The grocery store at the end of the day was only slightly depressing. It’s not the masked citizens that gives me the tight jaw, or the rope line that makes everyone distance socially, or any other expected manifestations of the disease that shut down everything, and whose overwhelming number of victims - 80 percent - in the nursing homes. Which is horrible. But it seems odd to draw a direct line from that specific set of fatalities to the fact that there isn’t any dishwashing soap.

“Are you still teaching tai-chi,” someone said. Ah, the old familiar conversions of regulars, the butcher talking to a habitual customer.

“Are you still teaching tai-chi,” someone said.

He was talking to me. I assumed a stork-like posture. “Like this stuff” I said.


“That’s not me,” I said. “It’s the mask. We can’t tell!”

Except that I could tell; I knew who he was and what his name was. I asked if he worked at another grocery store, then apologized - no, I’m thinking of another guy, he always looks slightly worried?

Yeah, he knew who I was talking about.

Mike? Was it Mike? Anyway. We had a socially-distanced chat about store employees over the years, and then I waved and said “good talking with you, have a good night” and moved along to the chicken department. The standard Gold’n Plump chicken breasts were gone. They’re been in short supply at the end of the night all week. I’ll have to restock on the Monday morning trip, the new ritual, because I don’t want to bite too deeply into the stocks. He didn’t say “see you around” or anything like that, but I sensed him still standing there, 12 feet away.

Finally he said “see you around,” like, a minute after I’d waved, and I wondered: had I offended the butcher by prematurely ending a random conversation he began with a misidentification?

Eggs: scant. Cereal: scant. No dishwashing soap - cleaned out. Pasta sauce - weak. Dairy case abundant. Coffee: more than you will ever want. Frozen foods: a cornucopia. But it’s the empty shelves that depress and aggravate and refocus: thank you lax Chinese procedures and CCP disinfo campaigns. Again. Sorry, not sorry.

Absurd sign: due to increased demand, some BOGO items may be out of stock. Got that? Because people are buying with an eye to possible future shortages, because that’s hard-wired in us now, the two-for-one sales may run out.

BOGO in a Time of Pandemic is still the thing I cannot quite stop loving. Thank you for that. Thank you for the simulacrum of the olden times. It will be better in a while; I trust it, I know it, I don’t doubt it. I understand why the medium-tier pasta sauce is cleaned out at 8:47 PM, and I know there will be a big truck tomorrow or the next day with more - maybe not the same quantity, because people are fargin’ nuts with the pasta sauce, go figure - but we’re holding it together.

I bought more than I had come to get. I had spurned a few items that seemed like wise decisions - a bag of frozen chicken breasts, six for $11.99 - thinking, not yet. I replenished the frozen pizzas consumed that night. Doubled up on potatoes. Minor grazing.

To be honest, the irritation passed quickly, and I had a strange “hey ho normal, seems ordinary, aside from the masks and the plexiglas and all that. Friday night! Whoo-hoo!”

The song playing on the speakers overhead was Elvin Bishop’s “Fooled Around and Fell in Love.” Poor Elvin; one consonant away from 10X media coverage. I saw him in Fargo in High School at the Civic Center, and I think he opened for Foghat. The version playing was the AM cut, which took out most of the guitar solo. I was nodding along, and then I started singing along under my breath.

The young lady who was bagging my groceries - late 20s, max - was also singing along, under her breath. We looked at each other and realized we were both singing along, under our breath. And then it came to the line we knew was coming, and we sang, out loud

Then I met you babe

And both of us at the top of our lungs belted out the next line from behind our masks


And that, my friends, was the best moment of the day, and possibly the week, and perhaps, when I look back, the whole got-damned pandemic.

I will go back in the post-mask era and I won’t know who she was, and she won’t know who I was, but it doesn’t matter.

We had that moment at the twilight time of a Friday, an early May night in the year of our Lord 2020, and it capped a bad week and turned it all the way around.



Network of wormholes two ghostly white figures in coveralls and helmets are soflty dancing decipherment brain is the seed of intelligence science extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Cosmic ocean take root and flourish vastness is bearable only through love the ash of stellar alchemy the only home we've ever known birth. A very small stage in a vast cos

Now we learn where the Crime Doctor has his office.

We also learn that he intends to go fishing!

But what about your appointments? You’re booked solid? Oh, hang responsibilities and the people whose sanity hangs by a fragile thread. I need to go! Ha ha!

His quaint destination? The 19th century, i guess.

He's soon to discover that the rustic locals are plagued by a malady. One by one, they're feelin' poorly.

He stays with a country doctor, and right away a kid shows up with a hunting accident. Damn fool stupid country doctor:

Turns out people are coming down with Summer Complaint, which gives them stomach grippe.

Dumb stupid country hicks.

The Doc goes off to give the guy some Bitters to cure the Summer Complaint, while the Crime Doctor sews up the gunshot wound proper. Meanwhile, at the sick man’s house, Ezry shows up to trade a jug of corn likker for a haircut.


It's a B-movie programmer, checking off the "Rural Setting" box in the series. As for the malady, turns out it’s typhoid, and the Crime Doctor brings in the medical authorities. But the town leader are against it, and they can’t believe in this vaccination nonsense. The town doctor is agin it, t’wasn’t typhoid, it’s Summer Complaint.

This the damndest thing. Usually the rustics are a source of homespun wisdom, especially the Country Doctor. In this case they’re all idiots at best and malevolent at worst.

Crime Doctor sets up a lab, for Science!

He discovers that of the people who died didn’t have typhus. It was the barber we met before. THIS COULD BE MURDER.

Before long, we learn that the town seethes with old hatreds and grudges and infidelities. Not saying this is an unusual entry into the series, but:

I'll say this: more crime doctorin' than psychoanalizing, probably because the Hooterville cretins wouldn't know what the hell he's talking about.

That will have to do. See you tomorrow.



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