Situated in the tree-shaded Victorian midtown of a moderately-sized urban center, I have been long accustomed to the random bohemian, hippie, tweaker fiend, poor white trash, homeless, or neighborhood freak wandering in to peruse the mechandise or perhaps chat me up. I honestly do not mind continuing a pleasant conversation for a few minutes, as I am genuinely interested in the myriad of diverse peoples that make up the residence of this avenue. Sadly, my politely neutral stance (mostly for fear of midnight retaliation against the unguarded gallery, lest I offend one of these fucking crazies) only encourages the madness to surround me like flies to honey; and the scabby ne'er-do-wells insist on standing at my counter for sometimes forty-five minutes or more as they blather on about such things as their travels back in time one billion years, observing demons springing forth from pedestrian brows, their intolerance to sunlight and the subsequent need to wear four layers of black from fedora to trenchcoat to fingerless gloves to wraparound shades.
Yesterday I reached my tolerance limit. Oh yes, my poppets, I am sure you are well surprised that I have patience in even its smallest increment. One purpose of this journal is to let me pen in its electronic pages that which I simply cannot scream from the top of my lungs, across the entire block, and into the faces of those I so despise. Case in point - even as I type this I just had some mush-mouth toothless wonder and his son come in. "Youknewwhar sainlus med'calbildin'is?" he asked me. Uh, what? After thrice repeating himself, I finally figured out he was asking for Saint Luke medical building. Unfortunately, he's looking for the structure several blocks down the avenue that has been razed to the ground some months ago. Lovely. Why am I the one to inform these people of such circumstances?
I have never seen a body with two lazy eyes, but somehow this woman possessed them. Up and down they would tilt and flutter precariously, completely independent of the other; the left would examine me before sliding downwards, the right staring towards the vicinity of the ceiling. It was most unnerving, and I cannot imagine how the view was from her angle. Her speech was slurred, eratic, and disjointed; and she would ask me the most peculiar, creepy questions. Pointing to a small punched-tin Mexican icon shadowbox, she would ask me for what purpose the piece would serve. Well, let's not kid ourselves - she really asked "Whazzat there? What is dat thing?" ... but I digress. After explaining to her four times, she seemed to understand. Until the old hag asked me, "Doessit have a gun?" I actually was fool enough to repeat the question, and yes, she was asking me just that. "You're very gullible, arencha?" was her reply afterwards, followed by a cackle even the witches of Macbeth would be proud of. Oh, Jeebus, save me now.
Slowly she would shuffle her way about the gallery, picking up this thing and that in a most peculiarly precise system. One object of her interest would be carefully clutched, until she found another pretty to catch her eye. Then the first item would be carefully, oh so delicately settled in lieu of the second object, which was then lucky enough to be carried against her chest. Of course, cautious as she was, every piece she put back was still upside down, backwards, left open and sprawling, or simply dangling to the floor. In an attempt to focus myself not on dismembering her through gales of shrieking laughter, I wrote tag descriptions for newly-arrived products. Each time the computer would print, a recorded voice would announce the printing job in the same manner of a Sigourney Weaver ship's motherbrain. This totally freaked out the woman, who sent her lazy eyes spinning in her rictus expression as though the very wrath of God were descending upon her fucked-up head. I calmly explained to her that it was the computer, though every five minutes when the voice intoned, she seemed to forget the words I had just spoken, and we went through the whole tirade again. I actually turned the volume up as loud as possible, and programmed the system to automatically send through a series of print jobs; I almost had her running for her life, hot damn it was funny to see her scrabble. But still somehow the siren song of my gallery lured her back from the door so she could continue her purveyal.
"Do you take layaway?" the beast asked me all of a sudden. Catching me off-guard, I stupidly opened my mouth and acknowledged that indeed, we accepted layaway with a twenty percent deposit. God-fucking-dammit. That set her off to collect a veritable treasure trove of goodies, her crowing delight informing me of to whom, or for what service, each selection would be. Two hundred fifty dollars later, I tallied up the goods and told her she needed to put fifty dollars down. "I can do that, I can do that," she mumbles to her wad of newspapers (which she brought in as some sort of talisman or luck-charm; it took me fifteen minutes to get her to put them down).
And then came the complex explanation as to why she would have to wait until tomorrow to pay me the money. Eager to have her out of my gallery - I had already told her three times in half an hour that I needed to close, just to get rid of the foul wretch - I told the woman it would be acceptable to come in tomorrow. "I live down at the YWCA a couple blocks away," I am proudly informed as though this is a privelege to know, straining to understand her slurred speech and thick lips, eyes a-goggle as they look at everything but me. One hour later, I manage to shuffle her dirty old ass on out, exhausted to my very core. I had chores to accomplish, tasks to complete; I had to make use of the lavatory and fetch a drink for my parched throat. And I could do none of these things because I had to sit for a goddamn hour and babysit this street freak's battered, drugged-up ass.
Not that I recieved any sympathy from my partner. When he came in to see how the gallery had fared that day, I related to him the horror of this latest visitation. I must seriously have pissed off God in some previous life to earn this retribution now. But alas, no words of comfort do I recieve. "Actually I've taken out a large insurance policy on you and I'm driving you to commit suicide by sending in out of work carnival freaks to harass you!" the little shit announces to me. "At least they were cheap... out of work sideshow people will harass someone for a dollar!"