This blog is welcome to anyone and everyone, regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. Unless you don't like writing short stories or smelling bear. Or if you voted for the other guy. Also, I don't really like it when you leave up the toilet seat, so could you stop doing that? Muchas, muchas gracias.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

That's The Way (A Riddle)





This was a season of fog and more fog, sometimes misting into rain. You went out there early, all socked in, the streets black with wet, and the sky was so close you breathed cloud. The car windows were obscured with droplets and the cypress next to the sidewalk let loose fat showers that felt warm and sticky. You wore a stiff waterproof overcoat and a rain hat, but the ends of your long hair curled and frizzed; there was no way to escape the fog.

Parking was tough in this city and twice a week the street sweeper came through, its muted hazards blinking, followed by a traffic cop who'd leave a forty dollar ticket under your wiper blade if you hadn't moved your car. Only a few people who made it home early found a great spot and didn't have to run out to the street in the morning to find a new one. The rest of the neighbors, like you, drove off to wait in a coffeeshop, damp and sweating over a bagel, trying not to count the minutes until the hours they were paid to be inside somewhere.

Inside for you was the bookstore, and every morning, after driving across town and parking your car, you opened the place and hauled three heavy wheeled carts packed with books out to the sidewalk that fronted the store. On misty days you covered the books with large plastic tarps which you bungeed down so the mist wouldn't creep in and warp the pages. Even the regulars you counted on to sell their used books didn't come out on foggy days because the weather was so discouraging. When it was slow like this, you bought every book you could possibly buy and even some that might be questionable in hopes that simply having them would drum up business. In this season, something seemed better than nothing.

But your main source of income came from the few hot titles, brand-new hardcovers that flew off the front display for a few weeks and then died. You rearrange them now, these new titles, wondering why the publishers chose so many ugly gray-blue covers with blurry nondescript photos of faces on them. No matter how you organize the books, they never look enticing.

Still, though, sometimes in the afternoons the fog would lift a little, just enough to make you think the sun would finally come through, and when this happened more people would stop to admire the books displayed in the windows. And just when things seemed like they were looking up the fog would settle in again and the sun would retreat, first looking like a flashlight with weak batteries, then spreading to something less distinct, a broad area of brighter fog that seemed lit from within.

Q: What quality of something is better than nothing?

11 Comments:

Blogger purplesimon said...

Okay, this is a true story turned into fiction-ish style prose.

I, too, woke up to fog/misty rain this morning; it's cleared into sun-spattered moments, glinting on wet pavements, clean kerbstones and with a background of slashing sounds as tyres move through standing water.

Thank you for reminding me of that.

When will we get more of this kinda writing? You're a genius. I almost can't believe I'm the first person to read this.

purplesimon out...

3:29 AM

 
Blogger Karen Little said...

I like this a lot - I agree with purplesimon: you should give us some more of it.

It's a difficult question, though. I'll have to think about it.

4:09 AM

 
Blogger ginab said...

A: the quality of everything.


And I feel like I'm reading your life dove. ;-)

I do like that transition para in Trevor's story so much. And here, I like the irony: When it was slow like this, you bought every book you could possibly buy and even some that might be questionable in hopes that simply having them would drum up business.

-ginab

10:55 AM

 
Blogger matty said...

...this made me sad. however, i think i am reflecting back emotions i am feeling right now. i love the way this is written. ...but i love the fog. ...and, i love the way you lay out the books -- but, Ing, you make everything in life more enticing. you're a gift.

regarding the riddle.

i think anything is better than nothing. ...and, everything is anything. so, really --- i suspect "nothing" is a figment of our collective imaging.

shinging a blue lamp your way thru the fog of our complex and simple city... with much love.
m

8:29 PM

 
Blogger ing said...

Purps:

A genius I am not, no way, not at all. But wow, I sure love that you said it & am secretly extremely puffed-up about the word, so thanks!

It wasn't really foggy at all this morning, but fog is how I felt. I usually don't post this kind of stuff because I think it's sort of boring in large doses. . . maybe not to you, since you're a writer-guy. But if this was all I posted, I'm afraid I'd lose all my readers.

All of my fiction is based in truth, but yeah, this one's based in real observation, eh?

__________

Karen:

Yeah, most people seem to think something is better than nothing, but I'm really more interested in the question of quality these days.

____________

ginab:

So we can have it all, then?

I'll go back to that transition. Trevor has the greatest transitions, I agree. Maybe I'll try one on for size myself, a new kind of transition. I'm getting bored with my own stuff.

_______________

Matty:

Are you sad? Don't be sad! Your beautiful friend will be here in two days!

Yes, what I sometimes call "nothing" is really a pretty cool "something," meaning it's an opportunity to WRITE! Yay!!

I'm going to visit ginab soon! I can't wait!!

8:51 PM

 
Blogger ginab said...

Well, no. Goes to the saying about everything is nothing is everything....so the quality of nothing is everything...or did I get turned around.

I wish I could remember your transitions! I want to try one of those puppies too, one of Trevor's.

You're looking spooky, but you know I'd know that eye of yours in the dark! Can't wait!

-ginab

7:16 AM

 
Blogger Ryane said...

that's a good question...what quality of something is better than nothing? hmmm...i guess I don't think any quality of something is better than nothing, bc/ i don't want to satisfy myself w/just a 'quality' to save myself from 'nothing'. who is to say that they aren't actually one and the same?

if someone has the 'quality' of love for you, but doesn't actually want to love you or commit to you, what have you actually got--nothing?

sorry, i rambled a bit there. that was a great post. i loved your descriptions of the fog...

11:31 AM

 
Blogger josh williams said...

Used books. I looked at one of my bookshelves and realized how old the titles were. I have a tonne of books I noticed I would never reread and if I did I would not enjoy. All my favorite books I gave away.
I pondered selling them (the books not worth loaning to a friend) and then walked outside and pondered mowing my lawn; I forgot both of these thoughts and hopped in my car. I considered cleaning the interior (the rain does a dandy job on the exterior) but I was distracted by something and here I sit.

9:13 PM

 
Blogger ing said...

ginab:

Everything is nothing is everything. Yep, you're a Buddhist.

If you see my eye in the dark, it's either Michigan in wintertime or we're in a bar. Hmmm.

I'm itching to purchase my tix. I think I've got it all figured out, and the minute I hear from you, I'm buying. YAYAYAYAYAY! I can't WAIT to see you!!!

I will reply to a few blogpeeps, then I'm off to try a transition.

______________

ryane:

I think we're on the same ramble, here. I love love. Let's pick some wildflowers for ourselves while we ramble.

______________

Josh, baby:

Here is the poem my Uncle John had on a plaque above his commode:

Here I sit
brokenhearted.
Tried to shit
but only farted.

I have not cleaned my car, interior or exterior, for a year now.

9:26 PM

 
Blogger ginab said...

Actually, the phrase comes from Meher Baba.;-)

And I sent you an Email...I said try for longest because longest is cheapest. But I'm off to the dentist, so who knows how many teeth....

4:15 AM

 
Blogger josh williams said...

I know the poem well, but somehow you have made it more better. I sometimes clean the interior of my car, just in the area where I spill coffee.Baby steps you know.

7:21 PM

 

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