By necessity, it’s Sunday morning and Joe and Diane are having their second cup of coffee at the Farm Restaurant and wondering where everyone is when Diane’s cell phone ringsand she answers. Cathy, “Where are you? We are waiting for you here at the Uptown. You’re at the Farm Restaurant . What are you doing there?” Diane, “I don’t know.”
She hangs up. Joe and Diane pay for their coffee and quietly slide out of the restaurant and walk one building west on Kirkwood and enter the Uptown.They see: Chet and Ruth, Dave, Kevin Sears, and Cathy sitting at a table upfront. This results in more hugs and loud greetings. Bruce is back in Monrovia and Mark is back in Unionville. Kevin asks Diane and Joe, “Did you see the Hair Swinger down there at the Farm Restaurant. Whenever you mention on FB that you are at some restaurant in Bloomington , she claims to be in a restaurant across the street from you, its Erie.” Joe, “Who is the Hair Swinger?” He tells him. “Hey,that makes sense, she did like to swing her hair around.” Joe.
“Joe did you know that General Mills is coming back out with Count Chocula cereal, might want to contact them for work, you still have that Count Dracula outfit from Halloween 1976,” Kevin Sears. “Yeah, and they could use that big head of yours over in the Frankenberry box display ,”Joe. “Joe, that wounds me. At least you have a title, Count, what does poor Frankenberry have. He doesn’t even have a Mr. in front of his name, he’s just Frankenberry,” Kevin Sears. “Well,it beats being Boo Berry.” Joe. Cathy and Diane get a big laugh out of this.
“Speaking of breakfast cereal, the whole time that I ate in Co-op Cafeteria, I never ate one box of Tony’s Frosted Flakes, or a box of Frankenberry, or Captain Crunch. It was always Total or Wheaties,” Kevin Sears. This seems to awaken old deep seated memories in Chet as he says in an ironic tone. “That’s right, not one freaking box of good cereal ever available and now who would have Stockpiled in their rooms all those great single portion of cereals, conveniently available for munching on in the wee hours.” All eyes point towards Cathy and Diane. Dave, “That right Chet ,They stockpiled all the good cereals, you two, you two were Cereal Outlaws, Cereal Nappers.” Cathy, “You can’t prove a thing copper, the time statute has passed on those crimes. “ Diane,” Its Chinatown Dave.” Cathy, “Top of the World Ma, Top of the World.”
“Where’s Pete?” , Joe asks. “Pete is gone. He never makes the final day of anything. This is his calling card: ‘I’ll see you slicks later.’ ” Dave answers. The Writer, “I wonder if he gave Mr. Clean his phone number since they are good friends now.” It’s busy, the waiter doesn’t have time for all this fol de rol , everyone orders. Chet, “I thought that I read that you had an “Occupy Wall Street Camp” here in Bloomington.” Cathy, “Yeah, it was down in People’s Park on Kirkwood, close to campus.” The Writer, “Sure it didn’t take much since People’s Park is where the loafers, tramps, hobos, drifters, alcoholics, and addicts hangs out anyway. They gave them some tents and they were in business, now they could stay around-the-clock.” Chet, “How long were they there. Other cities broke up the encampment pretty early. What about the homeless?” Dave turns his head to favor his one working ear, he knows what’s coming and can’t wait.
Kevin, “They let them go a good long while. Of course, the businesses around them were complaining about them pissing on their building and the smell got bad, but hey the occupiers were holding the line for the 99%. They, the city, took the whole mess down over Thanksgiving when everyone was gone, standard procedure around here. As for the homeless, I don’t see it, I think Homeless is just another title for the same folks I listed above. This group has been moving around, vagabonding around the country since the Civil War. They like to drink, they like to do drugs, they like to hang out. They used to take the temporary itinerant, jobs (cooks, picking crops, temporary labor jobs) until they got around to their next bender. But the Mexican took all those jobs. They would like to draw some benefits, but they’re not going to stop drinking.” Dave , “Why pay for their bad habits, if that’s their choice, then they have to suffer the results of it.” And off Dave and Chet on another political argument. Kevin picks up his coffee and leans back contentedly. The waiter brings out all the trays, the manager has told him to move these people out of here as quicklime as possible.
They replayed yesterday’s events: The couple getting married in all those long dresses, the bridesmaids that is, Smokey the Dog licking the Bride’s hand during the ceremony, the little girl getting pitched off the tailgate of the truck, the Intruders, and all the daffodil memories floating by in the warm summer afternoon. Too many to catalog. Reliving the past is stoop labor. Speaking of attitude , the Pharmacist is telling his Walmart Dope School Story.
Dave, “Walmart sent me to Indoctrinator School for Walmart Employees. Its at HDQ for Walmart in Bentonville, Ark.” Chet, “I would say that is in your favor, you rejected the “WalmartWay.” Dave, “Oh no, I was just struggling to get through my last year before I retired, my attitude needed readjusting. I only got through it because Cathy provided me with an all purpose reply to any Instructor’s question.” Everyone, “What this magical phrase?” Dave, ” I feel that I can learn or have learned many new things which I can’t wait to share with my fellow employees when I get back to my home store.“ Ruth, “What did the Instructors say to that.” Dave, “Well , I think their first reaction was ‘ don’t shit me with that boy’ but then you’re giving them exactly what they are feeding you so how can they not like it. It worked like a charm.” Cathy blows on her folded fingers like a safe-cracker, “Works every time, give them what they want, institutional BS.”
Diane, “Since Chet has been banned from Indiana for one year, has he still got time to visit Jeffersonville?” “Well, the documentation and paperwork will take a few days before we submit them to Governor Daniels and since the Governor has to go through all those applications for Sagemores of the Wabash first . I think that Chet has a full week,” Kevin Sears. Diane, “What’s a Sagemore?” “Oh, I think its a type of Native American cigar.” Cathy,”Chet don’t worry about your ban, Dave was banned for a year and it didn’t hurt him.” Kevin Sears,”You forget Dave was only banned from Bloomington and that was for trying to put on a reunion in 2006 and then quitting in the middle of that attempt.” Chet, “Quit worrying about my banishment, Joe did you ever find your rental car?” Joe, “Yeah I found it, I’m heading back to Whiting, to see my Mom before I fly back to Galveston.” This phrase in its own way, punctures the moment. It’s over. It had been fun but everyone was ready to let go, time to be goin’.
We pay our bills and step out the door. Outside, more photos and tableauxs are arranged. Joe, ” I have an announcement…” Everyone, “We know, you’ve cancelled your invite to Galveston again.” Joe,” Why don’t we get together in ten years, we’ll all be seventy then.” Cathy,”Hold it Mister, I entered the Co-op when I was seventeen, in ten years, I’ll still be a long way from seventy, but not to worry, I’ll make sure that all of you take you medication on time. “ Dave, “You can start on mine right now, I need some assisted living.” She gracefully straightens the hat on his head and gives him a hug. “There Mister, you’ve been assisted.” Everyone gives each other a hug, one more big Wally hug from Chet and Ruth. And its over. “Goodbye Shane.” The Writer and the Pharmacist walk east on Kirkwood toward the Pharmacist’s car.
The Pharmacis asks as he climbs into his Conestoga Wagon , “Well what do you think?” He knows what he wants, a summing up, “They had known each other for a long time, those had been good times, the best of times. We took our portion. We had our day in the sun.” He thought of all the image that flickered forward from that time. All the things that had happened to them since that place. He had said everything that he wanted to say. He turned and walked toward home, nothing held him back now.
This Could be the End