He stands in front of the mirror, both hands clutching the side of the sink, nose grazing the toothpaste-splattered mirror. He ignores the razors and multiple bottles of aftershave crammed on the ledge. He ignores the soggy mat beneath his feet. He looks deep into his dark brown eyes and reaffirms his right to get the things he wants in life.
I learned about the wall the same way everyone learned about the wall; it was just there. The sun is warm, the lavender smells like lavender. When the traffic lights turn green, that means ‘go’. The wall was built to protect us from the people on the other side, and if you get too close the soldiers start shooting.
On the streets of Koreatown, a woman was howling in Spanish for her missing dog, which had one ear yellow and one mauve: a locally famous dog, Casper recognised it from the billboard for the grooming shop next to the weed dispensary on Olympic-Vermont. Huge purple flowers drifted over the sidewalks.
Nevin Trebec awoke on his futon wearing snow pants and a parka. Underneath the snow pants and parka, he was naked. It was the first day of June. ‘What the hell happened?’ he said, as he sat up.
It’s seven. Morning, definitely. Lots of brightness around. Nectarine, peach then white, as the eyelids fold back. Pills of light dosed through my window. Pellets of glare. Outside, invisible cats screech for territory.
Manpreet saw it first. She walked downstairs in her lavender-colored bathrobe, started the coffee brewing, drew open the kitchen curtains and there it was. A small, conical hill where the rusting swing set had stood for years, with what looked like an opening at its apex.
Alfred Twist won his wife in a game of cards. Huddled hump-backed around a crooked table in a corner of the Three Pigs, the players had wagered thick into the night, stakes rising with the measures of gin they slopped into their glasses.
It was while on the toilet that it dawned on Dominic that what he wanted to be was an animal. A hot evacuation of shit and air came in triumphs; each more cartoonishly onomatopoeic than the last.
Their paths cross continuously on the trail. They meet in leisure-centre foyers that reek of disinfectant and on factory floors that smell of salty bodies. They collide and speak and pass in airless town hall ante-rooms among trays of untouched dips, in school classrooms where the furniture is miniature, by rostrums in medieval market places and at the side of community- centre stages usually reserved for dramas of a more amateur variety.
Virginia came in, lit a cigarette on the stovetop, and sat next to me to watch the downpour. I loved that she smoked, if only because we could sit like this: me eating, her with a cigarette—“indulging our vices,” she would say.