Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Of Mice and a Man

Never a dull moment in the downtown apartment… Yesterday morning, 8 a.m.
“Ya’ gotta lotta papers ‘round. Whadya doin?”
“Writing a book, testing recipes,” I say, touching my topknot, firmly tying my kimono robe around my waist. Sip of coffee. I’ve never been comfortable with inquisitive workmen. A stranger—one of 8 million—has just gained entry into my very personal space by virtue of his profession and he feels he can do anything, ask anything. Questions, raised eyebrows, scratching and prying.
“I could write a book.” He adjusts the metal tank of poison strapped to his back.
“Oh, yeah?” Please stop talking, please stop talking…
“Lotta interestin’ thins I seen.” He stops spraying the baseboards, turns, waits. He feels he’s due a reaction.
“Being an exterminator must be fascinating.” Killing cockroaches and red-eyed mice is fine and well (and certainly mildly satisfying—tangible results after a fine day’s work is done). But the real joy, for the voyeur, would come with aforementioned access to private spaces, twisted sheets, piles of dishes with bits of last night’s salmon and chives. Sniff, sniff. Citrus. A gimlet with the evening news?
“Nah, not that.”
Dropping clues, building tension. All right, all right, the exterminator had a story. I’d bite. “Oh no?”
“I exhumed my mother’s body.”
Throw back the last of my coffee—sugar and grounds, sweet and textured—like a shot.
“Yeah, uncle and I did it. We got good and hammered first, I’ll tell ya that. Went out to Jersey and dug up her bones. Don’t trust those cemetery workers. They’d steal her rings and her femur. Want me to spray outside for ants?”

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