There’s something wrong with him, my father said. Look at him. Something’s not right. Something happened to him. He’s sick. All he thinks about is writing. That’s all he thinks about. He is blue.
Even though I wasn’t there, I heard my father. And took perverse pride in what he said about me. All I thought about was writing. I was sick. I was blue.
This meant I had gone over to the other side. Completely. I had gone and was not coming back. The tether had been cut. I was now completely possessed by my demon-lover, Writing. She wouldn’t let me go. I wouldn’t let her go. There was symbiotic clinging. Desperate, clawing need.
My father was right. Something had gone out of me. Something vital. And it wasn’t coming back.
I took a job at Duane Reade. No one told me what my duties were. I just started doing stuff. Mostly I moved items around on the shelves, trying to look busy. That, and I dusted the shelves. Somehow I was in possession of a feather duster.
While I was dusting, the store manager asked me if I could work tomorrow night. I gave it some thought. I tried to think of reasons why I couldn’t work tomorrow night, but just wound up saying—I’m not interested in your offer. The store manager’s thin dark severe eyebrows jumped to the middle of her forehead. Do you even want this job, she asked me.
I gave it some thought. Yes, I said, but only on a part-time trial basis. Maybe a couple of days a week. We’ll see how it goes.
The store manager nodded curtly and walked away. How could she fire me? I couldn’t even remember having been hired. What was I doing at Duane Reade dusting shelves and reorganizing their inventory?
At one point, I stopped working and stepped outside through the back door. There was a breathtaking nightline view of the city. Everything was lit up, with a resplendence that evoked the nostalgia of old movies. It was New York, through a Hollywood lens, in the 1930s or 40s.
My heart went out to that city, but the rest of me returned to Duane Reade. I picked up my feather duster and went back to work. I knew that I was between worlds. A decision would have to be made soon.