Tuesday, September 08, 2009
A Morning (With Apologies to Willa Cather)
For several weeks after my sleigh-ride, we heard nothing from the Shimerdas. My sore throat kept me indoors, and grandmother had a cold which made the housework heavy for her. BING! Good morning sir, how are you today? A regular coffee, yessir. Our mildest roast? That'd be the Peruvian, right over here. I think you'll like it. Oh, yeah. I have to be here at six thirty to have the place ready to open. No, I don't mind it too much. Yeah, thanks for coming in. Have a great day. BING! "All but the crazy boy," Jake put in. "He never wears the coat. Krajiek says he's turrible strong and can stand anything..." BING! Hi there! What can I get you? Medium Spanish, coming right up. Two percent milk alright? Yeah, good game. I was encouraged by what I saw, though to be honest with you I'm still not sure about the quarterback situation. Yeah, that was nice to see. Yeah, that's a load of hooey, if you ask me, not that you did. It's nothing that every other college hasn't been doing. Exactly, yeah. Hey, thanks. Have a good one! BING! The old man was sitting on a stump behind the stove, crouching over as if he were trying to hide from us. Yulka was on the floor at his feet, her kitten in her lap. She peeped out at me and smiled, but, glancing up at her mother, hid again. It's quiet. Get up. Change the CD. Nina Simone. "This song is called Mississippi goddamn, and I mean every word of it," she says, seemingly exuberant in her ability to express her anger. The live recording is some weird mix of raw and virtuosic, like a group of expert musicians who've never played together before. They probably had, though. I have to remind myself that the music is happening in the past, well before my birth, I guess, even if I'm experiencing it for the first time now. Recorded music is magic. It's alchemy and necromancy, art and technology. It's wonderful. Damn, it's slow today. Grandmother went on talking in her polite Virginia way, not admitting their stark need or her own remissness, until Jake arrived with the hamper, as if in direct answer to Mrs. Shimerda's reproaches. Then the poor woman broke down. She dropped on the floor beside her crazy son, hid her face on her knees, and sat crying bitterly. BING! Good morning! How's it going today? Having the usual? Whoa, mixing it up today! Large mocha, coming right up. You want whipped cream on that? Righto. What's that? Sorry, this thing is loud. Oh, yeah. Good game. I'm still holding my breath for the Notre Dame game, though. Yeah. Here you are, one large mocha. Thanks for coming in, take it easy! BING! Grandmother drew back. "You mean they sleep in there--your girls?" He bowed his head. Tony slipped under his arm. "It is very cold on the floor, and this is warm like the badger hole. I like for sleep there," she insisted eagerly. BING! Hi, how are you today? Just a regular coffee? We can do that. It's right over here, I'd recommend the house coffee. It's a dark Italian roast, I think you'll like it. Thanks, have a good one! BING! By the time they paid Krajiek for the land, and bought his horses and oxen and some old farm machinery, they had very little money left. He wished grandmother to know, however, that he still had some money. Get up. Re-brew the house, wipe the counter, rearrange the muffins. Running low on medium cups on top of the machine, should get those... BING! Hi there! How are you today? All the way home grandmother and Jake talked about how easily good Christian people could forget they were their brothers' keepers.