Flânerie 8


He passes the carousel, the inflatables, the Fun House.  When the
base of the Ferris wheel comes into view, he’s surprised at the sight of
unfamiliar men by one of the tower supports, starting to break it down
with their own equipment.
He jolts into an unsteady run.  Ferris wheel thieves are something
he’s never considered.  1


They summit the clear plastic cup that holds the remnants of my milk tea, steadily growing in numbers and alarm. More and more keep coming — I cannot possibly guess from where — they seem to be produced by the very grass. Several willful ants stray from the cup and try to obtain me for the colony.  They are crawling on my bare feet, up my pant legs, through the wild reeds of my hair, some even cross the path of my pen on these pages — they are trying to keep me from writing this.  2

Photo Albums

Close-ups were replaced by Closer-ups: single feature shots. Photographers trained cameras on feet, knees, noses, shoulders, and hands. They dismantled babies frame by frame and then gave the pieces back to mothers who studied the remarkable detail. “Look! Her third toe is the longest of the bunch!” a mother pointed out. Upon hearing such exclamations, photographers wondered if mothers looked at their children at all except in photographs.
Then came the Even Closer-ups: eyelashes, a dimple, a mole, nostril shadows. Again, mothers and photographers lost babies in the pictures. This time they were right in front of the lens but completely absent in the final JPEG files of veins and hair follicles.  3


The priest lifted the silver cross from my forehead and touched it to his lips. He said the demon was gone but a monster remained. I spat blood in his face, accusing him of fake news, of failure to move on. He said if I loved my family, I’d get as far away from them as possible.
Afterwards, I tried to act normal but my wife refused to leave me alone with our daughters. A fortnight passed before I was allowed back in our bedroom and even then she wouldn’t let me see her naked, saying the way I looked at her made her uncomfortable. While she slept, I kissed the back of her neck where it curves into her shoulder and remembered the promises we made to each other on our wedding day. Then I licked my lips to savour the salty-sweet taste of her skin.
The night I bit her she said I had to go.  4

But the stage down in theatre’s heart was a sea-pool and the failing light made distances fluid so that Zoe thought she only had to reach out a hand, for her fingers to dip beneath mysteries, to decant shadows and show her … what? Faces? The curve of a cheek or an unbending arm? Stones and bones and sorrow, or perhaps an imprint left by old joy?
Her fingers wrapped themselves into mazes in her lap and Zoe breathed in time with the wind. It was not so much fear holding her in its grip, as a sense of falling.
‘You came back.’  5

Lawn Service

Townie boys with bamboo rakes scraped Hawthorne’s grassy common clean. Working for someone’s Uncle Ricco, saving up for a used Mustang to drag race till Uncle Sam dragged them off to fight in bamboo jungles. They’d whistle as you crossed their path, precisely because you were unattainable in the way that girls at a private boarding school were unattainable, like fur coats, soft and desirable but costing too much. 6


Though I’d never been more than passable as a clarinetist, I did have one skill: I can take in an entire score at once, visually, and hear the piece in my head. During undergrad, my friends would come to me the night before projects were due because I could tell with one glance whether a note was off in their counterpoint or whether there was too much going on in the brass.  7


Tom Gresham, “The Heir”

Megan Jacobs, “The Ants”

Lindsey Harding, “A Brief History of Baby Pictures”

Christopher Stanley, “Oymyakon”

Lorraine Wilson, “We Have Always Been Here”

Judith Kessler, “Falling Season”

Kelly Luce, “Two of Swords Counterpoint”

Photo source


Flânerie 7

Living Room

The stack of Pincos’s clothes were on the coffee table where Kay had put them. Kay lay down on the unruffled couch next to it, his head and ankles propped on the armrests. He folded his hands over his stomach. I could fall asleep, Kay thought. I won’t show up to class tomorrow. My students would chat for ten, fifteen minutes, then go home. The thought made Kay want to be there to see it, to hear their words and frustration. One student might remain throughout the class period, scribbling. Probably someone who isn’t always there, isn’t always on time. Someone who isn’t interested in learning to speak his or her mind in a new language.  1

“Theo smelled like you the other night.”
“What?” Pen is dumping the contents of her purse out onto the ground.
“Your perfume. Theo smelled like your perfume the other night.”
“Ack!” She pulls the single key from her skirt pocket. “Forgot I put it there,” she laughs, gathering all of her lipsticks, pennies, and tissues, and placing them back into her sack of a purse.
“Penelope, did you sleep with my husband?” I stand on the last item, a stuffed cow keychain she likes but won’t attach to her key.
“Are you fucking kidding me, Phoebe?” She looks up at me, but then turns to the cow underneath my foot. I push my boot down a little harder.
“He smelled like your perfume.”
“So you automatically assume he slept with me? You think I am the only woman who buys that perfume?”
“You are definitely one of a very few,” I retort. She pushes my boot with her fist, and pulls at the poor cow. It’s head tears off.  2


Named for Saddam’s favorite animal, the original plans called for tigers to roam the grounds and swim in the pool. Through a Chinese connection two tigers were flown in from the Shanghai Zoo. In the intense desert heat, their fur became patchy. They did nothing but sleep in the shade all day. They ate very little. Saddam was furious with his resident zoologist. He wanted powerful prowling tigers that would slink around the palace, eyes aglow, their claws clattering against the marble floor. But their skin draped off their bones like oversized mink coats. When the tigers died, the zoologist was driven out to the middle of the desert to suffer a fate similar to that of his erstwhile charges. For lack of having real-life tigers, Saddam had the palace decorated with full-size stuffed tigers, tiger hides, tiger teeth, tiger claws, tiger paintings, striped bed sheets and striped sofa covers. With the death of the tigers, the novelty of the tiger palace wore thin on Saddam, who visited it less and less. For his birthday, the Baghdad Zoo gifted their last remaining tiger to him. He appreciated the gesture but returned the animal.  3


What you wished and finally became true is dream, whereas what you never wished but eventually happened is destiny. During the passing of age and the turning of life, many years later, we raise our heads and here you are, again in front of us.  4

Used Car Lot

Once, Charlie had asked Laura what she’d do—if failure were impossible and money were no object ( and maybe if they’d saved the dope money…) And Laura had thought and thought. Finally she’d laughed and said, “I’d own a used-car dealership.”
Charlie had grinned. “Good money in that. I’ll do repairs for you. I’ll put on my best sharkskin suit and sell lots of cars for you.” They were sipping grape soda and taking turns running the bottle on their hot, summery skin.  It was Thursday, Mexican night, a dollar bag of tortilla chips and a fifty cent can of salsa.
“I don’t want to sell the cars, Charlie,” Laura had said, blushing. “I just want to drive them.”  5


Friends will make fun of you in the school parking lot. After a while, they will come to accept the things you say. At worst, they may blush and look away.
Friends will encourage you to down shots of Jägermeister and cultivate crushes.
Friends will say, isn’t so and so soooooooooooo cute, and I think he likes you.
Friends will say you’re lucky when a senior linebacker invites you to prom.
Friends will say you’re psycho when you turn down the senior for a circus-tent magic show.
But you will know better.
Aren’t you the one who wants to be a trapeze artist?
Aren’t you the one who wakes up with feathers stiff around your shoulder blades?
You are.
Yes, you are the one who ties herself to the headboard so that the girl with wings can’t do anything crazy. Like maybe fly the fuck away.  6


I bought those photographs – the entire album – for 70 euros at Place du Jeu de Balle in Brussels. Roma always said I didn’t know the value of money, and he was probably right. I don’t like flea markets; I prefer new, nice stuff. Roma’s the complete opposite, though. It was his fault that I spent my only free morning in Brussels at Jeu de Balle. It was dirty; there were nasty old people and tourists snooping through boxes of used dishes and books, shabby clothes hanging in the sun – when I was a kid, my family threw such rags away. No one even considered donating them to the poor. There was so much fur there for some reason, moth-eaten fox skins with empty eye sockets – it’s beyond me why the heck anyone would sew such a thing on their coat. All that junk was dearly priced: vendors, mostly old men, pretended they didn’t speak English, so market-goers, mostly people visiting the city, ultimately had to pay the asking price.  7


Jae Kim, “The Sloping Lawn”

Tiffany Jimenez, “What the Window Showed Me”

Dan Moreau, “The Palaces of Saddam Hussein”

Sieghard Jiang, “Years Later”

Kate Berrien, “Love (But No Money)”

Alina Stefanescu, “If You Want to Be a Trapeze Artist”

Kateryna Babkina, “Happy Naked People”


Flânerie 6

Test Kitchen

“So what would you create using Merguez?”
He glanced at her and then looked away. “Merguez?” he repeated.
“Yes, how would the Futurists cook a Merguez?”
“The Futurists?” he said with a grin. “I think they would prop one upright in a cup of cafe au lait with anchovy stuffed dates scattered around the edges and spray the plate with cologne.”
“Cologne,” she repeated.
“We could use your Samsara,” he suggested with another crooked grin. “We would work in the scent of the crushed rose petals.”  1


But this flirt alert also comes with a Code Orange blurt alert. From Sunday, December 3 until the 22nd, messenger Mercury flips retrograde, also in Sagittarius and your communication sector. This double-whammy could mess with your gift of gab and throw you off your social media game.xiv

xivThis might be urging us not to mention our budding obsession Kathryn the vet-tech to any of our few remaining platonic pals. We will attempt to hold out on doing this not simply to obey but because we have a proven track record of mentioning possible future desired realities only to have them dissipate or, rather, never come to any kind of fruition only to then be tasked with explaining ourselves. Thankfully, however, we are without a social media game that could be thrown off by any of our actions. Having a social media game would be an example of being too close.  2


The bedroom ceiling is ridiculous. Frank’s grandma had the moldings put in when she bought it in the fifties. There is a crown of roses around the lightbulb, and a crown of roses around that. Garlands float out to the corners and drift down the walls. My bridesmaids drift out to the corners of a golden swimming pool. I float between the four of them and we dip and turn as one. Dip, dip, turn. I dip better than Hayden. The water ripples around me. I am bright like a flower and it is sunny and we are all being filmed from above. There is a crown of roses around my veil and a crown of roses around that.  3

Missing Person

I write about my day and post it on a forum. The thread gets more replies than anything I’ve ever written. Most people don’t believe me. They don’t understand how I could not have childhood photos. They say the police would have disclosed more information, that a DNA test takes two to three weeks. They demand to know more about my mother. They destroy her with words. They call me a liar, unloved, and tell me I should kill myself.  4


She photographed Harlem at its lowest, its burned-out shell: the vials on the playground, buildings on fire, pregnant junkies nodding off on park benches—she took a picture of my friend Kenneth Rudolph after he’d been electrocuted. He’d been trying to tap into a power line because his lights had been cut. Estelle took a lot of heat for that. No pun.
After that she went back to self-portraits: Estelle’s Track Marks, 1984. Estelle with John, 1985. Estelle begs for Change, 1986. She didn’t have a story to tell so she started using, and retold a familiar one.  5


“I want to go to college so I can get a good job in a hotel. If I can get a good job in Phnom Penh, then I can have my own apartment. And with the rest of the money, I can help my parents.” She dispenses all the information with a cheery demeanor.
I have more questions, and she fills me in on the details of her life. “And Saran, may I ask, do you ever go to the Khmer Rouge memorial next door? Do you know what happened in that time?”
“No, that’s the past. I’m very young” she chirps brightly.
“Do they teach you about it in school?”
“Not really. Only a little.”
“What do they say?”
“It’s Vietnam’s fault. They did everything. And China.”  6


The Renaissance Face is not easy. Brenda has to picture the beautiful girls from Art History, both in the paintings and the ones who chewed on their sorority pens. Brenda is not, by default, cherubic. To get the Ren Face, she looks at the track lighting, imagining an angel looking down, draped among the twenty-watt bulbs in linen banners, pushing aside a feathery cloud to see Brenda’s—no, Belloza’s—Brenda is not a Renaissance name—glowing face. Thirty seconds. Brenda pushes a bit of fear, a bit of worry, and a lot of holiness into her face. The Ren Face is not much of anything but manically peaceful: beatific. The Ren Face goes with everything because it manages to look a little sexy, a little depressed, and a lot vulnerable. The Ren Face alone should guarantee martyrdom, if sustained for a minute. Sixty seconds.  7


Karen Cantrell, “The Deconstruction”

Joseph Goosey, “Week One of Our Asserted Future, Annotated”

Nina Ellis, “Texas Is Not a Desert”

Hal Walling, “You Haven’t Won Anything Yet”

Maisy Card, “Estelle’s Black Eye”

Mark Knego, “No One Remembers the Khmer Rouge”

Diana Smith Bolton, “Tuesday Night Figure Drawing at the Community Center”

Photo source


Flânerie 5


Frumpy jewelry. The bitter taste of yesterday’s lipstick. Thinning mascara accentuating the bags under my eyes. Mottled foundation. Amalgamation of artifices. An aerosol cloud of faded perfume. Dehydration. Old coffee in a styrofoam cup. Ashtray palette. The tart smell of saliva and the proliferation of bacteria between my gums and teeth. A tingling pocket of halitosis sealed inside the prison of my scorched mouth by weary jaws. Misfiring axons hanging from fried dendrites like defective dreamcatchers.  1


Once all the smell of burned hair was gone, the meat started releasing a pleasant smell of carne asada, which made some of the witnesses hungry. But after a while the smell of burned meat scared the few remaining spectators. For a few hours, Doña Matilde poked with a stick the carcass to make sure everything burned. When only the ashes and some of the larger bones remained, she swept them into a pile. A few months ago someone gave her a black garbage bag. Doña Matilde didn’t remember who, because she didn’t care. She was saving it for a special occasion, since it was thicker than any other bag she ever owned. With her hands, she carefully placed the bones and the ashes into the black plastic bag. After methodically collecting everything, Doña Matilde carried the black bag as if it were a baby, and placed it next to her bed. That night, for the first time in decades, Doña Matilde slept deeply with the notion that she wasn’t alone in her home any more.  2


“You aimin’ to do the work of a man, yet you thank you cain act like a child right now. Let me get you in on a secret, you ain’t never goin’ to feel better after takin’ a revenge.’
“You might not, but I will.”
“You thank you hate him right?”
“I know I hate him.”
“You ain’t even old ‘nuff to know the true hate. Child’s hate ain’t nothin’ close to real hate.”
“How do you know? You ain’t me. You don’t know what I’m feeling, if it’s real or not. All you got is your opinion.”
“I got an opinion backed by forty years’ experience you lil’ jackass. You got one that’s barely even left the womb.”  3


David stared out at the Basin spring watching the stream meet a boulder, split, and then merge on the other side. The waves smacked against the high bank. The rippling water shadowed David. He shivered as a wind gust slapped him. The tree he was standing under began to creak as though something was weighing on it. David looked up and cringed, frightened by what he saw. He could see the spirit that had invaded him. Its body hung right above him from the gnarled tree branch swaying, then, as the wind died down, slowed and turned and faced in his direction. It was Jonathan’s father Benjamin. He began dropping pieces of his life in front of David.  4


Later, Rich will miss the hotel’s starched bed sheets, the balcony from which he admired a strip of ocean, the bright oriel window, the paper delivered to his door, the stiff melon triangles arranged beside his morning coffee, the breakfast cart wheeled to the end of the bed, sheets flung over the footboard during a fitful night’s sleep, newspaper well-leafed under another cup of coffee—he will miss these luxuries, but not enough to return to them. There will be a time in Rich’s life when he will only dimly remember the name of the hotel, the month in which he stayed, the events of his life that surrounded his trip. He will revisit this city, certainly, but never the hotel itself. The hotel will host numerous visitors for decades after Rich’s trip, but, like many beachfront properties, one day close its doors to the encroaching sea, beach diminishing until dark waves lap at the hotel walls, the flooded city just another part of the ocean’s continental shelf.  5


We’re going up, up, up.
We don’t have enough momentum to go anywhere. Not really. This — wherever this is — it’ll lose its hold on us. Soon enough. But with bolts of light under my feet, with Jordan still here, and with enough fuel to stay suspended for however long, we’re not going anywhere.
Not for a while.
The Beyond can wait.  6


The most reassuring forms of animal locomotion belong to the symmetrically four-legged. Dogs, horses, and sheep hit the ground with each hoof or paw in a prescribed rhythm, either in pairs front back or the opposed corners. Their gaits can be classified ambling, loping, cantering and so on, a nomenclature related to the pattern of foot fall and the height and force of impact, resulting in speed or slowness, hurry or relaxed moving around the earth. When this kind of four-legged animal comes to a stop, its feet stand planted like a desk or a dresser. Both the motion and cease of motion of these animals we most keep near us assure us of order and domesticity.  7


Oliver Lodge, “Autopilot”

byroN José Sun, “Nudo de la Soledad”

Timothy Urban, “Before the Diner”

Allen M. Price, “Needles of Pine”

Erinrose Mager, “Moorish Architecture”

Nick Gregorio, “The Beyond”

Angela Woodward, “Prose Suite, from Declarations and Observations

Photo credit


Flânerie 4


Ms. Apuzzo had asked us to address spatial language. But what I experienced in this room was the absence of spaces. What kind of places had these animals guarded? Maybe the place had been desertlike but surely it did not look like the deserts on the news. The temples these guards had protected were long fallen, the landscape these two knew long changed. It might happen all at once or over decades, but landscapes changed all the time. Parts of cities were destroyed, then rebuilt, then changed utterly. Eventually even the guards were destroyed, lost, or forgotten. Eventually new people showed up and stood around and took notes on the remains. I thought of my father’s parents. Perhaps my father’s parents, when they first met after the war, had been forced by tragedy to let their guards down with one another, had catalogued their losses together, and fallen in love that way. Their how-we-met story seemed newly beautiful to me, standing here. I stepped closer to one of the lion-bull creatures, looked up at its human face again. Its eyes were blank, pupilless, yet not altogether empty.  1


His interest in cards began as a boy, when his father’s friend removed a pack from his pocket and set it on the table before Anselmus. The deck itself, which the man proceeded to shuffle, was perfectly ordinary. What was remarkable was what he did with it: following the shuffle and a final cut, he began turning the cards over, one after the other, as if turning over the pages of a book where a story was unfolding, an improvised tale of two princes on a quest for the three-jeweled crown of an ancient king; and of the queen and jester they met at a seven-towered castle after a five-day journey through a dark forest… a wondrous story built from randomness, the deck a book with 52 illustrations that would never tell the same tale again. It was only years later that, while speaking with his father, Anselmus learned the truth: the shuffle had been false, the order of the cards and the resulting story memorized, the entire thing a kind of parlor trick the friend had performed every chance he got. Anselmus’s father exposed his friend with relish, as if eager to awaken his son, already a budding collector, to the deceit that had given birth to his foolish pursuit, but by this time, however much Anselmus might have been disillusioned, the cards had already begun to take on meaning for him that couldn’t be destroyed by any such revelation.  2

The Other Side
“On the other side. Over there when I sit for a meal it is in a
grand hall, on soft velvet chairs. I eat from fine china and silver.
There are proper beds in the chambers, there.” Her eyes close as
she recalls the blueprint of the house she says she comes from.  3


Mid-morning, we’re crisp and forgotten, my severed hand draped across her missing back—beautiful, American.  4

I was thinking of asking her to teach me but I’ve already asked her plenty and truth be told was never any good at remembering rules. It used to drive her mother nuts. Every time we played cards, I’d screw up the game by playing by the wrong rule. If we played poker, I’d yell gin and throw down my cards. If we played old maid, I’d keep telling everyone to “go fish.” Driving her nuts, for me, was the best part of the games. Fucking with her was my royal flush.  5

The Other Side

So soon. So soon. There was no time to ready myself. Who would have thought this crossing would come so soon?


The dentist remarks on what a good patient I am being. His hands are in my mouth. My fear keeps me compliant. My limbic system divided. I could not be here. I could not be elsewhere.  7


Lee Conell, “Here, Beauties”

S.P. Tenhoff, “Some Notes on the Geerts Manuscript”

Brian Schulz, “Rain”

Ron Riekki, “PTSD”

Kent Kosack, “The Mannequin Game”

Jacqueline Doyle, “Five Rivers in Hades”

Sade LaNay, “Entry 038::After Ash Wednesday>>Moon Quincunx Pluto”

Photo Source

Flânerie 3


She hadn’t had any particular feelings about classical music then, hardly did even now, but had always gotten a vaguely erotic thrill from watching people do things they were very good at. It never mattered what the things were, the mastery was what did her in. She had once fallen momentarily but completely in love with an excavator operator, who let a cigarette dangle from his lip while he moved the digger’s claw through the dirt so gracefully it seemed more animal than machine . It had been a long time since she had seen anything like that, though. There wasn’t much building happening anymore. There wasn’t much expertise either, now that she thought of it.  1


The coffin emerged from the mortuary, borne on the strong shoulders of grandsons and neighbours. It was slid into the back of the hearse. I adapted the demeanour of a character I’d seen in a film who had mastered a deadpan expression. The line of the cheek-bone is taut, the small lips are pursed. The pupils in the blue-grey eyes penetrate the gloom. Are you going for a pint, Harry the Hat asked? Can a swim duck, as the great man said, I said, but later, in some strange confusion found myself alone.  2


And part of me needs to believe this: that deep in the American deserts, a caravan of camels lumber through the pitch night, unencumbered by humans, no longer burdened by us at all.  3


The Russian alphabet is comprised of foreign signs that only foreign men can interpret. Moscow. It is a heavy word, I think, like gray rock, or hard skin. Russia, land of churches and cloisters. Where they flogged themselves in naked cellars and called out for their savior in an incomprehensible tongue and without music. Holy Russia. Ivan the Terrible, murdered in a cloister, in front of an altar. Icons, flickering candles. Outside, the winter gloaming, the winter storm and the endless steppe. But across the steppe, troikas of men lashing violently with their whips in a halfway-upright stance.  4


“It almost sounded like fear.”
The light of the train came bearing down on them out of the darkness. They stepped closer to the edge of the platform.
“You don’t forget what that sounds like.”
“I hear you.”
“Yeah, I know you do.”
They watched as the train slowed to a stop. When the doors opened, the two men climbed aboard.
“It sounds like a siren. Or a baby crying.”
They disappeared into the warm car. They kept talking about what it sounded like.  5


After she left, I started thinking a lot about Kafka. I felt I had to deserve him. I started dressing a little more conservatively. I tried to make myself scarce and to be deferential. I argued with my father. I exercised in front of open windows. I started rooting for the underdog. That’s how I met the new girl.
Since I found myself with so much time on my hands (sans-girlfriend), I started watching movies that were nominated for Oscars but didn’t win. It felt like a mustache-appropriate hobby. Melanie and I both reached for The Birds at the same time. I could’ve let it go, but I had to see where the story would lead. I told her about my loser-movie marathon.
The Birds wasn’t nominated for Best Picture,” she said. We discussed the ones that were that year and settled on How the West Was Won. The movie was so long I couldn’t make it to the end before I had to tell her about Kafka’s mustache.
“It’s wild,” she said. “Can you imagine. Whose beard do you have under there?”
I didn’t want to think about that.  6


In the high school’s parking lot I see two cop cars by the gate. At first I think they’re looking at my beard, but then I realize I’m wrong. My beard is not as big as I thought it was.  7


Amy Shearn, “New City”

Edward McWhinney, “Prayers”

Robert James Russell, “Weird West”

Dag Solstad, “Moscow”

Paul Krenshaw, “Last Train”

Ben Black, “Kafka’s Mustache

Eric Braun, “My Beard”

Photo Source


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