You and Andy are en promenade à Circle K. Despite the seven independent cafes in your neighborhood, he says he currently prefers the ambience of this particular convenience store. You pass by a young, tanned blond man with a cowlick laughing in the intersection of two empty streets without comment. Andy is taking inventory of detritus in the alleyways as you walk. Broken bottles of Old E, Heineken, plastic flasks that once held vodka, and diaphanous strands of grocery sacks. Sparrows swarm a discarded jelly donut, then a silly fat gray dog barrels down on them and they flitter. The dog consumes the donut in one comically convulsive move, watching to see if you scold him. Noting the twelfth bottle of vodka, Andy pauses, turns to face you with a mechanical pencil held up in the air as if pointing at his halo. He says never, ever purchase a brand of vodka that has a red and black label. It will give you a hangover.
At the Circle K, Andy fills a 24 oz cup with House Blend coffee, avoiding the French Roast he says is certainly a mix of all the day’s burnt coffee. At the cream dispensing machine, he colors his coffee with an International Delights® flavored creamer called Caramel Macchiato, which used to be Dulce de Leche before the International Flair Committee (IFC) chose the Italians over the Mexicans. It doesn’t matter if a macchiato is an espresso with a dab of steamed milk on top, Andy says, he admires how Starbucks© is just evil. Now everyone is disappointed by both the smallness and bitterness of the authentic. Turning to the counter to pay for your coffees, at the ATM Andy sees the laughing man who 15 minutes before had been jagging zombie-like down the street, legs snapping jointlessly at the knees as he walked. Now the smile has gone as the boy concentrates on removing a $20 from the cash robot. You can’t know how he got there before you—that’s tweaker magic. Two young hipsters, one with an Afro that hangs in his eyes and one with glasses, hang around the counter visiting the cashier, who says $2.26. Andy carefully lays down exact change from a purse in his pocket. You say pennies are the cockroach of the economy. The zombie boy burps so loud even the tune in the cashier’s head seems to stop as you all turn to look at the source. Well. That is exactly what I was going to say, Andy says, drawing a circle around a coin on the counter with his finger.
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Christina Louise Smith is a writer and graphic designer in Tucson, AZ. Currently, she has a graduate teaching assisantship and is pursuing her M.A. in Literature at the University of Arizona, where she also received her B.A. in English and Creative Writing. She likes to show off the latest book cover she designed for Heather Cousins’ intriguing first full-length collection of poetry, Something in the Potato Room from Kore Press (11/09), where Christina was Managing Editor until December 2009. Her poems will appear in the February 25, 2010 edition of Backroom Live, featuring guest editor Barbara Cully. When she is not busy writing, reading, or working, she’s been known to fry up an overabundance of chorizo tacos, an act she recently proclaimed to be the only thing in the entire world that makes her truly happy—although she loves to wander, scavenge, and wave to strangers.
This is the second of five stories by Christina, written at our request, to accompany the radio plays we did for Powhaus Productions' POP!: A Celebration of the Cultural Contribution of Andy Warhol and His Factory, at the Rialto Theater, Feb 26, 2010. The stories and the radio plays are unrelated, only presented simultaneously.
"Andy Plays Solitaire"