>I HAVE HIDDEN THE LETTER “E” SOMEWHERE IN THIS STORY

>So I’m stuck now, with this tarnish mark in my own lamb-soft shirt, a shirt I bought only two hours ago. Mustard. Stupid, stupid mustard. How can this off-brown topping, so ordinary, bring about so much pain? I watch as my shirt’s thin cotton hungrily absorbs it. Crappy luck, my habitual companion. Not a napkin in sight. I’m riding a bus, stuck with a rank hobo too tight my right, and a craggy dribbly OAP nodding off on my contrary arm. I try rumbling my throat, to no avail. My stop is still a way away, so I just sit and wait it out.

I’m in a foul mood as I alight from said bus. An annoying rain whirls around, thus obscuring a particular social contact I know walking straight at my struggling body. Jim. That’s him. It all floods back. An awfully loud irritation from an awfully bad party last Friday.

“Hi,” says Jim.

“Hi,” I say.

“How was that party?”

Is this all Jim has to talk about?

“It was okay,” I say. I try to show Jim what discomfort I’m in, struggling to prod his subconscious into action. I blow my hair away with what I trust is frustration.

“Man,” says Jim. “Did you stay long? Did you stay for that limbo-off? That was so cool.” Jim acts out a limbo for my instruction, as if I don’t know what it is.

“No,” I say. “I didn’t stick around for that. Anyway, I should probably shoot along…”

“Oh no!” shouts Jim, pointing to my shirt. “Is that mustard?” His words run out rapidly, as if having mustard on your shirt is a total crisis situation.

“It is mustard,” I say. “What can you do?”

“Club soda,” says Jim. “Club soda and, you know, and also drip a bit of citrus on.”

“What sort of citrus?”

“I don’t know. I think cumquat’s good.”

“Thanks Jim,” I say. “But I think I ought to go on my way.”

“Alright,” says Jim. “Ciao.”

His Italian is awful. Jim walks off. Now, what was I taking that bus for?

That’s right! I had to buy a tepee! And a toupee! I step over some scree, cerebrally, the evanescence of my independence wheeling freely in my head. It is indeed a good day, it has turned out.

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