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R. Narvaez



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 french fry.

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. Unsynchronicity.

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 marketing.

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 unemployment.

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 row.

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 down.

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 manager."

"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."

"Niche marketing!"

"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 bad cologne.

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 and crying.

"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. Just shock.

"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 and edited the compilations Asinine Love Poetry and Asinine/11.

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