I've had one too many fucking nickels pulled out of my ear, the younger of the two men said.
He was sitting on the floor, wearing a hooded sweatshirt, pajama bottoms, and badly worn bedroom slippers. He had declined the offer of a seat on the sofa, choosing instead to slump down against the wall and cross one leg over the other at the knee. He was nervously jostling the slipper on his left foot, slipping it on and off and tapping along to some beat in his head or blood.
Butterflies walk, he said.
They fly, the older man said.
But they must also sometimes walk. Some of them probably spend a good deal of time walking.
The older man shrugged, removed his glasses, and placed them upside down on his desk.
To play the game in this jerkwater town you have to be able to serve shit on a paper plate, the younger man said. You won’t be recognized by the in-crowd unless you have the personality of a game show host or a daft concierge.
I’m not sure that’s true, the older man said.
You’re in the business of not being sure, the younger man said. You have no idea how much this shit wears me out.
What shit is that?
This query was followed by a prolonged silence. The older man eventually repeated the question. What shit is that? he asked.
Oh, the younger man said, I think you know what shit I'm talking about.
Why don't we make an attempt to narrow it down, the older man said. Perhaps we could isolate some specific things that are wearing you out.
Shit, the younger man said. The shit. The shit on paper plates. This shit. We've been over this before.
Well, the older man said, the problem as I see it is that we never seem to get beyond this same general complaint. I think you need to dig a bit deeper into things.
Into the shit? the younger man asked.
If that's how you choose to think about it, yes.
What is this music? the younger man asked.
It's Animal Collective.
I beg you to turn it the fuck off, the younger man said.