening so I drove toward Alton. The bars were crammed with customers, but nearly everything else was shut down.
On the beltway I saw a familiar neon restaurant sign and a parking lot full of people. I drove there and treated myself to a milkshake and a sandwich. Okay. People were post-Easter feast and dressed down to my all-the-time-level.
The manager, a forty-something, portly, balding guy came over and struck up a conversation: How was I? How was he? Okay.
And I had my sandwich and I slurped up every drop of my strawberry-with chocolate-on-top milkshake. Two teen waitresses, one black, one white, cleared tables. Life was okay.
I walked to the cash register to pay my bill. The manger was talking to a couple my age. The subject was handguns. And, you know, when you’re in a line in this neck of the woods, you wait. They talked Glocks and Colts, and what kind of gun was behind the counter, and the husband of the couple said he had multiple guns.
It all seems absurd to me–gun talk. I don’t get it. I will never get it–that level of fear. But I perked up when the manager mentioned incongruously that his choice of handgun was dictated by his other job: bounty hunter in St. Louis.
Whereupon the wife, fresh from her Christ-filled Easter said, “How do you tell them apart?” And she and the hubby began laughing–I was standing behind her. And she turned and saw me and said merrily, “They all look alike!” Haw, haw, haw!
I said, “You racist bitch.”
She choked, as though her laughter was a solid object constricting her throat. Her husband said to her, “What did that guy say to you?”
I turned and walked out, half expecting gun play. I drove west, my arms shaking. I got home and I didn’t kick the cat.
And I seethed.