How to Survive Strong Pesticides by Robb Todd


See, the neighbors upstairs have a pet Clydesdale. The horse wears high heels and wakes up to an alarm set about a half of an hour before mine and it clomps around my ceiling for quite a while and I really do not even need to set my alarm any more, see?

A woman was singing and strumming her guitar on the subway platform. She is new. Before she arrived, the only sounds were the endless off-beat beeps of the turnstile and people chatting and trains grumbling and indecipherable announcements over a mysterious speaker. (When I see a fiver in her case I wonder if the person took change back or if she planted it.) She only sings three songs and if the trains are on time you will not hear the whole loop. The trains are rarely on time.

At lunch I went to the bathroom and my piss was very dark, like an IPA. I have been ill. A cold I cannot beat. I never understood why old men shake their dicks so long at urinals. Now I do. And it is not because I have a cold.

This man was sleeping on the train during the ride home after work and at his stop his eyes snapped open, no conductor’s announcement or anything, and he grabbed his bag and walked off like the ceiling of his skull was being stomped on by a Clydesdale.

It is hard not to love subway performers unless they make it easy. Boom box with blown speakers, loud clapping when people (me) were tired after long days with boring tasks. People (me) were trying to read. But we (I) had to stop everything so they could do a couple back flips. Seen this same act too many times. “Show your love, show your support. We’re not robbing or killing.” Oh, right. Those are the only options.

I walked home during a downpour. No umbrella. I hate umbrellas. I bought one the other day at a bodega because I was caught in a drizzle. The umbrella did not cost much. Less than a good IPA. I opened the umbrella and a few seconds later a slight breeze destroyed it. It did the reverse-umbrella thing and all the metal parts snapped at the joints and the handle broke and it fell to the ground in pieces, a dying robot-spider-kite, and I got wet. Then I caught a cold. But that is not why I hate umbrellas.

Streetlights look better streaked across ripple-wet sidewalks. Remember the time we rode bikes in the park and a storm chased us? The time we walked across the bridge and there were flowers for someone who jumped? The time we saw a deer run down a busy city street? The other time?

There were crumbs of Pringles on my chest, many, as I wrote this even though I had been eating grapes and there is not such a thing as a grape crumb, is there? Thanks for listening with your eyes. And, hey, enough about me. Let’s talk about you and all the wonderful things you think about me.

———-

Robb Todd is reformed journalist. He lives in New York City. His first collection of short stories will be available soon from Tiny Hardcore Press. www.robbtodd.com.