5.01 / January 2010


My kitten is furry and has a spot—that looks like a bruise Frederick gave me for Christmas—just below its eye.

Frederick says something like “blow job,” and I just sit there watching TV. He storms out of the room, taking heavy steps.

He disappears into the hallway. When he disappears like this, it makes me shiver, gives me a kind of thrill, and makes me think of Erin, and the furniture in my bedroom, which still smells like her.

I take some of Erin’s Zoloft, which she gave me on our first date and two minutes later I am rubbing my pussy in tiny, concentrated circles on my Ikea Bernhard easy chair. I listen to the shower and keep rubbing.

I run into Erin at Ikea in Emeryville and I almost don’t know what to say. She looks so different, so small and gray, so frail, weakened by experiences that seem, somehow, to be beyond her control. As if life is now living without her. As if that wonderful moan that once lived inside her has become mute, strangled into an odd submission that only shopping can cure.

When she sees me, I say “hello.” There seems to be this flickering, stinging fire in her eyes that shoots straight through me and that belies her anorexia, her fragile body’s sad deterioration.

We approach the same register, siphoned off into the same line by a reflexive longing undercut by the exhaustion of a massive three day sale. I feel myself go forward, and she seems to get smaller as she approaches the cashier, who swipes her card and then manually punches in the total for the four Stockholm easy chairs.

“What do you think?” she asks.

“I like your faux furniture,” I say casually, trying to avoid looking at her face, which has haunted and diminished me since our break-up.

There is a long silence interrupted by a group of children doing things.

“Can I get you some food?”

She is standing off to the side, listening to my silence, caressing the moan—with her stare—that is inside me, helping it emerge, flighted, ripping.

I unload my new Sony widescreen plasma TV.


We walk over to a long line of over-sized shopping carts, and say nothing, our silence nearly palpable.
For the next few hours, we eat tapioca pudding at the Taco Bell inside the Emeryville Ikea. Some of the pudding gets on my nose and I freeze. Erin smiles, and just ignores it.

But I can’t ignore it. All this rubbing makes me feel sad, or empty, like I am just all this meat, or a robot. Or maybe, like, I am dead or something. But, that would still mean that I am just all this meat, or a robot. I come to realize that I can’t be dead, though, because my pussy’s sore.

So, I keep rubbing it.

I slap my face for two minutes and think of Frederick dressed in my tight gray slacks looking like a lesbian, like Erin. I imagine going down on him, but instead of his cock (also from Ikea), he spreads his legs to reveal an inverted seashell. I stick my tongue in the inverted seashell and a small bubble splits in two. I don’t know what these two smaller bubbles that form in the shell are, but I dream of Erin and me, and these thoughts make me feel calm.

I finger my toes and sniff my finger. It stinks. I try licking the tapioca off my nose, but I can hardly get my tongue out of my mouth. I imagine Gene Simmons licking a twelve year old girl that looks like Erin dressed in a dog collar and leash. Gene Simmons’ freakishly long tongue makes the Erin girl faint. This is the only way Gene Simmons can get Erin to go down on him. It’s funny but Erin looks so happy sucking Gene Simmons.

The tapioca stays on my nose.

While Frederick takes a shower, washes his hair, I call Erin. Nobody answers. I try again. Still no answer. My pussy’s swollen, hard to open, but inside it’s empty. Alone, again, my neediness succumbs to despair. Frederick comes in, takes the remote, and watches TV with it.

I sift through an Ikea catalogue, naked, ignored. I watch Frederick’s fingers tap the buttons on the remote, the TV screen blinking open, closed, open, closed. I cross my legs. Frederick puts his cock back into his pants, he wipes some muck off my nose, disappears into the hall. I pick up the phone, and pause.

It’s hard trying to give flowers to no one.


“I think we’d better find parking,” David said to no one.

No one answered back.

There was this spot near G-5, but a Honda Civic took it. There were five Chinese kids in a van near J-10 and their mom was there. They laughed at David when he couldn’t turn left. Then there was that one over there near A-12, but it was for motorcycles or something. So, David tried to squeeze it in there but it wouldn’t fit. Plus he didn’t want to be so far from Main Street.

The handicapped one was blue and it was close. So, he waited for, like, an hour to get that one, but when the crippled people came out to get there Lincoln Continental, this other crippled couple snuck into the space real fast.

This made David mad, a little. So, he drove around eating barbeque corn nuts and some drink. When he got to the bottom of the drink he slurped it through a straw that made him remember his dad. So he thought about his dad for a while in the D-section and then he took a right cause he thought he saw a car leave but it was a traffic cop who got a space with this girl, who was antsy, and the traffic cop stared at David like he was saying, “Does your healthy sex life interfere with your writing practice?”

And I think David said, “I don’t know.” Or maybe he said, “Wait, I’m not sure,” out loud to himself cause he was still looking for parking, but he looked into the seat next to him like he was talking to no one.

And no one answered back.

Then he drove around section Q and he had all these questions about life, but then he thought he noticed the reflection of the sun or something flash off a bumper of a car that was leaving, but it was just this thing that he couldn’t explain.

And then he blacked out.

His car moved, almost all by itself, slowly, for a long time, until it went into this other car that was parked in section U. The other vehicle bumped into a pole, gently, as if it was tapping someone on the shoulder. The pole was really a straight line with a light on top that went to nowhere. David’s head nodded dopily—like he was saying “yes”—in its sleep, then stopped.

He was blacked out.

There was a sign of U that was shaken up, slightly.

Then this girl wearing a Mickey Mouse hat with ears came out of nowhere and, looking around all frantic, said, “R-u-O-k-,” like she had lost her car or something.

The horn kept honking.

No one answered back.