Monday, March 9, 2009

BODY PARTS-Chapter 2

The Arbiter of Taste


My wife and I have lately taken to referring to the coffee that resides in abundance in a large tin can in an old and obsolete, too deep, rusting metal cupboard in our convincingly depression era kitchen, as the brown sludge. This coffee is our last resort coffee. When it all goes down we will brew it up and be grateful but until then…we will only drink it when our dear friend, Ima Kid shows up. Ima’s a guy. His name might throw you off. He’s a guy and he is our dearest and oldest buddy. We share him alternating use of his never failing always willing ear. The only thing he asks of us is a good cup of coffee and to his mind the awful stuff, the desperation coffee, is his chosen poison so we have no choice but to oblige. We’ve tried offering him fresh ground, quality cuppas but he always wrinkles up his nose, starts to fidget and suggests he may have to get going. At which point Nell gets up and says: “Oh! I forgot we had this coffee! Please do stay a little.” Ima always does. His eyes twinkle as he gazes on the fulsome can she is holding, and his lips glisten.
“Well alright. Just a quick one.” This usually is the cue for one of us to make ourselves scarce. We can’t both be crying on his shoulder. Nell and I have a good mutual understanding and without needing to say anything one of us usually melts away after a brief shared conversation with laundry to do or bills to pay.

Lately Nell has been in fine fettle. That is how she puts it herself. The one thing she cannot do is solve my problems and so it is with gratitude that she makes the brown sludge and then quietly dumps her cup in the sink before heading off to do errands so leaving me with my therapist. The funny thing is Ima is not wise. He is simply present. Put a coffee, the right coffee, in his hand and he is all yours. I suspect at times that he comes from a different planet. There is a peacefulness about him that has nothing to do with material possessions unless you call ownership of a GAZ grill and his very own coffee pot a fierce example of consumerism run amuck. He lives in a hovel that he loves and has, as far as I can tell, one set of clothes. We’ve known him for as long as we can remember and yet know remarkably little about him. He did make the local papers one time. He was observed lying down in the middle of the High Street late one night and stretching. He was in no danger of being run over because the street is closed off for pedestrian traffic only after a certain hour and the reporter concluded that Ima Kid was simply taking that little freedom and expanding it a notch. I’d enjoyed the report and had actually written to the reporter thanking him for not passing any kind of negative judgment on our friend. As a local reporter he was a familiar face around town and later I was able to thank him again in person. That was when he told me the something he’d chosen not to write.
“I like the guy. He exudes a certain, I dunno, peace! I sat with him once or twice, right here in this diner, bought him coffee that he never drank, and talked. I did all the talking. I’d find myself waking up sort of realizing I’d been talking for perhaps a full fifteen minutes and his attention had not strayed. I’d rather not go into it but once he said something unexciting in response to a rather personal thing I’d brought up…and it was exactly right. So…because I like the guy I didn’t want to mention that I saw him lick the pavement, the cobbles. It was late but some stores were still open or just closing up and people were still milling about. He wasn’t particularly discreet about it. I don’t think it mattered to him one way or the other if anyone saw him do it. Still I think, as chance would have it, I’m the only one who did see him lick the pavement. He licked it slowly and thoughtfully, like a forensics scientist tasting a blood sample?

A week later he warned me about a potential water mains break in that exact spot.”

I remember I shuddered. I knew exactly the spot he meant. It had been all over the news. One person had been killed and a couple injured and the reporter had been feeling guilty ever since because he hadn’t taken Ima seriously.

So now we did. Ima was our personal oracle and we took anything he said to heart, anything.

The last time he came he made a comment about my shirt. In all the time we’d known him he’d never commented on my looks. He said:
“A spotty shirt would be nice.”

Nell and I went shopping that very afternoon and later when I wore the shirt out to a restaurant Nell looked at me in a way she hadn’t in a long, long time.

Ima hasn’t dropped by of late but frankly that is okay by us. Love him as we do we cannot stand that coffee.

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Doing Lines

Asemic writing