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  • The Scrivener

Diary Entry: MARCH 5, 2023.

Updated: May 9, 2023

I felt lousy when I woke up; I hadn’t been walking for a few days and the drive to Phoenix and back, to look at the new trailer, had been exhausting. So I went to take my customary walk around Airport Park.

On the way I stopped in at the Douglas Walmart; that Walmart sits right next to the border wall that separates the United States from Mexico. I bought a bag of ice, and a package of Johnsonville Stadium Brats for the potluck dinner at Roger’s. The ice was for transporting the containers of the beef curry I had made two days before, and the rice I planned to cook when I got home.

At the Walmart I was wearing shorts and a disreputable hooded sweatshirt. I was unshaven and my hair was, to say the least, unkempt.

When I came out, there was a sharp looking four-door Jeep in the parking space next to mine. The driver was a woman; I had seen her before she got in the car. She had left her large black leather purse in her shopping cart and she was about to drive away without it. I waved frantically and pointed to the purse.

The woman kept the smoked driver’s window of the Jeep firmly closed.

I understood more or less immediately. She was terrified. There was this unwashed madman outside gesticulating at the driver's window of her car.

It took forever to convince her that I meant her no harm and that she had left her purse behind.

After that she was all smiles and remorse and gratitude.

“Yeah,” I said. “ You wouldn’t have wanted to drive away without that.”

At the Airport Park trail, I passed a man who was walking a beige full-size poodle. The poodle looked intelligent and dignified. Whenever I see a full-size poodle I am immediately reminded of John Steinbeck’sTravels with Charley: In Search of America. (Charley was a full-size poodle, but black, I think).

I guess I could have told the guy about Travels with Charley, but it probably wouldn’t have meant much. Not many people read any more. And nobody talks about John Steinbeck these days, except in reference to The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice And Men, both of which were made into successful movies. It is odd when you remember what a literary giant Steinbeck was considered to be in the 1950s and ’60s.

The walking had been taxing. It was not the first time it had been like that; sometimes it was; sometimes it wasn’t. I was relieved when, during the third circuit round the park, the process became instinctual and virtually effortless.

A woman in a bright red tank top was walking towards me on the grass inside the track. She was slim but no longer young. Nonetheless she looked stunningly attractive. I had consciously to exercise self-control not to stare too blatantly. Then we were passing and it was time to nod and smile and say good morning. Then she was gone, continuing on her way behind me.


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