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The Commerce of Judgment

The Commerce of Judgment.

I planned to meet with the Regional Manager at Crackhead Barrel Thursday morning to eat eggs and babble.

So, I sit in a rocking chair to read Stephen King's Everything's Eventual. I rock back and forth, reading about Dinky Earnshaw and his fatal geometry while locals and dapper businessmen walk up to the front doors for a breakfast.

While caressing the edges of the pages with the tips of my fingers, enthralled with Mr. King's imaginings, I notice movement beyond the reading tunnel and look up to see an old man striding out of the restaurant. His face is creased from the weight of the work he has done and the weight of the work he is thinking about doing. He picks his teeth with a toothpick.

Two feet and three moments later, an old lady emerges behind him. She's dressed in a pink paisley wrap-thing that was probably designed by a committee reeking of Palmolive and baby powder. A smile is on her face, but dark speckles gather in her eyes. Speckles of guilt.

I didn't make the biscuits today! It's another day I didn't make the biscuits!

Her hair is piled atop her head like an iceberg thrusting out of the Arctic Ocean. As she passes before me, her eyes alight on my paperback book.

"Oh!" she exclaims. "Is that a Lillian Braun?" Peering closer, she freezes. Her mouth goes slack, and a lone breeze makes the sparse hairs emerging from the crust of makeup around her lips stir. The lady's hand presses against her pink paisley heart, and I feel the horrified exhalation from everyone in the committee. It is a horde swollen and neutralized by entropy. My spine cracks in the wind of that exhalation.

Rising from her stoop, her face crumples as if she discovered the Cracker Barrel breakfast had been fried in shit.

"Oh," she says. "Stephen King." She turns to follow her husband. Her eyes catch mine. "I'll pray for you."

As she floats away, her shoulders square. The speckles of guilt rise from her head like bats on fire. She has been scoured by her good deed. And within her peanut mind, an angel who looks too much like GW is knitting her pink paisley wings.

There is a smile on my face. I continue to read Stephen King, a man aware of darkness, but more aware of the light we need to keep the darkness at bay.