Flânerie 2


And my further deliberations led me to the following: the single, solitary footprint in the field, the long trail of footprints abruptly ending in the middle of the street and, now, that circle of footprints on the white plain, together, form a triad.  1


He must be doing what the therapist has suggested. Mindfulness. “But you can have the last word,” he promises, doing his best to appear mature.
“My last words are: serial killer. His eyes were bullet holes!”
“There’s nothing wrong with his eyes.”
“Death row eyes!”
“Jesus!” Dan sprints ahead of me and he’s no sprinter. Then, winded, he waits up and turns around. “It used to be the odds that interested me. Favorites, long shots, Exactas. There are rules, but they’re always being broken. There’s order, but there’s chaos, too. You never stop learning: heart-rending races with big-hearted horses.”
“Poetic, dear. We really should walk more.”  2


I cut the corners off a fifty-dollar bill from the middle of my wallet, and settle in to watch whatever HBO plays next. It’s “Batman vs. Superman,” and by the time it’s over, the shower’s running cold, and the mirror looks like it’s crying. 3


The realtor had told her an old woman had lived alone in the house until her death, but she hadn’t told Suhaila the rest: that the old woman had died in her sleep in Suhaila’s master bedroom, that she had passed away in the very corner where Suhaila’s bed was now wedged against the wall. The woman had lain for days before a neighbor noticed six copies of the local paper on the step.  4


He turns back to the street. “Do you think I could jump this?” He points to the gap between the balcony and the building next door. Our townhouse is the last in the row, and the building next door is a three-storey apartment complex with a flat roof. He grips the railing, testing. “I would need to take a running start,” he says, “from the roof or something.”
I say, “No one’s allowed to die on my birthday.”
“You know, lots of people have already died on your birthday.” He hands me the cigar. I give it back and light a cigarette instead.  5


There was the clicking of hooves against the marble floor, and I thought, I will never feel as strange as this.  6


“I’m Dr. Fennel,” he said. “How can we help you today?”
“Well, like I told her, I lost my two front teeth during the night…”
“You’ll have to schedule an appointment with our denturist to discuss replacements.”
“But I have the teeth with me.” Arto opened his hand.
“Uh, yes well. There’s nothing we can do with them now.”
“You can’t, like, try to put them back in?”
“As I said, sir, you’d best talk to the denturist about that, and Ms. Bellows here can schedule a consultation for you.”
“Should I put them in milk or something till I do?”
“Talk to the denturist. And by the way, our rates are posted on the wall there. Study them closely.”
Arto glanced over the tables and figures. They made no sense to him. He suffered from undiagnosed dyslexia. He felt crushed. He walked out of the crowded clinic without booking the consultation. He held his hand to his mouth as he rushed back to the rooming house.  7


References and Links

Jiří Kratochvil, “Footprint III”

2  Barbara Bottner, “The Cartoon Wife”

Jeff Simonds, “Four Days After Carrie Fisher Died”

Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar, “The Peaceable Night”

Ellie Sawatzky, “So Long, Mary-Ann”

Peter Kispert, “Paid Vacation”

Salvatore Difalco, “The Teeth”

Photo Source



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