Conversations on this Side of the Weird
“We have exceedingly progressive weather,” he informed me with all the mustering blustering of homegrown pride.
I was far too busy thinking my way out of the Cracker Jack box o’ idle connections to be interested, searching for that elusive prize amidst stale sugary bric-a-brac that may unite Vermeer fakes with the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I thought I had it: “it’s a hop to the left…”; a real Vermeer has everything (light and moral maundering by way of symbolism on window panes) coming from and not going to the left…the bland emanation reading as blandly as a written page without boustrophedic return: left to right, carriage return, temperance symbols abounding like illuminated majuscules while the Vermeer subjects are pale variations of the representations of vice…Carolingian miniscule, or the atomization and homogenization of the Dutch class-pastry. Drunken noblewomen losing their nobility and hard luck milkmaids in cliché scenes of frugality and wholesomeness, static moments that would have Caravaggio sneezing in the church cellar of the terminally hopeless, where he was found under so many plague victim bodies.
Back on track, and pacing into focus with immediacy: “What, precisely, do you mean by progressive weather?”
“Oh,” he said, “The weather patterns itself upon local governmental policy, events, the needs of the protected greenbelt, ensuring a regular and average rainfall every year.”
“Ah. Kudos to your city. I’ve never known weather as anything more than surly, grumpy, and uncooperative.”
“It’s what we here call ‘the new weather’.”
“I see.” I didn’t see.
“Our governor was elected on that platform.”
“No, not control, but negotiation.”
I stood corrected.
“I see. Your governor sounds like an amazing man.”
Too much time spent indoors with all these books was this guy’s problem. I was through with this barrage of kooky go-nowhere topics that courted with everybody’s collective neurosis. I just wanted to be left alone with the collection to do my business. I don’t think he was suspicious of me enough to make his presence on the order of surveillance, but rather his intention to have some company.
“Hands!” he exclaimed, a blessing from the obscure angel Eurekiel.
“Pardon?” I was thumbing through a book I was thoroughly intent on concealing without paying for.
“Hands! It just came to me! I ought to start a clinic for compulsive handwashers! I’ll name it the Pontius Pilate Clinic for Hand-Related OCDs. Isn’t that brilliant? Isn’t that great?”
“Like a bolt out of the blue,” I offered with diplomatic non-engagement. I could barely resist now the urge to play with the idea, however, adding with a stroke of cliché this maniac would appreciate, “And Lady Macbeth can be your first patient…Forcing her to accept the spot instead of manically trying to get it out. Or perhaps Lady Macbeth would make a better figure for a laundry spot-stain remover. I can see it already: a dose of culture with a dose of the quotidian clean.”
The tracks were already changing in his schizoid network. I was sure that he only heard half of what others said, and only when exercising the most fixed concentration.
“Do you think Guy Fawkes is at the gates?”
“I don’t know,” I said. Guy Fawkes was his schizo-tagline totem and a personal centering device. It meant nothing at all. It was merely his madness idling during the intervals of steam-less nothing-left-to-say. All the same, the constant return to mention of Guy Fawkes was trying at best. I had given up attending to a meaning that wasn’t there. I hated coming to this bookstore, but it had the best selection in town for light lifting.
“Why do you suppose Guy Fawkes is a doodle-dandy?” he asked with the summoned earnestness only the mentally deranged are capable of.
“I don’t know,” I said, trying to shut this conversation down with a cue of distraction and disinterest. Madmen don’t take obvious social cues.
“Ha ha! Guy Fawkes, the Boxtop Kid!”
Boxtop Kid was yet another reigning member of his schizoid pantheon, another conversational item in his rambling repertoire, and he frequently merged them together in a word-string mélange.
“The Boxtop Kid is kissing Guy Fawkes. Do you think Guy Fawkes will get to the gates to see the Boxtop Kid?”
“I don’t know.” Suddenly, I was missing the more familiar inanity of weather-controlling governors.
“Yeah, the Boxtop Kid treats me all wrong, but I really want to date him. Do you think Guy Fawkes will get angry? Why does the Boxtop Kid think he’s any good when he’s so wrong?”
“Perhaps that is the mystery of our times,” I said offhandedly. He seemed genuinely concerned about this whole messy Guy Fawkes Boxtop Kid tryst.
“Guy Fawkes, the Boxtop Kid!” he chirped with the grin of a child who has made the ultimate mud pie.
“Yeah, listen, I think I need some more concentration time with your books to find the one I need.”
Hints only work on the socially aware.
“Yeah, the Boxtop Kid can really date Guy Fawkes…at the gate! Do you think they’ll go on a double gate with a date?”
I was through indulging these recurrent fictions. There was nothing I could conversationally grip, thereby excluding me from any possible meaningful participation not that I was all that eager to engage when all I wanted was to steal a book or two. I was just another wall for him to throw his prolific mind clutter against. Only he understood the context of what he referred to, somewhere lodged deep in the torturous spirals of his garbled thoughts, and even that was full of madcap detours and absurd dead ends. It was English, and the sentence structure had verbs and nouns in just the right proportions…but yet he made no sense. Others who have been around him for long enough were also treated to long nonsense ramblings about Guy Fawkes and the Boxtop Kid.
Trying to find reason in madness will invariably lead to one lapsing into madness. Crazy always wins, and trumps all. In the end, I just couldn’t obtain the necessary privacy to lift a book, so I gave up.
© Dr. Kane X. Faucher