Tuesday, January 09, 2007


I walk along the sidewalk next to the highway. My car is at McDonald's. I think, 'McDonald's can have my stupid car for its stupid parking lot and it can be a stupid decoration for the stupid parking lot and the stupid grid, grid, grid.' I think, 'Everything in the world is like graph-paper.' The road next to the sidewalk has six lanes, three going north and three going south, and in each of the six lanes are hundreds of gray sedans with identical headlights and antennas and each of these sedans moves in its own vector, some wobbling along a kind of axis and others zooming very straight and even the speeds are very different and it is tremendous and quick and scary how each of these sedans can move so separately in the same direction and it makes me think that a person would have to be insane to drive with so many people around and so many sedans and so many lanes.

I move around a tree. There are many trees planted along the sidewalk and they are fir trees and trees you usually see in movies about skiing or that take place on mountains but they are everywhere here and here is not a mountain. I hug my arms to myself to make myself warm but it is windy and cloudy and I continue to shiver and walk and I look over my shoulder and there is a fat man in a puffy black rain-parka and he is very fat with blond hair and he walks very swiftly which is surprising because of how fat he is but he sees me looking and slows down.

I continue to walk.

I look over my shoulder and the very fat man is walking swiftly toward me and he sees me looking and he slows down and whistles and looks at the cars. He is very close to me now. Maybe ten feet away. I can hear his whistling.

I turn around. I say, "What the fuck do you want?"

The fat man looks at me with a wide mouth and funny big eyes that are like little black rocks in his head, and the eyes even seem to move like little black rocks.

The fat man says, "Me?"

I feel very distracted and I look at the clouds which are more like one cloud and back at the fat man and fat man has somehow moved closer to me and I think, 'I'm just paranoid, probably I'm just paranoid, maybe.' The fat man is next to me. He is very fat but his head is very small and his face is not even a little chubby.

"Do you remember me?" the fat man says.

"No." But maybe I do. I think, 'Who is this man?'

The fat man's thin and small face is lined with very thin very blond hair. The hair is smooth and almost invisible.

"I'm just paranoid," I say aloud.

"What was that?"


"Want to get some coffee?" the fat man asks.

The fat man licks his lower lip very slowly. His tongue is very small and quick and he only uses the tip of it to lick his lower lip and it is a little strange how slowly his tongue seems to move when the tongue is very small and quick and pink. I stare with little eyes at the fat man's tongue and feel as though the fat man's tongue is staring back at me, but only slightly, and with a kind of aggression.

"Are you sure you don't remember me?" the fat man asks. "Coffee," he says. "Coffee is good. We could get coffee, like espresso or something. I know a place that has a lot of different kinds of coffee. I'd even pay for the coffee if you came to get coffee with me and we could talk for a while about old times and stuff. You still drive your little Honda, right? You see we're old friends and we should talk over coffee at this coffee place I know. I have some information. You probably want to know the information. And it's cold out here and the coffee place is very warm inside and there are comfortable chairs and warm lights and warm coffee."

"Do you know my boyfriend or something?"

"I don't think so."

"It's my birthday today," I say. "Today, I'm twenty-seven."


"I’m going to Lisbon," I say. "It's my birthday present. I'm going to Lisbon tomorrow."

"Lisbon must be beautiful this time of year."

I feel a sudden panic in my legs. 'Why did I say Lisbon?' I think.

"We should get coffee," I say. "How do I know you?"

The coffee place is warm. It has many corduroy sofas and dark chandeliers with soft light-bulbs that hang at different levels and project long and bulbous shadows around my feet. I move my feet between the shadows and sip my coffee which is very bitter. The fat man tells me his name is Aaron. Aaron is in the bathroom and I am sitting on a corduroy couch and sipping bitter coffee and moving my feet between the long and bulbous shadows and though the coffee shop is almost empty, I feel as though I am being watched and as though these watchers are silently judging me. I hear the words, "Her clothes are not at all stylish," and "Her cheeks are very large and her forehead seems to sort of protrude, doesn't it?" but when I look around the coffee shop I don't see anyone, not even the barista. I think, 'I'm thinking things too much.'

Aaron returns. He removes his black and puffy rain-parka and carefully lays it on the arm of the corduroy sofa. Aaron groans as he sinks down into the couch. "So," Aaron says.

My cell-phone ring-tone plays a song.

It's my boyfriend.

"I'm sorry," I say. I open my cell-phone. "Yes?"

"What are you doing right now?" my boyfriend asks.

"Right now?"

Aaron shrugs and Aaron looks out the window and Aaron crosses his arms and Aaron sighs. Aaron has very narrow shoulders and I can see them move slowly underneath his sweater.

"I want you to come home. I want you to come home and strip naked and lay on the couch and think about me and I want you to—"

"Aren't you at work Erik?"

"I want you to touch yourself."

I wonder if Aaron can hear this. I feel very ashamed and turn my head down and look at my shoes between the long shadows and I whisper to my boyfriend, "I have to go now."

"And I want—"

I turn off my cell-phone and look at my feet and put my cell-phone away and think about touching myself and look at Aaron and say in a quiet voice, "I'm very sorry about that."

Aaron says, "It's nothing. Don't think about it. Think about Lisbon maybe."


"Lisbon, in Portugal. Your birthday present."


I look at my hands and my fingernails and compare my fingernails and wonder why each of my fingernails is not exactly the same. Aaron is also looking at my fingernails and he is smiling widely and his very narrow face is sort of slack and tired.

"You said you had 'information,'" I say.

I feel as though I have lost something in saying this, and Aaron is moving closer and his face is no longer tired but narrow and broad and wide and smiling and he has many teeth and each of his teeth gives off the impression of smiling and there are many gaps between his teeth and I look at the gaps and I look away from the gaps and the gaps between Aaron's teeth are very straight and parallel. I touch the edge of the tabletop and run my finger along the edge of the table top and my finger feels the edge of the tabletop and I am feeling my finger feel the edge of the tabletop.

"Information," Aaron says. "Opportunity perhaps. I don't know."

"I am going to Lisbon," I say. "You don't think I'm going to Lisbon but I'm going to Lisbon."

"Of course. Don't worry about that. Let me show you something."

Aaron reaches into this pocket with his wide and chubby hand and then removes it, his hand closed around something. Aaron turns his hand over and slowly opens his hand and in his hand is a tiny green ball of money and he tosses the green ball of money on the table and the green ball of money bounces and rolls toward me.

"That is yours," Aaron says.


"You're hired." Aaron leans back and the couch slides a couple of inches. "You can be my assistant, you know, and assist me with things."

"What kind of things?"

Aaron smiles his wide smile and turns his hand in a upward twirling gesture. "Everyone needs money," he says. "I could take you to Lisbon, if you wanted, I could take to Lisbon to the beach and you could walk with me on the beach near the water and we could be naked on the beach and lay around in the sand and let the sand get on our bodies, in Lisbon. It would be very beautiful. Everyone needs a little money, you know. An arrangement."

Outside the window a boy and a girl are walking slowly and looking inside the café window.

"You are very pretty," Aaron says.

"Have you ever decapitated a kitten?" I ask.

"Why do you say that?"

"I want to stab a kitten in the face sometimes, you know, with a kitchen knife. I would stab the kitten and decapitate the kitten and throw the little kitten-head out the window, or maybe I would save the kitten-head and dry the kitten-head and make a decoration from the dry little kitten-head for my mantel if I had a mantel."

"What do you mean?"

"I'm tired," I say. "I'm tired of kittens and things like that. Let's rob the café. I have knife. We'll rob the café and kill the barista and take the tip jar. I want the tip jar."

"Sshh," Aaron says. Aaron looks wildly around the café. "Don't say things like that aloud."

"I can say whatever I want. I'm your assistant, right. It's the arrangement. I say whatever I want."

Aaron grunts and leans back and smiles a tired smile.

My cell-phone ring-tone plays a little song.

"I'm sorry," I say.

It's my boyfriend.

I turn on my cell-phone. "What?" I say.

My boyfriend says, "I'm sorry about before. You're just so hot. I want you naked and me naked."

"I'm busy right now," I say. "I'm having coffee with Aaron. We're talking about kittens."

I turn off my cell-phone.

"Let's rob an AM/PM," I say. "I want a soda."


Tao said...

that was a good read

Ofelia said...

Thank you.

Amelia Markson said...

I must concur. I cant wait for the next installment. I want to rob an AM/PM too.