Think of Skies in Winter
“Where you work?”
I look over. It’s his thing, of all things. Caught in his underwear. The waistband has snapped back, pinned it up against a suede drum of stomach. Only the tip shows, peeks over the cotton. For a dumb moment. From hauling back on his clothes too fast. Weirdly the moment doesn’t go. It holds itself from the next moment, loitering like the dick itself.
Three things are true: I don’t remember the last time there was someone in my apartment who knew my name. I have four numbers off this guy’s wallet, everything except Diner’s Club, from when he took his sweet time washing up. I do not take it in the ass.
Two of the three he doesn’t know. The third he knows, because I told him, but apparently he did not believe me.
“Well,” he says, smiling, “give me a call.”
I read something once. A poem, I think. I don’t remember the title, and I’ve never found it again. It said something like, “There is a special kind of knife in motionless struggle.” And then, “Think of the wounded animal that’s stopped trying. The quiet house next to the burning one.” Something about a good leader pausing in the middle of his speech. He looks up, he’s startled, and there’s a new red dot on his forehead. And the dot’s seeping.
I do. I think about them a lot.
He never gave me a phone number. That’s the one number I don’t have.
I wait. I make my eyes go soft.
“Don’t go,” I say.
Like a charm. Stunned, choking on his own breath. So desperate and so still. Then crashing away with one foot not in its shoe, not really.
It’s morning. Sun’s out. None of it has to do with me.
George Choundas has fiction and nonfiction appearing or forthcoming in over thirty-five publications including The Southern Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, The American Reader, Mid-American Review, and Subtropics. His stories have been selected for inclusion in The Best Small Fictions 2015 and featured as Longform.org and Paragraph Shorts selections. He is winner of the New Millennium Award for Fiction, a former FBI agent, and half Greek, half Cuban.