i had never, before the event in question, imagined a high pressure hose as a resource i wished i could have had on hand…
the day before christmas, having composed a truly brilliant plan of action with which to make child’s play out of a shopping sojourn across the city, i took myself down to the southeast edge of paris, the 13th arrondissement – a veritable china town. i had been there only once before, but believed my bat-like capacity for intuiting the direction to seen-once-before storefronts would carry me to the shop i had in mind for my first purchases.
taking a metro line to its terminus is something that gives me a faint feeling of regret. this trip would take me to a terminus where i would have to change lines, and then to the third-to-final stop on that line. in short, this hazily remembered end-point was about as far away from home as i could have gotten while still being within the city limits.
coming up from the underground platform into the pre-noon daylight, it was time to make my first bid on the location of the shop i could see so brilliantly in my mind’s eye. the 13th is a neighborhood known for its high-rises. the place i was looking for was in front of me somewhere. no subtle geometric clue in the arrangement of towering residences to guide me, i did something like closing my eyes & chose to go left.
after a very long walk down a very long boulevard, i decided it was time to turn around – having neither stumbled upon my mark, nor upon any of the other vaguely memorized “landmarks” i’d hoped would be a resource.
when i got back to the thoroughfare down which lay the metro entrance, i turned away from the metro & walked another block in a last ditch effort to recognize anything at all that would indicate i had come the right way… but nothing. nothing but the creepy feeling that you have gotten yourself a little too far away from home, all alone, and that, in the day before christmas, with nothing to show for in gifts, you had wasted an hour in travel & wandering all to no avail.
at last, i was headed back to the metro. the sidewalk was wide and loosely populated. i felt myself rushing, wanting out of the sensation of far-far-from-home-&-all-alone, wanting back into the center of town where there would be throngs – a thickness of human activity i rarely relished but longed for in opposition to the sparse pedestrian presence of my current locale.
several blocks before i could reach the metro, a man walking towards me with is hands in his pockets, lifted them all of a sudden, pulling the bottom of his coat up to reveal: BLAM – ich – yuck – shit – damn. my brain told my face to be flat and I walked, not looking back.
but, to have had it my way:
“go-go-gadget-pressure-hose,” i would have said. and watched a fireman’s hose extend from my sleeve. i would have blown that whole sagging, bobbing mess of anatomy-turned-weaponry so deeply into that man’s abdomen that he would no longer have been able to organize its dimensions distinctly from those of his intestines.
i would have surprised him, changed his realm of expected outcomes – just as he had changed mine.