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Hey, Lyosha

There are prison tattoos on the backs of his hands. Faded, blotchy shapes and a finger that jabs at a phone. "Hey, Lyosha!" He shouts, as every face on the bus swings to him. There is no answer, no voice on the other side. "Lyosha." He says again, then stares angrily out the windows. I step on someone's foot by accident, apologizing quickly. The young man waves his hand as if to say I did not need to say anything. The man with the tattoos sips from a giant cup of soda from KFC that is balanced on the empty seat next to him.

We pass a hotel we used to live next to, where expensive escorts are ferried in and out like yachts in a harbor. There is a fresh line of flags snapping in a low wind, and an American one is curiously absent. Plenty of the businessmen behind those windows are from the states.

The man brandishes the phone and hands it to the young man in front of me. I did not see that one coming. The young man wipes invisible dust from it, a reserved frown …

Heaven is a place (where nothing ever happens)


There are days, wet and dark when the sun never comes out. The leaves are falling in silence. I am out in the street, hands shoved into warm pockets as the lights behind the windows glow from inside old apartments. The drapes are pulled closed, offering no glimpse of a kitchen table covered in plastic, no teapot, no steam, no plate of cookies. Fancy cars gun their engines on these twisted back streets. All at one once a throaty roar as they rush off to nowhere. Old men and women pull little carts on squeaky wheels, a plaid flap bouncing on top, inside a bag of potatoes, a package of herring, a tube of mayonnaise, maybe a small bottle of vodka.

Sometimes, the quiet feels suffocating. Sometimes it feels rare. Nothing happens here beyond a store closing, another taking its place. Maybe a market is selling wild honey. Maybe a tree falls down. Maybe the water will go up to our ankles for a day before it runs into the forest.

I hear the news of another shooting, this time in a small Texas town. I can imagine it is similar, that hushed little village. A place where you know the person that brings the mail, and who sells the milk. A place you might feel safe, because nothing happens there. Until it does.




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