Sometimes I write solely to write, without intention. To try and stay in touch with the writers' spirit, I think. Write just to write. See what comes out, but no matter what, keep on writing. Write about a tree. A tree that grows in a small, raised yard with cinder block edges facing the sidewalk. It is an ordinary looking tree, especially nondescript in the winter when its leafy cloak is gone but the small yard it grows in is full of a remarkably green grass despite it being early winter. Both the tree and I are suspicious of this. We wonder what keeps the grass green in the winter. Even when it snows, which is decidedly infrequent in these parts though it does freeze, even then this grass is green.
The wall behind the tree is a red brick building with no windows. The second and third floors above that, also red brick have small dark windows. The front is an empty store with curtains in the windows on both sides of a recessed main entrance. Between the market and this store is a padlocked door probably granting access to the upper floor apartments. At least I think they're apartments, or offices even though I've never seen anyone going in or out. I notice lights once in a rare while. Anyway BigSale Market is attached to the other side, filling the rest of the block, and it's the reason I pass this tree and its forlorn yet brilliantly green yard. Couple times a week used to, but now with this plague it's once a week or longer. Nothing's changed in that small yard though. The tree seems to be flourishing. I wonder what goes on inside that mysterious building?
I have been mildly curious about this building ever since I became friends with the tree a couple years ago. I didn't really notice the grass until last winter when we had all that snow. I was suddenly shocked one day as I passed to see this quite healthy and robust green grass growing between the mounds of melting snow. All other grassy spots were brown or a sickly green. I realized this grass was always green. Ever since then I've been more and more curious about this constantly brilliant green grass and the mysterious building beside it.
One day my curiosity was piqued when I saw a light behind a second floor window. Something's in there. I continued to the curtained front. The main door was set back and curtained, all the windows were heavily draped and it was very dark inside. As I stood watching the curtain parted slightly on one side and I saw a green eye stare at me before it quickly disappeared behind the curtain. I stepped forward and knocked lightly on the wood part of the door. No answer. No response of any sort, just silence. I knocked louder, feeling a curious urgency. The curtain on the right side fluttered a little but otherwise, no response. I tapped on the glass and after a minute or two, controlling my impulse to bang on the glass I turned and resumed walking toward BigSale Market. I was shocked by the intensity of feeling I'd had, like I had to know, I absolutely had to know what was going on in that building. Where did that compulsion come from? I'd thought I was just mildly curious. But then again, that green eye was not like any other eye I'd ever seen. Might've been the dim light but that eye sure seemed to have been green with just a black diamond in the center and it sure seemed to be emanating fear.
I ignored the building returning home and it was a week before I passed that way again. I was determined not to stop at the building or even to stare at the green grass, rather I'd walk briskly past, attending to my business. I stared nonetheless, amazed at the lawn's mid-summer lushness but looked away as I passed the front, then jerked back, solidly surprised to see a business operating inside. It was the big neon sign in the window that caught my attention. Cholley's Clams it said in vibrant purple-red. Below that was a black print sign saying, Coffee available – walk in now. Get sum! was handwritten, probably with a felt marker after that. I love coffee and a cup sounded fine so I pushed the door open and entered.
A pert young woman sat behind a desk smiling brightly at me, “Yes, mam? What would you like?”
The room was quite large and, except for her and her desk, empty. It felt airy. I looked up to see the ceiling was at least three floors above. Her desk was bare. Completely rattled, I stuttered, “Oh! Is this the uh . . .?”
“Cholley's Clams. Cholley's Clams, best in the west, but you want coffee.” She pulled open a side drawer and pulled out a steaming cup of coffee. “Three creams just the way you like it.”
I was stunned, “How'd you . . .?”
“That'll be a buck,” she smiled brightly.
I fumbled with my bag, found a dollar, and set it on the desk, then somehow, I was back in the street. The coffee was delicious and I sipped it contentedly standing in front of BigSale Market. I had a great time shopping, feeling a peculiar buoyancy and energy, my mind more focused than I can remember. When I returned home, I passed an old red brick building that I remember being curious about once. I couldn't remember what had sparked my interest anymore, it seemed quite unimportant now and I strolled easily past. The grass on the side was brown like always. I had more important stuff going on, like finding that fabulous coffee shop I stumbled on last week. I'm sure it's somewhere in this area.