David Kendall's tale of man mistaken for another man continues. In this episode, the guy who is not William finds out more about the guy who is William. (CL)
It's not that I don't like my apartment. It's fine. It's just when you've lived in dorms and shitty little holes in the wall your entire life with guys named "Chuck" or "Wildcat," having your first apartment should be an exciting event. I live in the apartment equivalent of a cubicle. A seemingly temporary area that could be shifted at any time with simply four walls. No character, no charm. Not even baseboards. This building is probably over 60 years old and all the former residents have sapped all the former beauty from this place. After you slap down a chair, a bed, a television and DVD player, and a preexisting, protruding kitchen, all that's left is a small circle in the middle for me to chase my tail around. I bet you this is where Brooks and Red ended up after Shawshank.
Oh yeah, my phone. The phone is a joke of sorts. I finally got rid of caller ID because I have three phone numbers that call with any sort of regularity: 1. Mom 2. Enrico 3. GHF Student Loan Processing, Inc. Usually, in that order, funny enough. These are the only people who call me and I've sort of become accustomed to it. Routine is good and comforting.
697-1192, pause, ring. The friendly computer woman voices greets me again. "Please enter your password and press..." 739*, "You have two new messages." Two? This is a first. "Message One." My secret computer woman switches to a not so secret woman. "Honey! Why don't you call your father and I? Please don't tell me you are spending all your money on stupid Chinese movies. How are things in..." I quickly press 3, "Message deleted. Message Two." I hear a deep inward breath. I know it's Enrico's breath.
"What up lady killer! I'm on my cell but I had to tell you something. I am watching the wackiest shit I've ever seen. Saw? Seesaw? Whatever! I am watching a man walking his dog, and the man, THE MAN, is still lifting his leg and pissing a fire hydrant. Hold on a second, I'm pulling over." The twist of plastic in hand and rubber clicking on gravel is heard. An opening and closing of a car door follows. "I see you, you sick fuck!" A small, yapping dog starts up along with what can only be interpreted as a man scurrying. "That's right you tubby shit, I see you! Peeing on the street!
Other than the people at work, Enrico is the only person I talk to since I got here. I guess Enrico is good people. I've never really thought about it. When you forge an alliance with someone you met while shoplifting vegetables at the same hippie co-op, you don't know how to place your friendship. But, as long as he can steal things like lettuce and watermelon, I really can't knock him.
Well, after the encounter with the fat man in Chinatown, the hot porn woman, and the man pissing on the fire hydrant, I think I should get the toilet paper I need before I pass out cold. I tumble down the stairs and head to Mr. Juan's. Mr. Juan's is the single best bodega in the city. Refreshingly, it's weed free so I don't feel like I'm going to get bumrushed by a cop every time I walk in there. I tromp across the block to a faded painted sign reading, "Mr. Juan's Friendly Convenience Grocery Liquor Store Stop." A spotlight shines up on a recently defaced sign: "PEPI."
I'm not one to spend any amount of money on anything except two things: Asian martial arts videos and toilet paper. Cottonelle with those ridges is Jesus amazing. I grab my Cottonelle and approach the counter, behind which stands the older man who's always there with a friendly smile. I want to say he is Mr. Juan. Since he is wearing a head wrap and has a long beard, I'm going to take the position that he is NOT Mr. Juan. I could be wrong, since he only speaks in numbers (which is all I've ever heard come out of his mouth), but I really haven't been presented with the opportunity to converse about names with him.
"$3.27," the apparent Mr. Juan bellows. I slap down a five and he starts to make my change.
"$1.73, thank you Mr. William." Mr. Juan smiles and adjusts his thick, black glasses. Oh, please, I don't need this. I think I might use this Cottonelle right now.
"What did you just call me?" I responded.
"Mr. William. You are Mr. William, no?" A broad smile continues across his face.
"Why did you think I was William?"
"You are Mr. William, no?"
I'm trying not to get angry at Mr. Juan, but my voice clearly raises. "EXCUSE ME, MR. JUAN, WHY DID YOU CALL ME WILLIAM?"
"I am not Mr. Juan. Mr. Juan is dead. I didn't know you could speak Mr. William." The phony Mr. Juan hasn't broken his smile. Finally, he holds up a magazine. There is this city's name plastered on the top with a slightly retarded looking man on the cover. This cover boy has thicker glasses then the man in front of me and two Coclear implants protruding from his head like antennae. The headline: WILLIAM SMITH, MUTE BOY GENIUS.
"Mr. Juan, you need new glasses."
"I am not Mr. Juan. Mr. Juan is dead."
I leave with toilet paper in tow thinking about squatting on the counter right there at Mr. Juan's. Two thoughts fill my head as I go back to my cubicle: 1) I really hope that hot chick didn't think I was a retarded mute and 2) what's the the source of my new confidence?