Guinness Is Good For You

I love beer. Maybe I shouldn't say that because if you say you love alcohol people get the wrong idea, but I love the taste of it, the smell, drinking with a friend, or just by myself, more likely. The last time I strayed from beer I had cheap gin and woke up in Brooklyn near the Prison Ship Martyr's Monument and Crypt with a nasty cut on my head and dried blood covering my face and jacket. That was years ago. I still have the scar. Now I just drink gluten-free beer by myself at my apartment with a helmet on and it's much safer.

Farmer Joe

I am a farmer. Not of fields or crops or vegetables or anything like that (I have terrible allergies) but a farmer of souls, so to speak. Well, not souls, really, just my own soul. I cultivate it, care-take, nurture, and harvest. I sing to it sometimes, just like farmers sing to their crops. I sleep in though; I can't get up at 4am. That bullshit is crazy.

Shower

I stood by the window.

A bird saw me and flew away.

I take a shower. I sing. Like the bird sang.

That Classic Nightmare Scenario

He was mistaken for someone else. It was always happening. One time he was arrested and returned to a psychiatric institution in Norway. They put him in a straight jacket with a mask, and one of the policeman kept calling him Hannibal. Are you hungry, Hannibal? the police officer whispered. After the police released him he found out they thought he was an escaped patient–a British man–who had killed his Norwegian family and eaten them. 

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Tiger

He invited her to London. They’d met salsa dancing. She loved London; she’d studied abroad there. They drove to Scotland. They ate haggis and he got drunk and threw up in the street. I feel like a local, he said, but there were no locals throwing up in the street. At Heathrow he gave her a ticket back to Philadelphia. I’m going to India, he said, to get married. He kissed her on the cheek and left.

The last man she’d dated committed suicide. They’d met in AA; he’d been a heroin addict. She sat and waited for her plane. On the news a ten-year-old girl had been raped and murdered in India. He was from the south of India, in Goa. It’s beautiful there, he’d said. Beaches, delicious food. You should come sometime. He said that the first night in London. He worked in Boston. He was only in Philly for a temporary assignment. She tried to meditate. A man sat next to her. He smelled familiar: a smell from her childhood. Her father was an alcoholic. When she was drinking like he had, she knew she needed to stop.

Do I know you? the man next to her said.
    She looked at him. No, I don’t think so, she said.
    The news said one of the men accused of raping the girl had hung himself in jail. She put her headphones on and listened to white noise. She said her mantra. She saw the back of his hands as they drove to Scotland. There was a scar on his left hand. When she’d touched it he smiled and said, A tiger. He came into our house one night when everyone was sleeping. I found him. I was trying to find a Snickers bar my father brought back from the States. I fought the tiger.
    Over a Snickers bar? she said.     
    I love Snickers, he said.
    God, you’re so brave, she said.
    Don’t come between me and a Snickers bar, he said.

The man sitting next to her put his hand on her thigh. I really do know you, he said.
    No, I don’t think so, she said. Sorry, my plane’s leaving.
    She got up and went to a bar. She ordered a Coke and sat next to a man wearing an Eagles football jersey. She looked at the TV: the girl had been trying to find a place to go to the bathroom when she’d been gang-raped.
    It’s seriously fucked up over there, the man in the jersey said. What the hell is going on? This is like the fifth rape of a ten-year-old girl in India in the past month. My niece is ten, and Jesus Christ, if anything like this happened to her, there’d be some fucking consequences, some fucking hell to pay. I can’t watch this shit it’s too much. Hey bartender, another whiskey over here.
    Only thing to do is drink, she said.
    That’s the truth. I’m taking your advice here. You’re American, thank God. Can’t stand these Brits. Pardon me, Excuse me, Oh Sorry. Jesus Christ: get some balls. I’ve never apologized for anything in my entire life. That’s my secret to success. There’s a reason we kicked their asses. The Brits. How’d they take over the world? With their goddamn tea? And their Sorrys? Get me me some coffee. A real man drinks coffee.
    Or whiskey, she said.
    You said it, young lady.
    He motioned at the television screen.
    My brother goes over there all the time, he said. Business. He’s told me some crazy shit. I don’t have anything against the people themselves and I’m not racist or anything, but their culture is just fucked up over there. It’s just a whole different way of thinking. Women are property, that’s it. They take the husbands first and last name when they get married. They’re nothing. They have no identity of their own. You marry them off at ten, eleven, do anything you want with them. Rape them, murder them, doesn’t matter. No one gives a shit. They only give a shit now because of the international community reacting. I’m Tiger, by the way. What’s your name?


My sister tells me all this. Well, mostly. I had to fill in the rest. She has a kid now. She’s married to a registered sex offender. No joke. I like the guy, actually. His name is Henry.
    He’s really good with Jason, she says. That’s their kid.
    I’d make a joke if it wasn’t my sister. That’s good is all I can say.
    They met in AA. Maybe try online dating, I want to say, to expand the pool of eligible gentleman. Not just a support group for alcoholics and addicts.
    I have questions for her, but I’m wary. I don’t want to scare her off. She disappeared before, when I was still living at home. I just needed some distance, she said when she called me after five years. She still doesn’t talk to our parents.
    I wanted to name him Tiger, she says, looking at Jason crawling on the carpet. I’ve always liked that name. I mean, the crazy guy in the airport almost ruined it for me, but still I like that name. Henry didn’t like it though.
    What Henry wants he gets. That’s what I’m discovering.
    My questions about Henry: What did he do? Abuse a child? An infant? A ten-year-old girl? Did he rape a woman? A man? Grab someone’s ass on the street? Can people change? Can sexuality change? Did he get my sister pregnant so he could have easy access to his next victim? Is my sister his victim? I say nothing.
    Do you want more coffee? she says.
    No, I say. Too much gives me heartburn.
    Tea? she says.
    Sure, some herbal tea, I say.
    Real men drink coffee, she says and smiles.
    In that case give me a whiskey, I say.
    Not a chance, she says.
    Jason cries.
    Time for someone’s nap, she says. She takes him to his room.
    I get up and put my mug in the sink. On the fridge is a picture of the three: mom, dad, baby boy, all smiling in front of a fake backdrop of clouds and blue sky. Happy baby, happy family.
    Are you happy? I say, when she comes into the kitchen.
    I’ve never been happier, she says.

Poems for Summer

Bought new shoelaces.
The happiest I was last summer.

                    ~

Dad and I play catch.
Then I cry in the bathroom.
I’m going to die.

                    ~

She made fun of the holes in
my socks. I took her bra off.
Handyman knocked on the door.

                   ~

We all spoke in tongues.
Pastor touched my head; I fell.
Holy Ghost got me.

                  ~

Ice cream melting in the sun.
I’m another day older.
Wipe your mouth, you goddamn child.

                 ~

“You want to stab me?
That will make my pussy wet.”
We smile; eyes meet.

                 ~

I watched a rope’s shadow on a brick wall.
Only memory of that summer.

                ~

I stroked her leg.
She slept.
Fireworks.

              ~

You have a reckless ass mouth.
You like boys or girls?
I just wanna have soooome fuuuuun.

             ~

Woman grabbed my ass.
Mmm, that ass! she said.
God, I’m irresistable.

            ~

A ray of sunshine
disguised as a thundercloud.
What she said I was.

Snip

The night we ran from the cops. Hanson’s wedding. He’s divorced now. His marriage was annulled. His wife was a stripper. A dark period of her life. No one knew except me. But that’s not why they divorced. Hanson decided he didn’t believe in the teachings of the Catholic Church–to which his wife was now devoted–and decided it was ethically wrong and irresponsible to bring children into this overpopulated, deteriorating, and honestly shitty world, that reason must overrule our biological imperative to propagate.
    Love is a tool of evolution, he said, to bring together two people to propagate and make sure they don’t abandon their children when they’re crying and shitting themselves at three am in the morning.
    His wife didn’t like this argument. They were using natural family planning, but she wanted children. She went to visit her parents; he got a vasectomy. When he told her she felt betrayed, to put it mildly. But that wasn’t what led to the divorce. He slept with a colleague. She became pregnant. It was his child.
    It’s about a one in a hundred chance, Hanson said, but she was on birth control too, so I pretty much fucking won the lottery.
    Sometimes the universe just says fuck you, I said.

His wife moved back in with her parents in Pennsylvania. She started a blog for Catholic women going through annulments. Hanson was co-parenting with the mother of his child. They were no longer involved.
    I know it’s going to sound sappy as shit, he said. And don’t ever tell my ex-wife, but this kid is the best thing to ever happen to me.

Hanson and his co-parent were assigned to work in Puerto Rico. I went back to Pennsylvania. I saw his ex-wife inside a Walmart. She was buying AngelSoft Toliet Paper. Expensive, but she deserved it. I bought her a few drinks at Chick’s.
    She lit a cigarette. He’s such a bullshitter, she said.
    She was a little drunk.
    The whole anti-Catholic thing, she said. I don’t believe in papal infallibility and I’m a Buddhist now, darling. It might be true but it’s all bullshit. He wanted to sleep with other women. That’s it. He asked me for an open relationship, can you fucking believe that? Just because I was a stripper for a month he thinks I’m down with anything? Like I’m going to pray the rosary and then have a threesome? He didn’t have the fucking balls to ask me for a divorce. He didn’t. That’s the whole story.
    We made out, knocking over a few Yuengling bottles in the process.

I moved to California. It was four am and I’d fallen asleep with a beer bottle in my hand. I woke up when I poured it on myself. That phrase was in my head: the night we ran from the cops. It was the night before his wedding. On the walk back to the hotel after the bar had closed we found an old factory. We climbed to the roof. Police sirens were suddenly all around us. We crawled over the rooftop and climbed down another ladder and ran from the cops. We heard them shouting behind us. When we got back to the hotel the sun was rising. We drank all the whiskey in the mini-fridge.
    Fuck it, Hanson said. He was lying back on his bed, his eyes closed. I’m going to join the Marines. No honeymoon. I’m going to Iraq. I want to be the first kid on my block with a confirmed kill. That’s all I ever wanted. Bang bang. I got him, sarge. I fucking got him.
    I went up to him and put my hands around his neck. His neck was smooth, almost soft. I squeezed. He opened his eyes. They were drunk eyes. I wanted to fill them with blood. I squeezed harder. I wanted them to pop out of his head. I wanted to take his skin and put it on me. I’d sew it back up. We’d switch places. I’d live his life, he’d live mine. I squeezed harder.

I had this fucking crazy nightmare, he said, as we drank coffee. You ever have nightmares?

St. Jean-Baptiste

She used to date priests. Not ordained priests, but those who decided after months of dating they had a vocation to the priesthood. Thomas joined the Nobertines, the order of our campus priest, who was very pleased with the decision. Sean joined a Benedictine Abbey in Oklahoma. Andrew, the Jesuits, but he always was dangerously liberal at our school. Her name was Mary Katharine St. Jean-Baptiste, also known as the priest-maker. I dated Mary Kate as well. Of course, that was before I became a Diocesan priest in the parish where we grew up together, where we had our first communion.

I heard she was in a convent. Later her sister said she been asked to leave and had been a “spoken word artist” in San Francisco. She was getting in trouble, her sister said. She was stealing things, little things, not that it mattered because a theft was a theft: toothpaste, nail clippers, lipstick. She’d been caught stealing a box of condoms. She was in love with a married man, her sister said. What should she say to Mary Kate? her sister asked me. This man’s wife refuses to have children, and so he’s going to get an annulment and they are going to get married. They’re going off to Mexico. He’s being transferred there for business.          I didn’t hear about her a while. Her sister said Mary Kate had gone to Mexico but not with the man, only to learn Spanish. But no one had heard from her in a long time. She was reported missing. She’d been in Durango, a dangerous town with drug violence. In this town she was looking for a woman who had visions of the Virgin Mary. If you prayed to Mary with this woman, the Virgin Mary would grant that prayer, whatever it was.
    I saw her. It was 2am and I was walking down my hallway to the bathroom. She was standing there, wearing a wedding dress. It’s our wedding day, she said. She walked down the hallway and downstairs. I followed her. She went out the front door and across the yard to the church. I unlocked the door and there she was, walking down the aisle. She kneeled up front and disappeared in a mist. That week I began to lose everything. My stapler, pens, notebooks, my collars, my cell phone, the homily I had printed out and put in my pocket, I’m sure of it. Everything was misplaced, gone. I tried to accept this as my just punishment. I had asked her to marry me. I said a mass for her intention. I baptized her sister’s daughter. They named the daughter after her. There was little hope she was alive, her sister said.
    I was laicized. I moved to Mexico, far from the violence. Sometimes I think about her when I take my kids to the beach, when I go to mass with them, when I say Hail Mary, which is rare, because I don’t believe in that anymore.

Tuxedo

I bought a tuxedo. I don’t know why. I don’t have any money. I have trouble paying my rent. But I just had this need for the tuxedo. I couldn’t help it. At night I wear my tuxedo and walk around. People take you seriously when you wear a tuxedo. You’re obviously important. I walk into a coffee shop and order a macchiato. I sit down. I’m having a break from my busy schedule. Just a few minutes to myself to have a delicious coffee. There are so many demands on my time. I look at my phone. I write a text. I have a thoughtful look. People rely on my texts. They rely on me. I look at my watch. Perhaps I’m waiting for my date to arrive. She is a beautiful woman, obviously. My phone rings. It’s my alarm. I answer it.
    Hello, darling, I say. I’m just finishing a few things at the office. Did you get my flowers? Of course, darling. I love you too. I’ll meet you at the theatre at 7:30. Don’t be late. I have another surprise for you. Yes, you’re going to love it. Happy anniversary, darling.
    I sip my coffee.
    My phone goes off again.
    Hi, darling, I say. You know I can’t tonight. I promised Eva. We’re seeing a play tonight. Listen, sweetie. Listen, calm down. I have to spend some nights with my wife. You know that. She’ll get suspicious otherwise, and we can’t have that…    
    I lower my voice.
    …not after she just signed the insurance papers. You know I want to be with you. There’s nothing I want more. But we have to be patient. Soon it will all be taken care of, and we’ll be together, and we won’t have to worry about money ever again. I love you too, darling. Bye. I’ll see you tomorrow. Yes, the usual place.
    I finish my coffee. I’m young, strong, resourceful. Women want me.
    I look at the girl sitting next to me. I know she overheard.     
    I’m going to be very rich soon, I say to her. Even more than I am now. I just have to get my hands a little bloody. You know what I mean, right? You can be rich too, if you get your hands a little bloody. What do you say, do you mind a little blood?

CARROT

from the archives

His name was Timothy but we called him Carrot because his hair was red. Later, behind his back, we called him Gimpy because he walked funny. A week after we moved to Virginia Beach, Carrot’s mom brought him and his sister Tiffany over to our house.
    “Hi, I’m Elizabeth,” she said when my mom opened the door. “We live just up the street. Welcome to the neighborhood!”
    Mom introduced us.
    Carrot looked at his feet. When his mom nudged him he asked if I wanted to go play football with him.
    "Oh that sounds nice, Joey,“ my mom said. "Would you like to go? Go on and play.”
    I went. At first I was scared because Carrot was the ugliest kid I’d ever seen. He had a big upturned nose and reddish skin with freckles, wild hair, and big teeth. The first thing Carrot said to me was: “You can call me Carrot. Everybody does. If you call me Timothy I’ll hit in you in the face. Naah, I’m kidding.”
    "Okay,“ I said.
    We walked over to get Carrot’s friend Justin and went to the park to play football. Carrot played quarterback since he had the strongest arm and could throw the furthest. I played receiver and was pretty good. We played the neighborhood boys and beat them. From then on, when Carrot picked me we usually won. When we got bored with football we played other games like Smear the Queer or Freeze. I didn’t like playing Smear the Queer. I liked playing Freeze since his sister Tiffany would play. Unlike her brother, she was pretty. I liked chasing her and making her freeze.
    That fall Carrot said to me,  "Hey, whatta you gonna be for Halloween?”
    "Nothing,“ I said.
    "Whatta you mean?”
    "We’re not allowed to have Halloween. My mom thinks it’s evil.“
    "So you don’t get candy or nothing?”
    I shook my head.
    Carrot and Justin laughed.
    "That’s stupid,“ Carrot said. "Your family is weird.”
    "Hey,“ Justin said. "Why does your dad duct tape his shoes?”
    My dad taped his running shoes because he couldn’t afford to buy new ones.
    "I don’t know,“ I said.
    The next day I was playing basketball with Justin in his driveway. Carrot wasn’t there.
    "Hey, do you think you could beat Carrot up?” Justin said.
    "What?“
    "Beat him up? Do you think you’re stronger than him? Carrot says he could beat you up.”
    "I don’t know, maybe I could.“
    "He said he could beat you up because he’s stronger and you’re a sissy.”
    "He said that?“
    "Yeah.”
    "No, I could beat him up,“ I said, scared.
    The next time I showed up to play football, Carrot was captain but he didn’t pick me. He picked Justin. The other captain picked me.
    They got the ball first and Carrot threw to Justin and they got a touchdown. Then, when Carrot was guarding me, Carrot was pushing me making it hard for me to run my pattern. They got the ball back. We played for a while and Carrot and Justin didn’t say anything to me. Near the end, we were up by a touchdown and it was 4th down and goal for Carrot’s team. Carrot acted like he was going to pass it but then tried to run it in. I saw him doing this and tackled him before he could make it in the end zone.
    "Asshole,” he said.
    I gave my team high fives and left for home. A few blocks from my house, Carrot came up behind me and pushed me to the ground. He jumped on me and drew his fist back. At that moment, Carrot’s older brother was walking by and grabbed Carrot as he was swinging his fist.
    As his brother dragged him away, Carrot yelled, “I can beat you up, sissy!”
    "Tim, shut up,“ his brother said.
    A few days later when Carrot was riding his bike down a hill the front tire came off because the bolts were loosened and he crashed into a tree and hurt his leg.

ANGEL

You do realize God has a plan for you. I know that. For a fact. I pray every night for you, sweetie. Every night I cry out to God for you. Show him your plan, I say. Show him your divine providence. You have to pray, sweetie. Tell me you’ll say a prayer tonight. You never know when the Lord’s going to call us home. Neither the hour or the day. And I want to see you on God’s path before I die.
    Uh-huh, I said.
    Tell me you’ll say a prayer tonight.     
    Okay, I’ll say a prayer.
    Thank you, sweetie. My time is almost up. I know the Lord’s going to call me home soon. He showed me a vision.
    What vision?
    I woke up and there was an angel hovering above me. It is prepared, he said. That’s what he said to me. He gave me a choice. I could go with him now, or I could return to my body and still do good on this earth. But only for a short time.
    What did he look like?
    He was the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen. He was light and peace and love. Once you see that, you know. You know that God exists, that He loves us. More than you ever know. Do you believe that, sweetie, that God loves us? Because he does. And when He takes me home I’m going to be up there praying for you, talking to Jesus for you. I’m going to be praying for you all the time, baby. Night and day. I’m going to see you up there with me. One day we’ll be together again. You and me, sweetie. Won’t that be wonderful, you and me, sweetie?

FANTASTIC

Fucking fantastic. That’s great news. I’m so happy for you. You must be so thrilled.
    I am.
    Have you told many people?   
    Only a few. You’re one of the first.
    Well, that’s great. God, so happy for you. When do you leave?
    Next month.
    Wow. Great. So great. You’re keeping your apartment?
    Yeah, you could sublet if you want.
    Oh no. That’s alright. I’m happy where I am.
    Where are you?
    Here, there, everywhere. I’m like a sparrow, flitting around on residential trees.
    We’ll give you a good rate if you change your mind.
    I like the freedom. I don’t want to be tied down. I like exploring different neighborhoods.
    Have you ever been to the Bronx?
    No.
    It’s not bad, really. Really not bad.
    Is that where you are now?   
    No, I’m in Chelsea.   
    Nice.   
    It’s only temporary. I like it. Suits me.
    Expensive, no?
    Money doesn’t concern me. I’ve moved beyond it. Once you stop thinking about it you realize it doesn’t matter.
    So you’re broke?
    Broke. Rich. It’s the same thing. I’m both.    
    I see. Hey, I have to be going. We should get a drink sometime.   
    I’m free now.   
    Sorry, I have to go.
    You can’t have a drink with me?
    No, sorry. I have to meet Sheila.   
    Who’s that?
    My girlfriend. You met her.   
    Was I drunk?
    Yes.
    Is she going with you to Rome?    
    Not sure yet. Maybe part of the time.
    I once spent a week in Roma. With Isabella. She was my French tutor. Iranian. Her French wasn’t very good but she knew more than me. She was studying nursing in Strasbourg, and we took the train together. She didn’t know English very well either. We just stared into each other’s eyes. I liked it when she talked to me in Farsi. It’s a very sexy language, Farsi. Kind of rough but sexy. Iranian women are sexy, wouldn’t you agree?
    I guess.     
    They are. More beautiful than any women in the world. Trust me on this. American women don’t even begin to compare. There’s absolutely no comparison. I don’t know how anyone can be  happy with an American girl, after you’ve gone international. Where’s Sheila from?
    Argentina.
    South American women. Always late. Weird father issues. If you don’t yell at them and order them around they won’t respect you. I’m sure you’ve found that out.     
    No, I haven’t.     
    Well, you will. Soon, my friend. You’ll find out. Trust me on this. If there’s one thing I know it’s women. I could write a book on it. The women of the world. I have to go. I’m meeting a friend. Talk to you later. Congratulations, again. I’m so fucking thrilled for you.

WHITE GIRLS

You know what, I dated white girls. They complain too much. They want everything, credit cards, gifts, dinners, everything. I was married to one for twelve years. She was in the army. Once she became a sergeant, everything changed. Once she got those stripes she wasn’t ever the same. You know what, I took those stripes and ripped them off. I had to show her. I threw them in the trash. To make a point. Stripes don’t make you shit. White girls are crazy. Get away from them. They’ll mess you up and leave you broke. You got a extra cigarette?
    We gave him a cigarette.
    He lit up and was quiet. He closed his eyes. Mmm, that’s good, he said. That’s real good. That’s a good cigarette. Sometimes you just need a cigarette, you know.
    Yeah, we said.
    I used to roll my own cigarettes, he said. I could roll with one hand. I used to roll for my wife. That’s how we met. I was sitting at the bar and rolling cigarettes and she asked if she could have one. I said it’d cost her a dollar. She said no, she ain’t paying for shit. I said she wasn’t getting a cigarette. She grabbed the cigarette and tore it up. Then she started crying and gave me two dollars, one for the ripped up cigarette and one for a new one. Her moods shifted when she was drinking. She came home with me. The next day we sat on the couch and rolled cigarettes and watched TV and smoked all day. I tried to teach her to roll but she was shit. It takes delicacy and a little patience and she doesn’t even come close to having any of those two.
    We said we’ve had a few days like that, sitting home and watching TV all day.
    I once watched TV for forty-eight hours straight, he said. She was in the Gulf War against Saddam Hussein. I was convinced that if I didn’t watch TV for forty-eight hours  straight she was going to die. She’d spontaneously combust, just blow up in a thousand pieces in that desert. Blood and guts everywhere. They send me her head in a bag home, if I was lucky. But the TV was sending me powerful energy waves, you know, the TV waves, when I looked directly at the TV. I couldn’t look away, or I lost the energy. I was sending those energy waves over to her in Iraq. It didn’t matter the distance. I was converting those energy waves and using my mind to send them to her. To project her. It was a shield of energy waves of protection around her, maintaining the integrity of her body. I did it. Forty-eight hours straight. I saved her life. I told her about it but she never said thank you. Can you believe that? Not saying thank you to someone who saved your life, who protected you from exploding? Is that so hard? Thank you, for saving my life. I would have exploded without you. That’s all I wanted, was a thank you.

XO

Kisses, she said. Oh hugs and kisses. I haven’t seen you in forever, John. Forever! How are you, really? Tell me. You don’t have to lie to me, John. Tell me how you’re doing. If you want to say shitty as hell, then say it. I won’t mind. Just tell me without thinking. You’re fine? After what happened to you? I’m glad to hear. I’m sure you’ve felt terrible for so long and now things are evening out. I’m glad to hear. If I were you I’d want a good long cry every day. But that’s me. I’m a big baby. 

I’d be sitting in my bed surrounded by snotty little tissues just wailing my heart out. If I ever lost Smitty, God forbid. But I’m glad you’re out and about. It’s good to see a movie. Take your mind off it. It’s good to forget. I’ve taken that to heart. I’ve been forgetting everything. But here’s the good thing about forgetting, darling. You might forget things you need or good memories, but you forget all the times you made a complete fool out of yourself. I had plenty of those memories, and boy am I glad to be rid of them. Up to a point.

My mother, oh God, my mother. Did I tell you? She has severe dementia. She doesn’t know who I am. That’s been difficult. And I feel so guilty. She’s all the way in Sacramento and I’m all the way here. Thank God for Randy. He still lives there. He’s such a sweet soul. God bless him. I don’t know why he never married. I asked him, Are you gay? Just tell me if you are. He said no. Some people are just bachelors. There’s just that bachelor “feel” about them. They’ll always be bachelors. That’s Randy. But he visits mama every week. I love him for that. What movie are you seeing? Oh that’s a good one. Saw that last week. It’s terrific. Let’s get coffee after. My treat. I have so much to tell you. Let me hug you one more time. It’s going to be okay. It’s all going to be okay, you know that right?

ANSEL

I want to take you to a coffee shop and seduce you. I was walking down the street when he said this. I have a boyfriend, I said.
    Don’t bring him, the man said. He was walking alongside of me. You’re a fast walker, he said.
    I have to be somewhere, I said.
    I know. Getting coffee with me. And you’re right on time.
    I’m meeting my boyfriend, I said. He’s big and he has tattoos.
    Did he just get out of prison? He was smiling.
    Yeah, for killing a man who was hitting on me.
    So it’s true, he said. Girls always go for the nice guys.

I went to 14th Street Bagels. I ordered an everything bagel with cream cheese. How you doing, baby? the cashier said. He had absurdly hairy arms. The hairs were black and curly. I wanted to touch them. Sort of. They also made me sick. I wondered if his whole body was covered like that.
    When are we gonna to get married? he said.
    I’ll just give my boyfriend some sleeping pills and we’ll go off to Vegas together.
    Anytime, baby. Anytime.
    I got my bagel and Snapple Iced Tea and went back to the office.
    Where were you? my boss said.
    Getting lunch, I said.
    Tell me when you’re going, he said.
    Alright, I said. Jesus. I sat down and unwrapped my bagel.
    He looked at me. Come eat in my office, he said.
    Why? I said.
    I want to tell you something.

I’m getting a divorce, he said.
    Oh, I said. Did you tell Clara?
    Clara was the receptionist.
    No, not yet, he said. I’m going to tell her tonight. I was going to surprise her. You think she’ll be surprised?
    Yeah, probably.
    It’s what she wanted, right?
    I guess, I said.
    He stood up and looked out the window. On his shelf was a picture of him and his wife and their daughter. Her daughter was bald in the picture. Bald babies always freak me out. They look like little concentration camp survivors.
    He was looking out the window. Everything is shit, he said. Just shit.

I got home. I opened up a can of chili. For some reason I was in the mood for chili. My phone rang. It was my mom.
    I was just going out the door when I realized that I hadn’t told you about Ansel.
    What about Ansel? I said. Ansel was my dog.
    Oh, so I didn’t tell you did I? I’ve been so busy I don’t know who I told what.
    What happened? Is he okay?
    He has to have a little surgery, sweetie. It’s not a big deal. It was a bad tooth infection and there was a little complication or something. They had no idea what was but now they do.  He was in so much pain, I felt terrible for the little guy.
    When is it going to happen? I said.
    Tomorrow.
    Alright. I hope he’s okay.
    Oh he’ll be fine, sweetie. I don’t want you to worry. It’s going to be okay.
    How is he now?
    Oh, he’s still doing pretty bad. He’s sleeping now, we gave him some pills.
    Okay, I hope he’s okay.
    Sweetie I have to rush out to Clarissa’s now but I’ll let you know how it goes love ya sweetie bye-bye!
    
I turned on the TV. It was Seinfeld. Ansel was going to die. I knew it. He was going to die. I started crying. He was going to die. He wouldn’t make it through the operation. I saw his furry dead body on the metal operating table. I got out some red wine and drank it. I felt worse. I wanted to hold him. I couldn’t stop crying. He was going to die, I knew it.