Apart from the child screaming “I WANT TO TOUCH THINGS!!!! LET ME TOUCH THEM!!! I WANT TO TOUCH ALL THE BOOKS!!!”, it had been a quiet night in the comic book store.
I was waiting for the phone to ring doom, for Rodney Dangerfield to come in and tell me how frustrated he was that dames didn’t get him. I was not prepared, however, for the tapping, the slow heavy breathing descending the stairs. I was in a monster movie. This was clearly the first appearance of Jason Vorhees or Michael Meyers.
The heads of two Grazing Loiterers swiveled like anxious gazelles.
I actually stopped my task of entering comics into the computer to watch what I couldn’t imagine would be a person come around the corner.
"An Asian, a Black man, and a Native American walk into a bar. Who wins?"
"I have no context for your question." I say, a helpless smile plastered to my face.
"The Asian kicks everybody’s ass. Hi-ya!"
"Is that your version of Hello?" I ask.
"President Romney got into office." He says.
"No, actually he lost."
One of the loiterers puts down the book he was reading and exits.
"Ask me how." He says.
"Ask you how what?"
"How Romney got into office."
"He raped the Blacks, killed the Asians, and taxed the white people." he laughs. "And we still elected him."
No we didn’t.
"You smile a lot." he says. "Are you Irish? Scottish?"
"The Irish are on the right, the Scottish are on the left. The British hate the Asians. Ask me why."
I shouldn’t ask him but “Why?”
"Because Native Americans are the new Blacks." he laughs.
The remaining loiterer approaches the counter. Cautiously.
"Are you ready to leave?" I ask.
"Oh, yes." he says. "And then some."
"I’m sorry." says the now Polite Horrible Racist. "You keep smiling, though. I had a phone bill last month. Ask me how much."
"Two hundred dollars." I sigh.
"How much?" I grit my teeth.
"Four thousand dollars."
I can’t fathom how one would rack up a four thousand dollar phone bill but I suspect it involves many hours on 900 sex lines saying things like “I’m about to take my pants off. Ask me how.”
"Ask me how."
"You called a lot of people." I sigh. I also hand the books over to the remaining gazelle. He gives me money, and walks to the door. When he gets behind The Polite Horrible Racist, he makes the universal This Dude Is Crazy wide-eyed stare with loopy finger movements near the ear.
"On. The. Nose." Polite Horrible Racist says.
"I have to be careful, though, my phone and my computer are encrypted. My dad was a marine, and my brother was a Navy Seal, so they’re after me."
At this point, I’m posting a vague reference to this person on Facebook. I’m hoping one of my friends can come into the store to verify that I am not making this person up. Because if I wasn’t talking directly to this person, I wouldn’t believe he was real.
"Ask me why."
"Why." And this loops into more things about Asians and Blacks (of which, he is one). More conspiracies about who is bugging his phone and approximately four thousand times he says "Ask me" question word.
About four minutes before we close, my friend Kurt comes in. He has just moved a bunch of his stuff into storage, and will be crashing on my couch for a few days. On his first trip down, he has carried in a giant television. This does not go unnoticed by PHR.
"You putting in a TV." He asks.
"Yeup." says Kurt, and goes back upstairs to get more of his stuff.
"Why did he bring a TV in the store?" PHR asks.
"Everyone does these days. It’s all the rage." I say.
Kurt comes back in with a suitcase and a large trashbag.
"What are you doing?" PHR asks.
"I live here." Kurt says, and goes back up the stairs.
"Does he live upstairs?" PHR asks me.
But before I can answer, Kurt is back with one more bag. “Nope. I live here. In the store.”
I like that it is his turn to be the confused party in the conversation. Then his eyes brighten again, and he says to Kurt, “You should make a movie.”
"I don’t have any money." Kurt says.
"Ben Affleck and Matt Damon could make a movie with you.." he smiles.
"O…k." And now it’s Kurt’s turn to be confused.
"Or Brad could be in it. Brad who’s married to Angelina Joe Lee." (His pronunciation not mine.) "Did you hear he has a new movie?"
Kurt and I say “No.” simultaneously.
"He plays Le Pew." PRH says, smiling.
We both look confused.
"Because his name is Pitt, and Pitts smell, P-U!" he laughs. "Stinky."
We both look unimpressed.
"I’m about to close." I say.
"You should really make a movie, though." he says to Kurt.
"I don’t even own a camera."
PHR says “Buy one.”
Kurt says “I live in a comic book store.” Which is, just so you remember, not at all true.
PHR smiles. ”Ever since Disney and Marvel and DC bought Hollywood, everything is Chinese.” Which is, in case you also have had a traumatic brain injury impairing your knowledge of the world, not at all true.
"Sure." I say. "I have to close now."
"So he’s your bodyguard?" PHR asks, nodding his head at Kurt.
"Sure." I say.
"You should get a Chinese woman. Hi-ya!" he laughs. "Good luck to all of you. Good night."
"Yea." I say. "Good luck with…things."
He pauses at the door. Points at the poster of Nova, “See. Disney is owned by The Chinese and that’s why Nova looks all Chinese now.” Which, in case you have never seen an image of Nova, is not at all true.
He didn’t buy anything.