(Art by spoon+fork.)
When I staggered into work two days later Howard took a look at me and said, “You just lucked out big time.”
“Why? I’m not late. Am I?”
“No, cops just left! The Dotbusters came here last night and put posters all over the place!”
“Jesus! Are the Angrywalls all right?”
“I don’t think they’re hurt. Just some property damage. The guy was pretty pissed off, yelling at the cops and all. Like that’s gonna help, Apu.”
“I’m going to see if they’re OK.”
I put on a pot of coffee before leaving for the motel office. When I got closer to the door, I saw two fliers wheat-pasted to the glass that both read: “Go Back to India Smelly Curry Motherfuckers — the Dotbusters.”
The office was empty, but I heard some grating sounds coming from the stairwell. I found Mrs. Angrywall there, working with a butter knife on the fliers.
“Bloody cowards, all of them!” she yelled, her voice sounding huge and ethereal in the stairwell’s spiraling chamber. “They put most of them in here where people in the street couldn’t see them. They only had enough balls to put two up on the office door before running away!”
“Maybe you should get those two in the front first.”
“No! I want to keep them up! I want everyone to know that this is a business run by dots! And that we smell!”
“Where’s your husband?”
“He went down to the police station to harass them some more. They had the nerve to blame us for not staffing our office 24 hours a day!”
“I’m going to get a knife and clean off the front doors.”
I left anyway and came back with a rusty old spatula I found under the hamburger stand’s sink.
Mrs. Angrywall sailed out with her finger pointed at my throat.
“Put that down! Don’t touch that front door!”
“I have to get those fliers off!”
“Why do you need to get them off of there so badly? You people put them up!”
“Don’t blame me, man!”
“Well there isn’t a chance in hell that someone black did it! Only a white man would have the entitlement to tell us to get out of his country!”
“How do you know?”
“Well, anyway, there’s no point in leaving it like this. If you let them vandalize your office, they win and they’ll be back to do something worse.”
“Don’t you dare! You. . .you. . .motherfucker!”
I was shocked at her outburst and loosened my grip on the spatula. She ripped it out of my hand and winged it. We listened to it clatter on the concrete.
We both turned to the door.
“Why us, Sean? Of all the hotels, of all the Indians in this entire state, why us!”
“Because you were here and they saw you.”
“Can’t they tell by the way this place looks that we haven’t got money? Why don’t they go after the big hotels and the rich Indians who are prospering on the Jersey shore?”
“These Dotbusters, I bet they’re like high-school kids and they’re not too bright. And the better hotels probably have an office open 24 hours with staff walking around.”
“You’re probably right,” Mrs. Angrywall said. Then she ran her hands through her hair and shifted her feet. “You don’t happen to have any idea who did this, do you?”
“I really don’t know.” But Howard might, I thought.
She turned and walked away.
(Art by spoon+fork.)
I was about to cross the street, far from the crosswalk, when I had to stop for a Jetta coming down.
It was moving just fast enough that I couldn’t cross the street but also slow enough that the driver wanted me to know he was holding me up on purpose.
I swept both arms to the left to suggest that the car speed the fuck up. To my amazement, the car turned slightly and bared down upon me. The sun was low and threw a glare on the windshield so I didn’t see Mrs. Angrywall in the driver’s seat until she was nearly on top of me.
“I thought it was you, Sean!” she yelled out the window.
“Hi, Mrs. Angrywall.”
“Can I give you a ride?”
“Where are you going?”
“Nowhere in particular.”
“You’re just driving around?”
She smiled and shrugged.
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” I said. “I don’t want to piss off your husband.”
“It won’t piss him off.”
“He looked pretty mad last time I saw him.”
“That’s how he gets from time to time.”
“I don’t know.”
“He’s out of town right now, if that really makes a difference to you.”
I shook my head and came around to the passenger side. I sat down and strapped myself in.
“Which way?” she asked as she let up off the brake.
“Go down to the third light, make a left.”
“Are you just going to go home now?”
“That’s what people do when they’re done with work.”
“No! The Americans go out and have fun in tacky corporate pseudo-pubs! Go down to Applebee’s or TGIFs!”
“I’ve never been to a TGIF! That’s for yuppies!”
“Do you want to go now?”
“God, no. What’s gotten into you, Mrs. Angrywall?”
(Art by spoon+fork.)
The only reason Mrs. Angrywall came fishing with me was because I promised her we would throw all the fish back, even the ones good enough for keepers.
We went out on a cloudy Monday afternoon to Island Beach State Park, pretty close to where I had hooked the squirrel. When I was a kid, it seemed to take forever to bike there. Now it was just a 30-minute walk. Usually the best time to catch kingfish was dawn or dusk, but when it’s overcast or storming, they bite all day.
I bought some sandworms from a bait shack and had selected the two most innocent-looking hooks. I bet those hooks couldn’t pierce the rough patch on my right heel.
Now I was really glad I hadn’t asked Howard to go fishing. I had enough of his ass, six days a week. But I hadn’t had enough of Mrs. Angrywall’s ass.
There’s something very innocent about walking with a woman when you’re each holding a fishing rod, even when you think she’s more attractive every time you see her. What hidden intentions could you have? You have someplace to go and your purpose is clear: fishing.
It’s not like you’re sitting in a bar, spinning a wet coaster on its edge and wondering how many more drinks it’s going to take.
Mrs. Angrywall had found the center of balance on the rod and carried it daintily, as if about to twirl it like a baton.