Odd coincidences. On the plane over the Pacific, I was leafing through the
Atlantic magazine and found a story about a German magician who kept a streak
of white tigers in his Las Vegas compound. Streak is one collective noun, the
other is ambush, an ambush of tigers, which unusual fact was useful to the
writer because one of the tigers bit Roy, the magician, in the neck. New
version of, “That decision may come back to bite you,”
His partner was called Siegfried; Roy’s partner, not the tiger’s. The Atlantic
piece explained all the white tigers were descended from one white tiger.
So the coincidence is that when I was done with the magazine I reached into my
bag to pull out a book, blind, from those I’d stuffed quickly from a pile— see
below for explanation—and pulled a Booker prize winner titled, “The White
Tiger.” The novel is set in India, not Las Vegas. Village life in India.
The other coincidence is that before we set off on a trip a year ago last July,
our water heater broke. The house sitter had to take time with the man sent by
Stan the Water Heater Man. Wasn’t Stan. I think his name was Jason. On this
recent Friday I cleaned gutters before rain set in and otherwise setup the
house for a different sitter. Ready for a shower and a rest, I turned on the
hot water and got cold. Down to the basement I hied myself and found, sure
enough, the flood no one wants. I spent the afternoon bailing water and
lifting, calling, and waiting for Stan’s man to call back. All a bit Sisiphean
because I hadn’t turned off the water properly. Jason, or one of Stan the
Man’s men, will be round to fix things next week.
Mimi noticed me dumping the water outside.
“It’s raining. I don’t think the ground needs any tea water.”
“It’s not tea; it’s from a flood.”
“In the basement.”
“Are you keeping Koi?”
“We are not keeping Koi; the hot water’s broken.”
“It doesn’t look hot. Where’s the steam?”
“It’s been sitting on the concrete floor of the basement.”
“Funny thing for steam to do, sit n the floor.”
The thing about a dead chicken one notices in such a moment is you can’t
throttle one. The options available to me were to break off conversation,
excusing myself due to pressure of floid, or to change the subject. Since I
was more than a little tired, I mentioned that I learned this week, via posts
from a friend who is walking the Camino, that there’s a church in Spain which a
chicken and a rooster are always present.
“To hear the rooster crow is thought to be lucky.”
Mimo, “Must be a lot of luck in those parts. I remember when Appenzeller
thought she was a rooster. What a racket!”
That bottle of banana liqueur I mentioned last week tempted me like a siren,
exactly in the manner of a siren, all diaphanous cloth and no hint of How’ s
your father. Took me the best part of half an hour to work through whatever
the top was dressed in— some kind of hard plastic. When I tried to pull the
cork that disintegrated. Finally I poured some of the stuff through a sieve.
I had begun to believe that the whole deal was genius marketing. “How about we
sell yellow liquid at the airport? If the bottle’s too hard to open it could
be years before we get blowback. Everyone will have given Aunty Dot a souvenir
of Tahiti and no one discovered there’s yellow illusion in the bottle.”
Yes, I tasted it. Poured the whole bottle down the sink.
Fortunately where we’ve landed has plenty of roosters. My luck is about to