Thursday, July 22, 2010

Oldham County Days, Part 2

In just five minutes, it’s gotten warmer, steamier. That, or the air conditioning took just that long to spoil me. Angela, Kate, and the Beattys still haven’t made it downtown yet. But Lori’s chatting with a brown-haired woman about the plastic carry-all she’s gotten from the mysterious stand across the way. Next to it is a chiropractor. The model of the human spine they have on display looks like a dinosaur, lying on its back as it does. There are also balloon animals (Lori correctly assumes Kate will make a beeline here on her arrival) and Blue Bell ice cream (I correctly predict that Angela will direct the beeline here after the balloon animal.)

The woman moves along the street without us making a sale, and we see a man with a carved wooden turtle--two and a half feet long, made from hardwood and polished--on his shoulder. Just what he was looking for! We commiserate about the steamy weather, and the turtle-bearer points out that when the sun does emerge from the clouds, it’ll be blocked first by the elm tree over our shoulder, and then by the bookstore’s building behind us. He bids us adieu; he and the turtle have people to meet and places to see.

A horn blares, and someone frantically moves away the Road Closed sign at our end of the street. A train’s a-comin’. Now I should explain about Main Street in La Grange: a train runs through it. There’s a CSX track right down the middle of the street. The townspeople are scarcely amused by the sight. Lori and I are thankful for the breeze accompanying the slow-moving train, so it’s a fair trade-off that no one on the far side of the street can get to us. The train’s moving slowly enough that we can see the cargo inside the larger box carriers: SUV’s, and lots of ‘em.

The train passes, people are welcome to move freely across Main Street and our friend from earlier--the woman with the carryall bag--returns to our table. She wants a copy of my book! Trying not to grin too maniacally, I personalize the title page for Roberta--or Robbie. Wishing her a good rest of Oldham County Day, I get an ‘attaboy’ from Lori. Feeling good, at this point.

That’s when I spot the two bald guys across the way, dressed for a golf outing in polos and khakis, both stealing glances over in the direction of our table. It’s when they lean against the chiropractor’s display, one of them chowing down on an ice cream cone, that I notice they’re identical twins. In fact, their faces resemble two bowling ball-sized fists poking out of shirt collars. My impression is that they’re either watching me, Lori, or the front door of Karen’s Book Barn.

“They look like trouble.”

Lori signs a copy of Missing Andy for a customer. “Who’s that?”

“Those guys across the way. Couple of hair-challenged twins on steroids. Sound familiar?”

She hands the book back to her new fan with a smile and turns to me. “No, I’m sure I’d remember a pair like that,” she declares with conviction.

Hmm. Having just met Lori, I know I shouldn’t really bother her with my hang-ups. I should try to pass myself off as normal, seeing as she’s stuck with me for the next four hours or so.

Just then, from the corner of my eye, I see our silver station wagon roll by on Walnut Avenue (‘Road Closed’—hah!). My wife, daughter, and friends have arrived, just in time for the start of the parade—or its scheduled start time, anyway.

I look back across the street, and the two men have gone. But a young couple strolls up to take a look at my book, and I promptly return to sales mode, handing a Whom brochure over to the husband.

And I forget about the twins. Mostly.

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