The girlfriend's cybernetic double glided into the foyer mewling a question. "Define question," I said. Unfazed, she flailed about the front room, plunged into the garden. She said, "Define I. Define you and I. Define new love." I declared the cyborgs wed and her hair faded, and she vanished, starting with the feet.
Esquivel is retired.
A sanguine layman's announcement of pregnancy justice—the mayor, the captain, the general, and a number of habitual commandoes, the murder of some dudes—no, he quit, went vegan, stopped wearing cologne. Even his horse is sober. From the cinema of mediation to the boredom of the real. Esquivel established a salon of this and that—an outré soldier who gilds his companions.
"God's a pervert—Pocono after Pocono of every possible Levantine infelicity. Traitors. Hey—I'm not pregnant. Come on, poke it. Wasn't me entertained the captain. Plus, you speak like some poor lecher. Talk to Manrique—he'll spare you the squiggly judo."
He locutes with double rows of gold teeth, in the bland guise of an argument. The same way Cortez decided to live, sin, and vacillate alone in the trees, he indulges the cruelly necessary crumpling of his conscience, busking with his quartet of cronies and demons, part Christian, part wolf.
"I'm a soiled moocher, my valued friend. My habits are languid and divine. Pour us an oleaginous horror. Alonso's pregnant, not this recondite tattler. Do you have the munchies?"
"Stab me a blooming onion, and a side dish. Keep the quince separate. And stop being a ninny suckup."
Gradually, the fire dies, the lost version of the day aborts in the cavern of our consultation. His mode grows proud, tender. Manhood, bastardy accumulate in the maze of habit. I'm lost, already done.
A faded entry into the cult of point-of-view: send a query to the mossy library of debased gems and boring nations. Live possums, pouring out memos in DOS that men fail to comprehend. Abundant as nosy libertines, those volumes aren't making money or elevating rude styles—they're props for some Tammany campsite, a moldy agriculture. Their amiable instruction mitigates all previous clarity. Then, an affable rustic liar customizes a desperate outro, sounds the gnostic fake alarm. The yes-man's perspective, this grand, oppressive procedure.
After the bridge came apart and the pier washed out north toward R———, Kyla left Sam and Tyler, bought me a soda, and tightened her seven fingers around my fighter hound tattoo. "Six thousand men, all bums and meatballs." We hitchhiked eight kilometers a day on average, squatted in supermarkets and coffee shops. Her artistry on the flute got us gigs, kept us from begging. Okey-Panky, we were called; I couldn't sing, but I barked, and staggered on one leg.
"All liaisons are built on trust," she said, her fair hair plastered to her million-dollar beak. "Alfred geeked off to Nairobi. Hans kvetched, John demurred. Pal, are you coming?"
"I got grass," I said, skittish and pessimistic. My ass was dragging like a Spaniard's.
"Kaufman was a bigot. Marko was annoying. Hanratty liked a nooner, but at Kristi's house."
I was shaky. At the soccer stadium, I ran afoul of my emotions and skipped out to the fjords. I found an inn, sunk into a blue nautical hollow. I was the same hangdog pawn folks once called a blockhead. Now I pour an honest vinegar into the gangrene of my ache and cozy up to the empty picture frame of my former vigor and adoration.
Pennants, nameless tchotchkes, moonbeams, decorative camouflages. Yves is tricked out in Polish macramé, a camp, rococo catastrophe. He narrates from an epicenter: "My trick knee! The crick in my neck! I'm hampered by taxes!"
"Eat a paracetamol."
Shoulders bunched, "To the hermitage," he exhales. Piqued for a moment, he establishes a berth, dodoesque, upon his own timpanic robes. "Better to be captured." He makes a photo appear: he, posed with his child. Sighs. Waves his hands at his crown. "Heaven's arcana. A parabolic masterpiece. October's Nebraska regatta of discrete hobos. I need a project."
"Ask my roommate."
He cackles. "Her?" Then: "Yeah, okay."
These pieces are part of a larger bunch of stories I've been working on; they are the result of my attempts to "translate" randomly selected texts from languages I do not speak. Some of the source texts came from the library; others from google-translated English web pages. Some of them were literary in nature; others, not; still others, I have no idea.