When I woke up I felt something stuck to my forehead, curling with the help of perspiration. I pulled it off. It was a post-it note: "If you could leave when you wake up that would be great. I don't want this to be awkward. Love
" and then an arrow which I think was supposed to point toward his side of the bed, but faced the wrong direction. Actually, when I looked up, he wasn't anywhere. The room seemed impeccably clean, no clothes anywhere on the floor, not even mine. Maybe I had kicked them off behind a bookcase, or something, or maybe he had kept them. It was like he had cleaned the place and then left for the day, maybe hoping he'd outlast whatever resistance I'd have to the request on his note. I made a quick calculation and determined that my clothes from the night before were worth, maybe, a hundred dollars total. Some sweatpants, a t-shirt, the shoes comprising over half the value. So I picked up my purse, checked it for all the essentials keys, phone, wallet and descended the stairs in my underwear. It was only seven blocks to my house.
The fog pressed down like it was losing a war with gravity. A lanky, twenty-something man stared at me from the bus stop. I lit a cigarette in the morning air, let my mouth hang open, re-inhaling the smoke through my nose a trick I'd learned in high school. He moved a few steps closer to me, and from the way his eyes shook around he was clearly drugged. His body shook, too. "Pretty cool," he said. "You want to buy a Wilt Chamberlin jersey?"
"Do you know who Wilt Chamberlin is?"
I took another drag from my cigarette. "Go away," I said.
"He broke a lot of records. Look, it's autographed."
"It's 6 a.m. Fuck off."
"Hundred dollars. You could make a huge profit."
"Fuck off," I said, taking a step toward him. "I could kill you in twelve different ways if I wanted to."
This was a lie I had taken karate, and though I could probably kick this guy's ass, I certainly couldn't kill anyone. But it seemed to work. He shrugged, walked off, clutching the jersey in his hand. About half a block down, he paused and turned around. "Eighty," he yelled. I took off. In half a second I was sprinting toward him as fast as I could. The concrete slapped like a drum line under my bare feet. But they don't call the drug "speed" for nothing he bolted too, moving like a motherfucker, always ten feet ahead of himself in an instant. He was twice as fast as me, maybe three times. A couple blocks down he turned a corner and I let him go. I slowed to a jog and stopped in front of a small driveway. At some point I had clenched my teeth clean through the cigarette; the filter stuck to my tongue, the rest most likely flung over my shoulder like a small stick of dynamite while I ran. I didn't so much spit the filter out as hang my head down, let it tumble to the curb.
Then, from behind me, I heard a child's voice: "Can we fuck?" He allowed space between each syllable, testing the shape of the word fuck between his lips. I turned around. He stood in a garage lined with what looked to be dismantled theatre sets, a horde of bicycles, and towers of impossibly balanced boxes. Among the clutter, with old clothes draped around his shoulders and a square, flat face like a wall, the kid looked like another belonging tucked away in the storage space. "If it's okay with you," he said, "I'd like to fuck your vagina." He couldn't have been more than ten. I watched him lift his arm up and scratch his back like a primate. His teeth were square too, little white bricks inside his mouth. I could feel a wet heat pushing against the base of my throat, the implication of tears rising. "Go inside," I said. Now the cold was everywhere, running along the insides of my bones, as if it had replaced the marrow. The kid shrugged and pressed the button behind him. He continued to stare as the panels slid down. They dropped over his eyeline, then the rest of his face, but from his body language he still stared. Every part of him faced me his chest (gone), his waist (gone), thighs, knees, shins and feet (gone), falling off in sections until the door kissed the ground.
Have you ever witnessed the disappearance of a human being? And how did it feel from his side. A goddess out in the cold in sleek lingerie. The final imprint before the door sweeps over her head. A wave of hair that dips over shoulders, curls to an arrow that points toward her breasts. You don't want those to go, but then they're gone, too, as the grinding of the door follows the sand down the hourglass. Then legs the kind that show up in teenage fantasies, slender and shaped. Down to the knees and ankles, transition joints to piece her together. Less and less of her. It's only in the feet, apart from everything else, that you sense a sort of pain clenching, arched against the pavement. You wonder where those feet have been, where they're going, whether they'll ever get there. Then she evaporates and the garage is dark.