Glen Pourciau ~ Three Fictions


I nev­er see her any­more, but I remem­ber what she said.  We were near the end of our sec­ond date, stand­ing at a cross­walk.  On our first date, we’d been on our best behav­ior, so I’d post­poned any con­clu­sions.  We’d both been divorced for over a year.  According to Jill, the friend who got us togeth­er, she’d giv­en up pray­ing soon after her divorce.  Early in the first date she told me I resem­bled her hus­band, and on the sec­ond date she eyed me as if I might be him in dis­guise.  She didn’t refer to him as her ex-hus­band, which wor­ried me.

When we stopped at the cross­walk she pushed the call but­ton sev­er­al times, glar­ing at the red man, want­i­ng him to van­ish.  She punched the but­ton again.  An aging pick­up truck approached, and as it neared us the dri­ver gunned its engine, cre­at­ing a jolt­ing rack­et and fumes.

Jerk,” she snapped.  “You know he did that because of us.”

You think he did it on purpose?”

I know he did,” she answered.  “I would.”


I’m in ear­ly, and I hear my part­ner on the phone behind her closed door.  She’s talk­ing about me and my wife.

He’s fat, slug­gish, and his skin is greasy.

He car­ries a faint smell around with him wher­ev­er he goes.  His wife is bor­ing and stu­pid and seems to have no con­cep­tion of how oth­ers see her.  And how can she bring her­self to choke down that odor of his?  I’m stumped on whether to renew the lease.  Except for my dis­gust, everything’s fine.  We get along well enough.”

I’m squea­mish won­der­ing who she’s talk­ing to and whether she says these things to many oth­er peo­ple.  I retreat into my office, close my door and call my lawyer, Rudy.  Without rais­ing my voice I fill him in.  He lis­tens and then tells me his perspective.

I think you’re lucky.  How many peo­ple receive the gift of know­ing exact­ly what anoth­er per­son thinks of them?  You can now bet­ter under­stand every word she says to you and every action she takes.  Be pre­pared to deal with her assertive­ly, but I would advise against let­ting this rev­e­la­tion dis­rupt you.  There is noth­ing unusu­al in what you’ve heard.  Don’t you think dis­re­spect­ful things about peo­ple you basi­cal­ly respect?  In many ways, peo­ple are wired to get on one another’s nerves, and soci­ety is based on the premise that we remain civ­il and make the best of our prox­im­i­ty to oth­ers.  As before, I sug­gest you renew your lease and con­tin­ue your part­ner­ship with Dr. Slipper.”

I thank him for calm­ing me down, but after I get off the phone, my chest heaves and I sup­press an urge to mutter.

I hear her door open and her foot­steps com­ing my way.  She sees me as she pass­es, eyes me, steps toward me, then hesitates.

I didn’t know you’d–”

Can she read my face?

I’ve been want­i­ng to tell you some­thing,” I say.  “I’m tired of you ambush­ing me.”

Her face shifts to a ques­tion­ing look.  What a hypocrite.

You’re always com­ing at me with some issue, in my face, no hel­lo, no grace, just blurt­ing out whatever’s both­er­ing you at the moment.  I’d like you to tone it down.”

Noted,” she says.  She moves clos­er.  “You’ve been con­sid­er­ing the lease?”

I nod.  Can she smell me?

So have I,” she says.  “I still like the space.”

I’m ready to renew.  I just want­ed to be up front with you.  That’s a con­cern I’ve had for a while now.  Best to let you know.”

I appre­ci­ate it.”

She stud­ies my face, try­ing not to show it.

Looking for some­thing?” I ask, her over­heard words speak­ing to me.  Does she hear them?

Nothing,” she replies.


A man I knew only in pass­ing stopped at my table.

You know I come here, don’t you?  Are you copy­ing me?”

He grabbed my beer and took a drink.

This tastes like spit.  Next time tell them not to over­cook the fries.  I wouldn’t put those things in my mouth.”

He plunked the beer down and snatched my cap from the table­top, a flat cap I’d worn for years.  He put it on his head and wait­ed for me to react.  I eyed my cap, kept my hands still.

Edie will dump you.  You’re no match for her.  She’ll leave you at the curb.”

She doesn’t need to dump me,” I said.  “We’re not a couple.”

We were.  I know her.  She’s bound to be tired of you already.”

He looked straight into my eyes, mak­ing no move to return my cap.  He walked away, out the door.  I fol­lowed, caught up, stood in front of him.

I’m hav­ing a prob­lem,” he said.  “Your body is in my path.”

I stayed there.

What do you think’s going to hap­pen?” he asked.  “You think you’re tak­ing my cap?”

My cap.”

Mine now.  It fits per­fect­ly.  Don’t make me hurt you.”

He raised his eye­brows, dar­ing me.  I imag­ined knock­ing the cap off, scuf­fling, wrestling him down, heads pound­ing on con­crete.  I walked past him.

He threw the cap at me.  It hit me in the back of the head and fell to the sidewalk.

It has an odor,” he said.


Glen Pourciau’s sec­ond col­lec­tion of sto­ries, View, was pub­lished in March by Four Way Books.  His first sto­ry col­lec­tion, Invite, won the 2008 Iowa Short Fiction Award.  His sto­ries have been pub­lished by New World Writing, Mississippi Review, AGNI Online, Antioch Review, Epoch, New England Review, Paris Review and oth­ers.