Scott waited at the bus stop. Waited. The sky was ominous and it
waited too, waited to rain. Scott looked down to the end of the street,
as far as he could see, squinting, and then looked up doubtfully at
the rolling thunderheads. Bus, rain, whichever... he mused, but he
was obviously not happy. Obviously to him. He had bought a Ronald
He thought back to the days of the swamps. Of the alligators. Of
the hours in which he was nothing but potential meat. Of the minutes
of the perilous jaws. Of his thoughts of inadequacy, in those seconds
when he suddenly found himself wishing that once, just once, he had
thought to take a class in alligator wrestling. Which he had not.
He was hungry, and it was cold, and it was raining. He picked up a
damp newspaper and read the headline.
WILLIAM GILLESPIE ACCUSED OF MURDER: Eggplant Involved
Hell, he thought, to hell with William Gillespie, whoever the hell
he is, and his stupid eggplant! He groped for his last cigarette in
his overcoat but discovered the pack had been crushed. Hell , damn,
& double damn. He stuck the half with no filter into his grimace and
ignited it, drew heavily. A sudden gust of wind tore the soggy newspaper
from beneath his arm and it went spinning down the street, out of
the plot forever.
But it bugged him. It did. It bothered him. An eggplant murder.
Of all the damn-
There had been a problem with the ignition, that night. The car
which started with regularity, always, the one damning stable thing,
the low-cost Japanese economy car, had not started. It was not the
ignition. It was the gas. Which he ought to have checked. The kind
of thing you think of. He had not. He was preoccupied. It was raining.
No raincoat. Not thought of. A bus, a late bus, to the helling meeting.
Gillespie. Not that William Gillespie. It couldn't be.
But it was. Presently, staring at the shards, the damp shards...
Scott checked his watch. O.K., he thought, I've been waiting here
for seven minutes. I arrived when the bus was supposed to arrive and
I have been waiting for seven minutes. My watch is perfect, I do not
question it, a stylish silver Rolodex. So, the bus is not coming.
Not coming. And on his way to the meeting of the Arkansas Communist
Party. The bus could easily have been detained by police. Scott, he
told himself, you are a commie. A dirty commie. A pinko, I think.
Yes. Definitely a pinko. You red, he sneered inwardly.
Then thought of that play Angels in America. That helling guy. He
spat, and the rain was still going. The rain was not the thing. The
wait was the thing and wasn't it, the partial belonging and the wait,
here in Little Rock. Very little had happened since Tennessee. And
now this Gillespie thing.
The rain had stopped. The kind of rain that it was was not a hard
driving one. But it was not a mist either. It was a solid, kind of
snotty rain. He reflected on this. The kinds of rain. And the bow
of it was forming. The rainbow. Eventually he stopped completely.
Thinking in sentences. Words. Just colors, for a moment, the kind
of thing you do, when you feel guilty about the fact that your dog
died on the road when you let him have all of that screwing Hagen
Daaz chocolate ice cream which it turns out is like a kind of psychoactive
poison for dogs and you always remember that and it kind of bugs you
and you feel sorry and sad. His name was Scratchy.
By now the whole Gillespie angle had pretty much dropped out of sight.
No telling when it would make it back in the arena. Or if. So Scratchy.
He was a good dog, except for the persistent scabrous skin disease that
gave him his name, the dandruff was pretty hideous, and the constant
slow bleeding pretty hard to watch, though he had, often for hours at
Scratchy, indeed. Indeed. You call that a dog? Listen, that flea-riddled
sack of bones and pestilence may be your idea of a quadruped but-
Scratchy against disaster. Scratchy at the end of time. Scratchy:
nowhere dog. Scratchy: alpha-wolf of the impossible. Scratchy the
dog. Dog, yeah, whatever. But Scratchy. Scratchy could claw time and
emerge unscathed. Scratchy is no mere dog. Scratchy can read Finnegans
Wake in about. 10 min. Scratchy is not a dog, but better, way better.
Gentle reader, forget poor Scott. And let us instead ponder Scratchy.
And the substance strangely wrapped bout his ankle, black, yellowish,
purple, pulpy mush. A vaguely Italian vegetable. He thinks of Italian
words he knows.
Murder in the Cathedral. When we dead awaken. Shante shante what
is happening here? The V2 Rocket. The Rosenbergs. That essay. That's
him. The sudden recollection. The meal that they were eating when
the feds came busting in the door and took them to their final destinations.
Dearly departed. That's William. A trademark move. Scott starts walking,
in search of a newstand.
Screw the bus anyway.
He realized that nothing more would be required of him after this.
The act of recognizing, and designating, when something had ended
and something else had begun -- that was enough. And so why continue?
He counted to two.
Then he recovered, of course. Miscellaneous agenda. Once that dark
hour had passed, he began to eat pasta again, and smile.
Gillespie turned out to be not entirely responsible. Of negligence,
perhaps, but not murder.
The eggplant was from a copycat.
It wasn't William.
Entirely into civil disobedience. At least with the Eggplant.
He got off.
Which was good.
A Christmas went past, and an April.
Then he encountered Theresa.