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Steven Carter

THINGS TO DO

Monday
1) Feed neighbor's cats.
2) Pick up laundry.
3) Pick up milk.
4) Work on electric car plans (one step closer to bringing down the Big Three!).
5) Pay water bill.

Tuesday
1) Feed neighbor's cats (don't forget again!).
2) Pick up coffee.
3) Meet Sandra after work for dinner.
4) Ask her to marry.
5) Tell her dreams and ideas, including collapse of corrupt auto industry and ascension of electric car and desire for at least two children.
6) If answer yes, go to St. Thomas, light candle. If no, go to bus stop, wait.

Wednesday
1) Call in sick.
2) Redouble efforts on electric car so she will be sorry someday.
3) Go to airport, rent gasoline-powered car (not American).
4) Pick up drycleaning on way back.
5) Buy spiral notebook at drugstore next to drycleaners.
6) While watching her apartment from parked symbol of dead system copy all old to-do lists in notebook and put all new lists in notebook so biographers will have sketchy record of the early, unsuccessful years.
7) Note physical characteristics of all men who enter her building.
8) Important: CATS. Question: do they have evolutionary lineage through the camel.

Thursday
1) Call in sick.
2) Examine all past lists on hand: are they too rigid?
3) Go to flea market and buy cheap pistol to mentally counter irritating taunts of Puerto Rican boy who is always sitting on stoop.
4) Follow her on way home from work. Weave through traffic.
5) Wear sunglasses.

Friday
1) Call in sick, take vacation day if necessary.
2) Enter neighbor's apartment, collect dead cats in plastic garbage bag, bury them in vacant lot behind apartment building.
3) Examine question: am I culpable?
4) In imitation of Joyce go to apartment basement and smash all existing work on electric car. Burn all current plans in kitchen sink and/or commode.
5) Make it new. Forget all preconceived notions.
6) Call her. Tell her about the new start. Apologize for the outburst in restaurant. Say you wouldn't want to marry Don Quixote either. Laugh. Say things are different now. Everything is new. Read the underlined passages from Nabokov. Light of my life! Fire of my loins! Tell her, if it's what she thinks best, you will indeed put your engineering degree to good use. G.E. has some openings. Also tell her, not to worry, but you bought a pistol. For home protection. Some sick nut broke into your neighbor's apartment and stole the expensive registered cats. A junky probably. The drug problem in this country is mammoth.
7) Go to neighbor's apartment. Steal television and flatware to strengthen explanation for missing cats.

Saturday
1) Go to bakery, buy Danish, coffee, and newspaper. Bring quarters for newspaper.
2) Avoid the returning neighbors. Do not answer any knocks. Wait until Sunday to offer drug-fiend explanation.
3) Answer threats by Puerto Rican boy from previous evening. Show him the pistol.
4) Take in laundry.
5) Pick up milk and bread.
6) Hide stolen television and flatware in bedroom closet: do not risk exposure!
7) Call mother.
8) Spend balance of afternoon reading Freud and Jung: who makes more sense?
9) At seven meet Sandra for dinner at Antonio's. Reiterate the truth of the new you. Do not allow the smooth youthfulness of her skin to turn you into a blubbering fool. Tell her the electric car was a pipe dream, that much is obvious now. Thank her for the wake up call. Tell her the plan now is to go solar, and a good job at G.E. is just around the corner, then marriage, and then puttering in the basement a couple of hours every night on the solar car, the comforting sounds of her footsteps overhead. You can do anything with her there. It is the American dream, the one that got lost when Detroit started putting out crap. Tell her about reading the diary of a French priest who was in World War I. The priest said Americans were known by their fierceness. Say these soldiers were the Indiana farm boys, the Detroit slum boys, the California boys who had been picking cabbages and tomatoes in hot fields since they could walk. These were the people who built cars. They made the big play, they got the clutch hit. Tell her you are like these men. You have your faults, but you are fierce. You will love her, you will work at G.E., you will build the solar car with the same fierce love that an ancient Celtic had when he rushed a phalanx of Roman soldiers with only his spear.
10) Gauge her reaction.
11) Important: bring credit card to pay for dinner.

Sunday
1) Go to morning mass, ask forgiveness.
2) Buy newspaper. Bring quarters.
3) Destroy all evidence of her existence lying around apartment. Consider question: why did Van Gogh stop at one ear?
4) Stare at pistol lying forlornly on kitchen table. Glass of whiskey optional.
5) Consider all that you told her last night: is it true? Are cars really that important?
6) Decide yes. Refute naysayers. Remove cylindrical chamber from pistol, dump in trash chute in hall along with bullets. Consider apologizing to Puerto Rican boy for threats. Decide no, things are in balance there. Take rental car back to airport. Come clean with neighbors. Take back television, flatware, apologize about dead cats. Tell them you understand you cannot assauge their grief, but you will replace them, whatever the cost. Beg their forgiveness. Say you were lovesick about the woman who dumped you after a relationship of several years, but that does not excuse your heinous actions.
7) If the neighbors are merciful, spend the afternoon reading the newspaper, the windows open, the gauzy white curtains billowing as if you lived by the sea. Eat something. At dusk begin work on the new car.

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