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.
When I recollect the incident, I can feel the bloody body of the bird striking my toes and hear the crunch of its bones under my bike wheels. I couldn’t get off my bike when I hit the animal, because a testy crowd of rush-hour bicyclists charged forward, so I kept cycling, practically hypnotized, still feeling the dead bird on my foot. When I got to the office, I saw the remains of feathers and blood and pus at the tip of my sandal and toes.
The clouds were rolling, as black as a moonless night. He might as well add this godforsaken day to the list. He knew how it would play out. If he ran late, he’d never catch up. Once again he glared at the banana truck. He could practically touch the brake lights, the truck slowing down at each bend, its overweight rear end waddling from side to side.