Digital Red Emery


   A red emery board lies on the asphalt, parallel to the yellow line that marks one of the spaces at the post office. As I fumble with the engineering compass to obtain the heading of the man-made arrow to find out if it is pointing north, I get a reading of 330: it appears to be shy of north by 30 degrees west. How did it get here? How did I get here?

   Today I am doing bullet work. There is just one thing that must be done today and that is pay the Target bill. I have accomplished that and more. Here is my account.

   I slept from (blank) until (blank) on the couch in the living room. When I got up I played guess the time .

   “It’s between two and three,” I said, traversing the dining room to bedroom and kitchen, where the clock on the stove read 2:27 in digital red.   

   I fed the cats, changed to go out and went out. I stopped at the bank to withdraw money. I drove toward Target. The sky, which delivered light rain this morning, now was the color of a bleached heron. An unbleached heron flew, flapping eastward, in the sky over Spring Ridge at 3:11. It made me glad to see one.

   Morphine was playing on the radio when I arrived at the shopping center. At Target, I picked up a lighter someone had dropped inside the store. It was filled with lighter fluid. It was light. It was pale pinky-orange-red. It was a cheap one. It had no markings. It lay on the carpet between the food area and the dollar deals section where the indoor carts cluster. A lighter would not be the kind of thing I would want running loose in my store. I gave it to the individual who processed my payment, which was for twenty per cent of the total and six times the minimum amount due. Exited without further excitement, leaving the lost light lighter behind, and photographed a round sticker with a happy giraffe face next to the pedestrian crossing area with its multi-stripes of safety yellow-orange that run at a diagonal to the curb kerb.

   Next, visited the library jonesing for a computer and suspecting they were in possession of my library card. Yes, they were holding. Was assigned a public computer next to a man who has been searching for a job from there for weeks. The computer monitor in front of him contains his resume.

   During a check on business, I learn Target has dropped Amazon Kindle. I learn I have an order to be fulfilled. The computer next to displays a letter to Human Resources. I go home to the fulfillment center and process my order. I learn about the evils of sugar by perusing a book, like when you go on a vacation you take one last look at where you’ve been. At 5:37 the package is taped and ready to go with me to the post office. I drive like a conservative bat out of hell to get it off by 6:00 p.m.

   “Take the Skinheads Bowling” plays in the radio during the drive on the expressway in Reading PA, much to my amusement. My amusement, My amusement. The package I busted ass to send off will arrive next Thursday, Next Thursday? Next Thursday!

   Read my memory. A red emery board is in the space I pull into at the post office. This is how it got there.

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