Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery
Monday, November 22, 2004
A Thanksgiving Tale
The woman looked at him, with his dirty ruffled collar and the tarnished buckles on his shoes, and immediately averted her eyes. He knew he wasn't pleasant to look at, but had these people no humanity? A fat man in a t-shirt that barely covered his jiggling belly walked by. Carl gave it another shot.
The fat man barely had the courtesy not to step on him. His fat foot gave Carl's thigh a kick as he attempted to walk over him. Carl took a pull on his bottle. He was going to have to stand up. These bastards wouldn't ever come toward you to give you money. You had to get in their faces. It wasn't really Carl's way, but he had no choice.
He hoisted himself to something resembling upright and lurched across the sidewalk to a mailbox. He noticed that he'd soiled his kneesocks. He attempted to straighten up his felt hat, which was a little crumpled, kind of like his soul. He hated this time of year. Then he heard something. From down the sidewalk, at the bus stop, he heard a snatch of a song. His song. There was a youngish woman with two bags of groceries at her feet. She looked very much in the spirit of the holiday. Carl took a couple of deep breaths to clear his head, then walked down the sidewalk toward her.
The woman stopped the song somewhere between the river and Grandmother's house. He saw the pity in her eyes the second she looked at him and he knew that this was a good mark. Beyond that, he could tell, from something in the way she carried herself, maybe, or perhaps because a quick glance into the bag revealed that she'd bought real cranberries and shortening instead of premade pie crusts, that she truly held Thanksgiving in her heart.
She reached into her purse and pulled out a few quarters and a shiny dime. "Here ya go." She dumped the change into Carl's outstretched hand. She smiled at him a second longer, then went back to looking for the bus. Maybe Carl should have taken that as a sign to move along, but it had been so long, he had to ask.
"Do you recognize me?" The woman looked a bit disconcerted that handing Carl some change hadn't concluded their interaction.
"No," she said. "I'm sorry, should I?"
"I'm Carl, goddammit!" Nothing from this wench but a puzzled, cow-like stare. "Carl the Thanksgiving Pilgrim? The icon of the harvest feast? Y'know, 'God be with ye. Happy Thanksgiving!'" The woman looked down at her shoes. Carl brought her face back up to his with a cold, hard stare.
"I'm sorry. I, I thought there were just...y'know The Pilgrims. I didn't realize there was one special one." She scooted her groceries closer to her.
"Well there is, goddammit. And he's me, Carl!" Hazel the Halloween Witch and he had commiserated about this very problem over some paint-huffing last week. "I bet you love that fat fuck Santa Claus, don't you? I just bet you squeal with delight at the thought of that fascist bastard bringing you gifties."
"I...I..." the stupid, stupid woman stammered.
"Well you and Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny can just lick my fucking ass!" The woman picked up her groceries and ran down the street to the next bus stop. Carl put the change in his pocket. He thought, "I fucking hate this holiday."