It was a shame about the disgusting old person in Cherokee Bakery. I’m a fiend for bakery goods. I love them all: donuts, pastries, gooey butter cake, cookies, bread, cake, pie, all of it. Probably it will be my downfall someday. I already have pudding thighs at the age of 25.
On the other hand, how many years could such an old crone live? How many months? I know it sounds evil, my wishing ill will upon her, but the presence of a bakery just a few blocks from my house is a sign that the universe loves me. It’s cruel that I should be scared to be a regular customer, but I am. Scared. I’m sure the crone cackled when I ran out of the bakery. At least in my imagination she did, which has enlarged her proportions, creating in her a demon that might torment me again and again.
I spent the rest of the afternoon unpacking boxes. I managed to get all of my clothing hung up in the closet, and I organized my drawers and toiletries. Getting ready for work will be easier now that my things are accessible. I used a chair for a stepping stool and I hung curtains on my tall, narrow front windows. Out the windows of my living room, I can see down on the bustling street below. Knowing there are people outside will keep me from getting lonesome. I can hear voices through the window glass, but the apartment is quiet behind me, except for the clicking noise. It might be a leaky faucet, or a bird in the attic, or an electrical problem. It’s inconsistent, click-click-clicking ten times in a row, and then stopping for twenty minutes. I’ll figure it out eventually.
At around dinnertime, like clockwork, my belly started to growl. The bites of apple turnover were barely a brunch, and the dried-up pizza was still unappetizing, so I ventured back out. This time, I walked right down my stairs out to the street, and plopped myself into one of the chairs at an outside table of the lower-level Mexican restaurant. How much more convenient could life get?
A very young man, maybe sixteen, timidly approached my table with a laminated menu and a silverware roll. He set down the items in front of me, and then told me, with an accent, “I bring water.” I nodded.
“I am Juan. I bring you a cocktail?” he asked when he returned with a glass of ice water, a bowl of chips, and a bowl of salsa. He placed them on the table.
“No thank you,” I answered, and I shook my head. “I’ll take the chicken chimichanga.” I didn’t mean to rush Juan, but I was pretty hungry.
“Good,” he said, nodding, and disappeared back into the restaurant. I tried a chip. It was perfect, warm and freshly made. The salsa was just right also, not too hot and not too bland. The air outside was cooling down a bit and the pedestrians were thinning. I watched a bar across the street with blacked-out storefront windows. Roadies were loading in sound equipment and musical instruments. Maybe I’d check out the music, I decided. When I looked back to my chips, out of the corner of my eye, I saw her again, the ancient lady. I’m sure it was her. She ducked seamlessly into a gangway about half a block down the street. The movement was smooth somehow, not old and rickety. It was as if she’d been standing there watching me, and when I turned, she slipped away. I got a cold feeling, and my appetite disappeared, just as it had earlier.
When Juan came out again, I told him I preferred my meal to go. He nodded and retreated to get the bill.
Later from my living room window, I watched the street below, but I didn’t see the woman. I don’t know why I was so afraid. My fear was a vibration almost, making me stand guard there, looking and looking.
Eventually my hunger returned and I ate my lukewarm dinner in front of over-the-air television, which I wasn’t really watching. I was writing this blog. I kept the TV loud to drown out the occasional clicking noise, and I fell asleep on my couch, exhausted.