Burgled in Blue
In the parking lot my car choked on a blue man rifling glove. He saw me but gave no indication that it mattered.
“This is my car,” I said.
The only talking he heard chattered old tickets and lighters, gum wrappers and burnt spoons.
I spoke up. “What are you doing? This is my car!”
He got out. “No it ain’t. That car’s mine,” he said.
His carrier pigeon words crash-landed when he smacked me hard, making cymbals of my face. Then he dove back in, trawling front seats for undertow clutter.
“I don’t want to call the police,” I confided to the rubber chevrons of his soles.
What would happen if he were to stick himself on a rogue needle gossiping with that hermit seat belt?
I kicked his shoes. Chevrons scrambled. He stood. Eyes full of larceny.
“If this is your damn car, then raise up.” His final “p” sound launched an angry wafer of spittle on my cheek. A command to my mute eyes.
When I opened them, lazy as Lazarus, he was back in the car, humming, rummaging. The satchel my father gave me was in his hand when he crawled back out, eyes first. The satchel wanted to scream but it gagged on chipped CDs, magazine accordions, and a plastic St. Christopher stabbing a flannel slipper.
I couldn’t believe he said that. Let us go. But I was too shocked to question whether our going was either a collective phenomenon or mine to permit, and that’s how it begins—grace or carjacking (take your pick)—with non-talking, as if reticence says so much. A silence kept is old bones in wax.
The blue man checked door handles as we patrolled the night: he with tilting gait, my turgid satchel arching his figure, whilst I in funerary apprenticeship trailed, awed, de-satchelated, all in a jones wondering how I left my car back there, two parking lots ago.
“This one,” he said, pointing to an unlocked sedan, shotgun starboard.
I went in headfirst frisking the seats for booty—pennies caramelized in soda and sun, pens expelling ink like fragile sea hares. I begged the center console for consolation. It conceded with batteries caked acidulous, one intact cranberry sprig, and a crackling symphony of palm-sized cellophane. I swaddled it all into a re-commissioned baseball cap from the backseat. He’d like this, I thought. This was right and good. This will make me a blue man too.
Then I heard the commotion.
“Just what the fuck are you two doing?”
The newcomer was middle-aged, bald, puce-colored, but nobody’s slouch with a voice like that. The bluish man gave a look the wolf at the door might wear should you ever open the door to notice.
I squeezed my clutch of tokens, walked straight up to the puce man and declared: “This is my car.”
“The hell it is. It’s my car,” puce replied.
He will soon learn, I thought, darting a smile at the bluer man.
“No,” I said. “This is my—”
“Both of you are liars,” spat the blue man spinning me around. “That car’s mine!”
He snatched the cap from my hands and slapped the music back into my face. Cymbals crashed skin and I knew deep in these thirsty veins that I had left my car in a bad state of conversation, en media res, orphaned and ajar.
< originally published in Heavy Feather Review >