Man has things to do and not a clue how to do them.
|It was the middle of the day and Bobby Ray lay flat on his back on his bed with his clothes on staring at the ceiling. He had nothing to do, nowhere to go, and nowhere he could go. Bobby Ray had been staring at the ceiling for a bit over two hours now. The thing was, not only had he nothing else to do, there was nothing else he could do. There were no ballgames, no movie theaters, no strip clubs, no bars. There was nothing to listen to because there was nothing to hear. No cars, no horns. No children no dogs no angry screaming no happy laughter. There was not even the familiar sound of cons yelling at each other back and forth across cells, which was kind of a nice thing, but still, cons yelling was something you could always listen to in a pinch.
Bobby Ray was lying there trying to decide what the ceiling over his bed reminded him of. It was something, but what it was stayed just out of reach and was starting to irritate the fuck out of him. But then he got hungry, and whamo! It came to him. Bobby Ray sat bolt upright and screamed, “Cottage cheese!” He jumped off the bed and began punching the air like a prize fighter warming up. “Cottage-motherfucking-cheese!” he roared again. That’s what it looked like. It had that pattern, that freshly opened tub of Knudsen cottage cheese pattern.
And he was starving! He remembered there was not going to be no bell for chow-time. If Bobby wanted to eat, he was gonna have to go out and get something to eat.
Actually. . . actually. . . now that he thought about it, what he actually could do is put on his shoes and go to the market and buy some motherfucking cottage cheese. He could do that right now, and. . . and yeah. . . maybe go to the park and eat it there. Maybe sit under a tree! He had done his time, he was free! Twenty-five long years of time he done. Yeah! That was what he was going to do. He was gonna eat cottage cheese in a park under a motherfucking tree!
Then. . . as often happens when a man gets a great idea out of the blue, he starts to overthink it. Also, when you spend most of your life living in Cell-Block-C the thought of going out and buying something to eat scares the piss out of you. He sat down on his bed. He looked at his shoes on the floor. All he had to do was put them on and go outside and find a market. There must be one around here somewhere. ‘Course, he’d maybe have to take bus to get to it. . . And he didn’t know how much that was going to cost. And which bus was he supposed to take? Just jump on a bus? You don’t just jump on a motherfucking bus! You gotta know the motherfucking bus system. And, you gotta know where the market’s at!
This was all giving Bobby Ray an acid stomach. He laid back down on his bed, then stood back up and began pacing around his little studio apartment the white lady at Corrections arranged for him. “Here ya go, Bobbie,” she said and handed him two keys. One for upstairs and one for downstairs. Door keys. Bobby pretty much never owned a key in his life and now he had two of them. She looked back at him and said, “Put those in your pocket, you don’t want to lose them do you?” Bobby Ray shook his head no and put the keys in his pocket. She said, “You’re gonna be fine, Bobby.” Bobby Ray found himself nodding his head, hoping this white lady from Corrections was right.
A week ago he was the brunt of a thousand different Cell-Block-C jokes. “Hey Bobby, I hear you finally getting out. Shame about the quarantine! Guess you’re gonna have to wait couple more years for that cold beer and hotdog at Dodger Stadium, huh?"
What are the odds, Bobby Ray thought to himself, twenty-five years of dreaming about getting out and going to a baseball game, couple dogs, couple beers, the sun on yo’ face, and then finally you out and they cancel baseball. Did God hate him that much? It was a question he couldn’t answer.
Bobby Ray sat down on his bed and put on his new kicks. They was no Jordon Classics, but they was new. They had white white laces. Bobby Ray hadn’t seen shoelaces in twenty-five years, but he got them tied and stood up. It was time. He was scared but it was time. He pictured himself under that tree in the park sitting on the grass eating cottage cheese. “It is time, motherfucker!”
He checked his back pocket for his wallet. He checked his side pocket for his keys. He was good to go. He opened his door and stepped through and closed the door and locked it, then checked it, then went down the stairs and out the street door and onto the sidewalk. First thing he saw was a black and white, moving slow. Stopping. Two cops looking at him and their window coming down and the near cop saying, “Can’t come out here, boy, without a mask!”
Bobby Ray was too startled to speak. He couldn’t believe his ears. Now they want me to wear a mask? Last time Bobby Ray wore a mask it was of Ronald Reagan and it was cool as fuck and the whole bank ‘bout shat themselves.
He went back into his building and up the stairs and into his apartment and laid down flat on his bed. “Tomorrow I’ll get me a new mask,” he said to the ceiling. “Maybe this one will be a Tricky Dick Nixon. . .”