Saturday, February 25, 2006

the art of normal

"So, what did you tell her?"

You're leaning on your elbows across from me, and I'm steadying a spoonful of soup midway between bowl and mouth. More broth than chunks - just the way I like it. Raise to lips. Out of habit, I blow gently across the surface of the liquid. Slight ripple. Spoon entering mouth, my tongue is met with the brackish twang of imitation chicken mixed with a slight hint of metal from cheap diner cutlery. Grimace. Reluctantly swallow, and I'm thinking about the mix in the pit of my stomach - cheap broth meeting cheaper coffee.

"Come on, are you going to keep me in suspense all day?"

"All right, all right." I put the spoon down and push the bowl of filth aside. Motion to the waitress that I'd like my coffee topped up. "I told her the same thing I tell all inquirers," I say. "I told her that it was fiction, that it was written straight from my imagination, and that it was about nobody in particular, but a conglomeration of illusory beings."

You push a shock of blonde out of your vision. Straighten your glasses. "She must have been a little disappointed," you offer.

"More than, I think. But it's the same way with all of them. It's like magic," I say. "Everyone wants to know how the magician does his tricks, but when the secret is revealed, the audience is disappointed and wishes they'd never been shown."

"You mind?" you ask, displaying your pack of cigarets.

"Not at all," I say, sliding the plastic ashtray over to you. "I think I'm done eating."

"So, what happened after that?" you ask, lighting up with little ceremony.

"Well, she halfheartedly asked a couple more questions, snapped a photo, made small talk while packing up her gear, and then I signed her copy of the journal before bidding her adieu."

"Wow." Puff of smoke, cigaret dangling. "Sounds like the interview took a real turn."

I nod, take a sip of weak coffee. "The magic was gone," I say. "She caught the magician without his cape, found him buying milk and bread at the local market in worn jeans and a threadbare Jane’s Addiction t-shirt."

"And you love it," you chuckle. You know me too well.

Pause. I take a moment, pretending to think. Smile. "Yes," I say. "I really do. But that's me - butcher of dreams since 1857."

You laugh. "So, what do you have planned for the rest of the afternoon?"

"I think I might go haunt the used bookshops downtown for awhile," I say, "see what there is to see. Would you like to come along?"

"Love to," you say, stubbing out your cigaret. "I couldn't have thought of a more delightfully mundane way to spend the afternoon if I tried."

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