He was both in and out the night. There was a sound out that could be human and
could be animal. His skin itched. His face was a prior event. I took him into the
room, where the windows had been closed and the curtains pulled shut. These were
either our last days in Madrid or our first hours in St. Louis. He said there had been
a telephone message, but the person was both in and out of sleep. At this point
in my life, I always had another pair of clothes in my briefcase. I heard the
whispers. They came in pairs, like hands in the breeze. In an alley in St. Louis.
On a street in Baltimore. Our backs turned to the pigeons and the pink diseases
and the yellow diseases and the moths that came out at the appropriate moment to
haunt our left ears. It took him hours to put on the tuxedo since the phone kept
ringing and the door kept knocking. She had asked him to lie face down and count
to nine. The dog barked, as did several humans. It was a night none of us would
discuss later. A night of amnesia and yellow minutes and curtains no one had
touched in years. I counted to nine and left St. Louis. She raised the gun to the
window that looked out into St. Louis. From three blocks over, a sound. A dance
club with its back to the street, music spilling from its jaws.
JAMES PATE is a poet, fiction writer, and experimental filmmaker. His work has appeared in the Black Warrior Review, Rhino, Cream City Review, Harpur Palate, storySouth, and the Blue Mesa Review, among other places. He blogs at Montevidayo, and his new book of poetry is The Fassbinder Diaries (Civil Coping Mechanisms).