By Torrey Paquette
David and Lucinda are waiting for the bus together in the triangle below Canal Street. David looks at Lucinda who looks at Ralph, who is also waiting, checking his watch, pacing and waiting. They are all nervous, especially David and Ralph. Lucinda is less nervous by about 3 degrees, if nerves are to be measured like the temperature. Ralph is bilking his family out of millions as we speak; David, whose ethics aren’t as elastic, is also doing something wrong, but it is less wrong than what Ralph is doing. Lucinda is being a bit of a fidget, putting her hand in her purse, thumbing the bristles of her hairbrush; fingers-on-bristles calms her when she is being goosey. She is often being goosey. She stole this brush from an old friend years ago because the rigidity of the bristles lent it a certain sexual frisson, and then she lost it and had the worst time finding an adequate replacement. When she finally found it again she asked her then-husband did he remember the brush she lost a few weeks ago? No, he said and she said: Well, I found it anyway. David is asking Ralph for the time. David has a wristwatch that Ralph can see, but David is just making conversation. Ralph is giving him the time and David is thanking. They are all three hating each other. Lucinda decided when she woke up that she does not like this day. It is a pointless day. Ralph hasn’t thought about day liking or not liking for a while, mostly because of the bilking. David, the biggest in the group, is sweating and juxtaposing swear words with safe words that rhyme: cockthesock. Is it really hot or really cold? They don’t know, but it is one of these things. Ralph, who laughs at crying children, is mentally adding and subtracting and arriving at figures he likes, but, later discovering he carried a seven instead of a crucial two, will find that they are inflated. Ralph is a monster. Lucinda is opening her eyes wide and then squeezing shut and then opening like this o – o – o – o as if she repeatedly cannot believe what she is seeing but it is just a tic and she is believing everything she is seeing. David and Lucinda and Ralph know they deserve what is coming to them. They have visited zoos and wondered what the animals are thinking. They have been to towns they wish didn’t exist. They have forgotten things they promised to never forget and remembered things they never thought they would. They are wondering: is Elton John’s Rocket Man the same spaceman as David Bowie’s Major Tom? They are terrifically terrible these three; they are scared.
– Torrey Paquette is a television producer for “Charlie Rose,” the PBS interview program. He began writing fiction while attending Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English. Currently, he is working on a collection of short stories.