Gary Percesepe ~ The Bench

Everything could have been dif­fer­ent, yet all remains the same. For years Batgirl cir­cled the globe, her eyes pud­dled with tears. Euripides, I’m told, despite his fame, clipped toe­nails in soli­tude. What I mean to say is, be patient with me, I’m lolling on the banks of a thought. I wait­ed while she applied mois­tur­iz­er to her legs. She resem­bled in those days a lake of gravy into which I was prone to dive, inad­vis­ably. You smell like my sub­con­scious, she once offered. Are you talk­ing to me? I asked. Don’t be sil­ly, she said. A squir­rel tot­tered on the squir­rel high­way. Why are squir­rels always doing that, she asked. Doing what, I asked. Always jerk­ing around, like their heads are sol­dered with bad wire. Oh, I said. A cop came up to us. Do you have a per­mit to sit on this bench, he asked. Why no, offi­cer, she said. That’s ok, the cop said, we no longer require them. I lost mine, I lied. He pulled out a brown hand­ker­chief and wiped his broad brow. I hate my job, he said. The oth­er day I caught two vagrants mak­ing love on this bench. What’s the mat­ter with that, she asked. For that, the cop said, we require a per­mit. I pulled my hands off the bench, where I’d been tap­ping out a Norwegian lul­la­by. What did you do, she asked the cop. Nothing, he said, I was off duty. He sighed. I began to tap again. You have a fragili­ty a wife could work with, she said. We both turned and asked, Me? Children are the most inter­est­ing to talk to, she said. They tell you what they know, then they stop.

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Gary Percesepe is an edi­tor at New World Writing.