I had a strange, almost surreal afternoon running errands. Day off, whoo-hoo. Good time to get some errands run, as the man said. No - he said it was a good time to get some thinking done, and that was when it was wartime. So. Anyway. Same idea. First stop was the oil-change shop in the area. It had a line. It had seven cars waiting. Why now? Why today? This place takes forever, too, and while I enjoy their military precision - someone shouts HOOD COMING DOWN or OIL AWAY and someone else responds, it’s very odd - I did not want to wait. I found a place in the burbs.

There were two bays. One was occupied. The car in front of me left, and a man walking behind it waved me to the other bay and disappeared down the steps to the Mystery Pit. I pulled into that bay. Another man appeared and pointed me to the other bay.

“The other fellow gestured I should go here,” I said.

“He was just going down to get something.”

Okay. Never saw him again. Must be crocs in that pit. I got out and sat in the waiting room and watched a blowing tube man twist around in evident madness.

VID

It took a short time, and I was tempted to say “That was Jiffy,” but did not. I said it was quick. The guy said, well, Hondas.

“They are good,” I said. “Before this I had an Element.”

“Of all the Hondas, that’s the only one I don’t like.”

“Yeah, the style did polarize some people. Boxy. But it had those great doors, lots of room, and they’re very popular.”

“The filters were hard to get to,” he said.

“Ah. Well, yes, I can see where that would color your opinion.” Then I realized I’d just said “color your opinion” and shut up and left.

Went to Infinite Spirits. Was behind a guy who bought seven bottles of Yellow Tail wine. He noted the price and said the clerk must have missed one. So he did. Well, there’s a nice honest fellow. Went to Walgreens to get some stuff, the reason for which I will explain Friday - nothing medicinal, but there’s a story there anyway - and was stuck in a long line behind an old woman who was having trouble with her Walgreens card, and her card, and the POS system. Her husband shuffled over and peered at what they were doing and shuffled away again. The clerk speaks in a loud, nasal voice with a hint of an impediment, and at one point he starts saying WELCOME TO WALGREENS. Over and over. WELCOME TO WALGREENS. Like he has some corporate variety of Tourettes. Turns out he was on the phone and the other person wasn’t responding.

Then I went to CVS next door, where the manager was on the phone with someone who wanted to be transferred but did not trust anyone to pick up. He was assuring the customer that there was someone back there. He could see them. He could not walk the phone over to the back, no. By the magazine rack there was a kid sitting on the floor reading a periodical, like it was 1954.

Next stop: car wash. I’d never been to this one. I pulled into a bay that had a sign that said OPEN in lit letters. The screen gave me no options to do anything. I presumed someone would talk to me. No one came on.

“Hello?” I said. I waited. I touched the screen. It did nothing. “Hello?” There were six cars waiting to get in, so obviously this was a going concern. “HELLLLOOOO,” in Mr. Jackpots voice. Nothing. Backed up and went to a gas station car wash. Did I want the Super Ultimate? Nah, don’t think so. Ultimate. The machine moved over my car and dribbled tri-color foam about a foot from either side of my vehicle. Then it sprayed stuff and made a great show of blowing it off.

Went to drop off some things at the charity place. They had closed ten minutes before.

Went home, sat in the back on a lovely afternoon. Wrist buzzes: text from credit card company, telling me that my big purchase at bestbuy.com had exceeded my preset limit.

Well.

I did not buy anything there. Great. Called the bank, the number you’re supposed to call when these things happen. Phone tree, no option for credit cards, just asking me for my account number. OPERATOR. OPERATOR. (Stabs 0 16 times)

“I’m sorry, I don’t recognize that account. Let’s try again.”

“CREDIT CARD FRAUD,” I yell.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that.”

“YOU’RE THE CREDIT CARD FRAUD NUMBER.”

It wouldn’t even take my repeated mistakes as a sign that I needed a human. Cancelled the card. For the rest of the night, watched the purchases roll in: an online dress shop; a Delta airline ticket; $75 at Taco Bell, which the franchisee will have to eat. Bastards. How? How? That’s what you ask. How? They have no idea. It happens.

Phone rings while on hold, let it go to voicemail. No voicemail, but I redial, since I am expecting another call from someone whose number I may not know. It’s a nursing home. I ask if they called me.

“Sir, unless they left a message I have no idea who called you.”

“I suppose not. Silly of me to ask.”

Hope that didn’t color their opinion of me.

 

 

 

It’s 1954.

Let’s see what’s going on down in Abbeville. Typically dense front page for the times:

   
 

"In the midst of the play.”

I think “movie” was the word they were looking for.

Opened in 1948, and closed now. Cinematreasures says the theater is used for “storage.”

   

   
 

Let’s polish up the ol’ crystal ball, and OH MY GOD

If they knew that, why not warn them individually?

   

“Here’s a cartoon that illustrates a fact and takes no stand on the matter, but provides the most obvious visualization of something no one can figure out, and won’t matter in a while, probably.”

If you’re wondering whether they were ever reconciled, I can’t say. Mr. Haberman died 14 years later; Haberman Jr. was a machinist, retired in Carson City, and died in 1986. A Mason, a member of the Knights of Templar, many kids, grandkids, and a great-grandkid.

We’ll never know what it was about. No reason we should, but when it’s in the paper, you get invested in the smallest of stories.

No reason for this except reader-flattering boosterism.

I’m not saying it was a company town, but it was a company town

   
  The Quattlebaum hospital - no longer named as such - was across the border in Georgia.
   

   
 

Hot news from Center.

Why does the T sag down below the line? Did they get his name wrong, and have to fix it after they’d made up the paper?

   

Look how bad she had it, and she's doing fine. What's your excuse?

WELL THERE YOU GO

PROBLEMS SOLVED. Thanks, Dale!

I didn’t know he had a sequel book, but of course, why wouldn’t he. That wasn’t his real name, by the way - he changed it to make people think of the successful steel king. Worked, I guess.

Not an exciting paper. But does it sum up the spirit of Abbeville? We'll learn that tomorrow.

   

 
   

 

That'll do! Tomorrow: The Difficult Dinkytown Feeling. See you around.

 

 

 

 

 
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