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every other man

The light outside the main entrance to our building has gone out again. The heavy metal door swings wide as I pull a hat down over my ears. In the darkness there are maybe twenty teenagers standing still. My boot scrapes across the ground, slowing down. Their hands in pockets, shoulders hunched, I look for a space to pass between them. A voice appears, saying hello in English, with an obvious accent. I am all instinct, sayingpivyet as I pass, not looking back, wondering who said this. There was a boy that was an extra in Blackbetty that lives in our building, but he is too young, too short for it to have been him.

I look back, navigating the puddles in the street. It does not make any sense.

N is with V, making their way home. I meet them, pulling V into my arms as she chatters about her day, about dry leaves and princesses, about her grandmother's apartment and what she ate there. We are going back home, and I try to explain the odd collection that stands outside. As we pass th…

forget the eggs

On Sunday just before two I turn into the courtyard. A black Mercedes sedan is idling, then rolls lazily past the side gate. The details are all achingly familiar to me - each bench, each dappled path, where to throw out garbage. I feel nothing for this place, no sentimentality, no nostalgia, not even anger or disgust. It is simply where we lived seven years ago, and where E spends some of her Saturday nights. 

It is empty. A blank piece of paper nothing will be written on.

I look up at the balcony but E is not there. Sometimes she waits for me, hand ready to wave when I emerge from the parked cars. She must be packing up her computer, and those new headphones. 

I stand at the outside door, about to buzz and a hand sweeps in front of me. The arm is long and skinny, hairy. It is one of the neighbors. He has a habit of being dramatic like this. He stands in the street in nothing but a bathrobe, the fuzzy belt hanging lose, barely keeping it closed, no shirt underneath. I remember the first time I shared an elevator ride with him, his oily black hair, his giant brown eyes bloodshot and yellowing, his pointy slippers, the way he waited for me to have some eye contact and how he enjoyed that. 

Today he is in rare form, a carton of milk in one hand and a bag of eggs dangling below it. In Russia, egg cartons are some kind of luxury, only for buying eggs in the supermarket. If you buy them close to home, they simply put them in a thin plastic bag. He smiles, half of his giant gold teeth flashing in the hallway. His hips sway. The bathrobe is getting old, and looks like he washed it with the wrong things too many times, mousy now. I wonder if he is stoned. 

And then I understand, he does not remember me. This is the show for first encounters. 

I jab at the button in the elevator for the second floor and get out. I don't need to relive anything else so I take the stairs.









Comments

Joshua Alemany said…
The best decisions you make in life are the ones to move on. Sometimes they are joyous events, sometimes poignantly sad, and sometimes just necessary. You seem to be moving forward happily and with optimism Marco. The past is just that, passed. Enjoy your future and your present. As always, thanks for sharing. Peace. J
oldswimmer said…
Groan. The photo certainly gives an aroma to all of the "ambience." Wish you had showed us your daughter waiting at your safe cubby upstairs. Great writing.
Annie said…
Oh, what a wonderful character! Checkhov or Gogol could not have described him more perfectly.

I was reading about your eggs - how they still have their natural coating, so you don't have to refrigerate them. Nice.

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