Clark and I choose a table near the bar and sit in dilapidated, mismatched armchairs. Clark is writing his AA inventory, making lists of things he has resented in the past so in future he will be a good person. I am reading in the New York Times about a man who, trapped in the World Trade Center just before it collapsed, was miraculously saved by his Labrador Retriever, Buck. He and Buck are pictured with a lifetime supply of Purina Dog Chow and mayor Rudy Giuliani. We’ve bought a delicious scone to share, but until Clark starts to eat, I can’t. The scone stares on its plate.
There are beginning to be too many flies at Penny Lane: it is part of a downward slide occurring at about this time. The hippie art – exploring the themes of Buddha, the Coca-Cola logo, and pendulous boobs – feels asinine these days, not heartwarming. In the display case, Annie’s Bodhi Brownies are on sale, alongside prayer bowls and talking sticks by local artists, now inspiring weariness. Food and objects alike are chunky, inexpertly made, like Neanderthal knock-offs of human merchandise.
We come here every morning. Each day we enter at a lower level, as if reality is being diluted by a cheating tradesman. Today the sun is weak, the carpet soiled – but people look drowsy and affectionate still, one strong coffee might make it all right.
It is ten days after September 11th. There exists the possibility September 11th has altered the nature of reality. It may not be simple “media hysteria”.