People talk about coincidence. Fate. Synchronicity. Happy
accidents. A cosmic synching up for good fortune or a charming
moment of recognition. But I like to talk about unsynchronicity.
Cosmic happenings that miss each other by a mile. Events that
conspire toward unhappy accidents.
It’s not the kind of place I thought I’d end up. A too well lit
yuppie bar near Grand Central. Fake memorabilia on the wall. Like
anybody here even knows Roberto Clemente. A buffet selection of
buffalo wings and macaroni. A homely waitress.
She takes my order for another Bombay gin martini then takes
forever to walk away.
It’s not like I’m in any hurry. I enjoy observing the late lunch
crowd. Two businessmen red-faced and whispering. One of them might
even be a client. In the corner a pair of tourists chewing on
cheeseburgers like cows on cud. Open-mouthed, vacant-eyed. A mature
lady at the bar picks up a french fry and bites it in half. Lucky
Did you ever see a dead body? I hate dead bodies.
The afternoon light is fading. My cheap martini glass is empty.
The bartender has a trimmed goatee and takes all the fucking time in
the world to make my drink.
I hate goatees.
Only later, when I come briefly out of my gin-fueled reverie do I
realize they are all gone. Even the waitress and bartender.
That’s when I see the siren lights reflected on the wall.
A man obsesses over a foreign film he’s heard about and is
desperate to see. He goes to a dozen video stores in one day. And
the last store, the store where he finally gives up his search, the
movie is right behind the last video he touches. Unsynchronicity.
Two women best friends who haven’t seen each other for years both
vacation in the same small town and visit the same bookstore on the
same afternoon. But ten minutes apart. One lingers by the cookbooks,
the other by the erotica. They both leave after spending exactly an
hour there and never do get to see each other again.
A cuckold waits in his car with a gun outside his own house. But
the light he is staring at is only a forgotten nightlight. The wife
and the lover broke up long before he found love letters, and now
the wife is at AA, and the lover is going back to school to major in
I was living with my old college roommate Pradyumna, and we were
living well. Pradyumna worked for an investment bank near Wall
Street. I was doing marketing for the best new Web site ever.
Which shall go unnamed.
Then Pradyumna met this hooker. An escort. Through an agency on a
matchbook. Eriola. Hot Russian brunette, pimples. But who looked
eerily, exactly like Angelina Jolie.
He started seeing her pretty often.
I was very happy at the best new Web site ever when my boss—who
wore a goatee—sat us all down in the conference room one day and
said that the best new Web site ever was making no money. We veered
off the Information Superhighway and into the traffic pole of
I was all set to start looking for work, but then—
I just moped around the apartment for a while. Got high a lot.
Pradyumna liked to join me when he came home from work. And then he
would come home early. And then he stopped leaving the house.
So Eriola ended up supporting us. For a while. For which we were
grateful. We snorted coke, played video games—once for 42 hours in a
I know it’s a lot to expect a quality martini in a bar like this.
But, anyway, after the fifth one it doesn’t matter. Except I can
still smell cheap cologne.
I was all set to start looking for work, but then—
One day Eriola came home early, before dawn. The people at her
agency, they got busted. She was screaming, crying. Pradyumna had to
take her to their room and fuck her four times before she calmed
In the morning, he looked beat but she was beaming. She had an
idea, she said. She was good at her job. She wanted to keep doing
her job. She still had her client list but she needed someone to
organize it for her.
She asked Pradyumna.
Pradyumna asked me.
"You’d be her pimp," I told him.
"A pimp is a black dude in a purple suit," he said. "I’ll be her
"Once a business major, always a business major," I said.
But then Pradyumna asked me to buy condoms in bulk. Then to get
Eriola’s dry cleaning. Then to balance the books.
At first I did it for the side cash they threw me. But soon it
was obvious I was a full partner.
I minored in philosophy. Does it show?
Then one day Eriola brought home a friend. June. Who also wanted
to be an escort. A lady of the evening. She had a rear end the size
of an adult Rottweiller. She was from the Bronx but could dead-on
French, Jamaican accent, and English accents.
Pradyumna and I talked.
"You see that ass?" he said.
"Hard to miss it," I said.
"So we tell her to fuck off?"
"Some men like a bigger caboose."
"Exactamente," I said. "Better yet, her fake
accents give me an idea."
Since the bar is empty, I light a cigarette. My hands stink of
Our boutique escort service was born. We interviewed clients at
length to find out exactly what they were looking for—a celebrity, a
Bohemian, a librarian, a relative. We found girls who could act,
could do accents, and had faces and bodies that could be dressed and
made up to cater to any taste. We worked hard at it, and made
shitloads. Much of which Pradyumna continued to shove up his
nostrils. He was making a perfect bead toward The Powdery Death. But
something worse happened.
He and Eriola found Jesus.
She stopped dying her hair.
He grew a goatee.
So I had the business all to myself. And I liked it. The business
almost ran itself. Everything went smoothly for months.
You never forget your first corpse.
My cell phone rang in the middle of my brunch at a four-star
restaurant, which shall go unnamed, and took a taxi to a five-star
hotel, which shall also go unnamed.
Suite 774. That’s when I got to see my first dead body. Mr.
Verdonk, a diplomat from the Netherlands. He was on the floor, on
his back. He did not look peaceful. He was cold and felt like wax,
not flesh. His face was purple. A rope was wrapped tightly around
his neck and his ankles. Only one of his hands was free.
Misty, dressed to look like a famous tennis player, was screaming
"Tell me what happened?"
Hyperventilating, she told me: "He wanted me to pose, while he,
he . . . "
"While he choked, double-time. I got it."
In an alternate reality I am a middle manager with a wife and
three kids living on Long Island. I commute to work each day. I like
to barbecue. I enjoy domestic beer. I grow facial hair.
Fuck alternate reality.
I felt sweaty and cold. My stomach had a big, fat, freezing,
dirty imaginary spike in it. I was going to get her a drink from the
minibar before I thought better of it.
"Get me his wallet," I told Misty.
It was on the bedstand, next to her payment. "And leave the
money. Wait—take half of it. But put the rest in his wallet."
More screaming. More crying.
"Calm down. Go to your happy place."
I turned on the flat screen TV, then Mr. Verdonk’s credit card
and ordered three hours of hardcore porn. He was approximately
facing the set, so it seemed right.
"Pick up all your stuff, Misty. The racket, too. Stand in the
center of the room and stay there."
Using my best silk handkerchief I wiped down every surface, the
desk, the TV set, the doorknobs. It took me an hour. Misty stayed
very still, good girl.
I looked at the peephole. No one in the hall on the right. No one
in the hall on the left.
I opened the door without a sound. Misty went out first, then me.
Then before I closed the door, a hotel attendant. Gold jacket.
Horrible tassels. Came right around the corner with his cart. Saw us
coming out of Suite 774.
I finish my cigarette and crush it out.
I chased the attendant down the hall. He was a fast fuck but he
missed the closing elevator door. Unsynchronicity for him, no?
He headed for the stairs and tripped. I got him at the bottom of
the landing. I had no gun, no knife. I was a manager, not a pimp.
All I had was my hands.
I took Juan’s neck in my hands—he didn’t have a name tag, he just
looked like my cousin Juan. It took a long time.
He was the first man I ever killed. His wore cheap cologne—I
could feel it seeping into my hands and up my arms.
Misty stood at the top of the landing. No crying, no screaming.
"Help me," I said.
Juan had been fast but he was no lightweight. We both carried him
down seven flights to the basement. I was thinking maybe we could
make it look like a mugging.
I walk to the door of the bar. The lights are almost enough to
blind me. But I can see some faces.
As we were carrying the body, in walks a security guard back from
taking a cigarette break, looked like. It had to look bad. Misty and
I holding a dead body. I left her there and tackled the guy. He fell
back against the door, opening it, but he recovers quick enough to
shoot at me. The bullet misses.
A happy accident, for once.
I put my elbow into his neck and thought I was going to kill
another man that day. But the gun came up again. I snatched it. And
elbowed him in the face. Off the floor, I was running and sweating.
But I was never an athlete.
I looked up and saw this stupid yuppie bar.
Clemente, by the way, was a four-time National League batting
champion, finishing thirteen times in the top ten in batting
average. He finished his career with exactly 3,000 hits, the
eleventh player in history ever to reach this number. He was flying
to deliver food and supplies to Nicaragua when his plane crashed.
He was probably eaten by sharks.
The first cop I shoot, I shoot right in the goatee.
Nuyorican writer R. Narvaez was born and raised in
Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He is the founder and editor of the
satirical Web site AsininePoetry.com and edited the
compilations Asinine Love Poetry and Asinine/11.