John Gabriel Adkins
I was listening, and I was there, and everyone was there, and then there was a dissolution. The interesting part was over. I walked away down down the sidewalk, through the snow cold, and a hand was at my shoulder. I could feel it but never see it. It hung on. Sometimes it would leave but never forever. Some kind of dog walked at my side, infinite in both directions, most directions. A line of that dog never ending—an eternal recurrence. But unlike the hand, it never left. Sometimes I would look at it, and if it looked back, there was a paralyzing redness. We would go around—all three of us, or some number—to a few places in that neighborhood. To the bar, the alley, apartments, apartments, greasy spoon. Why did no one else see them? But I stopped wondering.
One time I talked to a woman, but she left. She didn't stay like the dog. Like the hand. We talked outside of the greasy spoon. It was snowing, and she was coming into the outside when she noticed me. She said, "Oh, hi there." And I stopped. People don't talk to me. And I said, "Hi. Hi there." And she said, "Are you hungry?" And I thought about how I looked, and about how I wasn't hungry like I used to be, and I looked over at the dog, wondering. And the hand moved on my shoulder. And I said, "Yes." And she said, "I'll buy. Come on in here." She was just a nice woman who felt sorry for me, ragged, Holocaust-looking. The radio inside the building was playing a song by someone who was called the voice of his general nation. The dog was in there too, filling everything. The hand was in there too, holding on. The woman was in there too, sitting down.
She told me to order anything. I got the cheapest thing. Why the dog instead of her? The dog looked at me, that red. But I wouldn't give him any of this food. This woman was talking to me, not him. She smiled at me when I ate, ate a hamburger. It tasted like something, which is the opposite of how my food tastes. That was new. She smiled at me.
Now we're at the twist in my story, to keep it interesting. It really happened this way, though. This is the part where she leaves. Anyway, a man came in, and she knew him. And he came over. And he knew me. "Hey, I know you," he said. He said my name as a question. I nodded while eating. "What have you been doing with yourself? Do you have a place to live?" I told him I was okay. I told him I was spending time with friends and living here and there. This was almost all true. He thought that was fine. Where did he know me from? I didn't ask. I ate. The woman was talking to him, and they got excited about something, but I couldn't hear it over the dog. When the dog gets a certain way, I can't hear anything. They decided to leave, and the woman who smiled paid for my food and wished me luck.
I kept eating when she was gone. I considered what had happened. That woman was nice. I was alone except for the others that she couldn't see. But that man took her away, the man who knew me. Why did he do that? If he knew me, then didn't he understand? No one ever talks to me—not the other two, not anyone. But someone noticed and did. Why did he take it away? The three of us left the building when I was done, walked away down down the sidewalk, and it was just us.
John Gabriel Adkins
is a writer and pseudo-intellectual. He writes for the art collective Still Eating Oranges