Wednesday, January 11, 2023


It had started raining much heavier by the time I paid, so I stayed under the awning of a place closed on Wednesdays to smoke my pipe. Where I was soon joined by a runty fellow from the apartments upstairs who brought out his little stool to sit while huffing his Double Happiness ciggies. And I became aware in short order that he was missing a few screws.
In all of his half century plus of being on this planet, he had never seen a briar pipe.
Plus at random moments he felt the need to vocalize.

As the rain came down harder it disturbed him. He screamed an obscenity. A few minutes later again. And once more. Then indignantly he picked up his little stool and moved up the street, where the shopkeepers maybe didn't want him, because he was soon back. Ten minutes later he moved there again. While he was screaming at the wind I stirred up my ashes, cleaned my pipe, and left. Despite the rain, shopping was in order.

The grocery stores were not as crowded as usual, quite probably because of the downpour. On the street outside, people were hopscotching from awing to awning, and occasionally banging into each other's umbrellas.
Much earlier, when I dropped by the pharmacy at Chinese Hospital, there had also been fewer people than normal. Rain discourages people, and around lunch time Cantonese people will make sure that nothing will get in the way of their meal. They've been looking forward to it since breakfast! Which is why the restaurant was bustling when I arrived.
If nothing else, when the weather is lousy one must enjoy one's food.
Tables filled with hapy people.

When I returned to that block for tea and a biscuit at the bakery, it was not such a happy place. A woman with skeevy reptilian eyes was eating wonton soup with her parents, and I caught her several times observing me in the mirror. She'd look, then with every indication of distaste reach for another dumpling with her chopsticks, a glimmer of something would cross her face before the poor wonton would disappear. At one point she surreptitiously snagged a dumpling out of her mother's bowl. The old lady looked serene and oblivious to the theft.

There something about the way some people wield their chopsticks that make one automatically assume that they're clenching tightly down below.
For fear of losing something precious.

A woman with reptilian eyes looking totally paranoid and suspicious cannot possibly enjoy her food as much as a normal person. It's just not a realistic likelihood.

The screeching man was audible outside. He'd gotten worse since lunchtime. Possibly his brain was melting. His sanity was already gone, drained like ectoplasmic slime down his torso and into the gutters, where eerily glowing it had joined the floating detritus.
This is educated speculation and imagining, by the way.
Even if I didn't have to pick something up at the pharmacy I would have gone out today. Evidence that all the regular habits are being maintained is, generally speaking, a morale booster. For oneself, possibly other people.

Despite being in a tiger infested swamp, one still shaves every day.
The rebels may have blown off my leg, but that's no excuse.
Oh dear, the roof caved in. It's time for tea.

When I left the bakery I could have waited for a bus at the nearby stop, me and my second pipe. But I'm not crazy. No need to risk being in the line of howl. I had noticed him staring at me several times while I enjoyed my biscuit, and seeing as he doesn't have a life I was sure he was still nearby. So I walked several blocks down to Sansome Street to catch the bus there. I had barely finished my pipe when it arrived.

I don't mind being "educational", but I'm picky about when and to whom.

It's been wavering between drizzle and downpour all day.
Perfect weather for a smoke.
Double happines.

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