It was all a very odd day to begin with. The strange thing is that oddity flows more from the details not the larger issues. Wars shock but they don’t surprise us. Yet if you discover the lady standing next to you had worn her blouse on backward or worn two left shoes, then your eyes might blink and stare like an optical illusion which you can’t quite figure or a car commercial.
The morning had began quite blustery. The kind of weather that brings storms and fells trees, that sends trash cans rolling into traffic like sage in old Westerns, the kind of wind that uproots homes and small children, catapulting them to far lands atop old wizened women. I removed my coat and soaked in the Zephyrs like sunshine.
Up the road I passed a man donning the green-copper robes of Lady Liberty, trying hard to stay upright. The bearded monument had traded in his tablet for a large cardboard arrow, inscribed with ‘Tax Service,’ which he would twirl every now and then for the benefit of his mobile highway audience. Yet with every twirl the arrow caught the wind, pulling the robed mascot like a large kite, his long beard tangled among his thorny crown.
Further on, plastic ads for SAT classes and law firms once staked deep into the earth before the winter thaw, wobbled and teetered in the breeze, hanging onto its terrestrial station by metal threads. Nearby road signs bowed and bent by the winds, warn any falling aircraft to yield and stop before colliding with the ground.
For some reason the day started out well until it came time to checkout. The lady behind me in line quickly positioned the plastic divider between her lettuce and frozen orange juice and my milk jugs and a small vial of cumin without even glancing up from her cart. I never appreciated segregation on any level even among fellow produce; thus her actions irked me some. Had my wares been more abundant (today was a rare occasion) I would have understood. Typically we aim for art, piling our boxes and bags in strange orientations in order to recreate something by Rodin or the Empire State Building. We cast a spell to keep it all stable . . . until our backs are turned: apples rolling off boxes of Fruity Pebbles into another shopper’s mountain of cheese and hemorrhoid crème. Yet my small troop of spices and low fat milk posed no threat of invasion, no cause for rowdy mixers with another man’s fruit and salsa dip. “Good fences make good strangers,” she might lecture if I considered protesting.
Walking outside bags in hand, clouds drift silently across the sky like German zeppelins, ready to bomb the planet with ice and snow. The setting sun blew sparks on their hydrogen-filled sacs; I nearly walked into a yellow Beetle waiting for the explosion. Near the horizon, swarms of fleeing birds hop from tree to tree as if feeding off skeletal fingers, reaching for the sky in prayer or supplication.
I got in my car. Surprisingly the lady had parked her Yukon beside me. While I edged backwards, she slipped in and opened her door, blocking my mirror while she buckled and checked fumbled with her keys. I waited. Once the door closed, I sped off. Enough distance makes good fences too and when cars fail to properly segregate can lead to major health risks and damaged groceries.