Thursday, November 24, 2011

Bloomingdale’s is just a five- or ten-minute walk from my building, depending on the hour, and on the weather, and depending, of course, on the shoes. I was on Lexington, across the street opposite the glass revolving doors, finishing off my cigarette. I was thinking about how great my coat felt on my body. It really fit me well. And it really kept me warm. It was just a little worn around the buttonholes. And around the collar, I suppose. I suppose I’ve had it for, well, going on, like, four whole years. And I was whistling the theme to the movie The Vikings, and making this great segue into the theme from the movie Star Trek, and then back into The Vikings, and then a segue into the Slinky song. My cousin used to have a Slinky. The Slinky is the most stupid toy in the world but it has a great theme song, right up there with Mystery Date. I can also do the Casper the Friendly Ghost song, and from there segue into the theme from the movie Peyton Place. I like the game photography, it’s very nineteen-forties. You get a bunch of guys and gals together, you turn off the lights, and you see what develops. I once watched that whole stupid movie with my Aunt Gloria, and she was, like, transfixed, literally transfixed as though what the hell she was watching. I was also getting into this stare. I had this stare thing going. I had my eyes wide open. And it was tempting, almost overwhelmingly so, to just let myself go, to lose myself in my stare. I was watching the shoppers come and go, in and out, all sorts of people. People from all over the world. And thinking yes, for sure, the most beautiful women in the world can be found at Bloomingdale’s. I could see myself, entering the store, in my reflection on the glass of the revolving door, and then immediately, to be wafted in the scents of the perfumes on the midway. I was bumped into by this woman. She was rushing out. She seemed as though she was fleeing a fire. Her eyes were open wide, and rather bulging and glassy, but not as though she had been crying, I mean as though she had just wakened from a terror. Could be she just had perfume in her eyes. And she had a little girl in tow. Somehow or other I caught the child’s eye and she winked at me and sort of flipped her little hip at me. She was wearing these little white cowboy boots and her dress came to just below her bottom. The woman tugged on the child’s arm. The child’s feet were put in motion so fast, but as though they had lost contact with the floor. And then I noticed there were firefighters everywhere. Some had stationed themselves in the aisles, and some were moving about in what seemed to be a pretty well rehearsed choreography. But then I saw these were not real firefighters, these were female models made up in firefighters’ uniforms. They had the black firefighter coats on, with the yellow reflective stripes, and they wore the firefighter helmets, and at the bottom just their perfect legs, and then a four-inch stiletto heel in fire-engine red, and then a wrinkle in fire-engine red ran up the back of their stockings, and in one hand they held a gleaming new red hatchet, and in the other a sample of Engine Co. No. 44 lipstick. And they all had fake mustaches in their noses, but to accentuate their Engine Co. No. 44 lips. And up and down the aisles was rolled out these flat mock-ups of fire hoses. And there were hydrants, in fire-engine red, set beside the firefighters stationed in the aisles. And then above us, suspended from the ceiling, there were tightrope walkers, made up as bellhops, and trapeze artists flipping through the air. Trapeze artists, made up as bellhops, doing flips and acrobatic stunts. There were contortionists. These slender Oriental women, made up as bellhops, and in the most discourteous of positions, going about on their hands herky-jerkylike all up and down the aisles. And as they went about they were farting perfume in blue puffs of combustion. I felt something tugging at my coat sleeve. I looked down and I saw that little girl again. She was trying to tell me something. Cou-cou-could you co-come with mm-mme over here, over here, pu-pu. . . . She led me by my sleeve through the counters and the crowds, to a place the other side of the midway. Her mother showed up and took her by the arm. This time she lifted the child in her arms and carried her away. The child winked at me, over her mother’s shoulder, and pointed to a class of kindergartners seated on the floor. They were being addressed by a model, made up in trench coat and dark fedora hat. The fedora had a dramatic pinch to it and her eyes were concealed beneath its brim. Her belt was cinched so tightly, but to accentuate her tiny waist. She held a bottle of perfume in her hands, and she was fondling its plastic seal, as though she were about to rip it open. And she was teaching them, in a lisping Castilian voice, to say the perfume’s name. Espy. A little boy hopped up and faced me. He said his name and held his finger to his chest. I’m Christopher! I felt my legs buckle out beneath me, and my backside bump against the floor. I tried to pick myself up but my legs were paralyzed. The little boy came and stood beside me. I’m Christopher. I know, I said. How did you get here? The little voice came against my ear, and as he did I took his hand. Hit and run. I shook off his hand and tried to crawl away. My legs stuck out as though they were on backwards. Look over there. . . . He pointed to a woman behind the Chanel counter. That’s my friend. But I can’t see, I said. I can’t see above the counter. . . . I tried to push myself up. She’s my friend. Yes, and I want to see her, I said. Oh help me to see. . . . I pulled my body toward the counter. She’s my friend, and I love her. Oh yes, I’d love to see your friend, I said. Oh please help me to see. . . . She’s my friend. . . . But where is she going? Christopher, I want to see her. . . . At last the model ripped the seal, and all the children purred and rose to their feet. Some stood on tiptoe, as though to lift their noses to the scent. The Oriental contortionists had surrounded me, their upside-down faces made expressions of curiosity to one another. It seemed to them by the way that I was holding myself up that I was trying to outdo them, and they began laughing at me, and farting perfume in my face. I reached for the child’s legs and climbed up his body ’til I had him in my arms. I could taste his golden hair in my face. I managed off my knees and I lifted him, and I hurried him away to the revolving doors.

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