Fragment (consider revising)


A friend says to you, “You should get out more.  You know?  Have a good time.  Our mutual friend (and my sexual partner) knows some people that you might enjoy being with.”

The friend says this while turning on the oozy eyes.  Pleading, is what you’d more accurately call it.  Rheumy is another way, but you aren’t quite sure why that adjective comes to mind (and suddenly you think of a dog long dead).  It is the kind of look you think you’d recognize if given by someone with whom you are close after you knock on their door.  “I’m being held hostage,” these eyes say.  “You can’t see the gun, but it is there.  Pointing at my head.  Right behind the door frame.  Smile, nod, chit-chat about work and such and accept when I say I’m super-busy, then walk away and get help.”

“I don’t want to do that.”  You say, forgoing that whole idle banter completely.  It was kind of dumb anyway; neither one of you have careers or pets or children.

“But… I don’t know.  Wouldn’t you say that you’re unhappy?”  Your friend shifts nervously.  Is he holding a twig and messing about with it?  Why is he so nervous?  This is how good cop and bad cop work really work; you muse; people have goals, but they shift from them so easily.  They just want something that makes sense.  To latch onto something that they can sink their teeth into.  Get behind.  Wrap their head around.  Some sort of idiom or cliche that just fucking makes sense to them.  Before there has always been a feeling like a blanket or shroud over your head, but now things seem smooth.  Or, at the very least, not-scratchy.

“I get up.  I have a bowl of cornflakes.  I go to work.”  You say, and you notice he’s stopped tracing circles in the ground with his stick, or his shoe, or whatever it is your friend does.  “I come home.  I eat some rice.  I watch late-night television.  Sometimes I laugh, occasionally I smile, but mostly I just sit there watching comedy shows.  Blankly.  Absorbing it.  Then I go to sleep.  Could you imagine sharing that with anyone, and not in the way we’ve just shared it, but actually sharing it second by second?”

“But that’s just it!  You’re lonely…” The friend says, forgetting all outside stimulus but you.  Excited about catching you, like some sort of trap was set with all those traced circles in the dust, and you’ve sprung it.  Perhaps it was a spell.

“I’m not.”

“But you are!  It shouldn’t be like that.  I mean, it shouldn’t be like you’re apart from…  you could go out to dinner!  We could go out to dinner with someone, see a movie…”

“A double-date?”

“Yes or no.  It could be, but…” and now the friend, your friend, turns inward.

“Could you imagine me doubled?  With a twin?  Because that’s what it would be.  We get up and each have a bowl of cornflakes.  Then we go to our respective jobs.  When we come home, we eat rice.  Then we watch late-night television…”

“C’mon, it’s more than that!  There’s… other things you’d do to pass the time.”


“That and other things.”

“Buying cornflakes and rice?  This is what happens.  Alone, I can maintain.  It’s functional.  Add another person into the mix and it will end up this way.  We become too alike.  Things that make us sometimes laugh turn into occasional smiles.  Eventually we just become more boring, stupid, and lazier than we used to be separate.  Eventually we give up on fighting and just watch the other become more boring, stupid, and lazy.”

“But then that could just describe you, couldn’t it?”



I have a pizza waiting for me.

This is what I tell myself, when I’m feeling the drunkiness, when I start to slosh and slope.  I am sitting outside a pizza place with a long line, a pizza place that caters to the after closing-time demographic with individual slices for cheap, and I put in an order for a whole XL pizza.  With pepperoni.

I think that I am happy about this.  I think that this pizza could last me days.  I hope that this pizza is good.  I think it was stupid to order pepperoni.

The line is enormous and they tell me the wait is 30 minutes and they ask me if I’m okay with that.  I nod, sagely, thinking that buying the whole thing is wiser than a slice.  I am wise.  I’m so much wiser and smarter and better than these fools just getting a slice of old, soggy crap.  They’re making a pizza just for me.  With pepperoni.

I sit outside absently nodding, but not really to music.  More to rhythm.  Cars go by way too fast here, turn their music up way too loud.  Usually I hate it, usually I have something to complain about.  Now I have something to nod to.  I also have a receipt.  I am not a ghost.  They know who I am.  I start counting the satisfied customers.  There’s a person walking out cramming a whole piece of pizza into their mouth.  They are trying to talk at the same time.  1.  Another person, same glitch.  2.  Why do people eat like this?  3.  I am nodding, sagely, and sitting in the little alcove the brick makes with the window, but from the outside.  There I can smoke.  I notice there are a lot of cigarette butts that look like mine.

“I ordered one already.  A whole pizza!”  I say to the people that try to stop me from cutting in line.  “I have a receipt!”  At the front, the guy… this boy glares at me.  “I have a receipt!  I’m just checking to see you haven’t forgotten about me!  I am sitting outside!”

“Yeah, we can see you.”  He says.  His friend, his partner in crime, his commiserator sells more slices.  Why are these people buying slices?  You could order a whole pizza and be so wise.  Be as wise as me.  “We’ll bring it out to you when its done.  It’ll be like 30 minutes.”  I nod sagely.

I wish I ordered sage on my pizza.  They don’t have sage.  They don’t have anything.  This place sucks.  The only thing that looked good was the pepperoni.

It takes another cigarette for me to realize that I might just have accidentally ordered another pizza.

“I’ve already ordered,” I say as I push.  “I don’t want a slice, I have a receipt for a whole pizza!  I’m not a ghost!  I am real!”

“Do you remember me?” I ask the boy.  This pizza boy.  “I ordered about 45 minutes ago and you said it’d be 30 minutes.  When I came in 30 minutes later, you told me it’d be another 30 minutes.  I just don’t want some sort of mistake to happen.  I have my receipt.”

“Yeah, I remember you.”  He says.  They continue to sell slices behind me.  I almost barf.

“I am not a ghost.”  I tell him, sagely.  With the wisest of intonations.

“Ha-ha… what?”

“I am not a ghost.  I have my receipt.”  Props speak louder than actions, so I hold up my payment-for-services-rendered contract.  “I will not be forgotten.  I will be outside, for I am a smoker.”

Pepperoni is so boring, I decide.  I wonder if anyone has made a beat centered around a person’s heart-rate and air-intake.  While they are running.

Then the bars close.

I watch the rush, the whoooosh, of people filing onto the street.  I perch onto my brick facade window and stop nodding.  Police are everywhere making sure the bars empty out.  Making sure everyone walks to the pizza place to get a slice before they stomp their way home, drunk-dialing and crying.

Why don’t people like gyros?  Where is my XL pepperoni pizza?  It should last me for days.

Some girls show up outside my post, not a gaggle, because it is just two.  They speak, and they are slurred.  Bobbing and nodding to some irregular, immediate, internal rhythm.

“That’s why I got that whole bottle of tequila.”  She slurs, but I hear it perfectly.  We sway together, me in shadows, her in stupidity.  “I was just ran so frayed at work today.”

I step down from my spot, hoping my shadow acts as slinkily and cool as I do.  Hoping they didn’t see me stumble.  “You mean ‘ragged’.”

Both girls stop and look at me.  I think I should bow, but that would make me fall over.  I think I should introduce myself in some way, or describe them, but then I’m not really so good at that either.  I think I should quote Shakespeare.  I nod sagely.

“No,” she argues.  “Everyone says ‘ragged,’ it’s boring.”

“It’s not boring.  It’s descriptive.  A shirt cuff gets frayed.  Or a stereo wire.  A dog’s chew toy is ragged.  So is a cigarette butt you find in the gutter.  Ragged denotes a sense of moisture, and in your case the sweat from your toils at work.  If you were just frayed, nobody would give a shit, because that meant you didn’t really work hard enough.  Or that you are a robot.”

And then I have a pizza.

On the way home, clutching my x-tra large box (and eating some, too), I bob in and out of alleyways.  Sometimes I sit down for long periods, and for no reason as I’m constantly telling myself to get up.  I feel a crying fit coming on, but it passes.  I laugh, loudly, at nothing at all.

I sit down on the curb and look up, pretending to swing on a swing.  I could jump off it.  I see it all; mascara and lip-liner being applied as ladies talk in bathrooms: “This date tonight is going to run me ragged.”  And then, the next day when it turns out to just be a one-night stand, “I just ended up frayed.”  The mascara and lip-liner stay the same.

I trip on a curb trying to stand up.


One Response to “Fragment (consider revising)”

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this piece of writing…

    “I am not a ghost!”

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