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The first day of autumn in Austin always feels rather wistful. All through a brutal summer, I dreamt of the day it would cool down enough to wear a light jacket. I waited through September and occasionally checked the farmer's almanac forecast for the next two months. There was one week in October when it cooled down just enough for a short time before temperatures were in the 90s again. The day arrived; it was a Saturday, and by the time I was out of bed, jacket weather had passed me by.
I decided to walk and take the bus to my friend's yard sale. Her cat is dying, and the yard sale will raise money for it. I don't have a car right now. It was in a parking lot, I was getting coffee, and by the time I returned, someone had left a sizeable dent just above the left rear back wheel. They left a note. That was a year ago. I should have fixed it with the insurance payout, but I did not. I brushed it away as cosmetic and probably used the insurance payout to buy another jacket I cannot wear in Austin. Now, the car sounds like an old ceiling fan pining for its death. So I walk, take the bus, and pretend to be an urbanist. The streets are quiet and eerie except for the familiar sound of cars speeding by and scorning at those unfortunate enough to walk in Texas. I notice that there are more cars on the road now that have given up on keeping up appearances. Dents, broken windshields, and windows covered up with cellophane, etc. The other day, I was in an Uber with a broken windshield. The driver was playing Chopin. When I asked him if he listened to a lot of classical music, he replied that it made him productive. A productive man with a broken windshield listening to Chopin. I checked that his name was not Gregory Illivich and that he did not belong in a Russian Novel.
I stopped for an espresso and saw a woman wearing a trench coat and a newsboy hat at noon in Texas. She looked like she might solve a crime any minute now. She primed me for the crazies that I was sure to see on the bus, particularly on a weekend. When my ticket wouldn't scan, the driver mumbled something and waved his hand. Afraid that I was not able to understand his accent, I asked him to repeat himself multiple times until I realized that it was not the accent. He had just given up on forming full words.
I walked into the front yard where my friend with the cat and several others I vaguely knew sat in foldable chairs. Someone handed me a styrofoam glass and directed me to a jar of spiked cider. I looked around. The only article that caught my eye was a giant framed painting of a Tiger. It seemed to belong in the cave of an insurgent or an Indian man who had too much to drink. I held off more servings of spiked cider. I noticed a girl, small in frame and with sharp facial features. I had seen her around before. We never talked. Whenever I overheard her talk, it was always about her dating life. She spoke of a man who makes molds for weed gummies and how his LinkedIn profile made her cringe. Every man dies a hero until someone sees his LinkedIn profile. The topic changed to her visit to Mexico. She said men were hitting on her, even though she was walking around with a cane after a scooter accident. She repeated the line about how bad she looked and followed it up with how a lecherous 40-year-old American man was still hitting on her. She told us he texted her after she got back to Austin. She looked through his Instagram and threatened to contact his wife. "He has a fucked up looking dog and a weird baby," she said. "Show them the picture," someone prompted. She scrolled through her phone and showed me the picture of a dog that had its right eye and tongue crossed in opposite directions. It looked like a cartoonist's caricature had come to life. "Show them the baby," came the next prompt. She extended the phone with the cropped photo of a baby with a head that can only be described as slab-like. A little baby Frankenstein. She said she couldn't believe how sad that man's life was - his wife, cartoon dog, and Frankenstein baby. What a loser that man was. I laughed nervously and pondered who the real losers were while sitting at the yard sale for a dying cat. Perhaps I'll fix my car soon.
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