EXCERPT FROM “AISLE IDLE, WE PINE FOR YOU IN ROSEDALE”
THE GROCERY STORE is a park. A place more suited to perusal than purchase. I may be alone there. I can be. Or I may be alone in feeling calmed by the endless order of only slightly different jars of mayonnaise. Among them, I understand why primitives so often refer to these stacks and rows as “goods” in their literature. How—among the wily and inexact bark of tree trunks—is a man to find something he can spread on a sandwich? Less even the hillocks rolling away in the not-so-distance. I choose the cart. Not the basket. The cart is pleasant and domestic, even if I don’t really need all that much. Just to walk around among the things man has made, drifting through his atomic light, in the strange dark of a brightly lit place with no windows. I need to be free of ergonomics, and also far from women exercising outside in underwear, listening to music I cannot hear. Because I am listening always. As I wend the aisles, a lot of things are said. All around me.
Some of them talk into phones about what people they know did. Some of them swear at items in their carts that have fallen over, embarrassing themselves. There is always a handsome woman shushing a screaming child in the rumble seat. I hate that kid. Then there is no screaming, and I hate handsome. There is the sound of snot being sucked in, and the idle reading of labels.
It is cool in the frozen foods section. I wonder why the gandies don’t come here and lay among the coolers, propping the doors open and their feet up. I can almost imagine them, passing back and forth a frothy can from the nearby cooler, laid up out of the tented heat of the summer, laughing heartily, but at no one and nothing in particular. Laughing as one laughs upon suddenly finding oneself happy without reason or merit. As I would like to find myself.
Instead of this, I find myself halfway into a conversation, blushing into a phone I have pulled from my pocket. I am not crazy. I cannot see the woman on the other end of all that air, but I know what she looks like. I can’t picture her face, like some say they can. But I see the words with which I will describe her. She is sometimes beautiful and sometimes ugly, like most all the women I’ve rolled up against in the morning. She is pale and skinnier than these others. Crooked teeth. Easy and disarming her smile. When she laughs, which is often, it comes from her without warning, her eyes bulge and swim, and a noise bursts forth like vomit. She looks frightened, caught off guard. More than others, she tries to speak through laughter. She hiccups and flutters, and stutter starts some unintelligible something.
She is saying something. Now. On the phone, she is saying something.
PRAISE FOR CRAIG DAVIS
“Ramshackle Wonderlands is writing at the red line, a volume spitting sparks and venting the ask of easy living. Its noises are those from haunts and haints and wanna-be heroes, its vistas tumbledown and blown whichaway with woe. Lordy, Craig Davis is a writer on a mission—to explode, first, our most fetching notions of ourselves; and, second, to build new fictions based on lived life. Strap in, friends. The end is only 180 pages nigh.”
— LEE K. ABBOTT
author of All Things All at Once: New and Selected Stories