Trying to go back to envision my past life was like trying to walk on a slippery surface. You had the illusion of movement, but couldn’t make any real headway. The hotel elevator was almost always filled with Georgian men who stared at my cowboy boots and asked me for my room number. I knew that everything that went on in that hotel, everything that was said and done was being observed by some invisible eye hiding behind a mirror or a double wall.
Her gaze into his eyes was private; outside, she was all brisk new-mom business. She tucked him face-first against her chest on walks and at the grocery. She bought a car seat and a baby jogger; in motion, no one asked questions.
Personally, I thought Philadelphia was a beautiful place. But I had to confess something too. I needed light as much as I needed darkness. So on days like this, when the sky was somewhere in between heaven and hell, and the clouds were up there, loitering with bad intentions, it didn’t feel like it threatened my fate. I needed days like this, even looked forward to them. Explain that to somebody.
Four days after the bar encounter, a gun arrived to my dorm as promised. I unpacked it in the locked bathroom and hefted it, all black and snug in my grip. A little practice, I’d hit a flea on a fence.
This September afternoon, though, she was bored in the house, eager to put off the task of making dinner—tacos yet again, Roy’s favorite, which meant dicing tomatoes, chopping onions, grating cheese, frying mediocre ground beef from the local Acme that stank at first with an aroma only the dog could appreciate.
My route is a two-block circle. It takes me a little close to the cop station for this time of year, but this is my route. And it’s been mine since before the police moved to this side of Broad Street and away from all the crime. Fuck them anyway, I’m not even homeless. I just can’t stand to sleep at my house anymore.
Jeff says karate can make you so strong that anybody you touch will die. Once there was a man and lady who loved each other, but they could never touch each other because they knew karate. Kissing was okay. But no shaking hands. They loved each other so much they forgot. One day they were walking down the street and started to hold hands without thinking. Oh no! they cried. They looked at each other. They let go of their hands. It was too late. They were already dead.
I have purposefully brewed a pot of tea in her favorite oriental kettle even though she will want to take it, used the malformed cup her nephew made for her when we moved in together. It says, “To Ants,” which was once a cute misspelling of “Two Aunts.” Now, it seems like a prognostication for why our relationship would ultimately crumble: I spent too much time poring over my essays devoted to the rhetoric of female orgasms, and Angeline just spent too much time gardening.