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Albino (part one)

I began writing Albino two million years ago. I had an editor then, who lived a few blocks away. We would meet for breakfast on Avenue A, quietly forking into home fries as we discussed the structure of the story - the economy of objects. A dollar bill was not just a dollar bill in this story, it was connected to thought and action, to music and transformation. This was the story that told me there was a whole book to dig into, mining for diamonds in the backwaters of America, turning over the ugliest rocks to better understand relationships between fathers and sons.

Last week, I stumbled across a call for submissions - not for a journal, but for a podcast where the work of new writers was read aloud. I thought back to a reading I had done of just the first few pages of Albino - a messy hero's journey,  a young man and a guitar, a man with loss and regret, a man that still had something to lose. That reading went well, enough that I felt a strange elation stepping off the stage i…

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 on his face. The tattooed man does not even say thank you to him. He rattles his hands against the windows instead, as we lurch through Sunday traffic not far from the White House. All at once he is standing, banging his hands on the door, his army fatigues sagging off of him.

Faces turn down. No one is looking at him any more, except out of the corner of their eye. We are all together in this, the raw nerve shouting, the tamed herd with hands folded in laps, money carefully tucked into pockets, shopping lists and sunglasses all in their places.

The bus does not stop, and the doors do not open as we are in the middle of an intersection. The tattooed man moans and sways. I think he is about to throw up, and I am convinced there is very little soda in that KFC cup. That familiar smell of vodka and cigarettes, of sweat and mud are drifting around him. And then all at once we idle into a station, the doors heave open and he stumbles out. I watch him, as he gazes up at a shopping center as if he has never seen one before. His knees buckle, he begins to lean towards people passing him. I go inside.

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