One Hearse, One Urn, One Compass
I walked down the street and saw your godmother holding a compass that wouldn’t stop spinning. She had no idea where to wander; the broken device was her attempted crutch but it was only making the limp worse. I handed her a cigarette and she asked for a hearse, retrieving an urn out of her dusted leather satchel. “He wanted to be cremated,” she said, her eyeballs turning into ponds of eggshells, “but he also wanted to be driven around in a coffin limo first. I mismatched the ordering of things and I’m trying not to go berserk, trying to left my wrongs, or right my lefts. I struggle with death. I’ve misplaced both my map and my cell phone, and this junk compass shouldn’t be for sale on any website.” I walked your godmother to the rental car store down the road. I assured her she was quite close. When we arrived, a black limousine was waiting for both her and her former lover’s death powder. The gentleman behind the turnstile tossed your godmother a set of keys so that she could ski away toward the ocean. She buckled in her husband in the far back seat and took to the coast. She left the compass behind with me and it hasn’t stopped spinning. I keep it on my desk to show my co-workers how sometimes things don’t make sense.
My neighbor hot glued binoculars onto her eye sockets and now walks up and down the sidewalk criticizing the symmetry of street shingles. Park jobs and hair-dos on orphaned beagles. If anyone tries talking to her, she screams, “Don’t mail me packages larger than books!” She doesn’t mention her circus act, doesn’t bring up her views on cartwheels being the same as a table of condiments. She sleeps with a pack of cigarettes that she refuses to ever light, snapping at the onlookers with delight, her eyes the size of dragonflies, saying, “These are for emergency use only.” She pulls a different pack from her back pocket and sparks up three at once. She laughs as the neighbors frown, proceed to flee her town in grunts.
Three Paper Straws
Three limousines, three SUVs, and three luxury sedans turned me down before he came around. He picked me up on the side of the road and didn’t ask any questions. Didn’t want to know my story. Didn’t give any lectures. “Why are you running? Why are you stranded?” He didn’t care where I was heading, didn’t ask for my name or offer up a handshake, only said, “My final stop is thirty-three hours further down this road if that’s where you’re trying to go.” I said, “Great.” We didn’t talk, instead listened to talk radio featuring two guys talking about other good talk radio stations to talk about. We didn’t talk when he unzipped his pants and pissed into the coffee cup in his lap while still driving with his two blue jean knees. We didn’t talk when he licked three rolling papers together horizontally and stuffed the coiled straw with grass and tobacco, taking a match to the thinnest and longest joint I’d ever seen and whispering the word, “Blammo,” as he exhaled the steam. We didn’t talk when he didn’t offer me any of the weed, just kept puffing, three times each, looking forward and driving, the cup of piss still sloshing between his knees, myself making bets in my dazed head as to what he might do next.
Benjamin Niespodziany (@neonpajamas) is a night librarian at the University of Chicago. He runs the multimedia art blog [neonpajamas] and has had work published in Ghost City Press, HOOT Review (forthcoming), Occulum, and… uhh… formercactus. More at neonpajamas.com