JJ and Carl, reconciled, waiting to bake the bagels.
They stood behind the bagel shop, Carl smoking and talking, JJ looking across at the empty skate park bathed in yellowish street light. The trees were mostly bare of leaves now and the scene looked bereft and jaundiced, some long suspected inner disease finally showing itself on the surface.
“It’s all political now,” Carl said. “Everything. You can’t even stand in line at CVS without thinking, ‘Did he vote for him?’ ‘Did she?’ It’s like trying to spot vampires in daylight. And you know they’re ashamed.”
“They’re not monsters.”
“But the results will be monstrous.”
“They’re just people. People are angry.”
“Yeah. They want simple answers for a complex world. They want what they think was promised them without realizing they grew up in a relatively peaceful time in our nation’s history of blood and mayhem. Post WWII. Then post Cold War. But the rest of the world doesn’t care. The rich don’t care about the American Dream for everybody else. They’ll allow the average Joe just enough to have an Xbox or flat screen or some shitty pickup truck. But they’ll keep the rest and convince those ignorant suckers that they care about making America great. News flash: America’s never been great for a lot of people.”
“You’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this,” JJ said with a smile. “I suspect the last baker didn’t do a lot of listening.”
“Yeah well, he was limited. He could talk about online gaming and that’s about it. I don’t even know what that is. I may be a baker but I read Marx, I read Thoreau, I read Rousseau. This shit going on today? It thrives on ignorance.”
JJ looked at the empty skate park and thought back to summer nights when there were kids skating out there until after dark with their languid movements and sudden bursts of energy required for their tricks. They wore wool hats, even in the heat. It all seemd pretty simple. Enjoy yourself, do your work, think about places to go and how to get there.
“It’s good at home,” Carl said. “But, y’know what? I think she voted for him. She says she didn’t, but I think…I think she shows the signs. She wants people to pay.”
“You’re not surprised?”
JJ thought of Tess and Cody and the keystone cops desperation of their scheme to get their ranch back. “Nothing surprises me.”
“It’s a blessing and a curse.”
They heard the oven buzzer go off through the closed back door. Preheating was done, baking temperature had been reached, 550 degrees.
“It’s time,” Carl said.
“No dude, we’re booming. 222 dozen these days.”
“This is going to hurt,” JJ said.
“It’ll come back to you. Muscle memory. Your body remembers the old patterns.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of.”