The woman dressed in light blue coveralls smelling of machine oil and smoke. “Stan” was printed in red letters on a white patch on her chest.
“They said something about putting it under the TV scope,” I said shrugging.
“It may come to that,” she answered, in a chesty growl as if she had smoked all the cigarettes in Montana in the years since she was in high school until the moment that she handed me the device.
“For right now. It’s working. Not a sign of the problem.”
The men seated around the shop table leaning back in chairs playing cards all chuckled and shook their heads.
“Just let me know if it happens again.” She said as I place the device gently in my shiny traveling case among the clothing other necessities of my journey.
I took a train to the ancient crumbling town where I grew up. The roads that link the town to the world have all fallen into disrepair. The buildings, walls and monuments are all of crumbling stone and everywhere the ground is covered with bright tawny colored dust that rises with each footfall and clouds the air.
I had dinner with my old friends and some people I had known, but not well. We went to a small restaurant crowding into two small booths so that the people in the middle faced away from each other. The conversation was lively and spiced with violence and alienation. I sat at the edge and looked on from a distance.
Finally I had enough and decided to take a bus to the center of town to buy some milk. I had some shiny paperback books in my traveling case that I hoped to sell to get the money to buy the milk. A small quiet woman and a very large and angry man came with me. The bus ride took us past the squalid dusty suburbs into the almost deserted maze of squat brick buildings.
We got off one bus in the center of town. We walked a block to anther bus stop and waited for another bus to take us to the stores. As the bus we wanted pulled up, the angry man stepped around and stood in front of the bus and was almost smashed into a wall. Some men came and struggled with him. I pulled a sword out of my traveling case, and helped them subdue him. Finally he was dragged away bleeding and missing one eye. I tried to sell my books but no one was interested. My friend and I rode the bus back without the milk, declaiming heroic poetry of battles won and lost and trials overcome.