Saturday, September 8, 2012

Flea Markets

I give up. There isn't a decent flea market left in North Florida, or at least in my neck of the woods. Today, after I closed shop, Sweet Wife gave me a cute smile and said climb into the car. I asked why and she said you will take me to a flea market. I sighed. 

I knew I was in for a great sweat. But, I thought, I might find some interesting items. Things I need. Prep items, ammo cans, perhaps a good book, Coleman stoves and lanterns. It was possible to even shop for a bit of fresh produce; a few bananas, tomatoes and green peppers and then, perhaps later, I'd make a big salad for dinner

What do I find instead. A third world country. Black market junk.

Bangles and bobbles and broken trash and the sweet sickly scent of dollar a gallon perfume and rusted bits of sad cast iron and old ladies trailing fifteen ragamuffins each in full scream as their weary mothers trail behind with both hands filled with plastic grocery bags of ten for a dollar strings of Christmas lights and tacky shower curtains and torn tube socks and that, 'oh just perfect black velvet bulldog painting.'

I find dirt lanes and oppressive heat and dust and sun bleached wooden tables filled to the brim with day old cabbage and wrinkled vegetables and paper bins filled with small watermelons - most burst, covered in flies and wasp where older black men stand with dangled cigarettes and whiskey weary blood shot eyes long past care or ambition.

Piles and piles of old VHS tapes and broken children's toys and little glass topped containers filled with Chinese made knives and fake silver dollars and as you walk the hucksters monotone shrill chant of buy one get one free, over and over, and my ears ring and I'm thirsty and my shirt is heavy with sweat and my throat begins to burn and when I take her hand to hurry us along she resists and my anger grows. I can't catch  my breath and I'm about ready to punch someone, anyone, to escape.

The crowd deepens. Finally, I've had enough and take her hand and demand an exit. She relents. Then, as I'm almost free I see the thin man, his shiny black face covered in sweat with dirty towel wrapped around his neck and he too yells, "Come on man, buy one, buy one, buy one man and I will give you the second for free."  To me. He yells this to me.

At that point I am not a man you want to piss off. I'm ready to hurt you. I make my move towards him and he finally sees me. He steps back and lowers his voice and pats the container under his bony hand, and it sounds like, 'bong bong.' I take in the bong. Two twenty mil ammo cans. The price on the side indicates ten dollars.

In one smooth movement I reach inside my pocket and slap a twenty in his hand and reach and take both cans. 

Never again. You can have your flea markets.