Chapter 10224

Changing a routine, for me, means no sleep the first night. Too much anticipation and coffee, with no chiefing or drinking to cheat insomnia. So I paced around, found an unread Travis McGee novel in my laundry basket, laid down my body on the fold-out couchbed.

Cracked that paperback open at midnight and didn't change position for seven hours by lamplight. Took a nap until eight and continued reading all morning.

At the last line of The Turquoise Lament I gasped, tossed the book in the trash by accident, tripped forward from bed onto knees and hands, thrashed the bundled pages out of miscellaneous shreds and clasped it, smacked it atop a stack of more books -- couldn't tell you the title of any except that one, the only one I'd finished.

I patted the turquoise book lightly, staring off. Got dressed in silence.

It was the first book in the series to have an epilogue, and it served only as an after-the-credits where our hero Travis loses the girl after all. As he always does through will or woe. Didn't have the next book, so I checked the lists on my desk.

There was only one. Nice.

My brother had returned in the early morning and still slept, so I crept from the building, carrying car keys.

...

Something lacked, but I didn't miss it because everything else picked up the slack. All the little things I don't notice I wasn't noticing sung together in chorus as I stepped out the house.

Three different trees filled with dissatisfied birds clapped the air angrily and a dog barked two doors down. Helicopters chopped up nearby airspace. Pigeons scuttled on a tin rooftop. And up the hill from the pumpkinhouse, in the skeleton of a new construction, a table saw gnawed at it's lunch. All this enclosed in a crisp hold of coastal air come in from the west. Quite vibrant a withdrawal period, this kaleidoscope barely different from yesterday's except that the receptors in my nose and mouth had had more than twenty-four hours free from smoke. Thus awoke.

The wet pizza boxes and the cat litter in the open trash bin made a poor breakfast in my lungs, nostrils, and throat.

I opened the recycling bin and the plastic cowered in there, smell-less. I eyed it all, then closed both bins and took them out in time for the next day pick up. It's usually Monday, but this Monday was the second day of the year, a bank holiday for the first. An elongation of resolution, in my opinion. A strange alignment of days as if a built-in delay period for the procrastinators.

Long pause break before pressing play.

Brought the car out the gate and onto the street to wait. Bike rack added, obscured the expired plates -- and the bike held it down. Lock up, hop in, and leave Wendy neutral to coast down the hill, California stop at the red somewhere between. 

The sun shone through thin spots in the overcast as I drove on the sly to deliver documents to a stranger for Task Rabbit, UPS some parcels, and sell some of my Criterion Collection to a collector in Montebello. The traffic whisked me along much more than it ever fought me because of the freedom that out-of-work freelance affords one.

"Fake it 'til you make it," is an example of a cliche I hate, yet abide.

...

Parked on Alameda and rode my bike to the recording artist's apartment. Scrubbed every surface of the bathroom while the client sat in the kitchen blasting Hip-hip, vaping OG, and texting. Task Rabbit charges enough that I feel the intense personal need to bust my ass even when I'm not asked. I swiffered until all the concrete surfaces shone semi-gloss. 

"Thanks for the work," I told the twenty-something during our parting handshake.

Already in the city by early afternoon, stay there. Avoid the intertwined interstates. And my list had all it's boxes checked anyway, so I figured that was enough for new year's day part two. I'd done what I needed to, now what did I want?

... 

Went to the Silver Lake Branch Library for the last disc of Gilmore Girls season four, but they didn't have it like it said online. No Travis McGee, either. So after a fruitless run to the Los Feliz Library also, headed home.

Swung by the 99 cent store: water, popcorn, draino.

At home ate a banana with peanut butter and waited for my brother to return from his own errands.

"I thought maybe you changed your mind again and headed out," I told him as he descended the stairs into the basement.

"No, no." He smiled, looking down. "Head out, 'like a baby.' I think that's all I needed was to leave and come back. A symbolic gesture. Miming a rebirth."

"Sure," I considered. "In one of the Travis McGee books a character tells him that sometimes young people drive up the mountain, then they drive back down. A ritual doesn't need to be complex to be meaningful."

We exchanged more lines of agreeable dialogue before he revealed the spoils of his own library run -- the last episodes of Gilmore Girls season four: downloaded.

The universe had a jolly laugh at my misguided expense, happy to be ironic. The brothers two watched Stars Hollow until sleep finally came.