Friday, October 24, 2014

Coon Hill - Part Two

Coon Hill

Part Two

            “The difficulty with you...”
            “But that’s not the old chair.”
            “It is ‘the old chair’.  You just don’t know it.”
            “But my old chair; you know what it is.”
            “Yes and I have that too.  But not for you.  It’s mine now.  This chair... too... is mine and IS ‘the old chair’.”
            “I don’t see my chair.  Where is it?”
            “Oh... never you mind.”
            “Why don’t you ever trust me.”
            “Because you lie and you steal.  This house would be empty if you could... simply be left alone.  And... you WERE alone in here.  Finally.  Weren’t you.  But she kept you off.  Didn’t she?  Even when she was dead.”
            “I came in and, well, she was dead there in the chair.  I knew what that was.  Right there in the chair.  Dead.”
            “She made it to the chair.”

            “No... I think she was seated; been seating herself there.  In it.  For a while.  I just know that.”
            “You know that? ...Actually:  You probably are right about that; she prepared.”
            “Yes... and she’d moved the chair out this past year.  Out into the room.  I saw it.  I didn’t notice at first.  Then I understood.  I never said anything.”
            “So you come in and she’s dead in the chair.”
            “Yes.  It had been a day. At least.  Just in the chair... dead.”
            “And you... what?”
            “That... she was so small and frail... sitting there dead... I figured; that she’d be found, would be when they come by at noon.”
            “So you left her.”
            “And left; no stealing.”
            “I... didn’t feel right... didn’t do any of that.  Just... I don’t know what I did but... I was right here.  Then I left.”
            “Never touched her or the chair?”

            “I’ve moved the chair.  It’s my chair now.  I moved it.  And I sat in it.”
            “You sat in it?”
            “Just like you wish you could.”
            “Sit in it?”
            “And die.”
            “I’m not gonna die in that chair.”
            “Then why do you want it?”
            “You make me uncomfortable with that.  I never touched her or the chair.”
            “But you looked at her in that chair.  And you don’t know how long you did that for.”
            “I didn’t do that.”
            “You did too... and you cried.  Eventually, standing there, you cried.”
            “How do you know that?”
            “Because I know you... and how you lie and you steal.  This was too much for you.”
            “I didn’t... I don’t remember.”
            “No... that I do... but... it was her in that chair.”
            “No.  It was her dead... and that it was over.  There’s no point to your stealing; no point to this at all anymore.  And you want the chair.  Why?  So you can die in it too?”
            “I don’t believe you.”
            “It doesn’t matter what you don’t believe.  I have the chair.  I have it all.  I have this chair too.  This chair.  You don’t know about this chair.  It’s always been here in the house.  So you couldn’t steal it.”
            “Maybe I saw it.  Maybe.  I don’t know.”
            “No you don’t.  Don’t touch it.  It’s ‘spilled blood’.”
            “Oh don’t tell me that.”
            “Then what is this chair?

            “You don’t know do you.”
            “THAT CHAIR is the FIRST CHAIR; her ‘first chair’.  Her mother’s first chair.  And that goes back to every one of her mother’s... mother’s... mothers.  ALL the way back:  ALL of them.  This... is their FIRST CHAIR.  The other chair; your chair... is their DEATH chair.  ALL of the mother’s... death chair.  She got to it.  And died in it.  And you saw her there.  Dead.  And that’s all you saw.  Because you cried.  Right here in this room you cried.  After all the lies; all the stealing.  THIS CHAIR... I wanted THIS chair even more then the death chair.  But I got that chair.  TOO.  I have both of her chairs now.  BOTH of them.  And the rest of it too... except what you carried off from her barns.  And hid in your barn.  Stealing.  But you never got anything in here.  You were always too scared when you came in here... to steal anything.”
            “She might see it.”
            “Notice it; that you’d been in here... stealing.”
            “How do you know... ABOUT... this chair.”
            “She told me.  She had it to the historical society one night too.  Told them the story.  It’s a ‘first chair’.  It’s ah...  it’s old house spirit stuff.”
            “House spirit?”
            “That keeps you from stealing.”

            “This chair... this chair they brought here when they came here.  Massholes; moved up here.  After the Revolution.  Built the house.  THIS CHAIR they brought with ‘em; the mother’s... mother.  That was with ‘em.  When they came; ‘settled’.  Her chair; she sat in it.  Maybe died in it.  PROBABLY NOT.  Probably DID die in the death chair but... ah... that chair wasn’t FIXED UP yet.  Anyway:  This chair is their ‘first chair’.  And they knew it... always.”
            “Funny chairs those; hard to sit in.”
            “But they did.  Remember:  They were smaller and thin then.  Not big and fat.  So:  This was her ‘first chair’.”
            “I never heard her speak of it.”
            “Course not.  THIS CHAIR... well... they painted it white... probably at the Centennial (1876).  And put the hooked seat on... on TOP of the old splint seat.  Make it more comfortable for the old woman to sit on.”
            “Sit on?”

            “At the ceremony.  Centennial.  Celebration.  Had to sit up front on the stage.  Showed ‘em off; all the old settlers.  Probably.  Had to sit on the chair for several hours.  So they put a hooked seat on it for her butt.  Not that she needed it.  She was probably just as old and frail...  A wisp up there.  Sitting.  You know... she could have hooked the seat herself.  You know; preparing.  The chair for her butt.  Women knew to do stuff like that.  Back then:  Prepare.  Anyway.  I’ve waited along time for that chair.”
            “Is it worth a lot?”
            “NO!  Nobody even knows.  Except me.  And no one cares.  What’s happening... is that RIGHT NOW that old chair starts to drift.  I mean... I can be it’s guardian... you know; with my wife... for a few decades.  Or I could go down to that historical society and... what do I say... REMIND THEM of the chair.  And look at them looking at me with a blank look.  Like...”
            “I don’t see why you’d do that with it.   What did you call it?  A ‘first chair’.”
            “Trust me; no one knows what I’m talking about.  The God damn first woman in the wilderness up here sat in that chair and... every single woman descended from her sat in the chair until right now with me showing that chair to you and then... walking out this door with it.  Go steal that.”

            “I’m not gonna steal that chair.  Where’s the other chair; my chair.”
            “The death chair.  I already took it out so you couldn’t steal it.”.
            “Did you sit in this chair?”
            “Of course I did.  That’s my job.”
            “Your job?  To sit in that old chair?
            “Yes.  Who else is gonna do it?  You?”
            “Well I guess I could sit in it.”
            “Get away from that chair.  Your not gonna sit in that chair.  That’s my chair now.  I’m the first person touching that chair.  I’m the first person carrying this chair out that door.  First person... that isn’t from the family... to ever... do that.  I’m gonna keep it that way too.  Don’t you touch that chair.”
            “You make me WANT to touch it.”
            “Course I do.  And you can’t.”

            “I’m just gonna reach over....”
            “No you ain’t.  She’s gonna come back from her grave and kill you if you do.”
            “Kill me?”
            “And she ain’t even bones yet.”
            “How do you know that?”
            “I know about these things.  And you don’t mess with ‘em.”
            “Mess with them?”
            “You don’t.  She’s gonna kill you anyway.”
            “You’re the one taking her old chairs.  She’s gonna kill YOU.”
            “No she ain’t.”
            “Why not?”
            “Because I know what I’m doing and she knows it.  I wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for that.  That includes me keeping you out.”
            “Me out?”
            “She knows I know to do that.  And will.  Your out.  I get the chairs.”
            “NOW how do you figure that?”
            “I get everything.  Except what you stole.  I’ll get that... pretty along.”
            “My barn?  You not going in there.”
            “I don’t have to.”
            “Why not?”
            “She will.  Why don’t you go down to her grave and talk to her.  You can’t miss it.  It’s the one with the fresh dirt.  There’s eleven generations of hers buried right there.  She’s the last one.  That’s the end of it.  Except for me cleaning this place out.”
            “Then it’s over?”
            “When is it over?”
            “I don’t know yet.”
            “Why not?”
            “You’ve still got a barn full of her stuff.”

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Coon Hill - Part One

Coon Hill

Part One

            “Being you the one that got her CHAIR?”
            “Being me?  Get back from the ladder.”
            “You taking her SIGN TOO?”
            “It’s a clean out.”
            “Cleaning out her SIGN... off her TREE?”
            “Cleaning it out.”
            “You go up a ladder to CLEAN OUT?”
            “Gotta stay ABOVE you.  How come you didn’t STEAL this sign?”
            Asa paused, still looking up from the base of the ladder at me with his little weasel face pinching and his eyes squinting.  Then he says without moving at all “Well... I forgot it was up THERE.”

            “You still stealing in the buildings or you done now?”
            “I didn’t STEAL anything... YOU’D WANT... that could be sold... sorta like:  WELL... what are you gonna do about it?”
            “About YOU.  Stealing.”
            “That ain’t YOURS anyway... way I figure YOU BOUGHT IT ALL and that leaves THE REST to being MINE.  I’M the one that’s been the doggie here.  Not you.  Just backing your truck up you told me but you had FIVE damn trucks the FIRST DAY.  How am I gonna STEAL past THAT.”
            “Get away from the ladder.”
            “I not gonna knock you off of it.”
            “Get away.  I’m bringing her SIGN down.”
            “You got that OFF already?”
            “It weren’t in HARD.  It’s only been up there a little while looks like.  I’d thought I’d have to CHOP it out.”
            “That ain’t been there that long.  SHE had... him... old goat... PICK IT UP and put it back up.”
            “Well he MOVED it down the road when he did it.”
            “Why you can’t see that...”
            “IT WAS back UP the road on the other side for forty years.  How come you didn’t STEAL that when it was DOWN?”

            “I don’t remember ...that.  Being down I remember.  Wouldn’t have touched it if SHE told me first.  NO!  It weren’t DOWN.  It was just HANGING off the BAR.  Goat FIXED THAT.  But... so... HE TOOK it DOWN and then... him too LAZY to go back up the road AND so could lean HIS LADDER right here EASY just like YOU have.”
            “So I could SEE YOU coming?”
            “I SEE YOU with the ladder FIRST.  That’s why you see me COMING.  I come up to see what you taken her SIGN FOR.  What are you... taken  IT for?”
            “I’m gonna SELL IT.  Move back.  I’m coming DOWN.”
            “What make you someone STEAL’EN her sign to SELL?”
            “I bought it WHY?”
            “SELL it; THAT.  For how much you SELL that.”
            “Twenty-two.  You get that?”
            “Hundred.  Twenty-two hundred.”
            “I give her that.  For her sign.”
            “Twenty-two hundred give her that?  SHE’S DEAD!  How you give her THAT?”
            “Get away from the ladder.  Back off.”
            “Why you... didn’t give her no twenty-two ANYTHING for THAT SIGN.  Your just trying to STEAL IT.  You LIE to me often enough NO NEED to do THIS with her old SIGN.  What you really gonna do with it?
            “Drop it on your head looks like.”
            “Now I’m BACK away JESUS.”
            “Yes son.  Been steal’en again son?”
            “YOU LOCKED the damn buildings.  Why you... almost as IF YOU KNOW someone will be coming by.  I just come by to LOOK.  And see what YOU do’en so... why that IS what you do is clean it all out and THEN LOCK IT TOO so I could just peek-a-boo in the DOOR by pulling it OUT on that lock.  Why it’s empty I said.  And he locked it.”

            “Broom clean.”
            “Ever used one?”
            “YOU FLY ONE.  If you ain’t a man you’d be a WITCH.”
            “Warlock.  I think”.
            “JUST LIKE YOUR GRAMMY:  Witch.  Flying WITCH.  She was.”
            “You was steal’en from HER too.”
            “Now she know in her grave she always give me a little more than what she said I could take.  That being sometimes a BOTTLE too.  But that was always the trouble THEN.  That ‘the bottle TOO’.  Left that BEHIND now I swear.”
            “You ain’t... just leave your FINGER PRINTS on a bottle BEHIND.  Be out behind in the woods empty with just your FINGER PRINTS.”
            “Now that...”
            “Be a CRIME scene.  You steal’en it.  Empty it.  PITCH BACK there empty.  Let’s walk down and LOOK.”
            “You ain’t coming in there for you steal’en ME.  I know better and I locked MY building TOO so you’ll have to pull on MY door to peek-a-boo too.  Yes sir:  You cannot SEE into SEE.  NO ONE is STEAL’EN from ME.”

            “Maybe the Sheriff wants to peek-a-boo.”
            “HE don’t care no...  What you call it?  Clean out.  He don’t care about my CLEAN OUT.”
            “I bet half of her Coon Hill is the clean out in those buildings of your.  Take you damn twenty-five years to carry that much off and home didn’t it.”
            “Why we go back a LONG WAYS to being... I say before that... maybe now FORTY-five years she’s I’m the doggie there.”
            “Good thing she had that many building for you to clean out.  Forty years of carrying off.  Oh that must be so painful on your BACK.  Carrying clean out DOWN the stairs of her OLD BARN and then DOWN through the FIELD at just the right angle so that BIG barn blocks her seeing you.  Then down into YOUR BARN and UP into SOME PLACE so it COOLS.  Figure it’s COLD now?”
            “You just now... be careful.”
            “Careful where I step?”
            “You got her old chair didn’t you.”

Friday, October 17, 2014

Cowboy Down - A Conversation Between Two Professional Thrift Shoppers - Part Fifteen - "No Delusion No Confusion"

(This photograph shows a sign in front of a thrift store
The sign means “bag sale today”
A bag sale is a thrift shop sale practice of allowing the filling of a
Whole bag for a flat dollar price
Of, like,
Two bucks
Many thrift shop shoppers cannot read English
Hence the ‘brown bag’ sign as the sale symbol.)

Cowboy Down

A Conversation Between Two Professional Thrift Shoppers

Part Fifteen

"No Delusion No Confusion"

            “Or is it eye?”
            “Oh shut-up.”
            “We’ve given them enough.  It’s time to go.”
            “Given them what?  A confusion?  A delusion?”
            “Yes; those.  Almost a ‘follow us to your death’.  They can’t do this (buy antiques and art at thrift stores... for a living).  Tell them that and leave.”
            “Not on me today, Sonny”.
            “Yes... but... it IS your feeding hour.  Are you getting testy from hunger?”
            “Look:  We’ve been more than generous here and by the time they get done the cognation of a design of an object and crisscrossing that with the design of other related objects... then have tossed in the true amount of their cash expended to, shall I say, ‘get there’ AND then turn toward the unexplained black hole of the antiquarian universe of SELLING their... well... thrift store found THING... it’s not happening.”
            “We knew that before we started.”
            “So we’ve reached the end.  Push them out of the plane and tell ‘em to send us a postcard if their parachute opens... in their BANK ACCOUNT.”
            “You want to go to lunch?”
            “That’s fair.  I suppose.”

            “Ok.  So.... they’re (the reader is) not going to be doing this.  We proved the why and we remind that WE will be doing this so... we are competition.”
            “At the least.  I think we’re actually stomping on their fingers whenever they hold on to something (an object found and thoughts of it being good are turned upon it by the finder).  Also... I don’t feel they easily understand how fast the process is for us.  Its very fast and its perpetual.  There is no hesitation.  We know and take the risks.   This is done very fast over a very broad field of design heritage.  We are not confused or have any delusion.  No confusion.  No delusion.

            “Now just to try to harness that for us to ride to the exit door, let’s just look at you and your lean and mean standards.”
            “What do you mean by that?”
            “You know; no ‘bag sales’.”
            “Oh.  Ok... more ‘shopper tips”.  But... you know... a lot of good they’ll do you if you don’t know what your looking at.”
            “So what.  They want to know.”
            “Ok... so.... no ‘bag sales’.”
            “Right.  That means we do NOT participate in ALL of the ALL SORTS OF... stupid... thrift store gimmick stuff that they do to, well... increase sales of the... well... thrift store crud.  We don’t stuff bag sale bags full of rack rot clothes and then stuff those bags into the rear of our hatchback.”
            “At the least.  That stuff includes tent sales, color of the day sales, stupid sales, closing for the season sales (spring, summer, fall, winter ‘stock’ changes), men’s sales, woman’s sneaker sales, back up your car we’re gonna stuff it full sales.  Hey:  Just say no.”
            “And we’re buying, like, ONE thing way over there that no one noticed.”
            “Yeah like an old Dutch Delft charger they thought was a WHO CARES WHAT THEY THOUGHT IT WAS; they screwed up on that one ha, ha.”
            “Right.  As we just said (part fourteen); it’s a dainty touch.  NOT FORCED.”
            “And that’s devastating.  Remember:  We LEAVE (do not buy) ‘real antiques’ all the time... because they are not good enough.  And they are GONE when we come back.  Someone else bought them.  Ha, ha and I mean that.”
            “Yeah sometimes I see ‘em later in some shop or at a show.  But sometime they’re ‘keepers’ (Part Thirteen).  Do we say ‘YIKES’?”
            “Sorry that sucked your money up.”
            “Yeah, so... ah... your little thrift store book.  Tell us about that.”

            “What’s to tell.  It’s my little black book of thrift stores.”
            “It lists thrift stores you go to.”
            “Right.  A lot of them have folded (gone out of business).
            “But... that’s, like... what... over thirty years.”
            “Oh yeah.”
            “And, like, at least seven states.”
            “I don’t look on it as states.  It’s ROUTES.  You know; Albany (NY) area.  Central Connecticut, the Bronx.  You know; hardball.”
            “The Bronx is hardball?”
            “No.  I never see anyone (she sees no dealers from New England) in the Bronx.  The ROUTE LISTS are hardball”.
            “Yeah.  Ok.  They ARE really cool.  Ah... they’re little slips of paper that have, well, a day of the week at the top and the list of the thrift stores on that route that are open that day.  So like... you can spot a whole days route where ever you are, in seconds.  And the shops are listed in order; driving order.  Right?”
“Right.  They’re my magic cards.”

“So we better say right here that the DRIVING is pretty skillful.  I mean... your not on the highway doing exit seven.  I mean... when your out in the North Bronx or lower Mount Vernon (Westchester County, NY)... I mean... your not using geo-locater crap.”
            “No, no.  It’s the big picture.  I know where I am, where I’m going, the neighborhoods, the parking, the no zones.  The real stuff.  Your not gonna do this driving on the highway.  The thrift stores are usually in odd, neglected and cheap locations.  They come and go too.  Except for church basements and the box store thrifts.  I don’t like those anyway (box store thrifts).  The churches I love.  It’s, like, always a MAZE of old goofy cement wall rooms they call a basement.  They usually have bathrooms to.  You know; clean ones.”
            “They get extra points for that.”
            “Especially on the clean.  Like:  They care.”
            “So you pick a card everyday depending on where you are.”
            “What’s the biggest thing about any card?”
            “No one’s there.  There is no one else doing this.  They’re not there.  I mean maybe some NYC woman selling handbags on ebay or something.  But.  You know:  No Dutch Delft charger stuff.  Forget it”.

            “So most of the time your already over the bridge and AT grandmother’s house.”
            “Right.  Some places its all Spanish.  Black.  Whatever.  No Whites.  Like... Lawrence (Mass.) is all Porto Rican.  It’s really interesting.  Then an hour later it’s only the neatest, tidiest, most carefully folded church basement thrift I’ve ever been in.”
            “And no one bothers you.”
            Never:  No one ever.  They think I’m some old white lady.  I mean; I don’t speak Spanish.  I don’t need to.  And I’m gone in fifteen minutes.  So, like, you know; below radar.  Whatever.”
            “And lunch”
            “And a real hotel at night.”
            “And the girls with you?”
            “Most of the time.  And they say stuff like ‘we should video this’.  I’m like ‘shut-up and don’t take your damn camera out I’ll smash it’.”
            “Welcome to the other world America.”
            “New England.  This is mostly the Northeast.  They (these thrift stores) get old stuff”.
            “What’s better:  The art or the thrift stores where you find the art.”

            “Oh please.  The thrift stores are way better.  They just soaking and dripping humanity.   It’s American humanity too.  I mean:  You want to see the melting pot for real.  GO THERE.  And I mean the REAL... THERE thrift stores.  The whole damn AREA doesn’t speak English and your parked down the street.  It beautiful really.  But don’t take a picture of it and be an asshole.  REMEMBER IT; what happens, what you see, what you hear; the BIG picture.  This is where I’m a ‘not-ever’ except for me going to these thrift stores.  And then ok; I buy something great for a buck too.  They don’t care.  No one has any interest in me or what I buy.  To them, this is a world and I’m not there.  But me, myself; I’m REALLY there.  I don’t miss anything.  I want to see it all; feel it all.  That’s what this is about for me.  The most.  No one else is gonna be there. You know; competition.  You have to know too much.  This one (the thrift stores)... they can’t spoil it.  They can’t even find it.”
            “Who's they?”
            “You know who ‘they’ is.”

The End