They wandering together through the outdoor flea market, stopping to touch things periodically. The dragon statues slept on weed-wackers and the action figures melted into each other. The unicorn tablecloths shared holes with that of meringue colored curtains, and here and there, there were large patches of someone’s old socks.
She thought: This was amazing, this: the wandering with someone through batches of peoples’ old things. She was sure it could not be possible, that this was indeed what she was doing; that she had found a person who shared her love of musty envelopes and half-eaten sweatered things. It couldn’t be real. Perhaps it was the heat, and she was imagining it. It was hot and thick as hell or boiling orange juice. A writer could say something like ‘the heat could drive a man insane’ about this place, and mean it. A writer could cook up a story about an over-heated black man standing in the middle of freeway, waiting to be hit, waiting to collect funds from the white man behind the nice wheel – and tell the truth.
She decided to relish in the stroll, heat daze or not, so she grabbed his hand as they walked.
She was wondering why the vendors insisted on attempting to sell The Christmas size candy bars in this heat. Their sad wrappers, abandoned, folding into themselves, made her sad. Oh, the futility, she said, and this made him laugh and squeeze her hand harder.
They had some purpose for the visit. She wanted an old typewriter to put on some sort of desk to make her feel useful and important, like the kind of people who keep old typewriters around despite the fact that the W sticks. And he wanted an old bike so that he could feel free, like he could fly, like the kind of person who rides bikes and pretends that they are flying.
They paused at a table of old jewelry. The sweaty woman behind it was beside herself to see them stop, and immediately began to sweat more and she quoted prices. Everything sparkled with age and heat; each piece was special. Overwhelmed, she wanted to pick each up and tell it how pretty it was. She picked one ring in particular. It was pretty and it made sense. Silver; gold. It bit her fingers with burn from the heat.
The old sweatwoman reacted fast. She knew what to do. She took the ring from her fingers, and plunged it quick into an ice bath she had prepared, handing it back, proud of her fix.
She put it on her finger. It felt cold, good. He took her hand and slid it off, replacing it on her ring finger. She paused.
I want to make you a promise.
Gay, she said.
He insisted. I promise.
She insisted. Gay.
No – I mean it. She looked up into his eyes, blue and honest as ice. A writer might notice this, and say something like: Ice never lies about what it means, or its intentions, and mean it. She nodded.
We’ll take it, he said, and handed the sweatwoman her bills in sweats.
It felt good to walk away from the table towards other filled with wooden squirrels and lollipops. It felt good to put her icecold hand in his.