Okay. It’s day two. here we go.
The cordyceps fungus infects silkworms, and drives them mad. Ron wears his silk gloves with a little sense of irony. They are torn and overused, and he cannot wait to receive his replacement pair. The state of his gloves has forced him into hiding. He runs out of food the day before his replacements arrive.
They’re made in Hong Kong by a man, who, at Ron’s request, never directly touches the gloves. Every stitch in every seam has been pulled through with forceps. The glovemaker wears gloves of the same nature as he makes the gloves for Ron. The silk has never been handled by human hands
On the day the gloves arrive, Ron sits on his building’s stoop, hands under armpits. To the UPS man who delivers them, Ron appears homeless and insane.
“Open the package,” Ron says to the man in brown.
“We’re really not supposed to do that.”
“Open it, please.”
When the UPS man relents, keying the tape atop the box, Ron dives into the box removing the silk bag. He removes the gloves from the bag, and leaves the delivery man holding the box.
Three blocks walk from Ron’s apartment building a seedy bar welcomes Ron. Ginny’s Tavern has the kind of history that would otherwise keep Ron from frequenting it. Its convenience to Ron outweighs the possible side effects of drinking at a one hundred year old bar. He nods at Harry, adorned in his cliché old bartender getup, complete with the sleeve garter.
“It’s been a minute, Ron.”
“Long enough to require special treatment, Harry.”
The wizened bartender takes the silk handkerchief that Ron produces from a disheveled coat’s pocket; Harry gingerly avoids any direct contact with the silk gloves on Ron’s hands. Hanky in hand, Harry retreats to the room behind the bar, and returns to the bar holding a bottle containing clear liquid that has been marked with an R. Harry places the bottle on yet another handkerchief on the bar. Ron removes his gloves and puts them in their bag. He produces a rocks glass from his jacket, places it next to the bottle.
Ron holds the bottle in his hand. He can just barely make out the spirit of the potato vodka. Not a hint of weirdness. Maybe an evaporated lover’s quarrel in the “nose” of it. A young man peeling potatoes. Spurned. Innocent.
“Thanks, Harry,” Ron intones as he pours,”This is the good stuff.”
Ron takes the whole pour down his gullet at once, closes his eyes to feel the heat of the stuff infuse his body. His left hand falls slow motion to his handkerchief booze picnic, placing the glass lightly atop the handkerchief.
As the warmth of the sauce takes hold of him, not even the gentle murmurings of the potato peeler can whisper to him. The dull quiet numbness overcomes Ron like a rash. It has been a couple of weeks since Ron emerged from his apartment, and nothing hurts so good as a trip to Ginny’s. The buzz gets Ron for a moment and his right hand touches the ancient hard wood bar. He has forgotten his condition.
Ron has experienced this feeling before. For someone not afflicted with Ron’s condition, it’s like jerking awake after falling down the stairs in a dream. Ginny’s Tavern, to Ron’s perception, appears to hold all the colors and fiigures of the building’s one hundred years, and its history is a cacophony of drink orders and confessions. Ron knows the history of thhe bar, both bby research and by his affliction. He knows his favorite barstool, and reflexively looks to catch a glimpse of
Janey Crystals, who frequented this bar seventy years before this moment, and he catches her figure like a wisp of smoke before he remembers himself, lifts his hand, and shakes the moment from his head as a dog might dry its self.