The Man with the Nose in His Living Room
Zachary sat with Paul and Gopher for breakfast at the soup kitchen (though it was scrambled eggs and toast, not soup).
Theyre tearing down the bakery tomorrow, said Paul. He ate a forkful of eggs. So did Zachary. Gopher just sat.
I want the nose for my living room, said Zachary.
Back when Zachary was a boy, the Ritefine Bread and Roll Bakery (now closed) made the town smell like cinnamon, as if someone had mixed up cinnamon and sugar in a little custard cup to sprinkle on some light-golden buttered toast. The nose was the company mascot and sat on the roof just above the door where everyone could see it, even people driving by on the expressway. At Christmastime, an advertisement ran on television (just very early on Sunday mornings with the childrens cartoons since it was not very expensive to advertise then) with a happy little song written by one of the bakers about how children around the world should all be lucky enough to smell cinnamon every day, even the children in jungles in Africa who could not smell anything because the tsetse flies had bitten them and they were sleeping in sickness. The song did not mention tsetse flies but everyone knew what they meant.
The men went over to the doomed Ritefine Bread and Roll Bakery and climbed up on the roof to get the nose. It was almost as tall as Zachary and was tied down to the roof by plastic cables which Paul easily cut with his hunting knife while Gopher watched, and they took the nose (which was not very heavy since it was hollow plastic) to Zachary's living room.
It wasnt his living room, of course. The living room was in a sort of limbo since the previous owner, Mr. Rackensnuff (or some such thing), left town with several law enforcement agencies chasing him over securities fraud and the property had reverted to the government but no one was sure which government: city or state or federal. While lawyers debated the issue, Zachary used the house (by unscrewing the bars over the windows and then replacing them when he left) when it was cold and the C Street Shelter was full, since no one else was using it for anything much.
He and Paul and Gopher (but mostly just he and Paul) put the nose in the living room. It was a nice addition to the empty room.
Then they went back to the soup kitchen for supper (though it was stew and bread, not soup).
Zachary saw Elizabeth talking to herself at a table near the window. He brought his tray over to her. Would you like to come see the nose in my living room? he asked.
Elizabeth laughed. Yes, I would, she said, but I want to finish my stew first. She continued her conversation with herself.
They finished their stew (chicken vegetable) and bread (wheat) and waved goodbye to Paul and Gopher and walked over to the Rackensnuff (or some such thing) house. Zachary took out his tiny screwdriver and again undid two bars and they crawled in the window and he showed her the nose.
Elizabeth clapped her hands in glee. From the bakeryhow wonderful! Do you know what would be nice? If we had some cinnamon, like in the song!
I think it would be nicer if we had some bourbon, said Zachary. But it did not matter since they had no money to buy anything, neither bourbon nor cinnamon.
They lay down on the floor next to the nose.
Was I married to you once? asked Elizabeth.
Yes, said Zachary, pleased she remembered.
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