I hone my skills at the impromptu marketplace they set up in the square downtown most Saturdays, pocketing handfuls of green beans and the occasional plum. I suspect some of the merchants, the farmers mostly come in from the outlying areas to peddle their miserable muddy produce, know what I’m up to. They all give me long, distrustful looks like those you might expect of religious icons when you don’t happen to be a believer of that particular religion. I don’t know, maybe statues can’t actually discern the things I think they can. Maybe they are face blind and without the requisite reasoning centers in their stony brains. If I had an hour or two to start chiseling away at a piece of marble, I’d make something that looked like a manta ray and try to sell it for a substantial amount of money at the gallery. I’d lug it around on my back in the middle of the afternoon, inviting all the little children I see to come and have a look at it, maybe even take a picture with it if someone had a camera. The last time the city flooded, I thought I saw something struggling in the water, something so enormous as to take up the better part of a city block. It came to the surface only rarely and made such a commotion, such a splashing and a stirring up of the sentiments washed down from the nearby hills, you couldn’t tell what it was exactly. When I try to explain it to people all these years later, the best I can come up with is a comparison with known creatures from mythology – griffins and centaurs and the like, though the comparison is, of necessity, loose and designed mostly to demonstrate a level of classical education on my part and not so much to communicate the actual truth about whatever was making its way up Baxter street in the waves outside my window. Odd, how we wish others to see us a certain way, as perhaps more urbane and less spiteful than we actually are, and we will go to such lengths to implant this image we begin to believe it ourselves. We throw it over our own shoulders like a shawl. If, that is, we are in the habit of wearing shawls. I have never, to my knowledge, owned one. Which is not to say I would object to owning something like a shawl or would refuse to wear one should someone give me a shawl as a gift. It’s just that I associate that particular accessory with a group of old women – ribald, skeletal things -- who gather in the sunshine in the courtyard of the senior center up the street, and whenever I pass by, they shout the most degrading things at me! Usually this consists of a litany of obscene actions they’d like to see me perform in the street. At first I would stand there for a moment, mortified, unable to comprehend the depravity these old women were apparently capable of, before hurrying along. Then, after it had happened a time or two and I had become used to it, I began to consider their requests. I mean, why not? What else did I have to do? And why not make someone’s final days on this earth that much more pleasurable if it is within your power to do so?