I was waiting for the subway around midnight when I noticed this kid standing right next to me on the platform. He was in his late teens or early twenties, probably Hispanic, with acne scars and pencil-thin sideburns. He fidgeted, turned to look at me when I wasn’t looking at him, and then looked away when I caught him doing it. Finally he turned to me and said, “What stop for the Port Authority bus terminal?”
“34th Street,” I said. It came out reflexively. This was at the 8th Street stop in Manhattan and I was on my way to my job as a legal proofreader to work the graveyard shift. The problem was, at this moment I still hadn’t recovered from an evening out I just had with a couple of friends, and my head was swimming.
“They don’t just have Greyhound there, right?” he said. “They got all the other buses?”
“All the buses, that’s right,” I said.
I stepped back from the tracks when the R train pulled in, and we got on together. At the 28th Street stop I told the Hispanic kid that the next stop was his. “You’ll have to walk a few blocks west underground, so you don’t even have to go outside.” He didn’t say anything to me, but he still seemed a little nervous when he got off.
About a second after the train doors closed, I realized I’d probably told him to get off at the wrong stop. Wasn’t it clear as day that the Port Authority bus terminal was at 42nd Street, not 34th? In fact, yes, in fact I’d given him the wrong directions. When I got off at 57th Street I checked a map on the station wall and there was Port Authority, where it has always been, on West 42nd Street.
I walked four blocks to the office building where I work, took the elevator, booted up the computer, logged in, and, downing one cup of coffee after another, proofread legal contracts until the sun rose over Seventh Avenue.
A few nights later I was walking to my spot on the subway platform when I noticed that same kid standing there. I didn’t want to deal with it and turned away, but he let loose one of those stadium whistles that stopped me in my tracks.
“I was going up to Detroit,” he said. “My great-grandmother died. She was a hundred. One-hundred years old. Because of you I missed the service and almost missed the burial.”
He was twenty feet away and shouting.
“Do I know you?” I said, feigning befuddlement.
He started walking toward me. I decided I should walk toward him as well so as not to seem cowed and to initiate some kind of mirror symmetry, which can be amusing with the right partner. The few midnight commuters between us parted.
“Ah yes, now I remember. I sent you to the wrong stop. Well, I was drunk,” I said, smiling, as if this were the ultimate, inviolate excuse. “I should’ve sent you to 42nd, no?”
“Yes,” he said, “and it didn’t take me long to find out. I missed the bus and then I missed most of the funeral.”
“Yes, I got it,” I said. “That’s too bad.”
“It doesn’t matter. Not to my great-grandmother. She’s dead, right?”
The hope of a brawl seemed to be getting some of our fellow travelers excited and they were watching to see what happened next. Among them was a good-looking woman doctor, or doctor impersonator, wearing two stethoscopes around her pearly neck. Her blond hair was done up in a loose bun like an eighties porn star. Beyond her, a big guy done up in muddy construction worker garb looked shaken to the core, literally, as if he’d been using a jackhammer for the last 24 hours. He was shooting what I’d call an invitation in my direction. His eyes were devoid of much in the way of affection, but I got his meaning. I had a feeling that if a fight broke out, he’d back me.
Then the misdirected kid got closer and looked at my face, like he could see something crawling on it. Okay, I thought, don’t flinch—let him throw the first punch.
“Do you have dry skin?” he said.
“What?” I said.
“Your skin is flaking off your face. You need some moisturizer.”
“I don’t know,” I said.
“I can get you some high grade moisturizer from a top U.S. firm,” he said.
“Like I said, I’m sorry about the directions, but let’s leave it at that.”
“How much do you pay for toothpaste?” the kid said.
Christ, I thought, he’s sort of a genius for turning this around so quickly. Here I was worried that I’d have to fight for the first time in twenty-five years, and here he was commercially capitalizing on that fear. A real American. I knew where this was heading.
“I’m not interested in Amway,” I said.
“This is not Amway. I’m talking about a local business venture. A minority venture.”
“No thanks,” I said. With that I walked away and got on the first car when the train came.
The last thing I heard him say was, “Pets?”
I didn’t see him for another week or so, but then there he was again at the platform, at the same spot, wearing tri-colored alligator skin shoes, designer jeans, and a hound’s‑tooth sports jacket, under which a tight-fitting mock turtleneck showed he had some pecs. His skin looked good. The few purple scars, remnants, I guessed, of adolescent acne, seemed to have faded to almost nothing at all. His hair, black and lustrous, was thick and started low on his forehead, came down to a little widower’s peak.
At his side was a petite Japanese woman who, in turn, had a sort of extra-dimensional, brightly-hued cart-on-wheels by her side. He saw me from a distance, said something to her, and she locked the wheels on the cart with her foot. She opened some of the drawers and inspected their contents with faked interest as I headed past them to my usual spot. The subway pulled in almost immediately and I, hoping to escape, was about to step on when the kid placed a hand on each of my shoulders and eased me back.
“I’ve got something to show you,” he said.
The train door closed an inch from my face.
“Your skin may not be so bad after all,” he shouted over the diminishing din of the train, “but what Michiko and I are sensing is that your attitude is all wrong. We don’t have anything for that, per se. Nothing topical, that is. But we do have-”
“I’m not interested,” I interrupted.
“What we do have are intelligent nanotubes.”
He motioned to Michiko, who adroitly drew forth from one of the more brightly luminescing drawers of her cart a cylinder with a cork in one end. She removed the cork with her teeth and handed the cylinder to her partner.
“We’re administering them on a test basis, gratis,” he said.
“I have to get to work,” I said, “And now I’ve got to wait for another goddamned train.”
“These,” he said, holding up the vial, “are straight from Murray Hill, New Joisey. Fell off the back of an electron microscope. Know what’s in Murray Hill, New Joisey?”
I turned and began walking to the other end of the platform, which seemed to be continually extending out into the subway tunnel at the same pace at which I progressed.
“Bell Laboratories,” I heard the kid shout in answer to his own question.
Michiko was soon walking behind me in her flats. She asked me to please stop for just one moment so she could say something. Her voice, half stumbling English and half cartoon girlishness, persisted. The exit sign was a few yards ahead. I should have just kept going.
“Just turn please to show that you are a gentle man,” she said.
She held forth an atomizer and misted me with a few pumps of her pointer finger.
I was on my back on a station bench and a young woman leaned over me, her t‑shirt brushing against my face. She smelled like cigarettes, alcohol, and something earthy. Her pants were speckled with what looked like beet and carrot juice stains. I looked at her groin and her thick military belt that missed every other loop, at her low-riders that she wore too low even for their name, at her little roll of a belly and flattened navel, at the head of a snake tattoo peeking up from her pubis.
“Oh, you’re up,” she said.
She was looking in the direction of my feet with her hand deep in my inside jacket pocket.
“Take it easy, mister. You’re ill. I was looking for your I.D.”
My mouth was filled with bile and grit. My bowels felt like maybe they’d been violated. I held her arm.
“You’re beginning to hurt me.” She spoke with a British accent.
“Nanotubes,” I said. “They put them in me. In my mouth or nose. Or in my asshole.”
“Please let go of me,” she said.
I let go.
She unhooked her cell phone from a thin wire that ran down the front of her pants. She was still for a moment, looking at me with either suspicion or pity. Her irises were variegated blue and green. The blue was grayish; the green was bluish.
“I can call 911. You need to go to hospital.”
“‘The,’” I said, “and nonsense. Help me up.”
She had short dark hair with a magenta streak, and she wore ironic, garish eyeliner. That navel of hers was opening and closing as she moved around, frowning and smiling, making O’s as if astonished with the world. Oh shit, did I ever feel like crap. I looked down. My belt was hitched, but on a looser setting than usual. I now felt certain that things were crawling around inside of me, from the mouth down, from my rectum up.
What would happen when they met?
The girl’s name was Desi or Daisy. She wouldn’t set foot inside the foyer of my building. I don’t really blame her. Brits, how well behaved they are. Lovely of her to walk me home; brilliant of her to keep a nice hold on my elbow the whole way. She struck me as organic, fully edible.
I figured the Hispanic kid with the alligator shoes had it in for me once he saw me the second time. Didn’t like being so blithely misdirected by a van-dyked Jew with John Lennon glasses. So he decided to punish me, and maybe I deserved it. Only I didn’t feel so bad anymore.
When I got back up to my apartment I called in sick to Joel, who runs my shift at the law firm. He’s an opera singer by day and gets a decent number of off-Broadway gigs that don’t pay the bills. Then I went to the bathroom and took a very large crap, a cathartic crap. The toilet jammed and I had to take the plunger to it. I had to laugh. My goddamn bowels are such good harbingers of my emotional state of affairs that I can tell when a fit of depression is coming on because I shit like a little primate—a marmoset or something—when things are at their darkest. But tonight I was obviously feeling magnanimous, open to possibilities, a real go-getter. Well, I thought, intelligent nanotubes or not, let me see what the night shall bring forth.
How can I explain the spell that came over me, that drove my actions? Minute by minute, I was in control—true. Yet, behind it all, an end-game had been imprinted upon some gauzily obscured level of my consciousness, an end-game to which I could not gain access. It was as if some glue-sniffing bloke had hotwired my soul and was behind the controls of my mind.
I ironed an Egyptian cotton shirt, showered, and decided I should feed the cats, who seemed agitated and were nipping at my ankles for attention. “What?” I asked the cats after they ignored the freshly presented wet food. “What?” But the cats’ following me around had apparently not indicated what it normally had—that they were hungry. The two of them looked at me with wide eyes and filled the air with high-pitched mews for some other reason. But what was it? That feline perceptions clearly trump human ones was a worry; that sporadically throughout the ages these little furry beasts had been thought to be in league with the devil or other pagan and dark forces only added to my concern. I love them, naturally, but could they sense in me something deathly or evil, half-monster, bitter-smelling, despairing?
I looked at myself in the person-sized mirror. I looked okay. Nothing special. Standard skinny but solid built guy, average height, curly hair sprouting from his shoulders, beard beginning to get gray in it. Maybe 10% gray. My pupils, on close inspection, were fully dilated, which was unusual.
On the other side of the apartment I could hear one of the cats digging litter in its shitbox.
I felt clean inside and out, sharp, no clouds of doubt obscuring my thoughts. Look into your own eyes, I commanded myself, and leaned forward. A planet in each one. But deeper, inside my mind, there were not many thoughts at all. I wanted. I wanted. I wanted something. Nothing but an odd emptiness resided within me, I had to admit. A desirous sort of something. In particle physics it might have been the manifestation of an undiscovered particle whose near speed-of-light collision gives rise to paradoxes thus far unimagined. Anti-space folded within lust, wrapped in layers of longing.
Then something more disturbing happened, a brief dash of an event that I’m embarrassed to pass along. I’d recently switched the cats over to a fancy sort of food because I’d gotten a two-thousand dollar per year raise and thought, why not share the wealth? So for the last week I’d been feeding them things like Organic Lamb Stew and Hearty Halibut and the like. The problem was that in my disturbed state the fresh turds my cat had just released into the litter smelled good. I mean they smelled edible in a pungent way, like corned beef hash frying in a cast iron skillet. I immediately recognized that something was awry, that a short circuit had occurred, some tripped up crossover from my olfactory center into my food imaging center. I cut off the urge to actually take a fork and stick it in the shit, but it was too late to stop the desire to eat something as odoriferous as high-class cat turds. I looked in the fridge and cupboards, and the only thing that struck my fancy was a little can of expensive tapenade, which I opened and began eating with the two-finger scoop.
I opened my window and stuck my head outside. It had been drizzling for days and the streets, though essentially quiet so late at night, gave echo to footsteps and the occasional taxi spinning out on the wet asphalt. I was going out there, into the night, revved up, feeling some large and growing-larger emptiness inside of me that needed filling. An emptiness with mass, a paradoxical space, a ravenous desire that was both armless and legless. I was being driven by the bloke, and where he’d take me I wasn’t sure.
Smile. Head on out.
I stood outside the brownstone on East 12th Street close to Fifth Avenue and gazed in through the large windows, through the diaphanous curtains, and saw the silhouettes of people holding drinks—the dying embers of a party: couples and triples ensconced in booze and comfort, biding their time before they moved on to the next untoward phase of the night. I saw them through sixteen-over-sixteen double-sash bay windows framed by ornate exterior woodwork, woodwork I’d watched get restored over the last several months by a single craftsman from another era—an older black man in overalls whose scaffolding and lockbox were finally gone. I must have walked past this brownstone hundreds of times over the course of the last decade, but had wondered about its occupants only vaguely. Until now.
The front sitting room looked like a real beauty form the street—the chandelier’s shimmering crystal, the dark wainscoting, the antique birdcage with a stuffed parrot—a child’s toy—on its perch placed front and center for all those on the sidewalk to see. How humorous! These people were grand. I stood motionless, watched, and tried to find something to play with in my pocket until suddenly, in a flash, I realized I was to enter the building.
Whence did this inspiration spring? At the semantic level, it seemed, since the thought came to me fully formed, as if it were the last chain in a logical progression of smaller thoughts, but these thoughts were nowhere to be found.
A woman leaving the party through the front door allowed me into the foyer. A young man, well-dressed and exhaling pot smoke, let me pass from the foyer into the apartment proper. From there I made a quick right and was in the very sitting room I had just been admiring.
Empty tumblers and stemware were grouped on a few tables, on a pair of big stereo speakers, on a sideboard. Ice, melted and rounded, floated in some. A cigar with an inch of ashes smoldered in a brass ashtray. Hello everyone! Nobody was in the room. They were gathering jackets and hats and capes in a side room as they left. They were out of view but I could hear the soft tones of their comfortable voices. The foyer door and, with more muffle, the door to the street, kept opening and closing as guests left. And just look at these sofas! Stuffed to the hilt; brown, worn leather with discrete fissures on the surface like veins in marble.
Then I heard a female voice say, “And you would be?”
I turned and there stood a woman in her mid-40s, a hand taller than me, dressed in embroidered jeans and a silk t‑shirt, nice face, really relaxed and pleasant looking. Waspy, but not aggressively so. Not just blond hair, but blond features—angular jaw, pert nose, eyes that should have been blue, and may have been. She held a sprig of celery between her fingers like a cigarette. “Are you Robert’s friend?”
“Yes,” I said, “that’s right.”
“From the Woodward?”
“Robert always retreats to his books after a nice party. Tries to give our guests the hint. ‘Time to go,’ you know.”
“When it’s time, it’s time,” I said.
“Did you bring the package?”
“The package…from the Woodward?”
“Well, presumably from you, Mr. —? Was Robert supposed to have given me your name? I’m sure he did but I’ve forgotten. I’m a shit like that. Please do introduce yourself.”
“Well then we share a name, Mr. Thompson. Jean Alcross, drunken.” She extended her hand—dry, supple, warm—and I took it. “Please, catch up with some drinks and then we’ll see what happens.”
She steered me into the kitchen, where the help had sorted out the empty bottles and were wiping down those that still had some liquor in them. A short Hispanic woman was doing the wiping. The white rag she used looked cleaner than most of my undershirts.
“Go on,” Jean Alcross said, “pick your poison.”
I helped myself to something from a stoneware bottle.
“That’s apple brandy from Normandy.” Jean said.
“Calvados,” I said.
“You know your liquor, Gene,” she said.
She walked me back into the living room. A few guests were still leaving and she went to attend to them. I sat on one of those overstuffed couches and got a closer look at the toy bird in its antique birdcage. In a few minutes Jean Alcross stuck her head in.
“I’m going to let Robert know you’re here. Maybe he’ll see you, or maybe he won’t.”
She said it in the nicest possible way.
What he was expecting—what I was expecting—was a mystery. Maybe somewhere deep inside I was scared. But nothing like that was coming up to the surface except that the smell of the old leather, the apple brandy, the fading odor of canapés and ripe cheeses were all acting to get me a little over-stimulated.
And I found myself meditating on Jean Alcross, that fine frame of hers. She looked like a runner, but one who used to do sprints or hurtles as opposed to the stick figure marathoners I’d met—all sinew and arteries. Alcross had nice arms and small breasts. Her legs were shapely and muscular in those bluejeans. Great color in her face. Some gray hairs, and she had calm eyes. The color of…well I still don’t know what. I can’t remember the color of her eyes, only their effect. Everything was under her control and always would be, those eyes said.
By the time she inserted herself into my line of vision again my tumbler was empty and I’d nicely lain myself out on the sofa.
“My husband would very much like to see you. Where’s the package?”
“Right here,” I said, patting one of my empty pockets.
“Oh, I didn’t realize it was so small.”
She led me up the steps, her buttocks spelling out all kinds of words as they undulated before me. Two flights up, then three, then four. It was very hot and I’d broken into a sweat. She stopped before we got to the last landing.
“He’s taken over the whole top floor with his studies. Let yourself through those doors. And if you’d be kind enough to tell him I’m going to bed, I’d be grateful.”
A pair of French doors with brass knobs awaited me at the top of the steps. I opened them.
Robert Alcross was illuminated by a half-dozen antique‑y incandescent bulbs, the kind where you can see the filament and they look something like a uvula. It provided the retro effect he wanted—I’m sure of that. He was an odd one, I could tell straight off the bat. Books were all over the place: atlases, obscure encyclopedias and codexes, thin pamphlets filled with geometrical diagrams. I didn’t take more than a few steps into the space.
“Well well, the messenger has arrived. In the guise of, is it Mr. Thompson?” Robert Alcross said, sliding across the room on his desk chair. “I expected someone less…petite. More robust.” He eyed me up and down.
“Gene’s the name.”
“Sure. Not a very good name. I’m correct in calling you Mr. Schmidt?”
“No. It’s Gene Thompson.”
“Just keep insisting, Mr. Schmidt.”
“Laramie Mist sounds better. I’m in favor of more creative faux names,”
He rose and moved toward me with two or three elastic strides.
“Gene Thompson’s the name.”
“I believe I might have made a mistake,” I finally said. “I thought that I had business here.”
“What kind of business?”
“That’s just it. I’m not sure.”
“You came into my home without knowing why?”
“What drove you here?”
“Well, I had this…” It was no use, I thought. “I had this feeling that I should come here. I don’t know quite how to explain.” I was beginning to get angry as I homed in on the truth of the attack. “I was guided here somehow. After a dose of…oh never mind.”
“Dosed by whom?”
“By what, you mean. What do you do, exactly, Robert?”
“I’m a researcher of sorts. You could call me an explorer of a kind.”
“Of what kind?”
“Realms? Well then maybe it’s you that got me to come here. Do you happen to know an Hispanic kid, about 18, and a girl named Michiko?”
“I can’t recall.”
“Something that kid and the girl did, a violation of dignity—something they put inside of me…”
My memory was full of holes along the edges. But why not push things, get this guy to talk? I was having a good time. My blood was racing, I could hear nothing else in my ears.
“Something they did to me also made me not care what I do to you. Or your wife. She’s a looker. A little giraffy, but a looker. By the way, she wanted me to tell you that she’s gone to bed. I could use my nose to figure out where the bedroom is.”
And then, well I didn’t plan on this, I grabbed his trachea. High school self-defense classes, one after the other. A nonviolent kid, I was bored stiff and sometimes-bullied back in the day. And now it came into my fingers that they might as well do their stuff, since in a way I had been bullied into coming to this fancy garret. So my right hand gripped Robert Alcross’s trachea like a plumber’s wrench grips a corroded fitting.
“Tell me what’s up,” I said.
He began to change color, though he remained pretty calm, as if he knew that deep down I wouldn’t actually kill him. His glasses began to slip forward on his nose and for some reason this did it to me, made him look too vulnerable for my liking. I let him go.
“Side effects,” he said, regaining his breath. “Aggression,” pause, “increased sexual tension,” pause, “heightened olfactory sensitivity. That’s a new one. You say you can smell my wife?” He rubbed his neck. Then he lowered the lights as if to calm a panicked animal. “You’ve been infused. Most likely you have a sense that this has occurred. The smallest of suppositories is all our good friends administered on the subway platform. If you think it was easy to convince them to do it, you’re wrong. Your virginity is intact, I assure you. The nanotubes are working in concert now, I can see. They have coalesced to send you the most fundamental of commands—to arrive at our modest home. In a few hours you’ll be your old self again, banal as ever.”
I considered grabbing his trachea again just for old times’ sake, in fact could see the imprints my fingers had already made; and I was feeling obsessive enough to match them exactly. But he stepped back and reached into his breast pocket and withdrew a fob, a small ellipsoid with one button.
“I don’t work without patient disincentives. You carry not only my nanotubes, but the ingredients of a grave poison. If I press this button,” he said, “a powerful neurotoxin normally produced by Clostridium botulinum will be released into your bloodstream. In effect, you will instantaneously come down with a very respectable case of botulism. Cause of death: suffocation due to paralysis of the diaphragm. So, don’t fuck with me.”
I reached for the fob but he hovered his thumb over the button.
“Why me?” I said.
“Ah yes, the age-old question. It’s not as if you’ve won the lottery. But I am glad you asked, since this too is in my field of expertise. You see your work routine is one of mundanity and duplication—an excruciating repetition of actions and thoughts to no real end. This has etched wide unencumbered highways into your neural network, vast and beautiful spaces that lack complexity and interference of any kind. Our process uses these pathways to accrete nanotubes into what might be called notions or impulses. And while nobody is expendable—and please don’t think we have any intent of harming you—those who work the night shift performing the task of legal proofreading generally have far less utility than day workers who draft the documents in the first place, if you get my drift. Meaning if things were to go awry, societal damage is minimized. And yes, don’t worry, we’d take care of your cats, find them a home that provided affection. If there’s one thing I abhor, it’s animal cruelty.” He took his glasses off and placed the fob on a countertop, and then he stepped toward me.
“I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to have you standing here. It’s an odd thing to say, but…may I shake your hand? You’re the first success I’ve had—my first real success! Just look at you.”
I must admit that I was getting pretty excited myself, and I’m still under the notion that these were my own thoughts, not purposeful, pre-packaged junk thoughts injected into my vast unencumbered neural pathways. Truth is, I’ll never know.
I took the man’s hand firmly and shook it with sincerity and love.
Why, you might ask, would I be happy to be there? For one—and this is not to be minimized—I was tripping. Whatever these accreting nanotubes were doing, they were suddenly making me feel as if the world were a pulsing breast from which I had suckled for all these years, ungrateful for the life it had given me—until now. This fellow woke me up after a lifetime of unenlightened drift. Also, I felt enwrapped by the warmth of the air in the uvula-lit garret, and here I admit it was mostly because these people were rich and I was not, and the wealthy always make me feel obsequious and oh-so humble to be in their presence (and they also don’t skimp on heat). Simultaneously, I felt prone to violence, able to tear a human being limb from limb or make love with beautiful, illegal destruction. At that moment it didn’t seem that my keeper fully understood these inklings of superhumanness. If he did, he seemed awfully relaxed about the whole thing.
I couldn’t imagine going back to my normal routine, to that tired pull of gravity, my achy sinuses, the incessant need to be loved by my ridiculous felines and even more ridiculous family and friends—to the endless want of affection in all its nasty variations. I’d rather stay here and admire the ropey veins now rising on the back of my hands, do a hand-stand to the triumphal music that was playing in my head. You see my psyche was collapsing upon itself with exponential haste. Soon I would be but an emotional singularity pulsing in the rarefied night.
He took me by the hand, actually by the bitty tips of my fingers, and as if by a spell steered me into a room lit by a hundred candles where Barry Manilow was playing quietly out of some ceiling speakers. Jean Alcross was in bed already, naked above the waist, the blankets pulled down to her hips. The shadows her little round breasts cast over the rest of her danced with each candle flicker.
“What’s this all about?” I said, pretending to be surprised.
“You want to see more?” she said, smiling with an open mouth. Then she threw the blanket off entirely. All the while, as I stood there taking in her lanky body that shone brightly with healthy skin and 100% depilation, her husband was giving me a back rub. Then he was sliding his soft, unworked fingers beneath my shirt color, tickling the wool-like hair on the back of my neck. Then he was whispering confidence-boosting mantras into my ear from behind while simultaneously unbuttoning my shirt.
“You’re a man’s man; you know what makes the world spin; when you bat, you always hit a homer; the world follows your lead; your body is to die for…” All the while he was gently pushing me down and toward his wife. “Go to her,” he finally said. Her arms were open to me, her regal smile promising the world.
What I remember most as the morning sun came in through the windows was Robert Alcross making cappuccino on the other side of the room, his rhythmic foaming of the milk, the pitch getting lower as the froth built. This had always been a purely retail-chain sound to me, the racket of Starbucks or other tattooed “barista” houses in which I had no business spending anything over two dollars, for I was strictly a drip man.
Yet he was making the coffee for me and his wife, who was now leaning on one elbow and sniffing my balls with a smile. The perfumed soles of her feet were brushing against my chin. That’s when I realized that, really, that’s what this had all been about in the end—bringing home a pair of roses for the missus.
Robert Alcross, grinning at the scene from across the room, was wearing bespoke tweeds and shoes that cost as much as a Ford Fiesta; he was a man whose day-old scruff looked as if it were terrified at having emerged from his fatuous, well-oiled follicles into unadulterated morning light. From the angle of the sun, I guessed it must have been close to 8 a.m., and he was dressed for “work,” whatever that entailed.
Greg Sanders is the author of Motel Girl: Stories. His fiction has appeared in Mississippi Review, Essays & Fictions, HOW, The Los Angeles Review, The Warwick Review and, most recently, in the form of two ebook singles put out by Galley Beggar Press. He earned his MFA at The New School and lives in Maplewood, NJ.