Two Blocks From The Plaza
by Val Papadin, November 28, 2012
Immortality is a bummer for a genius. It lasts too long and it's very noisy. It's hard to rest in peace when millions praise you day and night, on full volume.
Not shabby, Herr Mozart! Bravo, Cervantes! Monsieur Renoir, your painted ladies are so voluptuous, I gave up on the real ones! Even Shakespeare — as bloody as an unlicensed abortion clinic — gets standing ovations.
Things get worse in December, when nights are the darkest and shooting stars have enough g-force to knock out bricks from the memorial wall and crack open urns, spilling their famous ashes.
While the ashes of ordinary people are nothing but dust rich in calcium, it’s a mixture of different ingredients if we talk movers and shakers — sulfur, charcoal, potassium nitrate — yes, gun powder! — that ignites on the slightest impact, releasing rebellious spirits back to the world in flame and smoke.
The good thing about ghosts is they lose their physical bodies but not common sense, and would never turn Sonoma into a ghost town, contrary to the tendency of The Sabotage Committee, aka the Sonoma City Council.
Anticipating my future fame and considering me as one of their own, diseased celebrities lean toward me and follow my steps, which leads to jaywalking in full sight of a Sheriff's deputy.
One of my favorite ghosts is Winston Churchill, damn witty and well mannered. His wife Clementine was also a model of classy behavior. She vigorously fought the barbaric habit the locals display so bluntly — yawning without covering their mouths. I agree with Clementine. Who wants to see someone’s dentures, count birdshots of tooth fillings, observe how the dangling soft palate imitates a pulsing leach of the exited female gland?
The only problem Winston presents — in the previous life, to fool assassins sent by Hitler and Stalin, he was provided with a double, also diseased by now. So I am never sure who is smiling at me — an influential politician or cockney from East London dressed up in tuxedo and taught upper-class lisping.
Since 9am we’ve been sitting in a cafeteria area of the mammoth franchise “The Whole Foods.”
Combatant in every dimension, Winston can’t live without tackling controversial issues, animal rights especially. It’s him who brought to my attention the fact that French tourists visit the USA on Belgian passports to avoid the harassment by angry vegans who declared war on producers and consumers of foie gras.
Which is what? Duck liver. It has been with us since the stinky zoo of Noah’s ark landed on the tip of Ararat, that before the autumn migration, ducks stuff themselves with grain. Their livers become fat and scrumptious. So, the French, prudent gourmets, extended the duck’s gluttony to all four seasons with the help of a funnel. Forced feeding? How cruel. But cruelty is starving animals, not feeding them through the nose. Poor ducks have no choice. Should they? With choice comes indecisiveness, dilemmas and other existential bullshit. Let’s share dreams with avians not nightmares that bring us down. You must admit, foie gras on rye toast is a scream, and here you go, Valentin.
By the way, thousands of ducks get thrown over the fence into the wildness — fly, birdie, fly! They are suspected to be reincarnated humans. Who decides? Basic observation: Is that duck loud? greedy? dirty butt but showing off a monogamous relationship? Then it’s one of us.
I am in a hurry to finish my coffee. Paradise, like hell, doesn’t last forever. Sweet tranquility in public places is more brittle than communion wafers.
Good morning, gentlemen. I'm afraid it's time to leave the premises. You know you are confronted by a Store Manager when you see a paper thin artificial smile, often mistaken for the glossy patches from plastic surgery. Bonjour, madam. Rudimentary French is part of the resurrection package Winston received, but the man forgot: in the States bilingual only applies to spies and Pentecostals.
Internet session lasts two hours; it’s also a time frame for our hospitality. Feasting on the food samples is not encouraged. A slice of melon on a toothpick you call a feast? — That fatty was cruising in the aisles back and forward. — Fatty’s name is Winston Churchill, the British prime minister. If he didn’t replace treacherously naïve Chamberlin in 1940 and didn’t push Roosevelt’s wheelchair down the ramp to action, you would have today 50 little swastikas on your national flag. Don’t get it? You never will, Miss. Besides, Mister Churchill is a ghost, he has no digestive system and can’t eat. Sniffing food is all he does. And does too often. I have a tape.
The Manager’s blackmail’s legit: dark red lenses of the surveillance cameras under the ceiling enhance her authority by the unnerving feature of God Almighty — omnipotence.
With my low income and matching self-esteem I am entitled to a free lawyer. Clementine, levitating next to the table between a flowerpot and promotional balloons, volunteered to represent me.
Valentin writes a novel, sits quietly, bothers nobody, snacks and drinks without shoplifting. Surely he can be left alone. The Manager, hardened by guilt from doing nothing all day long except refilling a duster with fluffy ostrich feathers, hears us not.
Almost transparent and ready to evaporate completely from frustration, Clementine takes the last stand.
Miss, by bringing out your sordid insecurities from your stuffy bedroom to your job site you scare away customers and shipwreck the business. Needless to say, because of bureaucrats like you, unfinished masterpieces flood the libraries and museums around the world. Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, Uncertain Time by Richard Yates etc, etc, etc. You should be fired!
The less syllables, the stronger sarcasm. Poison’s potency is in its concentration.
The Manager left for a few minutes and came back with a built-to-last Assistant, whose chunky biceps and pectorals, like bold fonts in a resume, emphasized his past experience: bouncer.
A strategy of retreats without a fight I mastered on u-tube, clicking “History of the Italian Armed Forces.”
Same day, googling genealogical trees, I tracked down the Manager’s great grandmother who waited on the tables in Deep Cave Tavern on the Adriatic sea coast 2,000 years ago, harassing and short changing a young promising sculpture. Poor guy died from stress and malnutrition, and the world famous Venus de Milo never got her marble arms. ¥¥