Thursday, December 22, 2011

Out of Condition

I look for heavy bag with stand and there it is on Craig's List. I call the number and the guy says yeah. He's got it. Somebody talking in the background and he's trying to carry on two conversations at once, but yeah, yeah. I say I'd like to have a look, what kind of shape is it in? You'll love it. Mint, he says. Mint. He's on Somerville Street. Just come down the Goffstown Road and cross onto the Amoskeag.
So I drive down. I've got the day off. Why not?
It's a beautiful day, for the first time I see the falls under the bridge the way it might have looked during the days of the salmon runs when the Abenaki called it the place to be. Then I'm going down past the stadium and the houses are looking deserted, vacant. The people on the street have that hunted look, like vermin, that you get when you're down on your luck and you've been living on concrete for too long. I turn the corner. There's a police cruiser parked, the cop looking into nowhere and the cars parked along the street like they haven't moved in a couple of decades. I park and call the number again. He'll be down in a minute, he's getting his shoes on. I wait, leaning against the car. It's an unusually mild winter day. The street is empty, and then he bangs out the door. He's about thirty, large, with the kind of face that would fit a truck driver or jail guard. But he's nervous, squinting in the sun, as he directs me around the corner and down an alley into the back of the house.
There are other cars parked in the lot. It must be a rental. He comes around and shakes my hand in a strong man's grip. He walks over to the walk out and takes the lock off the door handle. I follow him down the stairs into the cellar. It's dark, I need to duck to avoid the lagging and ductwork. His movements are quick, angry, a man whose got many things to do and little time to do them. I'm thinking he could drop me right here with a quick sucker punch and nobody would ever find me. Then he's pulling pipes and things out of the dust. Here it is. It even has this big chain, he says. I want to take a look in the light, I say. I take one of the poles and he follows me, handing the bag out into the daylight.
The leather has tears along the seams. The chain is all rusted. He's back in the dirt pulling out the speed bag and some other pipe legs. I'll stop you right there, I say. Save your time. What the fuck, he says. What kind of moron are you what do you expect for 100 bucks? He's ranting as he exits the cellar into the daylight. I can see spittle flying out of his mouth. I look him in the eye to see how crazy he really is and he smiles a sick grin. Is he trying to scare me or what?
You said it was mint, I say. Mint. I enunciate.
What do you fucking expect on Craig's List, what kind of a fucking moron are you? You're wasting my fucking time. I'm sorry I made a mistake, I say.
You people make me sick, here it is Christmas and I'm trying to get some money together and... Listen, it was nice talking to you, I say, and begin to walk back to the car.
Fuck yourself you fucking moron. You wasted my time, he's yelling at me as I drive away.
Then the cell phone rings, I pull over thinking maybe it's important. I've got a text message. I get out of the car and breathe deep.
View Now:
Ur a fuckn idiot.thanx 4 waisting my fukn time u fukn moron.if u wanted something brand new u shudv gone 2 a fukn store. thanx again 4 waisting my fukn time.
I look around and put the phone back in my pocket. A cold wind rips along the alley and there's a guy in a doorway looking at me. Then I'm back in the car, and stop to pull out behind a Corolla and a girl with brown eyes and brown hair. No Farms No Food bumper sticker. The Amoskeag bridge and the river are just a few blocks ahead.

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