by PJ Maurer

Its happening again, I cant seem to find anything on television and my usual deep-channel low-budget drama film has turned into a forty minute infomercial that Ive seen more times than Ive had collard greens for supper this week, besides theres a better show on. I open my door so I could hear them arguing again, this time it seems hes at fault, which always turns out entertaininglong strings of emotional appeals followed by faulty logic, comparable to a less funny I Love Lucy knock off. How did they do it? Twenty years and still married. I convinced myself again that they were unhappy and the only reason they stayed together was for me, it didnt work. My mother started crying and I tried to care. I think fighting is their only reprieve.

My parents are in a fixed position now. Im going to the ceremony, I heard they serve food at those things, maybe theyll have those little square English cookies with the oversized sugar crystals that lie like a battlefield of dead dominoes, it looks more like broken glass to me though, the kind that you have to wipe up with a wet rag and always wonder if you got it all.

Its a good thing I own a black suit, I look like everyone else but they all still seem to pay attention to me. My airtime is stunted however, by the free coffee. I pour myself a cup and watch in remote satisfaction as my blackened reflection is obliterated by the nuclear bomb cloud of white breve. Some heavy-necked man who is balding but still getting haircuts is standing at the podium now, which looks more like a walker rather than authoritative piece. He is beginning to qualify himself, I met Mr. McMillian in law school, damn good poker player he was Crying seems to be the thing to do right now but the old cricket lady next to me that smells like an unopened drawer of old clothes beat me to it. I wonder if she knew her finale was near, after all the only thing keeping most of these people alive was a cocktail of capsules and tabs, a shape for every ailment, take the square with breakfast, crush the oval for pain, swallow the circle for effect and repeat. Can you induce Alzheimers? I need a cigarette. I left the building through the leaf covered faade and walked right into the rain. I did not find what I was looking for.

I quickly forgot about my caregivers and the shows they used to put on for me. I am on my show now, on an uninhabited island in search of food, except its not desolate and sustenance is all around me. Id like to be on the discovery channel, I just havent found anything yet.

As I walk into my apartment the phone is ringing, I repeat my second hello? which means I should probably hang up unless I want to hear my last name mispronounced. At least theyre always sorry to bug you. I waited. There it is, Hello, sorry for the interruption sir but may I speak to Mr. Mchameeleon? Thats me alright, and as I keep the receiver to my ear I think about the poor souls that buy things on the fly like this, right over the phone. What if they are not who they say they are? I cant help but wonder why I even still had a land line, at least I have one thing in common with the almost-expired today. Do these phone marketers even except checks?

I change my clothes. I change my shoes. I am wearing my 30 sec-of-fame outfit. I turn off the TV and walk out the door. Im headed down Maple Street, towards the revolving sushi bar, which Im apparently not allowed back in subsequent to the plate mishap. See, I found a loophole in their partisan, and efficiently flawless establishment. There is a conveyor belt that carries the various food items past your table, some more extravagant than others and all based on the coding system, different color plates for different itemsblue is four dollars, red is six, and the green is eight. At the end of your meal the waiter adds up your plates and charges accordingly, but being the magician I am, decided to make four of the eight disappear. Some lucky patron later found a small fortune of multi-colored plates under their low-to-the-ground, Ikea bench seat. I got out of it by claiming to be an ergonomics major. That was last fall. I still cant go back. As I wait for the light to change I become fixated on the digital billboard overhead, at the moment there is an ad for mens cologne where all it shows is the Golden Gate Bridge with a small opalescent bottle of the stuff at the bottom right corner. I heard once that San Francisco has the most one-way streets, which seems ironic to me. I wonder if I would fit in there and then for some reason, remember that I wasnt a good artist at first, but just this morning sculpted a caterpillar out of a eulogy.

I walk off the sidewalk and down four steps through the dilapidated wooden door of the only static place I know, an old speakeasy now turned coffee shop, vinyl records consistently serving warm jazz music that sounds like your third beer tastes, pictures of blank-faced labor workers from the thirties hang on red brick walls, and although the paint is worn, the discernible art has turned the ceiling into a new world, where the ocean has no waves, the moon is always full, and the tide is always high. Im a scholar in a library. I make eye-contact with Constance, and it happens again, I become permeable. Why is she the only one? I dont understand. She doesnt understand. I cant help but stare, I need to hold on to it. I scan her features as Ive done every weekday for the last four months, to-go cups are so limited. She has a reminiscent scar below her left eyeI pretend she was born with ither blue eyes stare like symmetrical icebergs melting in the sun, her aura is augmented by the usual red lipstick that is sucking the color out of everything in the room. I am in a silent movie and those century-old bricks look black and white. She glows in the only apron Ive ever seen her in, a solid green cloth that shrouds her balanced torso like a sheet draped over piece artwork in the attic. I order my cappuccino and wait for a half a minute before receiving back three dollars, which I invariably put into the ivory box next to the register that reads dont worry about your change painted in black print, and for some reason while here, I never seem to. She always smiles with an innocent thank you, our thirty second interactions have become quite routine, sometimes my cappuccino is freeas if thats the reason I come. I wouldnt be surprised if her only selfish action was getting that tattoo on her active wrist written in Latin, the courage to ask her what sine ira et studio means hasnt surfaced yet. Idown my cappuccino and before walking out the door I see a new photo, Elton John at his piano with a gapped smile, the caption reads, It's like trying to find gold in a silver mine It's like trying to drink whisky from a bottle of wine.

I have a slow walk home thinking about an ex-girlfriend and the conversations we would have, asking me, why do you love me? was as much of her daily routine as eating breakfast. It was a question that I could only answer with vicinity, I love the way you wear your hair today, I love the way you kissed my neck this morning, I love that you went with the white shirt. I love you because you believe I love you was the more appropriate answer.

After I walk in my door I turn the television back on, where I am met with the static channel, I didnt change it. I recall that a TV is made up of only blue, red and green pixels but is producing a black and white image. I longed to know how they did it.

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