I cooked a chili and thought about starting a fire inside. July is the January of summer, right smack in the middle, that can last as long as you want it to depending on your attitude, and whether or not you have to work. With Dawn gone this week and me alone with the kids, I’m spending more time in the garage for some reason, perhaps it’s the primitive quality I identify with, some part of myself I’m trying to preserve from domestication. It’s webby in the corners with Native American masks too spooky for the inside of the house, posters from rock concerts and ticket stubs I saved, even a utility cabinet that has clips of female models tacked up, Chinese throwing stars, African fertility figures in various poses. Music sounds best in the garage, which makes me wonder if that’s the reason many bands started that way, or if it’s because they weren’t allowed inside like dogs, for fear they’d pee on the carpet.
I dropped the kids off at Sunday school with Beth and wondered what I’d do with myself for a couple hours, drove to Seattle’s Capitol Hill to an antique store called Area 51 looking for a floor lamp, a coffee table. I hadn’t been there since 1999, when I got the infamous rust-colored shag rug for a new apartment I’d rented, the last of the bachelor pads, a gas-powered fireplace that lit with a garage remote control from the 1980s, a big beige button and a thunderous woof like a guard dog when it fired.
When the guy unlocked the door at opening I recognized him immediately, the same one who was there in ’99 and I told him that, and what I’d bought then, the shag rug, a string lamp, a three-headed hydra floor lamp in pea green from the early 70s, a glass dining room table with baby blue cushions on the chairs — but he cut me off and said people from that era hate the store now, they complain how it’s changed: and if you were a musician would you still be making the same music you’ve always made? And I wanted to buy from him but couldn’t once I saw what it cost and figured out what they were doing, buying expensive stuff for new and marking it up even further, stuff made to look like it was old when it wasn’t but boasting rare, reclaimed species of wood, all of it with clean lines and demure palettes, daintily tied price tags in triple digits, some even more. It fit the neighborhood clientele now, a put-on, overpriced, but I guess you have to conform to your surroundings if you want to stay in business.
I met the girls back home and drove to the Value Village where we bought a lamp for $70 with fake crystals, a candelabra of sorts, that looks campy like something you’d see in a bistro near a theater district, with lots of shit hanging from the ceilings. And I paid Charlotte 50 cents to clean the folds and cracks around my ears which is a steal because she really gets in there, would be good as a hygienist we joke for her laser focus on small spaces: marvels at what she finds on her finger tips and the towel, admonishes me. And I probably looked like a dog while she cleaned me with my ears folded back flat in submission, nervous and wincing. When she’s telling a story she flares her nostrils in time with the rhythm of her speech, they flap and flare with the peaks and valleys in her voice and eyes — they’re like punctuation marks, her nostrils. When last we counted, she had like 49 plush animals with names for them all and remembers where they came from, has that manic imagination of an only child I can relate to, when you’re in exile with yourself. She hands me a cat and I fake-pet it like a Bond villain on my lap whispering in its ears, leering.
The kids insist Ginger responds best to commands made in German, in forceful, staccato tones: “Nein Ginger, komme, jetzt!” And the day ends with another slaying, a baby bunny Roxy brought in and dropped in the utility sink, too slick for it to crawl out, utter terror: and I caught it in my hands but it was like a water balloon slipping out, and dropped it in the bushes out front where I thought it would be safe but of course it wasn’t: and the girls shrieked while I sat in the garage trying to write, Charlotte sobbing, and I explained it was natural, that rabbits were like chickens or I don’t know, good food for owls and eagles: and they conducted a ceremony with some stones on the hillside for it, and Ginger paused over the corpse and peed on it, and when I let her out before bed I heard her chewing it, and it sounded just like someone crumbling a newspaper, and I thought I should check on it before the kids get up in the morning, and when I did it was gone.