Story by Jin Mei McMahon; art by Caroline Li
If I ever questioned Griffin, it was never to Mark’s face. That seemed like the easiest way to handle the existence of an incorporeal entity in which he had invested so much time.
One. Two. Three. Pause to catch breath and reach for a chaser. Bottle in hand, poised over the glass, vodka on the counter from a reckless pour. Four. Five. Six. Still stone cold sober, not enough time between to feel them hit.
I am writing to inform you that I will not be able to finish the assignment, “Culturally Contrived Misrepresentations of Nietzsche’s Crumbling Utopia,” by the originally requested time of 11:59pm on Sunday the 15th. This is because I recently met my identical twin separated at brith while in line for a Taquito™ at TacoBell™. In light of this circumstance, I would appreciate anywhere between 1-3 extra days to complete my work
I did not kill myself. The car did. I didn’t cut myself, hang myself or hurt myself. The car did it. So I didn’t choose death, it chose me. I just want to be clear about that.
It is not for the dead to explain their deaths to the living. I have an uncomplicated identity with an uncomplicated death. But for context, let’s just say two steps forward, no steps back.
Hurl Truman woke up every day feeling adrift from everyone. An astronaut whose tether has been cut. Doggy paddling at sea, no land in sight.
I went to this writer’s paradise when I was 20. I’d been rolling along before that, trying all sorts of things. I was out in the Mojave, sleeping in my car, burning tires at night in the cold, when I saw the sign. It pointed off down a dirt track, white paint, gilt letters. “Writer’s Paradise,” it said. I had to go and see if it lived up to the billing.
I work in a library because it didn’t pan out with my startup sticker business. I used to make bumper stickers about atheism: evolving homo sapiens in tie-dye colors and stuff like that. It didn’t work out, so I went back to school for library science. Everyone else in my graduating year made a long distance book club and I wasn’t invited to be in it. I don’t mean to sound dramatic or self-pitying or anything like that. But I do want to clarify that literally every single other person in my library science graduating class (seventeen people) is in this long distance book club and I was not invited to be in it.
There are beautiful wooden racks built into the walls holding bottles of wine. The lighting is low, glowing orange or off-red. The wood floor is dark oak. Most of the diners are men, except for a table of three women. This is a masculine space.
Two men talk in the center of the fancy restaurant. They drink tall frothy beers. The OLDER MAN and the YOUNGER MAN are presumably father and son as they look alike and have a more than 20 year age difference. Both have broad shoulders and lean muscular builds. The older man is dressed as if he just came from work. He wears a trim midnight blue suit and the younger is in khaki pants and a washed blue oxford.
Toby-Ann reapplied her cheap jelly lip gloss every minute. She was unhappy as usual. Her husband Dennis trudged alongside her, huffing and keeping his head down with his hands in his pockets as his long legs carried him. Behind them, their daughter, Ingrid, had her arm around her boyfriend, Kevin. They were two liberal arts grads that hadn’t learned the tact of curbing PDA. The four traversed blocks whose sidewalks hadn’t been cleaned since 1995, curbs above the rain gutters falling off in chunks. They passed tattoo parlors and lively Mexican restaurants where bare-midriffed waitresses served 10-ounce margaritas.