My neighbor Gary is standing at his door, locking it and unlocking it over and over. He won’t get out of the way. We will never have enough time for him and his gay ass that we were praying had left for good to go to pride. He’s muttering back and forth to himself in his thoughts that I shouldn’t be hearing. As long as this is always my starting point, he says, then I know that I’ll be fine.

I’m standing here, comfortable in myself, watching him. I don’t depend on my writing to pay the bills, but it does take some weight off of my heart and mind. Gary is a sad sack human, but people in general aren’t awesome. There has to be an antidote, I think, to the sap their slinging saps from the goodness of myself, push in those overpuffed cheeks and release the tears that are too ready to burst from your eyes. It’s me, I’ll say, and I will never let you get back to regular programming. I am here to ruin TV for you. I’m that thing that you’re just seeing hanging from the rafters on the meat hooks. Let me feed your hunger for life, the only real hunger that there is.

Do you ever feel like you’ve lost your tied hands? What is the deal with that?

I like how once I’ve written, it’s like the pain has slipped away. I carry it with me, in my body, to the grave. Those of us who are lucky get separated. The amputation process can drive people a little nuts, especially those threatened for money. I mean, talk about killing children once or twice.

Manwell is standing there, looking hopeful, and I don’t have the heart to tell him that I’m not going to be able to go to the bay with him, but it’s not my fault. I’d go if my wife didn’t have a hold on my life. Don’t get me wrong, Manwell, I take my job very seriously. Consider me trapped, but I’m still coming through to you, right? I think that’s what she was trying to get across. I agree with her that it’s not right for me to use my paternity leave to come and visit you. She doesn’t understand why you can’t just come here. I mean, this place is a desert, and I know how much fonder you are of deserts than beaches, but, no, she says, what I mean is, you work at a damn bookstore; why can’t you just read there?

Like I said, she doesn’t understand the long and short of the situation.


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