Not Quite Dating but Certainly a Mugging

[This piece was written and performed for a live audience in 2013 – I found it written out on a folded piece of paper in my coat pocket]

 

Eduardo and I had been going steady for about two months. Well, maybe not going steady, and you really couldn’t call it dating because we never really went on any dates, and we didn’t actually know each each other that well. I don’t know what you’d call it, it was more like… I would hang out at his coffee shop during the day, and by the night’s end, he’d be in my bed. He never really stayed there though, he lived across the balcony and would go home to sleep. What do you call it when you aren’t quite dating your neighbor/Latin lover? I guess it doesn’t matter. We did go on a walk once though.

After locking up the cafe late one summer night we decided to take a walk along the shore of Lake Michigan, I remember the breeze felt good on my face. Eduardo and I attempted to hold hands, but that wasn’t really who we were together, so we just talked, hands in our pockets.

What we realized then was that we didn’t even speak the same language. I mean, we both spoke English marginally well, I just mean, I spoke… still speak… like the world is held together with glitter and spiderweb silk; and well, Eduardo, he was a pragmatist.

Low on conversation and not even remotely in love, we did that one thing that we knew best; We made out, in the dark, on the shore, with the breeze against our backs; It was glorious. There was another couple maybe twenty feet away that looked to be doing the same, occasionally one of their heads would pop up like a prairie dog and look in our direction, then they’d lay back down and roll together with the waves. Chicago summer nights are enchantingly weird that way.

We were closing in on midnight when we decided to leave the beach. Walking back to my car we passed the couple who were next to us on the shore, two men in black hoodies. I got a chill up my spine, only this chill wasn’t the kind that’s an ode’ to love on a strange Chicago night, this chill was straight up fear. The couple turned around and followed us just moments after we passed them.

That’s when I felt what I would later come to realize was the chilly steel barrel of a 9mm against my temple. It really is cold, it’s the first thing you notice before you start to panic. We were being held up, not only that, we were being held up by a couple of dudes that a few moments earlier had been watching Eduardo and I all hot and heavy on the beach. My cheeks burned with embarrassment and my heart raced. Holy shit. Were we really being mugged by the prairie dog couple?

I don’t remember everything, but I remember they sounded scared, I picked up on that and it confused me. THEY were the ones with guns. I remember they pulled on the hem of my shirt and demanded everything in my pockets. I was infuriated with them. I actually yelled at them “You have guns, you don’t have to pull on my clothes to get me to do what you want, back off!” – and they did. Then they took my car keys, my cell phone, my drivers license, and my bank card. From Eduardo, they took $600 cash.

With the gun still on my temple, they asked me to take off my shoes, turn around, and run into the trees. You think facing a gun is unnerving, take a few minutes to think about knowing it’s there pointing at the back of your head and not seeing what was happening on the other end. Will I live? Will I die? Will a bullet get lodged into my brain? Are they planning on hurting me? Will the prairie dog guys kill my neighbor/Latin lover that I’m technically not dating? Why did they take my shoes?

Eduardo ran into the thicket and then I did, the grass was cool against my feet. We waited for what felt like hours. Then he whispered “Melissa, I think they ran away” and I swear to you that sounded better than any admission of love I’d ever heard before or since.

We walked the two miles home barefoot and in shock. We laid in my bed and tried to sort out what came next. To be honest, that’s not true, we didn’t actually sort anything. When we got back to my place we had incredible adrenaline fueled “we could have been killed” sex. It was the first and only time that Eduardo stayed all night in my bed.

In the morning I realized my bank card was FDIC insured and whatever the muggers had taken I could get back, so I called the police. They sent an officer over to take my statement, annoyed I hadn’t called them right after the crime. Eduardo wanted no part of it, I don’t know why – maybe he had a criminal history, maybe he was in the country illegally, maybe he just wanted a shower. Like I said, I didn’t really know him that well.

Ninja Parlor Tricks

It was a mistake to make a parlor trick of her wall walking, the ninja thought, now people thrilled at the silent sound of her footfall before she dispatch them. They died with delight in their eyes, her employers wouldn’t like that.

Still, the party had been extremely edifying for the ninja. It was nice to be seen and appreciated for a change. “There’s always such a clamor for the world to recognize and appreciate service workers… aren’t I performing a valuable service?” she thought. She slipped under the fence undetected by the dogs and motion sensors.

“But even the service workers unions didn’t recognize ninjas. Aren’t ninjas in your service as well?” she asked this rhetorically of herself in the silence between entering the shed and beheading the gardener.

She sprinted home across ridgepoles and rooftops, anticipating the night ahead of her. Giddy off the thought of being seen and  admired by strangers. She laughed when she thought of ninja service unions and ninja strikes – silently of course, she was a very good ninja, and she was on the clock.

Your Protagonist is a Shadow

Your protagonist has a broken wing, your protagonist is dying, your protagonist is idolized by a race that lived in the edges of your shadow.

Your protagonist is shadow, your protagonist eats shadow, your protagonist is a carnival of black auroras. Your protagonist is writers block.

Your protagonist is writing. Your protagonist is flying. Your protagonist is nobody’s hero so just fucking forget the plot already.

Your protagonist is a wolf, your protagonist is a bird, your protagonist lives deep in the wooded glen near all your childhood memories.

Your protagonist hates your mother, your protagonist is your mother, your mother lives on edges of the shadows of your protagonist’s climax.

Your climax is a lie, your climax is rubbish, your protagonist hates your climax, your protagonist is your climax, your protagonist is a lie.

Your protagonist is dead. This story is a broken wing.

Barista Time Travel

Yesterday I met my old barista Pippa, in the street… her red hair flowing, baby on her hip… and it was like watching my life on replay.

“Remember when I used to pour your coffee? Remember when I thought that that was as good as life would get for me?”

Did we both ask that question? Did she ask it at all? Am I confusing who is who?

She said “I couldn’t place you for a moment, last year is so long ago”…
She’s starting anew. She looked radiant. My heart leaped.

I think our hearts each poured into the other’s then… and maybe that’s really what happens in time travel when your past and future selves meet. We didn’t create a paradox, but a new paradigm. A cappuccino can be poured as soon as the milk is ready; you can move the milk back and forth between vessels to speed the process but the milk and foam will find perfect balance on their own.