I go in to finish a course of vaccinations. First the checklist and chat (no inflections? no allegories? no badverse reactions?) and I tell her I have had my operation and I feel good. My arteries no longer bulge under the pressure. I tell her I am lighter now and I am thinking of taking up tap. The doctor congratulates me and stamps something into my records (a star? a smiley) and sends me to the mistress of pointed devices.
The injectionist (and more: "Blood drawn here.") softens me up with her left and then telegraphs a high right jab. I wince and she rubs down the sore spot and coos because I'm a big boy and that doesn't hurt, does it? She puts a little bandage on my arm. No filthy hospital can harm me now. Bring on your dirtiest nurses.
On the train back I read Romeo and Juliet and forget where I am. I look up and ask the woman next to me whether we have reached my stop. No, no, not yet. I read again until she tells me it's time.
At the cafe, the three women working this shift see me in turns and greet me in turns and smile. When I order today, I ask for cake. The woman at the register stops and looks at me. I admit it's a joke. A large black coffee, please. I am here more often than some of the employees. All I ever have is a large black coffee. I hear her repeat the cake line to the next cafe worker, not because I told a funny joke but because you are surprised to find it done at all. Someone slips the silly foreigner a free biscuit.
The little girl at the next table watches me and laughs. She gets up and circles my table. She doesn't go back to her daddy when he asks. What am I doing? Am I drawing? Am I writing? What am I writing? Then she leads her father away and I'm late for home.