When I landed in the west, I had an idea about it that was false. And that falsehood remained, a constant blurting that reconditioned me along with my opinions. The west was just a place like any other place. I wasn’t going to get better here. I’d descended in better places, and there was a physical reminder about that, a line across the underside of my jaw.
I couldn’t believe the speed of it. The way, all of the sudden, you’re fucked up against the wall and some guy is dragging your face down the rough brick. Or, opposite, the girl, lithe and tanned, is sticking her tongue in your mouth. It was all I could do to react in either situation, and those seemed like the only kind of situations that were happening to me. Or to anyone else I knew.
I had the phone as a way out. A solution to all things the alcohol could not stifle on its own. With a phone, you could step into the light hours away, in Australia, or Missouri. With the phone, you could make pretend. And that’s what I wanted. But I got lost in the dial tone. In the rotary clicks that recalled a youth spent wrapped in the elongated telephone cords as my mother talked to her tennis partners.
I spent a few days looking for suits online. Then I went to a store and got the grey one. A few days after that, I got on the plane. There was line of people and they all had to shake my hand. They pursed their lips. They grabbed my fist with two of theirs. They mentioned times I had no idea about. Another day and I got back on the plane. When I got home, I took off the suit and wondered if I could return it.
by Hank Cherry