Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

more aborted beginnings

The face of the person was a shifting multiface that grew beards of every color and lost them again in moments and changed eye-colors and jutted and unjutted jawbones and warped and bent because it wasn’t just one face: the face of the person was every face.
I was sipping my coffee and watching the person. I couldn’t quite tell if the person was standing up or sitting down. The cafĂ© didn’t seem to notice. The barista cranked the espresso drinks out. The anonymous faces in business suits stepped up to the counter and sputtered out the advanced beverages that labeled their identity in milkfoam. The person with the constantly shifting features looked at me looking at the person.
“Hello,” I said.
The person smiled. The teeth went from underbite to overbite and back. A red beard sprouted around a woman’s face, and changed to a thin, mousy man with no beard at all. “You can see me, can’t you?”
“What are you?” I said.
“What do you think I am?” Blue eyes, green eyes, blonde hair, mongoloid, retarded in sweatpants, respectable suit and tie, Thai grandmother with a long blonde beard…
“I don’t know.”
“It’s very nice to meet you,” said the person. I noticed the voice was constant. It wasn’t a tenor, and it wasn’t an alto, but it was in the middle somewhere. “What is your name?”
“I’m Howard,” I said. “I bet you have a pretty weird name.”
“I don’t have a name, because I am not usually visible to the people who have names.” She carried a beverage over to me. She held it out to me. “Take this,” she said.
I took the cup. When my hands touched the waxed cardboard, it became a plain cappuccino – my preferred identity in milkfoam.
The person touched my face. “Drink up.”
Then, like nothing at all had happened, the amazing amorphous individual wandered into the street, down the street, around the corner.
Part of me wanted to stand up and run after the person. Most of me didn’t think I was sane enough to be crazy enough to chase after someone like that.
I looked down at the cup in my hand. I looked around at all these suits that seem to be the same person – just male, female and different ages.
I was in a corporate chain in the middle of Addison, TX. Driving up the tollway, the only thing you could see for miles are highrises and yuppie condominiums. I was the outsider here because I was only passing through on my way home from my sister’s house. I had gotten tired of driving, and I had decided to stop for a minute and type a few words to my sister’s publishers about how she was doing.
My sister was a very famous poet until she got sick. I was thinking about how I could describe organ failure at 34 to a bunch of people that loved the poetry that came from organ failure at 34. I didn’t give a shit about the poetry. I gave a shit about my sister who wasn’t going to be around to watch my little girls grow up to look just like her and me and my ex-wife.
Then, the person walked in like a physical manifestation of movable type. All the symbols got mixed up. All the identities twisted.
I didn’t drink the cappuccino.

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