Sonny and I are looking for floor mats for his car. Store after store, hundreds upon hundreds of mats. No luck. Finally, I take out a knife, tell him I’ll cut myself in two and Sonny can use me as a floor mat. We’ll star in a hit TV series, we’re cops, and I’m the mat in his cop car. We solve crimes. When asked by the scandal sheets what life is like when Sonny isn’t in the car, I’ll say it’s okay, it’s kind of like being a dog and time is a Frisbee.
The ferret sleeps on my head. A mayor of New York once likened owning a ferret to a sickness. To those who ask, I say a ferret is like a Slinky with eyes. In an old TV commercial, a boy and a girl watch one cascade effortlessly down a flight of stairs.
I bump into Sonny at the deli. He asks how the stand-up poetry thingamabob is going. I tell him I’m done with it. And because the line to the counter is as long as it is I tell him what else I’m done with: red meat, alcohol, the ampersand, white rice, unpaid overtime, heaven, car horns, Peter, Paul & Mary, sleet, kids’ menus, the use of etc. at the end of sentences, emojis, fantasy football, airports. Sonny blinks, looks up at the menu, orders roast beef and Swiss on etc.
Sitting alone in the right field bleachers at a minor league game because Sonny promises I’ll get a souvenir. We drink flat beer, mostly in silence, respectful, waiting, tense. In the final inning, a player on the other team hits a long lazy drive our way. It lands and ricochets around but I chase it down no problem. We’re the only ones left. When the game ends and we make our way to Sonny’s car he tells me as a kid their neighborhood was so poor they had only one baseball and when they played they rubbed the ball in dog shit beforehand so nobody would steal it.
I can’t cry anymore so I visit the dentist. The dentist opens my mouth and looks inside, then excuses himself and leaves the room. I sit with hundreds of plaster casts, all grinning magnificently. When he comes back, the dentist tells me he knows exactly what to do. Later, when I wake, the dentist hands me a mirror. I look and see nothing. Not a tooth, not a single one. I am my mother’s bawling baby boy again.
Kurt Olsson’s work has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including Poetry, The Threepenny Review, The New Republic, and Southern Review. He’s published two collections of poetry, Burning Down Disneyland (Gunpowder Press) and What Kills What Kills Us (Silverfish Review Press). The latter was awarded the Towson University Prize for Literature, given annually to the best book published the previous year by a Maryland writer, as well as named Best Poetry Book by Peace Corps Writers. A third collection, The Unnumbered Anniversaries, is due out next year.