â€œItâ€Ÿs rotting,â€ says Bridget.
Sheâ€Ÿs right. There are cobwebs festooned along its teeth, and from the tip of its
nose to a plastic tree stump.
I take a couple photos with her iPhone. In the first, sheâ€Ÿs acting a bit sexy. In the
second, sheâ€Ÿs terrified of the gator. Her mouth is open and her fingers are fanned
out next to hollowed cheeks.
Inside the Orange Center, we get a noseful of honey and citrus. Thereâ€Ÿs a shelf of
one-quart orange juice bottles for $2.99. They look like miniature plastic gallon
jugs of water, except theyâ€Ÿre orange.
We go to the back of the store for free samples. A lady with her arm stabilized in
a cast and sling asks if I can push the lever while she holds plastic cups under the
spout. I oblige. The generous samples she pours are fresh enough that we buy a
quart of goodness for the road.
As the cashier rings up our purchase, I grab a hexagonal mesh of honeycomb for
sale on the counter and shake my head. Bridget knows what Iâ€Ÿm thinking. One
sting from a bee (or wasp) and I go straight into anaphylactic shock.
This honeycomb is my frailty. This honeycomb is my Darwinian soft spot.
I donâ€Ÿt know exactly how to start. Michael is the writer. Iâ€Ÿm the graduate student.
He gave me his computer and asked me to start writing about Austin. He told me
to just go ahead and write. Heâ€Ÿll find a way to use whatever I write.
Iâ€Ÿve only read bits and pieces of what he has written, and I only vaguely have an
idea of what he wants this memory to achieve. I assume writers want to give
readers an experience. Writers want to affect readers. But Michael never talks
I feel like I have to help him out. I have to give this memory some effect. Readers
are all about the effect. But the snippets Iâ€Ÿve scanned are like a journal. At least
thatâ€Ÿs the impression I get. I donâ€Ÿt think people want to read some strangerâ€Ÿs
Who is Michael, after all? I mean, I love the guy with all my heart, but not
everyone loves Michael.
He has no readers.