Jan 27 2013 11:14 am

cheap asphalt and tough winters

Soros was late and Frank was nervous. He had parked facing the street and held the steering wheel with his thumb and his four fingers reached across and tapped the dashboard. He kept ducking his head slightly and widening his eyes and looking left and right and then he’d slouch down into his seat and sigh and look at his knees and drum on the bottom of the steering wheel with both hands.

Across the street large airplanes took off and landed with loud roaring noises behind a high chain link fence. The low sun shone through the fence and made intricate warped shadows on the heaps of dirty snow. It was warm for Buffalo in January and the melting snow had concentrated gravel and dirt on top and made everything seem grittier.

There wasn't a patch of unbroken asphalt in the parking lot bigger than a dinner plate. Cracks ran over the whole thing. Frank registered this as something he'd seen before and semi-consciously explained it as a combination of cheap asphalt and tough winters. He had no idea if this was true but it seemed plausible enough and explaining it to himself this way allowed him to leave it behind.

Then finally Soros pulled into the lot and parked next to Frank and got out of his car with a leather shoulder bag and his derby cap, which Frank thought was stupid. He got in Frank’s car and said “Hello, Frank. How are you?”

“I’m fine. I wish you would show up on time though. It makes me fucking nervous.”

“You know how it works, Frank. I have people watch for a while.”

“Well, it makes me fucking nervous. Let’s do this already.”

“You need to relax. I bet your blood pressure is through the roof my friend. I think we should go to get a drink. I want to check in on Black James.” Soros then opened his bag and dug around in it and produced a derby cap identical to the one he was wearing. “I have something for him. He always says he likes my hat.”

Frank drove west toward the city. From his bag, Soros took a shoebox shaped package wrapped in loud birthday themed wrapping paper with a card and a bow taped to the top. He looked into the backseat and then placed the box there. “Money in the glove box?” 

Frank nodded and said, “Yep. Just like always, Soros.”

James lit up when he saw Soros. He thanked him profusely for the hat and bought a round of drinks. He said, “I was going to go ice fishing today but I’m glad I didn’t. Glad I stopped in here. Good timing, huh? How’d you know I was going to be here? Ice is too thin anyway.”

“Does the fish taste better from under the ice, James?” Soros asked, genuinely interested.

“Oh it does. Yes it does. A lot better. Firmer too. Only way to eat fish, really, in my opinion.”

Soros sipped his drink and sat quietly for a minute. Frank sat next to him staring straight ahead. He had finished his drink immediately and wanted to get moving. Soros turned to him and said, “Frank, what do you think about the gun control issue in this country? I mean, clearly if there were no guns, there would be no gun violence, right?”

Frank took a long deep breath and turned to him and said, “Yes. I guess so.” Soros was fond of making arguments that established some extreme position as obvious and then worked back to the claim in question by showing that each step was of arbitrary significance.

“Suppose that it were possible, of course, ignoring practical concerns, of course.”

“Of course,” said Frank.

“And clearly, also, if there were only one thousand guns, in private hands, of course, then there would be less gun violence then at the present moment in this country, correct?”


“How about ten thousand guns? Surely, yes?”


“How about one million? Ten million? Surely there are more than ten million guns at the current time owned by private citizens of this country, yes?”

“I have no idea.”

“The actual numbers don’t matter here, my friend, I’m merely trying to make a point.”

Frank shook his head. “OK. I don’t think any of it matters. Not the facts. Not the points. I think I should probably just get going.”

“You think you should probably get going.” Soros said this quietly almost under his breath. “He thinks he should probably get going.” Soros said this more loudly and turned to James as he said it. “Fine. Get yourself going. I find my own way back.”


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