I believe in desperate hearts (the kind that make me look stupid)

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She had legs like Audrey Hepburn, and the beach was our backyard. It was all holy shoes and rummy eyes with socks that never matched.

In the meantime she would almost never say, “The birds, they don’t care what day of the week it is.”

“And if it’s Sunday?”

“To care, I care not.”

The babbling rose to a sulky shrug. We delivered it to ourselves, and then some. On Tuesdays my ears heard certain things. Less peculiar, given names wore off — not like God, but something equally absurd.

“Breaking up every single morning. Get me to a stash of memories, or maybe later, or maybe you’ll do the getting.”

“Got it.”

There were hood ornaments for true unbelievers and a slam-bang finale to sum up the day. Clearing nothing up, we sat around, bent cards, loosened up all the ends we knew. Blustering became us all too well.

“The American Fame Machine that manufactures personalities to be digested by the masses.”

“Yes. Yes. Posterity’s sorely lacking in this photo-op of a life, no?”

She kept a book of guns in her hip pocket and shot marbles like a conman. Nobody knew her middle name.

“Growing impatient with all the deescalating, huh?”

“I’ll tell me…or you would, so listen: ‘Privet is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Common Emerald, Common Marbled Carpet, Copper Underling, the Engrailed, Mottled Beauty, Scalloped Hazel, Small Angle Shades, The V-Pug and Willow Beauty.’ That’s uselessly full, correct?”

“It’ll do.”

“We’ve got butter sans flies. Epic? Later.”

In the Popularity Rooms we didn’t have space to reflect. Change? That would have to be something that never just happened. Or else.

“Stayed?”

“No. Out. And (dot, dot, dot) if you’re going to reconfigure the distance between us with a tabloid sensibility, well, then, well.”

“What’s the nicest to you can be?”

“Mean.”

Salubrious, convalescent, digging in for the short haul, we never knew opulence like our poorness. A fever never dreamt, what was never becoming but would always last. Someone murmurs, “Should’a would’a could’a…well, shit.”

“The most eligible bachelor in town. An alchie, too, but who’s naming?”

“Wisecracks without wit or humor. Let’s put some mileage between us, Cottonwood.”

“Bars with better air, that’s where you’ll find me. Where the distinguished bums go. Wet my back teeth with some of the finest stuff. Sure. I’ll get me sanctified somehow.”

Just a couple of character actors, bled to this. Turning the other cheek for so long that your face is nothing but blood and bruises. Reflections from a rear-view mirror. Broken things to never be replaced.

“Let’s just go get drunk in the afternoon, please.”

“Keep shaking that fist. Buckets of money in towns you can’t remember the name of.”

“Keeping it up, as salubrious as ever…for somebody’s sake.”

“Parroting you is really the best.”

“We never got married or anything like that?”

“Strange as it is, no. And after I read you Mickey Spillane out loud all those nights.”

“Mugger.”

“Photo ops only, per se.”

There were transactions to never process. Conditions to never have. And everybody didn’t know it, too. Revamped circumstances never felt so minuscule. Brooding through dooms of hate.

“Things are never going to be that exciting or dangerous ever again, and that’s a damn shame.”

“We are not who we once always were. All those records, broken now, the ones we couldn’t get enough of playing over and over as the fog horns sighed just for us all through the night.”

“There are eels in the whiskey. I just know it.”

“Pigeons too…maybe. Feet and beak and mottled wings and all. ”

“Just be true enough. We’re old enough. Just be true.”

“Sure.”

“That’s the stuff.”

“It sure is.”

“I keep listening to your voicemails, just to hear your voice again.”

“So right. So wrong. Same old news. Stop it.”

“Sure.”

“And I miss you…”

“Sure.”

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