Pigeon of Peace

By Katherine Tylevich

I try to woo him with my mad harp skills. Every afternoon, on my lunch break, I position my instrument and myself “conveniently” outside the doors of the “convenience” store in which he works, or so I assume. I haven’t seen him yet, but I hope to some day. And what a fine day that some day will be. What a fine day, when I will finally be able to tell my “conveniently/convenience” joke to his face. We’ll laugh and we’ll laugh. And he’ll buy me a wiener from the hot grill. “Oh, how delish! Is it Oscar Meyer?” I will ask him.

“But, no!” he will answer. “It’s a Ballpark.”

“You didn’t!”

” I did,” he will nod. “Cause for you, baby, I’ll did anything.”

The convenience store doors are electronic, so my very presence forces them to stay tensely ajar. I hope that, one day, he will interpret the doors’ inability to shut as a message from God. Preferably a message that says something along the lines of: “And on the eighth day, the Lord created da bombast harp player the world had yet seen, and it/she was good.” I think God sent him the wrong message, though, because he hasn’t approached me yet. Maybe God sent him “Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife” by accident, and now he thinks I’m off the market. Hell no! I’m on clearance, baby, and all sales are final! Maybe God sent the message first-class instead of priority mail and it’s just a matter of time. Anyway, I’d keep my fingers crossed, but I need them to play the harp.

The guy who works there, Larry, he’s definitely the jealous type. He tells me that I’m “scaring the customers away,” that I’m “loitering,” and he’s even called the authorities on me two times now. Far as I know, playing “It’s a Small World After All” for your beloved has yet to constitute as a crime. I haven’t been charged with anything, but when I meet him, I’ll be sure to make a joke about how he should call me Betty “Misdemeanor” Hazzleforf. I have it all planned out: “I may not know my hip hop, but I’m a hip harp star, for sure!” I will laugh, and he will laugh. Then he will pause and ask me: “Betty, is it?”

“Yes, Betty it is.” I will answer.

“What a beautiful name.”

Larry tries to “reason” with me (or so he calls it). “Listen, lady, could you at least go sit ’round back so people aren’t tripping over your ass when they’re trying to come in?” But what’s the point of my even being here, I wonder, if I’m behind the building? All cameras point to the store’s entrance, don’t they? “What do you care about cameras, lady?” Larry asks, but I don’t feel I have to answer such an intimate question. I keep it to myself that my darling mans that camera, working up the nerve to ask me “How do you pluck those strings so right?” Now, I try to reason with Larry. “At least I’m giving your low-end store a high-end feel. Your customers practically think they’re at Bloomingdale’s shopping for tri-colored fleece sweater-vests, when really, they’re buying toilet paper and porno mags.”

“Out!” Larry screams. I guess he doesn’t like my “low-end” bit. Little does he know that I was voted “Most Likely to Overcome Obstacles” in my high school yearbook. I’m back the next day, playing the harp like there’s no tomorrow. I’m performing “No Woman No Cry,” by one Mr. Bob Marley when the pigeon

flies into my harp’s strings and gets tangled in them. It’s a bloody mess, but all Larry can do is laugh, and laugh, and laugh from the counter.

And point. Larry does not leave his post to help me; neither does my sweetheart. I understand my baby has a job to do, but can’t he see I’m hurting?

I am mortified. More so when my girlfriend, Trish tells me she saw the whole incident on television.

“You were on The Lighter Side' of the news, tonight, Betty!" she shrieks into the phone. "Girl, you should have seen the look on your face! And when the anchorman saidSomebody’s pulling some strings to get noticed!’ I nearly died laughing!”

I nearly die crying that night, just thinking about my cameraman and Larry having a good

chuckle, sending that clip in to the local TV station. I nearly die. I don’t go back to the convenience store the next day, either. No, sir. I take my business elsewhere and tell God to reroute that message I’d ordered earlier. I park myself at the intersection of 8th Street and Washington. On the sidewalk, of course, but close enough to the busy street that each time no-goodniks run red lights, there we are–my harp and I– in the flash photos they receive with hefty tickets in the mail. I figure, this way, I have a good chance of landing a cop or an outlaw at my front door. Either way, I don’t even have to change my repertoire. My Betty “Misdemeanor” Hazzleforf joke will work just fine.