I worked in a suburban office compound building replete with floors and elevators and front deskmen and cube farms and conference rooms and soullessness and on our floor there was a bathroom and in that bathroom there were stalls and in one of those stalls was a chipped floor tile.
Falling into a diametrical opposite, into what is diametrically opposed to that out of which you’re trying to climb and separate from, not realizing the dialectical arrangement is itself the snare. Don’t mind the grammar here, it’s inessential.
The Cadillac got broken into and ended up in an auction. Just filled the tank that day. $39.67. Thought that was a lot but then thought one day it’ll seem dated, just an arbitrary side-marker of the times. Went there—to the auction—saw her, of all people, just said hello, and tried to get the car back but couldn’t provide documentation. Guy wouldn’t let me have it. Laughed at me for insisting it was mine. Thought: word counts for nothing. Been trying to get away from there though anyway, out of town, as usual.
Bearded young man, late twenties, early thirties, in a dark forest kind of green Marmot jacket and clashingly green cargo pants and green-brown knit hat with a brim sitting beside a blonde woman in a black top and gray pencil skirt and I wonder which is more uniform and what their first encounter was like. She’s to his left and they’re talking—though he talks most, fast but measured, full of intention—to another passenger, a man, older than either by a good twenty years, to the young man’s right, with straight, back-combed salt and pepper hair and an expression that says he’s heard shit like this and even his most genuine interest is ambiguous. He reminds me of Martin Sheen. Not perfectly, just something in the cheeks, the shape of the face, and I wonder how it is that we see people in others sometimes, known and strange. Martin wears a black coat, a neat-patterned button-down under a gray sweater, jeans, brown leather oxfords. A lull in the conversation ensues and all three check their phones in unison. The bearded young man continues his spiel, yammering about collateral, what’s different this year, sell, sell, sell, he says, and she looks on, at the ready. He’s so serious, full of himself. She’s so placid, pre-programmed. Then he busts out a box of brochures and their attitudes instantly align in perfect unison on an unspoken internal chorus of “yeah, show it to him, bust that shit out,” self-satisfaction radiating from them like stench as they inwardly acknowledge reaching this little scene in their little play, these little ancillary thespians. Martin takes the brochure he’s handed, turns it over and unfolds it politely and seems gracefully unimpressed.
If you wrote me a letter I promise I’d read the greeting and closing first at breakneck glancing speed and then scatter my way through the rest to shake it down sifting till all the pieces fit more or less stuck snug together and then maybe I’d write some poetic-esque reply that started out fine but turned calculated once the poetry ceased and I ran out. And there, there, you know what I’m all about.
Four hours later my flight came in on final to runway 9R all wild wobbly and drifting from what I’d no clue at the time was probably the wake vortex of the plane ahead of us and had to abort, wheels up, throttle, climb, and a collective hush in the cabin the only sense of sound besides my heartbeat and the voice of the contumeliously snotty twelve-ish-year-old and unrelated adult behind me gab-complaining about why we weren’t on the ground yet when he said prepare for landing “thirty minutes ago,” snarky and ungraciously arrogant, like their respective dads had told them too many times too believably that they were beautiful and brilliant while they jabbered on about everything they didn’t know, filled with judgment and confident misunderstanding while I missed the desert more than two thousand miles behind me and hoped we wouldn’t miss the runway on the next go round and be that next flight on the news that ended up in a river.
standing near the dark lounge’s entrance—all reds and blacks and shadow curtains—and the maître d’ weaves through to me; he glides on measured steps tuxedoed and slick haired blonde like wheat stalks, face cheekboned-high and clean straight-razor shaven with a shot of absinthe punch in each hand looking like glow sticks and I wonder split-second recollectively if that’s what’s in them, a broken-necked carnation boutonnière the only imperfection in his delivery and it’s the anomaly I singular notice as he hands me a phosphorescent vial and says a few graceful words of anachronistic flattery and suggestive sly insinuative charm like he’d just as soon undress me as shake my hand and I’m not sure what my mouth does but his smiles as if to cover for his eyes and our glasses tap and raise and then my mouth says “to…” after about a two-and-a-half-second pause which I hope he knows I noticed too and he says the same “to…” like he got me and looks me deep in the eye and I surrender my discomfort, just give it up, catching up with the moment and thinking as my sight turns inward and glass turns upward all I ever want is a little peace, like this, and then some more, and I’m not even asking so it can’t be too much and I don’t care if that wasn’t my toast it’s my wish and those are meant for silent inwards and upwards and the wormwood glow stick substance pours downward and I hope nicely naïve that I’ll lose my mind like they used to in Paris cafés and in the losing I’ll find it like I like to imagine they did, romanticized and at ease and none of it will seem so strange while I’ll be stranger than ever and call it all self-determination