Tuesday, April 22, 2008

In the T-loin

In the Tenderloin a hardware store.

I walk in. Like the inside of somebody's garage. Dust and crustiness and new tape measures that seem incongruous with the festering shelves. Behind the counter a crusty old man.

"Are you the notary public?" I ask.

"Are you the one who called?" he asks.

I show him my paperwork. "Have a seat." He indicates a loppy stool.

It, his voice, sounds like a Russian accent under a pint of vodka and a hen-like wife at home (probably upstairs).

Before he begins, two black women talking in front of his store. He goes to the doorway and shoos them away.

Returns and starts over again on my paperwork. Goes to fetch his notary kit. With this he can place his magic seal over my information. Like the Middle Ages.

A woman comes in asking about a light bulb. She knows the name and number. He takes her away and returns with bulb and woman. "$21.70," he says.

"Here's $22," she says.

"That's okay," he says, as though there are days when that wouldn't be okay.

She leaves. "Now where were we..."

He returns to my paperwork, beginning again. He puts forms in front of me and I write things. He puts down a shiny gold sticker and some ink. I see his name: Hajimohamad ----- ---------. Not Russian after all: terrorist.

"That's quite a mouthful," I say.


"Does this cost $10?" I ask.

He seems to sneer, then turns to me menacingly and says, "Yes, it's $10!"

Suddenly creepy.

He finishes his arcane paperwork and then puts a bowl before me. "Just put the money in there when you leave," he says.

He vanishes to the back of the store. I put a five and five ones in the bowl. I put his pen on top of the bills to keep them from blowing away.

Leave, don't look back.

Next I go to City Hall. Then the Secretary of State's office. Finally the paperwork is done. Enough lines and paperwork and bureaucracy for one lifetime.

I get home. Remember I have to go to the post office the last of my ebay packages to ship. Catch a bus trudge up the hill to the P.O. wait in line behind a sweaty man who seems to take forever. When he's gone I go to his place at the counter and there's a B.O. stink that he tattooed upon the air.

I walk home through the avenues and up Noriega. It's still too windy but not as cold as yesterday, so it's okay.



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