All Guests Must Be Announced – Ch. 20

“We got plenty of beers left but maybe we should get some Tully? Good idea or recipe for disaster? What do you think?”

“Tully is never a bad idea,” I said. 

“Here’s some bread,” said Gerry, pulling a hundred dollar bill from a stack of cash, suffocating inside his wallet. He must have withdrawn funds for his travels. Tomorrow he’d be exchanging it for Euros and going on a monumental tear. “Can you go and grab us a bottle? You keep the change.”

“Sure thing. I don’t mind. Could use some fresh air, you know, I’ve been here all fucking day. Stretch the legs a little. Maybe Ichabod would like to go for a walk.”

“Ichabod would love to go for a walk with his buddy, Rainer. Absolutely.”

I switched the elevator over to manual. I attached the leash to Ichabod’s collar. A silver dog treat had his name and address in Whitestone, Queens engraved on the face. A place I was raised that I could easily write a love letter or a death threat to. 

“This way, boy,” I said to the dog. I walked past other buildings, they were all alternate realities, parallel dimensions of 534 with endless combinations of different staff and shareholders and various personalities and mental states. I placed one earbud in, and pressed shuffle on the ipod, and placed it back inside my pocket, next to my trusty box cutter.

I loved the city in autumn but no matter how much I loved the fall season it could not make me happy. Nothing ever makes me entirely happy. I felt broken. I couldn’t shake the sadness. Things that didn’t matter tiptoed into my mind, things I wished I had forgotten, things I wished never happened, they crept in and tore me apart. But if they didn’t matter why would it bother me so much? If it didn’t matter why did they always worm their way into my thoughts? 

Did the pain validate the feeling? Or was the thought the result of a brain programmed to dwell on the negative? What matters and what doesn’t matter? I couldn’t tell you without being biased. The psychoanalyst said to me that I should think positive thoughts and be grateful, but all the positive thoughts and all the gratitude I could conjure failed to silence the ugliness of my brain. 

The nasty whispers, those unwelcome guests in my head skewed the way I saw the world, covering everything within my narrow periphery in a dirty shadow of disgust. 

I found people to be mostly putrid, and full of impropriety even in a post 9/11 world we can’t treat each other decently in this god forsaken city. No great fire or blizzard, hurricane or attack could ever teach the majority of the human race any decency or how to love, or how not to throw their shit on the floor.

My serotonin levels must have been plummeting. The ennui was oppressive and omnipresent. How can I be so happy one moment and completely miserable the next, or at the same time even? How is it possible for them to work in tandem inside my head? I saw a man commit suicide today. I had no place to live. The future looked bleak. And those things affected me less than the other horrid meditations replaying in my thoughts. At least the dog could make me smile. If people had emotional support dogs, well then, Ichabod was almost a spiritual healer, a fucking guru. 

Mrs. Moseley walked toward me under an awning of a building, three buildings ahead of me. She had a long rain coat on and hunter green rubber boots. A pretty woman with a nice shape, she would have no trouble replacing Mr. Moseley, if she hadn’t already. Her impending separation from her husband was none of my business. If I knew the specifics I’d probably be more understanding but that’s only because I’m not invested. As I stated, it was none of my business. It was their lives to destroy. She came off snobbish at times, very different from Mr. Moseley, but she had intellect which is always appealing. Intelligence was a turn on. Do people think they won’t get caught or do they think that cheating won’t end the relationship? Or when it’s that far gone the cheater doesn’t care about the relationship at all. So many variables in these complex unions we stupidly sign up for voluntarily. 

I waved hello at her with my free hand. She seemed to acknowledge that I, or someone was there but looked straight ahead and ignored me. I kept it moving. I was used to that sort of behavior. More than a few tenants refused to acknowledge the staff outside of the building. I could make a list of excuses as to why she might’ve not said hello to me but what would the use of that be? She didn’t see me. She was deep in thought. Maybe Mr. Moseley told her what I overheard their argument and was embarrassed. Maybe she was pissed that I knew and now would never talk to me again.

Whatever it was, it didn’t matter. I didn’t care what she thought of me. I didn’t care what she did with her life. She could fuck everyone at her office for all I cared. It had no real bearing on me as long as she wasn’t trying to get me fired. I had my own shit to sort out. 

When I reached the corner, a man who made the pavement his residence, sat with his back against the bricks of a residential building with a pizzeria renting out the storefront on the first floor. I really enjoyed their pizza, particularly the chicken slice. The bum was eating a Sicilian. His sneakers were more expensive than my own. He had layers of dirty, ripped blankets over his legs. He seemed warm in his overcoat and skull cap. There was a dirt on his face and hands as if he were stained. Everything is stained, isn’t it? 

Thursday’s song I Am The Killer played lowly in my left ear. I kept the music at a low volume, and my hand on my box cutter in my right pocket because I never wanted to be caught off guard or blindsided by some piece of shit. My psychoanalyst filed that under paranoia. Geoff Rickley might as well have been speaking directly to me. Disorient the senses. Loss of identity. No one to trust. No one to trust.

“Hey buddy, hold up,” The man said, placing the sicilian slice on the concrete and held up a sign, it read, TELL ME TO GO FUCK MYSELF FOR A DOLLAR, it looked to be written by a kindergartener. He flipped the sign, and on the back it read, WHO AM I FOOLING I NEED A DAMN DRANK. “Curse me out. Let out that frustration for a small donation. You look angry son, let’s fix it. Put it all out on the table, and in this case, I’m the table.”

“I’m good. No, thank you.”

“You are going to stand there and lie to me? There is no one you want to say ‘fuck you’ to? You’re bugging. Come on, my man. Let me have it.”

I laughed a little. 

“Tell your bitch off. Pretend I’m your Pops. Better yet, you’re a doorman well then pretend I’m one of these asshole tenants. Let it rip for a dollar, kid.”

“I appreciate the offer.” Ichabod did not like this man, showing his teeth. “I have to get going. Maybe tomorrow.”

As I walked away he shouted, “Any positions available at your building? I got a letter of recommendation. Who gives a fuck. Eat the rich, kid.”

I held a mostly negative outlook on the homeless and rarely gave anything unless it was a veteran. The truth was I held a negative outlook on everything. I maneuvered through life with a negative approach. I knew the irony that I was technically homeless, but I was willing to work and earn my money rather than panhandle. As much as we don’t want to pass judgment, we still do, to some degree, some more than others. I did. I felt little to no sympathy for junkies and people who could work a job and eat shit like I did but rather beg. No hand outs. If I had to live on the street I definitely wouldn’t stay in New York City, I’d hop a freight train south, try to work on a farm or enlist in the military. I wouldn’t freeze to death in Midtown. That’s for damn sure. 

I tied Ichabod to a pole, I felt uneasy about it, like I was abandoning him or setting a trap for him or something.  I went into the liquor store and made it as quickly as possible, never taking my eye off of him. I feared someone would attempt to steal him or harm him. I grabbed two bottles, a liter and a 750 ml of Tullamore Dew. On my way back to the building, I dropped the smaller bottle of Tully in the homeless man’s lap, I thought of all the people on my list and said, “Go fuck yourself.”

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