Mac was in the Coney Island at lunch, atypical. Night proved his usual domain here. Martin found him searching frantically through the paper.
Which article could he be so interested in? Martin was about to step in with proprietary guidance when Mac asked Paletello if all the ads were here. He received an annoyed look. Oh, Martin thought, Wednesday. Advertising supplements.
Mac looked up to discover Martin. "Did Penney's put out anything today?"
"You got the wrong department, bud."
"Some bastids tore the papers up this morning at McDonald's." Mac finally found the insert wedged beneath the footstool, somebody's attempt to steady uneven legs. It was a little abused but still serviceable. He unfolded the sheets the way you might pick up a hit-and-run victim out of the street.
"This one's moving into jogging suits. She probably runs a lot, like along the levee or something." Mac said, pointing out a brunette. Martin felt a little adrift. "This one here's kind of new. I figure she must just work morning hours, right when I can't see her get off." Mac smoothed the slick paper, then pulled out an ad he'd received in the mail, as if for comparison. "I mean, I think they ought to have a new building to be in, but I'm glad they ainít moving out on the Interstate by that swamp." Montgomery Wards stood in the old shopping strip along Louisville instead of the new mall.
Martin let a little time lapse. Usually, most always, he could let it slide, but right now he just couldn't. Impossible to tell whether or not he was doing Mac a favor, but the smiling faces themselves in the pictures were making him angry.
"They're not around here, Mac. That's a national publication. Everybody from Azusa, California to the bottom end of Florida gets the same sales ads. Those women are in New York or somewhere." Mac's face didn't seem to register anything for a while.
Then it seemed to drain of color. Quickly enough, he was covering. "I, I didn't mean. . . Well. I knew that, Martin. I was actually talking about the girls that do work in there. I. . .I know a couple of 'em. "
"The plastic kind without nipples, Mac?" --some itinerant city pothole worker.
"Naw, man," Mac said in good humor. "Though you wouldn't kick 'em out of the house for leaving cracker crumbs around, huh?" "Look good and keep their mouths shut."
"Though thereís that clear-wrap kind of odor when things heat up, huh?" Martin joined in. Paletello: "Pitiful."
Meanwhile Mac was ripping the paper in a rough form around the tiny figure and tucking her into a shirt pocket. "Hey Martin. You going to be at your apartment tonight?"
"Ah--probably working tonight."
"Yeah. I got you. It's cool." Mac waved to everyone as he went back to the Fury along the curb.
Martin looked at the ceiling. The water stains resembled clouds in a sepia print. "Tell you what. Hold the onions on that chili dog."
"Are you saying that life isn't worth living?" --Paletello.
"Just a little acid reflux lately is all." He looked at the leftovers from the paper along the counter. Somewhere there was a embossed memorandum, a shrine to the concept, this attention getter. Grab the eyes with tits, them move 'em down to the lawnmowers. Did women enjoy seeing each other so much? Or was it like a white glove test?
"Hey Paletello. Your wife, she clothes herself in the normal ways a woman does. Does she study underwear ads, then head down to Monkey Wards to gain the latest, albeit unseen fashion?"
"No woman looks at those things, Martin."
"What I thought, what I already know." Martin had lunch and considered a career in motel clerking.