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Four Shorts

Somehow Only I Got In Trouble

We didn’t want Benjamin to die because most of us liked Benjamin and if that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about the man then I don’t know what will. What I’m saying is we enjoyed his company. We liked how he’d tell us jokes and eat his carrots and do his crossword puzzles. We always tried to help him with his crossword puzzles but he never wanted our help. He’d tell us to fuck off and what did we know. The truth is he was right most of the time, most of us didn’t know anything. I remember once we tried to help him with a mountain in Asia and the natives who are expert mountaineers there and he started crying and then someone said not this again and someone else started throwing punches and from there it was a full on rumble. I remember Benjamin called it a donnybrook but I said it was more of a melee and then someone else called it a fracas and this is when everything went haywire. We probably all should have fucked off when we had the chance is my point. But Benjamin was always smarter than most of us or at least he seemed that way. It seemed like maybe he was older or climbed mountains himself or slept in the park. He’d show up every day with leaves in his hair and dirt under his nails. We knew he’d be upset if someone asked him about the leaves in his hair or the dirt under his nails so we never did ask him. Once someone tried to take one of his carrots out of the plastic bag he kept in his knapsack and I’m telling you the man had a fit. He started convulsing and then he fell to the ground and kicked his legs and held his stomach like he’d been punched there. He was like that on the ground for two whole hours wailing. We know it was two hours because we timed him. I thought maybe he’d pass out but he never did. Still, he’d made a spectacle of himself and maybe this was why not all of us liked him very much. Although maybe it was because of his attitude and how he thought he was smarter than the rest of us. You could tell by the way he did his crossword puzzles and told us to fuck off all the time. If he was that smart he’d of been the one to fuck off a long time ago and who knows, maybe he’d be alive today. Maybe he’d be off somewhere climbing one of his mountains in Asia, telling the little sherpas to go fuck off because he didn’t need their help and what did they know.


The Question As We Understand It

The man is telling the woman to shut the fuck up. He tells her this and he tells her this. He is adamant. He is emotional. We don’t know what the woman is saying to the man or what she is trying to say. The woman probably wants to go to dinner but the man has already eaten is our best guess. We assume this is what’s happened because it makes sense. She seems like someone that likes to go to dinner and he seems like someone that’s already eaten. Regardless, it is important to him that the woman shut the fuck up and although we don’t know anything about this woman or what she is trying to say we tend to agree with the man in this particular case. Perhaps under different circumstances we’d side with the woman, there’s no way of knowing. But today we’d prefer it if the woman did, in fact, shut the fuck up. We think she should consider his feelings, his needs and though she couldn’t possibly know this, we too, have recently eaten and cannot bear the thought of more food.


The Problem with Green Bananas

She said she couldn’t because her week was bananas. I told her I like bananas. I said I cut them up and put them in my cereal in the morning. I don’t cut up a banana every morning, though, and I told her this. Sometimes I can’t find a ripe banana. Sometimes I go to five different stores and can’t find a single ripe banana. You’d think it were a conspiracy. You’d think all the grocers, supermarkets and bodegas have it in for me. And I won’t buy green bananas. I won’t give them the satisfaction. Green bananas are like life insurance to my way of thinking. I’ve always been shortsighted like this, can never see myself living long enough to enjoy a green banana or collect life insurance. I mean anyone’s life insurance, not mine, of course. I know that I can’t collect on my own life insurance, if I had any, which I don’t. If I die tomorrow no one is getting paid off but me. I don’t think I’m anyone’s beneficiary, either. Not even my father if he’s still alive. He disowned me years ago but I don’t blame him for that. He had better things to do than own someone that doesn’t have the foresight to buy a green banana. It’s not like I don’t know that green bananas turn yellow in time, in theory, I’ve just never seen it happen. I’m sure if I were to buy a green banana and it’d stay that way. I don’t know what this says about me except that maybe I’m faithless. Except I’m not sure it’s true that I’m faithless, either. I’m sure there’s something I believe in and if you gave me a second I could probably come up with a whole list. My father wouldn’t be on it if he’s still alive, although I doubt he is. I never saw him as the type that’d live a long time. I probably get that from him, if I get anything at all, other than the cutting up of bananas. If he’s dead I’m sure he died standing up and talking back because that’s how I remember him. He wouldn’t take anything off anybody and that’s another thing I get from him. This is what I told her when she said her week was bananas and before she even had a chance to reply I got right in her face and said you’d better believe it sister.


The Entire Story

The ear has been bleeding for two hours and so far nothing has staunched the bleeding. Not direct pressure, nor applying an ice cube to the wound. The bleeder had once heard that cold constricts blood vessels, but apparently it doesn’t always work. Perhaps cold only constricts certain blood vessels, either veins or arteries or capillaries, but not all of them, not the one the bleeder had opened two hours ago. The bleeder had cut himself while shaving his head. It is not important, in this instance, to point out the man’s name or how often he shaves his head. For the sake of argument, say he shaves his head every day. What would this prove? What would it say about him as an individual? One could make certain deductions about his character, perhaps, or at least his grooming habits. But past that there is nothing to be gained by this information. What’s pertinent is that he was on his way to meet Django and he wanted to look clean for her. Django likes to run her hands over his head and he always likes it whenever she does this. These are the whys and wherefores, the entire story. The world isn’t always a complicated place. It seems important to note, however, before we conclude, that Django isn’t the woman’s given name, isn’t a proper name at all, nor does anyone else refer to her as Django.


Robert Lopez

ROBERT LOPEZ is the author of two novels, Part of the World and Kamby Bolongo Mean River and a collection of short fiction, Asunder.


The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2014

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