N exercise 2.9
The bunting is still in the muggy, stagnant air. Each coloured triangle is coated with a thin layer of grit, so fine as to be practically invisible. The drooping lines of festive decorations run around the perimeter of the lot, and not one of the triangles moves. They just hang, motionless.
It’s too hot even for the birds. There must be some up there, in the trees, but I haven’t seen a one all afternoon. Sometimes their singing is so loud, so jarring in its cacophonous overlapping, that I have to bring customers into the dealership itself to be heard. Today, though, there’s no sound at all. No screeching birds, no passing cars. The sidewalk is empty, baking. The brutal sun is hidden behind a sheet of smoggy grey cloud, saving us from the worst of the heat, but it makes the world grey, too. A flat, lifeless grey, hanging over everything.
At three o’clock I’m sitting in my tiny office, reclining in my chair, my arms dangling at my sides. My computer has put itself to sleep, and the chime at the door of the dealership hasn’t tinkled in days. I peer through the slats in the window, rubbing at the grit with my shirt sleeve, to see if Mr. Masabusi is out for his daily walk, even in this heat. There’s no sign of the old man or his walker with the sliced tennis balls.
Drooping back into my chair, it seems the place has somehow grown darker. It’s not for some minutes that I realize the bulb in my desk lamp has burnt out. I wonder when it happened. I’d not noticed it flickering, even once, and yet the few assorted papers scattered across my desk are in such a murky gloom as to be unreadable. I brush them aside into a rough pile at the edge of the desk. A moment later, I sweep them onto the floor, and there they stay. I recline in my chair, close my eyes.
The bunting flaps in the warm, friendly breeze, sparkling and giving colourful life to the perimeter of the lot. Blues and reds and whites wink at the customers browsing the cars, giving the whole place a festive vibe.
Birds and squirrels fill the vibrant green trees surrounding the lot. The birds are a riot today, each little creature chirping its heart out, calling to one another. Even the squirrels seem extra chittery today, as though sharing some exciting news happening amongst the denizens of the trees. Birds and squirrels race from tree to tree, streaks of colour and sound. Their chatter nearly drowns out the voices of the customers, and my own, but we all smile and strain to speak over the chirps, laughing about the noisy creatures.
The sun shines gentle rays on the lot throughout the day, and at three, as always, Mr. Masabusi, gripping his walker, the slit tennis balls scooting across the pavement, shuffles by. He waves at me, calls out, asks how the wife is. I tell him that she’s nearly due and he grins, maneuvers his walker over to where I’m showing a hybrid four-door to a young couple, and Mr. Masabusi interrupts us briefly to shake my hand. The couple smiles at this, and we all wave goodbye as Mr. Masabusi continues on his way.
I make several sales under the golden sun, even stay late to close a deal with the young couple, who are eager to get their new hybrid home. I baby it with a fresh coat of polish just before they drive away, and the vehicle gleams in the evening sunset. As their new red tail lights disappear over a hill, I wave, a genuine smile on my face that I couldn’t get rid of if I tried. I quickly organize the outstanding paperwork on my desk and skip out into the pleasant evening, drive home with the top down. My wife greets me with a grin.