autoshop boy

Standing at the counter, I have just given my name and address to the technician at the computer.

From behind me I hear, “Well, hello Anna.”

Bewildered I turn and watch a short, stocky, redhead walk around the counter until he is in front of me. My face is puzzled, but I try my best not to look like this man/boy is crazy. “Do you know him,” the technician finally asks.

“Um, I don’t know?” I look at the redhead with my brows furrowed hoping that he will answer my question and say something like, “Remember me? From high school? College?” Whatever, I have no idea who he is and I try to envision what he would have looked like if he were from my past. I get nothing.

“She looked like Anna Castwin for a minute,” redhead says to the technician. “You look like Anna Castwin,” he says to me.

“Well, do you know what her name is?” the technician asks the redhead. He looks at him for the answer. “It’s Anna. And her face looked like…” the technician is now mimicking my bewilderment.

“That was just weird because you said my name. That was strange.” I say finally, a hint of laughter behind my words. Redhead is walking away now. Then he comes back.

“I’m Zack, by the way,” he extends his right hand over the counter upside down.

“Nice to meet you, Zack,” I say shaking his chubby hand. He barely grips mine. “Weakness,” I think. He walks away and out of the room.

“He’s our resident misfortune,” the technician says.

“No one is a misfortune,” I think.

I go and sit down in the dirty chairs offered as a waiting area of the tire and auto service center while my car gets its yearly inspection. The TV is on the Discovery Channel talking about Vietnam. I sit beside a huge gold birdcage, get out my book, put on my glasses and begin reading.

“How are you Anna?” I am jolted out of my book by the sound of my name. Zack has returned and is now sitting behind the counter.

“I’m fine,” I say with a slight smile and bury my head back in my book.

“How old are you?”

“What?” I look up again.

“How old are you?”

“Oh DEAR LORD,” I think. “I’m 28,” I say with another slight smile. I own it. I totally own it.

“28,” Zack repeats with a blank look and a hint of you’re-a-freaking-old-woman in his tone. “I’m 22, but no one believes it.”

I want to say, “I’ll believe it, because you’re not getting my anti-social cues.” But, I just smile and bury my head back in my book.

Awhile later the yellow bird beside me begins to chirp/sing with such loud, high pitched intensity that I think my ears might explode. I give the bird a few stern looks. It stops singing, regards me, but as soon as I turn back to my book, it starts singing again. It reminds me of someone else in the room.

“He likes the ladies,” Zack says, unwarranted.

“Really,” I think, “is that what I am? Do you consider me a lady? Do date laaaaaaaaadies? Is that your Mack Daddy Pimp talk?” Instead I give Zack a quick glance and go back to my book.

I finish the book and look at the clock on my cell phone. It’s been an hour. I’m bored. Zack is playing solitaire on the computer behind the counter. He notices me staring out the window.

“Are you married Anna?”

“Oh my God, I am going to kill you.” “No,” I say.

“That’s too bad. That’s really a shame.”

“I will continue to stare out this window and this Misfortune will, in fact, stop bothering me,” my mind is racing.

“Do you at least have a boyfriend?”

“HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, YOU ARE GOING DOWN!!!!” I envision myself leaping over the counter and strangling this little man/boy to within an inch of his life. “No,” I say, quietly.

“Why not? Have you tried?”

“WHERE IS MY FATHER’S SHOTGUN WHEN I NEED IT?? I WILL TOTALLY CUT YOU, YOU LITTLE PIECE OF SH#$! YOU CAN TAKE YOUSELF AND JUMP IN A FREAKING LAKE!” “I just haven’t found him,” I say while shrugging my shoulders and with a hint of you-need-to-shut-the-f*c$-up in my voice. I then start staring at the TV, which is now talking about tornados and the horrendous sounds and crashing walls. “It sounded like a jet engine,” says a lady who is talking about her experience during a tornado. “I totally know,” I want to say back to her.

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