92 Space-saving catatonic schizophrenia

“Goodness gracious,” cooed John Guss. He didn’t want to lose his touch, in case he ran through the nest egg from The Crazy Lady. He couldn’t sound like Donald Trump all of a sudden, bossy and too sure of himself, scary for defenseless and dependent elderly ladies. The restaurant was a high risk venture. Even with a foolproof plan, life was still about getting a break.
The View shrikes weren’t whooping it up anymore, about men or anything. There was music downstairs, and it seemed to be from the television set, not Uncle Joe’s ancient stereo blaster. It meant either time had passed faster than he’d realized, the hyperchat panel had come and gone, or it still was earlier than 11:00 but Granny Guss had fallen unconscious and her floppy, flabby body caused a channel change.
“Goodness gracious,” he continued, but without artifice. He heard “Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na.” It sounded more ancient than his brother’s blaster, Cannibal and The Headhunters’ version of “Land of a Thousand Dances.” He knew this from The Crazy Lady’s endless sit-downs in front of her hi-fi record player, explaining the “ginchy” dance steps she’d been able to accomplish at sock hops.
“Kickin’ your shoes off meant something in those days,” she reminded him perhaps a hundred times.
John Guss woke up in a sweat some nights, breaking off dreams visual and aural of “Spin me another platter, Johnny Angel” and The Crazy Lady, waiting.
He hoped a somnolent snuffle would make Granny Guss’s momentous lard undulate enough to change the channel again. It didn’t matter if the remote clicked to another Music Choice, just as long as “Land of a Thousand Dances” wasn’t playing. The title wasn’t in the song, but it would be on the screen. If his catatonic wife read it, she’d perform a thousand dances in her portion of the living room between the family albums cabinet and JoJo’s purloined surfboard. Her numbers compulsion reigned supreme. For the moment, though, it was like the pitter patter of little feet in place in her little space. Foot up, foot down, other foot up, other foot down, without an inch of variance, for hours.
John dialed City Hall again, to connect with the real world.


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