I crawled out of bed the usual time this morning, still in a bit of a fog from the night before. The clocks didn’t seem right. I knew it was later than what they were saying. I instantly came to the most logical conclusion: some time during the night I became a time traveler and moved one hour into the future. I became very excited and turned on my computer right away, hoping to make stock purchases based on things that would happen; things I already knew about in my timeline. Then I realized the next obvious thing: the stock market isn’t open on Sunday. It wasn’t until several hours had gone by before I saw the correct time on my DVR, and then I remembered about the whole springing forward time change thing. Stupid time travel.
I didn’t shave or shower before I drove down the road to Dunkin’ Donuts for my caffeine fix. Big mistake. The manager thought I was just some stinky, homeless guy and told me to leave. On the way out he asked me if I’d like a job cleaning the store’s toilet bowls. I thanked him for the offer, but declined, and tried my luck at the Wawa food market, where the standards haven’t been set quite so high. I got a few stares, but at least I was able to score a large cup of java and be on my way.
When I returned home and was almost fully awake, I went out back to fetch our bird, Jade. She is an ambitious creature. instead of pulling worms out of the ground like a normal bird, I found her in the middle of the bird bath wrestling with a water moccasin. The poor snake was missing almost all of its scales and had huge beak marks all along its back. When Jade saw me, she flew into the house, not because she was glad to see me, but because the snake was too big for her to swallow. Both cats were already inside eating scraps of food they had tossed out of the refrigerator the night before. The house now reeks of smoked salmon and cat nip. Zack had been a bad cat the night before, or perhaps a very creative one, and had formed a huge sculpture out of all the cat poop that had been piling up in the litter box. I should have been cleaning their litter box all along, and I definitely would have if I had known that Zack would have sculpted a life-size portrait bust of Justin Bieber. At least the medium matched the subject matter, and that gave me some solace.
That afternoon I visited Apollo Beach to check out an art show. There were a lot of paintings and some sculptures, too, but none was as grandiose as Zack’s portrait of the Bieb. The day was quite warm and the sun was high in the sky, baking my hung-over body as I marinated the parched meat with my own sweat. My bald spot reflected the sun’s rays at odd angles, creating unusual patterns of reflections among the art booths, especially those selling shiny jewelry.
On the way home I dropped into a bar called Showtime, in Gibsonton. It’s the one I modeled the murals after in my book – on the walls of the Road Kill Café. It had been several years since I’d been in Showtime, and it had changed quite a bit. The paintings on the outside wall had all faded away with time; there was nothing left but off-white shadows with some tiny scraps of colored paint still hanging on desperately to the sun-bleached stucco. Inside the bar things looked pretty much the same. The murals were covered with a thin veneer of cigarette smoke, but they were still intact. There were the regulars conversing with the bartender. Somebody’s friend’s mother had died recently. She was only in her forties. There were employee issues that the bartender was happy to share with her customers, too, as she swatted the fly that kept buzzing around a loose lock of black hair that kept falling in front of her eyes. A Nascar race was on TV. They were still turning left, and it occurred to me that some things never change at all. I drank my one pint of Bud and left the bar.
As I pulled out of the parking lot I glanced back at Showtime once more, knowing I’d probably never go back. Sure, the inside of the place hadn’t changed much, but I couldn’t reconcile all the changes on the exterior of the building. Those paintings on those cement block walls had been my inspiration. They were magic in my mind, where the images literally came to life. The painted creatures moved and crawled and hissed and cawed and hid behind bushes. The only thing that moved today were tiny paint chips fluttering in the hot, dry breeze, sliding down against dirty, bleached cinder blocks, and down onto the gravel parking lot. With my inspiration gone, I drove north toward home, not looking back. Enough time travelling for one day.