On Thursday Myrah and Jill went to the grocery store early in the morning. They were shopping for a party that they had decided to hold. They were getting the neighborhood together to watch the documentary about Thom’s dad on the Markoff’s big screen TV.
Jill had accidentally let it slip to the builder’s wife that the program was going to be on and Myrah had immediately thought that a celebration was in order. They were both excited. They walked through the aisles. They threw frozen pizzas, chips, dip, cookies, beer, wine, cup cakes and ice cream into the cart. They prepared.
“What’s this?” Jill said, holding up a package with a picture of a dog and foreign writing beneath it.
Myrah squinted through her glasses. “Dog?” She asked.
Jill sniffed at the package. “It smells sweet.”
“Get it!” The builder’s wife shrugged.
Of course Thom was against the idea of a party. He wanted the matter kept private and hadn’t even told his wife about it until Jill had found a lawyer’s letter in the mail. The letter detailed the documentary’s findings and mentioned motions and appeals for the man’s release. It was all so exciting! He said that he was going to watch from his study.
“This!” Jill said holding up a bottle of hot sauce. “Thom loves this.”
Jill frowned. “But he’s not coming.”
“He’ll come.” Myrah smiled. “Whatever bug has crawled up his ass will dissolve as soon as he realizes that the only way to see his dad not shooting people from that tower is in 160 inch high definition resolution.”
They laughed as they grabbed salsa, margarita mixer, limes, scented candles and eyebrow wax, throwing these things into the cart. Myrah, who usually shopped for her family, today enjoyed buying things just to buy them. She picked out a new color of nail polish and a Greek frozen diner with no meat in it.
They passed a row of newspapers. One showed a large crater in the desert on the front, scorched earth all around as big as a small Northeastern State. The headline read “WE’RE NEXT!” Another had a picture of an Arabic nomad leading a line of camels over a dune. Its text read: “WHY HERE?”
Looking at them Jill asked: “What about the Taj Mahal?”
Myrah shook her head. “Jack hasn’t heard.” She said as she maneuvered the basket into a checkout lane. “NASA’s not letting anyone near the building.”
“All those shops.” The girl mused.
In line in front of them an old man peered over his glasses to read the credit card machine. “What does cellular scan mean?” He asked, his hands shaking as he held out his card.
“It’s some new software.” The checkout girl said. “It’s big with celebrities and soccer players.”
“I had no idea that we had either around here.” The old man frowned.
Behind them, a man pushed his cart up whistling. Myrah turned around. It was Winston Wallace the astronaut turned inspirational speaker.
The man’s heavy brows knitted. “Do I know you?” He asked looking at them both.
Like all African American’s, Wallace wore his age in ambiguous places. His face could have been that of a man anywhere from 30 to 50 years of age but the hair at his temples was graying. He wasn’t fat but rather stocky, bearing a strange mixture of muscles and contented weight around his abdomen. He wore a red sweater and tan slacks. His shoes were impeccable.
“You live down the road from me in our neighborhood.” Myrah answered with a smile. “My husband said that you crashed on our lawn the other night.”
The man reached up, scratching at the back of his skull. “Oh, my.” He said, his eyes shifting. “I was hoping that, that had been a dream.”
“For all I know it could have been.” She laughed. “My husband found you and I think you pissed him off. How was your New Years?”
“New Years Eve was pretty good.” The man smiled. “You can’t ask for a better thing than a New Year to look forward to. You’ve got to make plans and you’ve got to see them through and that’s an exciting time.”
“Who’s party were you looking for?”
“Anyone’s.” He shrugged. “I feel love all around me and sometimes it gets so powerful that I just have to share it with people. I sort of spent the night wandering from house to house. I guess my last stop was yours.”
“So you just drop in on people?” She asked, fixing him with a sideways smirk.
“I share my love with everyone.” He nodded.
“And they just let you in?”
“People want to love.” Wallace said with an almost evangelical tone to his voice. “Mostly people just walk around all the time looking for a place to put their love. That’s why they have so much credit card debt and stuff that they don’t need. Honestly, it’s just misplaced love that keeps the malls in business. People feel that they have to be guarded against loving everyone else so they throw their love into material things.”
“And they just let you in?” She repeated.
“When they see how much I am filled with the power of love, they welcome me.” He answered.
At the register the old man was fumbling with a stack of coupons. He pulled one from the center and held it out to the girl behind the counter. “Expired?” He asked.
Myrah looked down at the astronaut’s cart. It held wine, cheese and cat food. “It looks like you’re getting ready to fill yourself with more love.” She smirked as she pointed down towards the wine.
Wallace laughed. “Today is the day that I go out to the harbor.” He said simply.
“The harbor?” Jill asked.
“Why yes young lady.” He answered. “On Thursdays I drive down to Galveston to sit out on the harbor and drink my wine.”
“And they don’t mind?” Myrah replied looking at him over her glasses.
“They welcome my love.”
“What about open container laws?”
“I’m an astronaut.” He said. “They let me eat my cheese, drink my wine and watch the waves without bothering me. If someone asks me why I’m there, I tell them that I’m an astronaut and that I’m taking a break. It’s the simple pleasures which allow me clear my head and show me the path towards guiding others at loving every second of their lives.”
“Interesting.” Jill replied. “I haven’t been to Galveston in so long. We really should go out there some time, Thom and I.”
Myrah looked down at her own basket. It was filled with pre-packaged snacks and frozen entrees. Food fit for a child. “I volunteer on the island once a year through the church.” She said. “They set a day and I go to the hospital with a bunch of other people from the congregation. We feed the elderly.”
Wallace shook his head. “That’s not love.” He replied. “That’s an obligation. I can tell just by the way that you said it. You don’t love going out there. You do it out of guilt. Love is what you do for yourself. Love is digging down deep into your core and finding the best part of yourself and sharing it with everyone.”
“By drinking wine alone?” She asked.
“By focusing on what’s really important to you as a person.”
“Well I’m buying new nail polish and Greek food.” She argued. “That’s for me. It’s not for anyone else.”
“That’s not love either.” The astronaut said shaking his head once more. “You need to take those things and throw them away.”
“Look dude.” Myrah said evenly. “I’m excited about this nail police and Greek food. I’m not throwing either of them away.”
“Then you need to reflect on why you love them.”
“I love them because they’re exciting.” She repeated. “I love them because I’ve never tried them. I’m going to go home and paint my nails. I’m going to eat some Greek food and then I’m going to draw some more designs for the new sign outside of our neighborhood. I’m not going to think or reflect about anything. I’m just going to enjoy myself.”
“I usually charge for this advice but today I’m giving it to you for free.” The astronaut continued. “I owe you for passing out on your lawn and besides, I can tell that you’re undergoing a crisis of love.”
“A crisis of love?” She asked.
“Yes.” He answered. “Meteors in the sky, shops and malls all around you. You’ve probably got a family to take care of right?”
“These things are the leading causes for people to undergo a crisis of love in their lives.” He continued. “I’m not telling you what to do with yourself but you need to take time to pause and reflect on what’s really important to you, not anyone else. No product is going to bring happiness to you or your family.”
“What makes you think that I’m not happy?”
“No amount of charity is going to complete you.”
“What makes you thing that I’m incomplete?”
“I’m looking at a woman who’s incomplete and unhappy.” He said seriously.
“Well that’s presumptuous as hell.” Myrah shot back indignantly. “You pass out in a drunken stupor on my lawn and then have the nerve to tell me that I’m incomplete and unhappy?”
“I’m looking at a woman who’s buying 200 pounds of frozen food and snacks.” He said nodding towards her cart.
“We’re throwing a party!” She scoffed. “For God’s sake, do you really think that I shop like this all the time?”
“I’m looking at a woman who holds parties and buys comfort foods.”
“We have the biggest TV on our street. Ours is the only theater room that’s still a theater room.”
“I’m looking at a woman with the biggest TV and a special room to watch it in.”
“What’s your point?” She asked. “We’re just going to have our neighbors over to watch a television show.”
The astronaut raised his hands to his chest. “Can I come?” He said earnestly. “I could share my love.”
Myrah looked at Jill.
“Sure!” Jill answered.
At the register the old man held up another coupon.
“Expired.” The cashier informed him.