Chinese Cheese

A serious beer, they call it, and it’s almost a pint and almost never on the menu and you have to ask for it twice. Normal unserious beers are served in glass thimbles and only good for quenching. This isn’t a complaint. I’ve been trying to write a story in my head, for a while, to save on paper, about this bald woman and her three-legged pug and a bar where it rains indoors. It’s impossible, but I read about a big serious Spaniard who once wrote his book in only two weeks because he’d already written it “in his soul” or possibly “on” his soul, so all he had to do when he sat down at the typewriter was copy. And I’m lacking a soul and the tools to write on one, but this woman and her pug keep leaning in while I go about my business. And I don’t know what they want. And it really does rain in this bar, by the doorstep, they have one of those misting systems, to soothe your being, but it’s faulty and drips a lot.
I went and talked to them, and the dog said nothing throughout, but cleared its throat a few times, and the woman was baritone and glinting. Her cancer was long gone but she’d kept “the dome” on display because “you make friends better this way”. The mister needs fixing but its “no urgency. Some people come for the drips.” The pug was no story. It was born with three legs and seems to enjoy itself. She shares it with her friends. It was never chewed by traffic. It knew before she did. About the cancer. It kept looking sad and nudging her and leaving medical leaflets in the bathroom. I don’t know if she was joking. So they caught it in time, and the pug was the first thing she saw when she woke up, she thought she must’ve fallen asleep at the vet, until she looked down.
It was very warm. I wanted to say “the sun has our pants down and is turning us into hot ruins.” The thermometers had wilted and the clouds were in the gutters and the mannequins were happy about this. They line both sides of the street for a quarter of a mile. Red lipstick, high eyebrows and shrieking hair. Ecstatic to be wearing clothes. The woman hates them. She is moving out, maybe. To write a book, a short one, a dose of something. She paid for my beer and said she had to go.
The afternoon was flat, sat by the river following the shade. White people were in the water, moving rocks, arranging the flow into narrow slowly-rushing channels for inflatable super-happy funtime. All down the river, wherever there’s a beach, there’s also an arrangement in the water, and an inflatable thing going down it with a person on top. And on the banks are some people you wish would show less, and some more, and sometimes a rope swing and a cave and a rock to jump off and fish between your toes.