No need to be random, and yet randomness rules the universe; random events happen all the time. I just take them as they come. I suffer no expectations. Long ago I learned to limp through life without them. Men in the hall whistle while they paint the walls a slightly darker shade of white than it was. I ask no questions. They look like men who would provide no answers or answers that would prove wanting. The landlord supervises in a loose white shirt and black goggles. He is the kind of man for whom the less said the better.
“I see you peeking out,” he says to me.
“I’m waiting for a delivery.”
He knows me too well, ergo the problem. And I don’t wish to know him at all, such is my ego. The wounds we carried from adolescence into adulthood heal sometimes, but sometimes they fester. Sometimes gangrene sets in and the foul smell and ooze associated with it. We cannot save the limb, sir! It is an offense to nature. But I get by fine on one leg. I get by perfectly fine.
“Is the whistling bothering you?” asks one of the painters.
“Nah, I kinda like it. My parrot likes it, too.”
I can hear the geriatric neighbor’s parrot Rocco squawking along to the tuneless, aleatory whistling. I wonder where these men, these painters, are from. Perhaps from the south. Men from the south often come north to paint walls. This is a thing. Perhaps I’m mistaken.
“You missed a spot,” the neighbor says.
“Don’t you worry about it.”
“These men are professionals.”
“Smells like vinegar.”
“It’ll fade by morning.”
“Oh dear, I’ll have to wear a nose plug.”
“Hahaha. A nose plug. Dame’s funny.”
“Yeah, old cracker.”
“I can hear you, boys. Rocco can hear you, too.”
I can hear Rocco squawking even when the whistling stops. I feel for the bird. I bet he wishes he could fly off to the woods. Maybe I’m wrong about that. The old doll treats him right. She dotes on that parrot. She dotes on his squawking feathered ass.
“Rocco’s angry.”
“Yeah, we get that.”
The men continue working, perhaps less sanguine than when they began the project. But this happens in life, when the unexpected occurs or when reality conquers fancy by virtue of its rude insistence.
Rocco starts singing this little song in falsetto, something he does when he’s peeved:
“Tiptoe through the tulips . . .”
Except he only sings that phrase, over and over again, in that fucking falsetto.
“Tiptoe through the tulips . . .”
Over and over again.


Salvatore Difalco is the author of 4 books. He currently resides in Toronto.



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