fast and slow

by Ben Timberlake

She stood up for what must have been the 10th time in 1/2 hour to see if paint flecks from the curb were on her shorts.

Her butt was clean. She sat back down on the 2-foot section of curb that belonged to her and her purse this afternoon.

Ever since Rick had told her to get the fuck out of the pickup with the camper top, then screeched a You-turn in the middle of the road that made it look like the camper would fall on its side and take the little green truck with it and she had, gotten out, and crossed the street and blurrily, tearily, sat on the first thing she saw, which was the curb — ever since then, she’d sat there on the curb of a tiny little parking lot — really just an indentation of diagonal parking — in front of a lawyer’s office, barbershop and pet store.

And then, as her tears dried a little, but she still seemed to have trouble seeing things, she could make out a pink blob across the street, right by where Rick had told her to get the fuck and she had. And the pink blob is really nothing more exciting than a tackily-painted beauty salon with large plate glass windows framed by pink-painted what are probably 2x4s. And the logo on one window is a circle with three points, at each point a graphic representative of some important feature of the salon, one supposes: a pair of scissors open and ready to lay some serious waste to an unruly and not-depicted head of hair, a cartoonish hand with even more cartoonish multi-color painted fingernails and a very simple but also large fish which is one of those fish that means Jesus.

Also on the windows are some pasted-on letters that spell out “Walk In’s Welcome.”

This woman on the curb — she — had stared at the apostrophe in “In’s” for a long time, probably about 20 minutes. But not because she had any grammatical problem with it like maybe someone else would — this fairly common offense of over-apostrophizing escaped her, admittedly limited, Bad Grammar Radar completely. But she was nevertheless let’s say transfixed — even if, actually it’s a choice for her to stare — by the apostrophe so that she does not have to look too closely at the directly-in-front-of-her pink painted 2x4s which seem like they could make her throw up.

And there was no leaving the curb. Didn’t even really enter into her head in any conscious, mental-linguistic way. Mostly because she had nowhere to go, but also because this woman on the curb, she was not a Woman of Action. Others in her place might have hustled to the closest burger and a beer joint to win a quarter for a phone call off of some dirty, desperate Joe at the bar, using and accentuating her aging but still-potent and lethal breasts and butt.

But she, as noted, was not Action-oriented nor, actually, were her boobs and butt still potent or ever had been, potent. Plus, she really had no one to call, anyway.

And also, she clung to the, what, now several hours-old and increasingly totally unrealistic, she knew — clung to this hope that Rick would return, apologize and invite her gruffly but sincerely back into the truck. Then they would continue their camping trip in the Rockies for which she had saved up her four vacation days at the Village Inn. Vacation days that didn’t matter now, since she’d been fired two days before the trip in a sort of double irony probably because of the trip, she thought. And that also meant no tips for two days that would have helped fund the trip and that she would have now had in her purse sitting next to her on the curb. And so the tips and vacay days were gone, lost to her unscrupulous manager, also full-named Richard, but whom all the other girls at VI called Dick when he wasn’t around and/or within earshot.

And so she sat there, pretty still, not potent, blurry-sighted, waiting and hoping and transfixed, none of which manifested at all. She could have been a statue or a very happy but still woman on a curb or even a strange and geographically challenged performance artist.

If some film crew had come that day to film a time-lapse film of that particular tiny parking lot, the resulting film would have featured a rapidly moving traffic light from red to green with flashes of yellow, cars appearing to appear and disappear as they stopped for the light, an occasional wispy cloud hustling across the sky, and a fade of that washed-out cornflower blue sky to a golden orange like a diffuse explosion, to a deep blue and on into black. And also a woman who sat there still, with occasional, brief spastic bursts that were actually just her looking at the butt of her shorts for paint.

If the film crew that was not there at all, but if it had instead shot its short time-lapse film from where the woman sat, it would have seen another woman — possibly the salon’s owner — painting a mural on the wall of the salon that was bricks instead of painted-pink antacid-looking 2x4s and window.

The sitting woman watched the painting woman and the progress of the mural, which was almost imperceptible, even in a hypothetical time-lapse film. But so far, the mural portrayed a thin waterfall tumbling from near the top of the wall over a wall of painted flat horizontal stones that must have been laid and not just occurred naturally in the world of the painted mural. It also, the mural, had some tropical-looking plants and some fairly un-tropical-looking sky. Not really the type of scene one would expect to encounter on a camping trip: neither the process of a mural being painted, nor the scene it depicted.

She hoped that the supposed owner woman would extend the mural to include the antacid 2x4s and the windows and she hoped that it would happen soon because the pink and the scissors and the nails and the fish, though not the apostrophe, bothered her in a pretty bad way. Or, like, it would also be okay for some tallish vehicle to pull up into the parallel parking spot in front of the salon to obscure the 2x4s, windows and mural and actually, if that vehicle were green and equipped for camping and occupied by someone who would apologize for the demand of get out, that might be the best outcome. Then she could leave the curb, forget the pink and mural and the scissors, happy to see things only occasionally, be they hideous or beautiful.

But the best hope seemed right now to be the extension of the mural onto the windows, etc. She couldn’t wait for the mural forever, though, because she didn’t plan to sit here forever, even though she had no immediate plans to move and actually no plans of any kind at all.


Past pieces presented by Baja Phats

Two lists by Secho
Moving Day by Erin
the morning train by Fuzzy Winkerbean


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