UNITED STATES—A guy walked by on the sidewalk with a T-shirt of Mickey Mouse hoisting a bowling ball with a sparking wick.

“Like your shirt!”

The guy looks down at himself as if for a stain and shrugs. Gee, what is it about them—the pale ones—they’re supposed to be my people. Talking to them is like shouting into an abyss.

I’m always suspect because I talk, and they look at me like I’m crazy. We’re all getting a little shaky during the special period.

I see myself reflected in the love and peace windows. I’m not so pale after the days at the beach and cowled by the hoodie I was wearing. I could be an angel of death. It wasn’t even cold, but I put the hoodie on because somebody said it looked good. People are so malleable. Life. Accept no imitations, but so much of life, the praiseful and the disreputable, in process of imitation.

My, gosh I realized I still had the hammer in the hand, all the time. Cognitive dissonance. I let a last blow pound on a green and red glistening circuit of my phone, now decimated. It is funny how you can be so cramped when somebody out of the blue brings up a secret dealt with daily, yearly, and even pre-pubescent in my own private secret garden of fears.

It opens the gates for rage, anger and lunacy. And it just messes with everything, it messes with hope and it messes with fantasy. You add the Special period to that, and everything that was already there, and it’s enough to spark the detonation, Felix.

“Hey, I know that name?” I say. “I know somebody named Felix,” I answer myself.

In the smoke shop everyone’s chill, even the guard seated inside. “Have a good one, boss,” he says all mellow, perched on a stool. Maybe he’s been toking the merch. Outside, though, the sleepy oaf of a guard stares at me shiftily. I wonder if he’s one of those blockheads who packs heat, just because he’s a secret cowboy.

My gosh, there’s a hammer still in my hands and I’m staggering around. I pause. I walk gingerly to the barrel bellied man with root-beer colored skin snoozing in the warm shadows by the brick wall and gingerly lay the hammer where it belongs.

I started shuffling back toward the smoke shop, slowly and indecisively at first, and then turned right toward the glassed frontage of stores. Whatever it is, I was no longer that and to find out what would happen next, which I certainly did not know or preconceive and most certainly did not know, would mean suppressing an internal registry which was forever moderating the tennis court of mental chatter and subduing some things, judging what’s allowed and what’s to be suppressed.

Those open-window days. Those lucky days when everything lined up right and the mood was mellow yellow, yet nevertheless dividing, segregating all the stinking thoughts, whims and intrusions into good bad. Discriminating. There is discriminating nature and that is not discrimination. So it was. A thorn in my shoe, a barb of glass. I could use some ganja and a cheer chaser.

The lights were going out. The Russian was closing the door. Out came the second security guard and the girl with Bettie Page bangs stepped out into the humid shadows.

I thought, “I am going to celebrate the 4th of Halloween” – all the missed holidays.

The liquor store is still open and I see the Russian fist tap the counter man’s shoulder after having observed the dour sullenness possess him while selling my grams of Mellow Demon and throw in the freebie Jasmine Dawn cookies. Everyone wants to be somebody else, and sometimes we are. In the liquor store the Russian was so jovial, slapping backs and smiling at the girls who came in wearing skimpy clothes.

The empath in me took over to let him be in that joy, completely free of his signature dourness as a clerk at a marijuana shop. I will leave his comeuppance for another day and put this nasty affair behind.

There must be something wrong with me. That must be it. From now on, I promise to do my best to be happy—whatever that is.

To be continued…