Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Another little diddy: "Repent"

Naming a mystery as such defeats the purpose, don’t you think? You make a perfect specimen. Repent.

I know you can't face coming in every Monday night to this same bar. Nobody in their right mind, job or family, all alone in small numbers. Nobody talks. The music drones with the booze, drugs and a corner. Nobody music. A dark corner that eyes gradually adjust to. The same woman stands next to you. She reaches out and jabs your left arm quick like a sharp needle then painless. It's the same every Monday night you've come here. You come here every Monday night.

She runs to the empty dance floor, dances wild all over and over. Everyone watches then nobody then only walk-ins then nobody again.

You move to another available corner. The woman watches you. She never takes her eyes off. You watch her close enough to escape when she moves toward you. You move around so much that you dance. You are not dancing alone.

You were home after 3 A.M. You've been asleep five hours. Add your wife and three kids. Your left arm is bleeding. You must have rolled over on the cat. Unable to deal with more than one contrast at a time, start to forget everything: your dream and how your arm came to be that way. The blood is dry but without the usual red puffy periphery the cat gives you. If you had gotten it earlier, you didn't notice. The hint of a dream but not enough to recall. You leave for work. It doesn't occur to you that your job may not be there.

I am waiting for you at your office. You are getting on the elevator in the lobby. A young woman in very dark sunglasses stands uncomfortably close to you. She is smoking a cigarette. You cannot tolerate people who smoke. Smoking on an elevator? You get off on the fourteenth floor to walk up to your office on the eighteenth. As it is a shorter distance to travel, you grab the inside handrail, which makes your arm hurt. You move to the middle.

I am smoking the last cigarette of my pack when you walk in. Right behind you is the woman. She is from a messenger service. She has an envelope with your wallet, a pack of cigarettes and a note that I wrote. It says, "I found these in the back seat of my car. I see that you don't drive." You say, "I don't smoke." I leave, taking the cigarettes. It doesn't occur to you to wonder who I am until much later.

It is Monday. You're walking toward the bar. A fight across the street in a dark parking lot. Someone yelling for help. Perhaps a mugging. The yelling has stopped. You carry a pocket knife. A two-bladed Buck, long and sharp. You imagine what it would be like to use it on someone. Only in self-defense, of course, or coming to the aid of another. You imagine yourself compassionate.

Two kids with sunglasses run into you. Would have knocked you over had they not hit from both sides at the same time. You are dressed for a cooler night than it is. You take off your jacket, loosen your tie before you go in.

You walk over to the bar. Someone is standing in your corner. You don't really want to drink. You don't know what else to do. This woman for weeks.

Your left sleeve is wet. The bartender didn't seem to notice you are bleeding. You go to the john. Your shirt is not ripped. You roll up your sleeve. The wound is a deep puncture. You wash it off. The blood comes back just as fast as you get wipe it. The water makes it spread. You take some paper towels, put pressure on it.

You want to return to your corner of the bar. If someone is still standing there, you will wait until they leave.

Your arm feels numb. You are sleeping on it. The feeling comes back painful like needles but you doze off again.

I am waiting for you in your office. I offer you a cigarette. You decline. I ask you how your arm is.

I hand you your handkerchief. Your silk one. It is encrusted. I get up to leave and hand you the morning paper. I send the police to your office.

You swear you don't own silk.

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