The Incense Salesman
The Keeper’s Finds (Part 1)
The next ten minutes of Cyrus’s life are about as stretched out as the used tights hanging up on the rack in the back of the shop. As with most mornings he spends on Omingle (in other words, most mornings in general), Cyrus spends his drive through First Milford reviewing his life’s choices and trying to figure out how he got himself to this point. It’s not as though Cyrus is unsuccessful – Treeburg is a town full of folk who love to spend their money on useless shit, allowing him to make bank through his online auction racket – nor is he a constantly horny deviant looking to meet up with random strangers on the internet to get his various body parts wet with various diseases. So why does he spend so many of his waking hours browsing the online chatrooms? What exactly is it that Cyrus is looking for?
Following a hearty sigh, “I don’t even know anymore.” He goes to use his blinker but hits the windshield wiper instead. “God damnit with this new car. Agh!” He slaps the steering wheel, then, “Well, I suppose I’ll get the hang of it eventually.”
Pulling on to County Road 511, Cyrus hits the gas and boosts up to fifty. The roar of the engine goes decibel for decibel with the rapid rolling of the tires as he tears along the newly paved asphalt, matching the double-yellow turn for breakneck turn, even on the straightaways where one of those lines gets spotty like the radio connection in the old hunk of junk Cyrus drove before he procured the current whip. It got to the point where the static started to have an intelligible rhythm to it, so he just stopped turning the radio on, and that was years ago; Cyrus is used to driving in silence now, just like his dad used to.
“Hell, you couldn’t even turn the radio on without the old man chewin’ your ear off…” he reminisces as he passes by a diner, the parking lot of which is packed like a polish sausage. Out of the corner of his eye he sees a family of three walking away from their car, a woman holding hands with a man who has their child up on his shoulders. “Wish my dad did that kind of stuff for me… maybe that’s why I go on Omingle so much. No fatherly love to give me the confidence I needed to befriend other folks. All I got was hard, cold discipline. What’d you just say, you little shit?” Cyrus barks in a misremembered impression of Poppa Cyrus’s voice. “You get to your fuckin’ room and you don’t come out ‘til I say so! Teach ya to talk like a fuckin’ motherless sailor, ya little bastard.”
Snaking along the road like a sidewinder through sand, Cyrus comes to the long straightaway that crosses over the narrow north end of the Monksville Reservoir. He lowers his passenger side window and hocks up a loogie, spitting it across the empty seat and out into the world so it can splatter on the guardrail. Chuckling to himself, Cyrus reminisces about his mom.
“She always used to do that whenever I sat up front with her. Never saw her do it once when I was in the back seat… she was always doin’ shit like that, bullyin’ me, knockin’ me down a few pegs just to make me climb back up. Maybe that’s why I can’t get off of Omingle, maybe I’m just tryin’ to meet a woman from the safety of my own home. Heaven knows I can’t talk to one face to face.” He thumps the steering wheel with the heel of his right palm at the same time his front tires hit the little bump that marks both the end of the bridge and the beginning of the hill leading up to the plaza where his shop is waiting for him. “Good Christ, they really did a Goddamned number on you, ol’ Cy’.”
As he falls deeper and deeper into his well of less than fond memories, Cyrus zones out and the act of driving gets transferred to his subconscious mind. Paying more attention to his thoughts than to his surroundings, he zooms right on past both entrances to the Monksville Plaza (where his shop is waiting to be opened) and cruises along down the county road, taking the turns like a veteran rally driver. He passes the entrance to Monksville’s south boat launch, then the turnoff point to the Monksville Dam, and only when he gets to the bottom of the massive hill leading to the other three quarters of the town of Treeburg does Cyrus snap out of his trance and throw on his blinker. With pressure on the breaks, he coasts across the white line and its accompanying rumble strip and pulls over on the wide dirt shoulder between the county road and the locked gate the state park police guys go through to patrol the Wanaque Reservoir.
“Shit, look at that. I got myself a little lost there, didn’t I? I’m lucky I didn’t take a lil’ Freudian slip over the lines and head into oncoming traffic, Jesus. I’m lucky to be in one piece right now,” as he wipes the sweat off his brow. “Oh well, never claimed to be perfect.”
Cyrus closes his eyes for a moment and takes a deep breath, releasing it in a contemplative sigh. “I suppose that was all a long time ago… they ain’t even alive anymore. They didn’t drive me past the shop, I did. Maybe I’m still goin’ on Omingle so much because I keep lettin’ myself go on Omingle so much.”
When the last truck in the line of vehicles that followed him down the hill passes, Cyrus pulls onto the road and hauls ass back up the hill. He could stop at the dam and take himself a little walk, clear his head before he opens the shop… which he should have done two minutes ago, rats! Like the potential line of customers standing outside on the sidewalk, the walk can wait. He needs to go into Stonetown to see his therapist over the weekend anyway, he’ll just have to perambulate then.
In an attempt to put his mind in a more sociable place, Cyrus turns on the working radio in his new car and hums along with the staticless tunes all the way to the plaza.
Hello Commons, this has been the second subchapter of the sixth story from Convenient Incidents, an anthology of fifteen interconnected short stories which revolve around a man by the name of Hilter Odolf Williamson.
Convenient Incidents is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.
Convenient Incidents is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
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Be well Commons~