Saturday, March 29, 2008

Because other countries are somewhere else

The sidewalk beneath me's cold but I sit anyway and think about the outlet-mall. The Gap's there and waiting and I want suddenly to stand in the Gap holding calmly my little switchblade-knife and then to tell the Gap-cashier, 'up with your hands bitch, give me your fucking money.'

"Look at this," Ross says. He's holding a gun.

"You hate me, don't you?"

"Huh, real chrome," he says. "See." He holds the gun sideways, in the sunlight.

"You're going to murder me, here, or in Lisbon, maybe. You want my lungs, or kidneys. To sell on the black-market."

"Where's Lisbon?"

"Some other country somewhere."

"Anyway, hold it will you? It's heavy."

I hold the gun. "They have guns in Lisbon, you know. Ten-thousand guns. They hand them out at the airport, 'shoot at the airplanes,' they say. 'Use both hands,' they say, 'it'll improve your aim.' There are signs everywhere."

We're walking and there's a wind. Before us and behind us small groups of elderly women pat their curly perms and I imagine myself permed and wonder if I would pat my perm or leave it alone, tie it down maybe, beneath a rain-bonnet. The sidewalk has many cracks and I watch them. I can see our reflections in the windows which are backlit and feature chrome pots, then mannequins in sequined dresses, then towers of shoes. High-heels, clogs. Disembodied feet. I want to steal the feet and pile them somewhere. On a bus, maybe. I hold the gun. "What do you think about feet, Ross?" I ask. "Are you for or against?"

"In general, I approve of feet."

"Good, Ross. I like feet too."

We angle across the parking-lot, zigzagging between cars. I tap each car with the gun. There's a sound when the gun hits the cars and I listen to the sound because it's beautiful. Ross's humming and Ross's face's closed and block-like, so I think about Ross's feet and how to remove the feet. With an ax? A skill-saw? Could I attach Ross's feet to my feet and have double-feet? Are four feet better than two? I imagine a sewing-machine, terrible and ten feet tall with a conveyor belt and a glittering invisible needle. "Sew the feet," I say.

"Huh," Ross says. He sounds very tired.

"The feet, I'd sew them to my feet. I need another leg."

"Oh, great." Ross's yawning. "Where are we?"

"Lisbon," I say. "We need to buy a containment-unit."


"For the feet. I'm taking the feet, all of them, and I need to keep them in a containment-unit, with formaldehyde or something. I need one-thousand feet. Foot-museum. A warehouse with chrome shelves. We'll have to guard it, hire guards, there in Lisbon. For the feet."

The sky's gray and very close and I think I could rub the gun on it if I wanted. We enter the Gap through a sliding-door. There's electronic music. A boy with a high voice screams something. The woman behind the counter has short brown hair that points around. There are barricades made from seatbelts and three women line up behind them. The women are smiling, occasionally combing their hair behind their ears. One removes a rain-bonnet. I stand near a table with blue and pink v-neck sweaters and fold the sweater that's unfolded. The gun's in my waistband and I don't know what to do with it. It's very heavy there and my jeans are sagging slowly from my waist.

"Do you like this?" Ross says. He holds up a checkered shirt. "Do you like this?" Ross says. He holds up black corduroy pants. He removes a tennis-shirt from a hook on the wall. "I like this," he says.

"Can I help you?" someone says. "I think these boxers are just dynamite, the patterns," he says. "I just love boxers." He moves away.

I stand near the mirror and feel confused. Could I make a containment-unit from boxer-shorts? Above me are fluorescent-light-panels and the fluorescent-light-panels are buzzing quickly and each fluorescent-light-panel's separated from every other fluorescent-light-panel by gray acoustic ceiling-tiles. I move sideways, then at an angle, between tables heaped with folded pants and pink t-shirts. "Can I help you?" someone says. He folds a t-shirt and crosses his arms. "T-shirt right, you're looking for a t-shirt." He holds one up. "This one?" he asks. "This one's cute."

"No," I say. "I'm looking for this." I show him the gun. The chrome's shiny in the fluorescent-light. He doesn't answer. "See this," I say. I move the gun nearer to his face. It's almost as big as his face and I can't see his face, I can only see the gun. I'm moving. Outside. The sky has moved in and the sky and the parking-lot are almost touching. I hunch as I jog out onto the asphalt. I hear my shoes slap on the asphalt and the slaps are unpatterned and jerky and inhuman somehow. The air's wet as I breathe it.

"Hey," someone yells. It's Ross. "Should I buy the checkered shirt?"

I look back and Ross's standing in front of the Gap, holding up his checkered shirt. I turn away from Ross and keep moving. Somewhere ahead's the end of the parking-lot and if I keep jogging I'll get there. I watch my feet and my feet are moving and it's beautiful. The asphalt's black and new beneath them and ahead the sky's like a fog, settled on the ground and warm and wet. I could hold it, I think. I could never stop moving.

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