Wednesday, October 15, 2008

houston street

On an orange afternoon, a dark skinned veteran of sidewalk retail stood on Houston Street. He was behind a table of wooden sculptures, pipes, and grinders. At the edge of the table, there was an overloaded cardboard box filled with bowls and bongs, labeled 'Tabacco USE only'.

Two young girls walked west on the block, coordinated only by their lack of coordination in posture and dress. They saw the man and his wares, and began to talk business. "Can we get a student discount? We're students," asked the bolder of the two, "These are hard times! Brink of depression and all that."

"Yes, exactly," said the man, his hair curling tighter, "That's why I have to charge thirty-five dollars. It's a good price, this is good glass. Look! It's Pyrex!" He took a glass elephant-shaped pipe and smacked it hard on the table three times. Then he gave it to the taller girl. She held it in her hands and inspected it, noticing many tiny cracks on the interior. She looked at the bottom and realized that to smoke out of it, she would have to plug up the elephants asshole with her finger, and suck smoke through the trunk.

"I have fifteen! Say you have fifteen!" The shorter girl suggested to her friend in an attempt to add momentum to their bargaining.

The man seemed offended. Deeply, sorely offended. He shook his head and told the girls in a mysterious accent that he could not accept their offer, and would not come down a cent from thirty-five dollars. The girls tried a few more times to wear down the warrior of paraphenalia, but it could not be done. They thanked him graciously-- "We just can't afford you!"-- and continued walking west. When they were more than halfway down the block they heard a voice calling after them.

"Wait! Hey, wait! Stop! STOP!"-- they were almost out of earshot-- "YO! Girls! Comebackcomebackcomebackcomeback! We'll make a deal, yes?" The girls turned around purely for their own benefit and laughed at the sudden aggression of the man they had just dealt with so peacibly. His accent and volume made him sound very much like he was caught in a garbage disposal. With one final gasping shriek he let his eyebrows collapse to his lids and said, "FIVE DOLLARS."

The girls laughed harder. "Five dollars? I knew those were pieces of shit. Pyrex? Bullshit that's Pyrex." It didn't mean much. The man's offer was generous but desperate, and his wailing augumented his heart problem. He tried to inhale and found that he couldn't, it pierced him far too deeply to try. His heart burst in his chest, his ribs crumbled into ash, and he landed, blood pouring from his eyes and mouth, on his box of glassware. The box toppled over, with all the contents spilling and making fatal contact with the warm concrete. The pavement was a gorey mosaic of colored glass, blood, and sweaty, matted hair.

"Where do you want to go now?" said the shorter girl as they continued West.

"Wherever," said the taller girl, "Let's just walk until we find something."

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