Thursday, November 01, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012, Day 1 

Not sure if I'll post these each day, but here is Day 1.  1700+ words and counting!


                A song had brought me to this place.  Songs always take me places, of course, whether it is to a busy block in Brooklyn that I’ve never been to, or to a reminder of that poker table in Vegas at 2 o’clock in the morning, but that’s simply the transformative power of music.  This was a step farther, the transformation of my mind made real.
I was sitting in an actual restaurant, on the actual 14th floor of a hotel in Rosslyn, VA.  The view from our table was of the Potomac, and the lights of Georgetown, and Roosevelt Island.  A plane was making its final approach into National Airport.  A jogger was crossing the Key Bridge into Washington, DC.  A cab honked at a cab and swerved to avoid another cab.
The song played in my head; the place had now brought me to the song.
Which song it was that had brought me here doesn’t matter.  It could be any song, because to me, to another, it might’ve been anything: bluegrass, metal, world dance, instrumental jazz.  Simply, whenever I heard that song, I pictured myself dining at this restaurant, on a night this dark, with a woman like this: darkly complected, in a sapphire dress showing one shoulder, preferring to drink both sparkling water and gin.  The song made me feel high, not like a chemical intoxication, but like a bird.  And so here I was, on the top of a hill, on the top floor of a hotel, gazing down into what cynics would call a swamp.  As high as I was, however, I didn’t see a swamp; I saw a reservoir for all that was modern and complex, with a river flowing alongside to wash away the rest.
My dining companion, Alexis, was talking about the rain that had persisted for two days and nights, falling almost up to the minute before I had collected her outside of the lobby of her building.
I had stepped out of the cab and I could hear, through the car door that I had left open, the cabbie’s one-sided conversation into an earpiece that didn’t deserve such spittle and anger.  As I helped Alexis into the cab, however, he stopped talking, just for a moment, out of respect.  The rain had paused as well, possibly just for a moment, or maybe forever.  The engine clicked, rather than roared, and we sped into the night.
With a single index finger, the way she might’ve traced the tiger stripe on her cat’s back if we were side by side on her couch with the TV on instead of across a table from each other in stiff-backed chairs with linen in our laps, she swirled a stirrer in her cocktail.  This was not something that one just did; it was a skill, practiced over years of cocktails, thousands of dim lounges and bright dinner parties.  She stirred it mindlessly as she talked about the stages that the rain had presented itself in: mist, then icy daggers, then driven sheets.  She idly stirred her drink, not because she was nervous or at a loss, but quite the opposite.  She was a woman of action, confidence, and thoughtfulness.  She couldn't have not stirred her drink and she couldn't have not stirred it in that fashion.
"Twinnie," she said, "do you like the rain?”  She knew that I did, so no answer was necessary.  She noted the all but imperceptible nod of my head.  She knew that I preferred the rain to anything else and it was only because of our dinner plans and how they may have been impacted by it that its passing hadn't pitched me into a great despair.
Nearby, a waiter dropped a glass.  The carpeted floor kept the glass from shattering, although the ice cubes skittered in one hundred directions and a vision of the man's job flashed before everyone's eyes.  The restaurant manager stood in the corner, nervously fingering the cuff of his suit jacket.  This was not a restaurant that tolerated ice cubes on the floor, however eventually and effortlessly they might have faded into nothingness.
The waiter, caught between decorum and professionalism, gave in to fear and began chasing the individual cubes from his hands and knees.  A cube had come to rest under our table and I crushed it into the fibers of the carpet with the heel of my wing tip before the man could intrude on our meal from underfoot.
“Twinnie”, Alexis said again, “tell me again about your trip?”
Again, this was not a question from a woman desperate for circuitous talking intended to hasten the passage of time.  She was actually asking about the trip.  It was a pointed question, meant to elicit a specific response.  Her intent became clear when she immediately interrupted me just as I had begun to recite my itinerary.
“Explain to me once again why I can't come with you?”
My upcoming trip, which would take me away from my home, away from Alexis, for two weeks, was a car trip to New York City and then flights to Brussels, Moscow, Auckland, Los Angeles, before back in to Dulles.
“You can’t be gone for two weeks, Hon.  You have to be here.  And until we know who we can trust, we can’t travel together.”
An alternative presented itself: “You could go and I could stay here.”
She answered quickly, firmly, with a quick movement of her head: “No.”
“Alright.  Then do you have a work around?  Have you already worked this one out?  Are you three steps ahead of me?  Again, and as always?”
Her answer this time was vexed and pitiful: “No.”  Her hand left her drink and she focused on something out in the night sky.  “Two weeks!  Why two weeks?”
“Circumnavigating the globe takes time.  At least this time my travel is closed ended.  Last time I was supposed to only be gone for 3 days and it was a week in a half.”
“…and I died a thousand deaths with each passing hour.”  Her answer was as if she was completing a sentence that I hadn’t realized needed finishing.
I took a sip of wine.  “Listen: I once knew a woman who had to have a special kind of eye surgery.  Her after-care involved keeping her head positioned face down.  Like, all the time.  She had a specially designed chair that facilitated this; picture a massage chair with a face cutout, so that she could read or watch TV or examine, intensely and in excruciating detail, the same bit of carpeting.  This was for as much as 22 hours a day, for two whole weeks.  When she slept, she also had to remain face down – she had a special face pad for that as well.  And keep in mind that this was many years ago, before tiny and pervasive internet devices.  And back then, TVs weren’t high-definition or portable – they were pieces of furniture.  So if she did watch TV, Match Game ‘77 perhaps, or the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite, she had to rig a series of mirrors.”
“What are you…”
I talked over her.  “She didn’t think she could do it.  When presented with a choice of eventual complete blindness or a two week recovery in the manner I’ve just described, she took time making a decision.  Her choice was not immediately obvious.  But, eventually, she went through with the surgery, just as any normal person would.  She complied with and completed the rigorous after care.  She emerged on the other end of the two weeks with all of her mental faculties intact and then, a year and a half later – you know what I’m about to say here, Hon, don’t you – that woman gave birth to the two of us.  She laid her eyes on you and then we were a pair, reunited on the outside, and she saw both of us.”
“That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard you say.”  Alexis was shaking her head, but she couldn’t help smile a bit at the mention of our mother.
“You know I’m right: you’ll be fine.”
“Twinnnnie!”  She rarely whined like this.  She reached for her cocktail and pointed at me with it.  “You’d better bring me something expensive; something beautiful and expensive.”
This negotiating belied her discomfort with our impending separation.  She was seriously stressed out and nothing, not several gin and tonics nor the anticipation for a diamond and emerald tennis bracelet could fully soothe her.  I already had a visit to her favorite Russian designer’s boutique in mind, but these gifts that I brought were easily forgotten, insignificant parts of my trips that were as rote and the presentation of a boarding pass or the return of one’s seat tray to the upright and locked position.  Truly, it was the tense moments on the unsecured side of the airport’s security gate and then her arms around my neck, once I had been safely returned to her, that were the only presents that she required.
The song was playing in my head again.
Of course twins are always close, and closer than other siblings might be.  But our relationship was intense even above that.  A sonogram had shown us embraced so tightly in utero, that the doctor was shocked when we emerged, not conjoined, but separately.  For our mother, we were easy to feed, to change, to bathe, to settle, as long as we were touching.  Otherwise, we were inconsolable. 
Now, as adults, we still are in constant contact: daily, hourly.  We don’t live together, but we might as well.  We each have our own bedroom in the others’ house.  Neither of us has much use for romantic relationships, although I know a woman in Los Angeles that I do admit I was looking forward to seeing at the tail end of my trip.
Alexis was chewing and I gestured for more wine.  From the lobby, just outside of the dining room, a woman had begun to play the piano.  Alexis played the piano.  She had been dragged to lessons and through practices for years, but since I never went with her, she resented the instrument.

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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Campus Fountain 

The pipes were exposed in the dry bed. The copper was green with oxidation which made them look old. The worn ends of the electrical wires that connected a junction box to the broad spotlights proved their age.

The fountain had been dry as long as I had been visiting the campus, from the middle of my HS career to now many years after attending and graduated from here.

Every time I visit I take a few minutes to sit, on a bench or on the low cinder block wall near the library. I like to think back to my time here, trying to balance so many things that were so important with a few things that were not as much. I spent so much time sequestered in the library, desperate to stay focused, trying to keep myself from thinking about coeds, trying to stay awake, trying to solve a mathematics problem. I would go from the library to the dining hall and back again, returning to more reading or chemistry with a pilfered apple in my book bag. I try to remember classes that I had in buildings that no longer exist. I wonder how old my oldest professors are now and if they are still teaching or retired or dead.

My dorm mates and I threw a frisbee when the weather was nice or stayed inside with music and video games when it wasn't. Waking up to snow and canceled classes was a magical thing.

I think about these things, old memories of youth and they comfort me not because they are from a time without stress or heartbreak or loss but because they all come marinated in an innocence that has been drained from my life as it now stands.

Inevitably, as I sit, my mind wanders and I find myself trying to picture what the fountain might look like in full repair and operation.

I can see the depth of the night that covers the campus. The lights are on and small motors rotate colored discs in front of the spot lights so that the red light morphs into blue and then into green and then yellow and then red...

I can hear the hiss of the water as it erupts from the tips of the just exposed pipes. The water arcs upwards, refracts the light and then splashed back down, not directly into the surface of the water, but against the carved stone centerpiece.

There is no wall to delineate the boundary of the fountain, but the guts of the fountain, the wires and lights and the junction box and the copper piping sit in a dimple in the concrete, intentionally formed to keep the water from running as it pleases. And, yes, I can see the wet footprint caused at first by the water waiting its turn for a run through the tubing and then where the spray drifts and settles based on the breeze and the minute imperfections of the rock that cause the water to bounce off with unknowable trajectories. The imperfections in the rock influence the water and the water, over time, influences the imperfections in the rock.

But that doesn't happen anymore. The lights are dark and the concrete dimple is dry.


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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Excerpt from Day 2 

Here is a small excerpt from what I wrote today.

My NaNoWriMo2011 work-in-progress is called "The Block" and it is about a block of shops and restaurants in a small college town. The novel will focus on the shop owners, their employees, their interactions, their customers, whatever.

The first two characters have been introduced:
  1. Kitty, owner of More Fibre, runs a knitting shop. Mrs. Asham and Alice Kindle are two regular customers of Kitty's under-performing business.
  2. Marie, owner of Bold City, runs a coffee shop, which is steadily successful.

Marie rolled her eyes extra hard for Kitty’s benefit and Kitty suppressed a giggle. Kitty felt that Marie was her protector, and that with Marie’s friendship and maybe some timely advice, she might just make her shop a success.

“How’s business?” Kitty knew what the answer would be, but wanted just to talk with Marie, to swap stories, share secrets, to become her friend.

“Steady Eddie. People need their coffee and luckily they come to me to get it.”

“Yeah…” Kitty’s reply was wistful. She wished that people needed yarn and thread and crochet hooks in order to wake up in the morning or to perform at work. She wished that there was some substance in the yarn that rubbed off on a knitter’s fingers and if they didn’t get a bit of that substance on their fingertips every day, they would get headaches and act cranky and feel like a zombie when 3 in the afternoon rolled around. She wished that people came into her shop every day and spent money, regardless of the economy or how many financial self-help books lectured them that one way to make ends meet and to grow savings was to simply kick that yarn habit.

Kitty wished that old friends who needed to catch up with each other’s lives browsed yarn colors while they talked about their kids and their spouses and their medical problems.

Alternatively, she wished that she could own a coffee shop as well. Marie could teach her how to make all of those exotic espresso drinks with names like caffay oh lay and they would be best friends with two super successful cafés that didn’t compete with each other at all. Kitty would be just as skinny as Marie, although that would have to be the result of some sort of synergistic magic, because Kitty was pretty sure that she would never take up running.

The simplicity of Marie’s answer was unbelievable to Kitty. It was as if Marie couldn’t help it: the coffee was flying out of the door in spite of any attempts to stop or restrain it. The money flowed into her accounts even if she closed them and changed banks; the money would find her.

Kitty needed 100 more Mrs. Ashams. She needed 1000 more Alice Kindles.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Tin Ceiling 

Susan was awake, but she hadn’t opened her eyes yet. It wasn’t only that her head hurt. She had a strong sense that something was wrong. It was a kind of hangover intuition that belied her dim memory of the night before.

She started to think through what she could remember, the images scrolling across her brain like the news ticker at the bottom of her TV screen.

That was a fun night last night. Did I drink wine and gin? Oh god. At least I looked cute. We sure did a lot of dancing. I was dancing with Lisa and Jimmy and Alex… Oh no! ALEX!

She sat straight up in bed. Her black eyeshade, which had allowed her to sleep until almost 10:30, was now pushed back, holding her hair out of her face.

Her body parts complained in unison. Her dancing muscles were sore, her stomach was sour, and her mouth was like a desert. Sitting on the edge of the bed now, the clock showing 10:23am, she noticed that her husband was gone.

And thank god the kids had been away overnight, or she would have had to let them watch cartoons for a few hours. She would have spilled some dry Cheerios onto the carpet for them and then gone back to bed.

Jimmy was probably driving to get the kids now, to his parents’ house. He had always been better with liquor than she. He could function through it, and through its aftermath.
What did I do last night?

She checked her phone and it was the sweetest message, really:
“Doll – on my way to get kids HYDR8 xox.”
Reading that, she melted, because Jimmy was a fantastic man, an ideal husband. He was the reason that she was able to stay home with their three kids, her three angels.

But then she thought of the poop that she had had to clean out of the carpet the day before, and her stomach twisted, so she forced her thoughts back to the night before, her birthday dinner.
She had worn her new top, the one that Lisa had helped her pick out. Lisa wouldn’t have worn it herself, because of how low it was cut. Jimmy had complimented her on it and Alex, Lisa’s husband, had certainly appreciated it as well. She could recall the exact moment that Alex had gotten a view down her top because she had let him. Or, rather, she hadn’t tried to hide anything. She knew when it had been because that was right before he had kissed her.

During dinner, the spouses sat across from each other and Susan and Alex found themselves sitting next to each other. Susan found she could not stop touching Alex throughout the meal. He would pour more wine for her, or say a joke or compliment her in some way and every time she would reach to touch his arm or lean her body into his if she was mid-bite or laughing too hard. During dessert she felt him watching her through the mirror that hung on the wall behind his wife.

After dinner, when they had moved down the street from the restaurant to a bar with cheap draft beer and loud music where she was drinking gin, Susan took Alex’s hand and they began to slow dance. It wasn’t really a proper dance. They were barely moving and the music was not really appropriate for any kind of dancing. It was more of a reason for them to touch each other again.

Both of their spouses were right there, and since everyone was friends, this sort of affection wasn’t remarkable on its own. If anyone had pressed them on their dancing, if Lisa or Jimmy had expressed any concern about the birthday girl’s behavior with her husband’s best friend, the pair could have separated themselves and claimed intoxication and bliss and, “It’s my birthday. Leave me alone!”

Susan said this last part out loud to the empty house.

The two were still holding each other. Alex’s hand was in the small of Susan’s back holding her to him. Susan had hooked a finger into Alex’s belt loop.

He said, “Did you notice the tin tiles on the ceiling?”

She looked up and saw the painted tin squares decorating the ceiling above them. Each square had a fleur de lys stamped on it and a decorative ribbing along the edge. It was a beautiful, old ceiling for such a dingy bar. The ceiling, however, had been a diversion and by lifting her head, she had exposed her neck and Alex‘s lips had found her there.

Alex had been using this move, this trick, since he had introduced it one lonely night back when he was single and Susan and Jimmy were only just dating. She still fell for it every time. He was always trying to get her to look up, this time at the ceiling but other times at a new moon or a sign on the side of a building.

“Is that food on you? Let me see – lift your chin up.” he would say.

It was a harmless prank that even their spouses could appreciate. She would giggle and she would push him away, just not too quickly. She loved it when Alex stole a kiss.
He put a song on the jukebox – a type of music she didn’t care for – heavy metal. But he had played it for her. They were dancing again and their spouses were leaning into the bar, arguing some political point. Alex explained the lyrics to Susan, whispering them into her ear as the singer sang them.

The song was loud and the guitars were not something that she had an ear for, but the song had a melodic refrain during the parts that Alex was whispering into her neck and at least it wasn’t the ABC song or the more literal sexuality of whatever it was that Jimmy listened to.

“Happy birthday.”

She smiled at that and kissed him quickly on the lips.

That must have been when the gin really took over because she remembered, vaguely, a different place – some dance club – and then Jimmy putting her into a cab and now here she was.

She made herself stand up. She needed coffee. She walked to the kitchen, humming a quiet melody to herself, letting her fingers trace an outline along her jaw and neck as she went.
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Tuesday, October 25, 2011


There is an embankment of grass that separates the Pentagon parking lot from a highway flyover. It used to be heavily wooded. Now it is but a collection of the assorted stumps scattered throughout the now treeless, grassy area.

Several years ago, maybe after September 11th or perhaps in light of the sniper that terrorized the area in 2002, all of the trees were cut down to stumps. These ashy stumps are still there, rotting, not hurting anyone except as a reminder of what had been.

Of course no effort was made to remove the stumps, because that would have been an unnecessary expenditure. Everyone knows that the Pentagon is the hallmark of efficiency.

So a bank of trees was positioned as to possibly conceal a terrorist and so they had no right to exist.

A recent flight from Philadelphia to San Francisco encountered engine trouble. Decision makers, people with homes and special needs children, people who enjoy a glass of wine with dinner or don’t or perhaps skipped dinner in favor of vodka martinis or a box of wine or a bottle of cheap tequila, decided that the plane should make an emergency landing, lest the plane make the evening news. After all, the plane was carrying people just like them: people with families and college loans, people who liked to play volleyball at the rec center two nights a week and have sex with the lights on and watch the televised broadcasts of the civic board meetings on the public access channel in the towns where they lived.

As a further safety precaution, to protect the teachers and baristas and nurses and horticulturists and professional chefs and motorcycle mechanics on board, it was determined that the fuel remaining in the bowels of the plane was too great of a hazard. As the plane completed its decent into a suitable Ohio airstrip, the contents of the fuel reservoir were evacuated into a nearby lake.

The lake was a home to a variety of flora and fauna, but because fish didn’t buy cars and because frogs have no use for iPhones , they were coated with hydrocarbons and promptly forgotten about.

Except that they had never been thought about. Decision makers, and the actuaries that they shared their office cubicles with, had no use for pond weed or lake trout or trees by the side of a road, unless these things were in a photograph in their month-at-a-glance wall calendar. They could not pin these things to their jacket lapel.

So yes, just put that half-full waxed paper cup of diet soda anywhere that is convenient for you.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Food Porn 

Temperature has been set and the oil is heating up. Unfortunately, the only thing the display shows is the target temperature, not the current temperature. So you just have to wait until the red light goes off.

The food is cooking. Action shot!

Tots! This is the first thing I tasted and it was amazing!

Broccoli bites and cheese sticks. Note the lack of tots in this picture. The pepper jack kind of disintergrated, but the cheddar was ever better than I thought. Like when you make nachos and the cheese burns on the edge of the plate? OMG.

The florets of the broccoli got burned. I was worried that the batter would be too think in between each little floret, but that's probably just what I wanted. Or just less cooking time.

And lastly, the fish. VERY good.


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The fryer itself is clean and ready to go. I have it set up on the back patio table.

The oil and the rest of the wet ingredients. The batter recipe calls for beer and seltzer. The marinara is for the cheese.

The dry ingredients. The fish batter has flour and baking powder. I might make a bread crumb coating for the cheese.

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Preparation and The Menu 

I'm fairly confident that this will go off without any problems. I suppose the only unknown is how messy this will get. After all, if I can do it on the stovetop in a pot of oil, I can do it in an actual deep fryer.

The Menu

  1. broccoli bites
  2. cheese sticks, 3 kinds: mozzarella, cheddar and pepper jack (OMG!)
  3. fish (cod)
The batter for all three will be the same, for ease. It is a beer batter that I found for the fish and it sounds just fine for the other two. In the future I will need to focus the batters, depending on what I'm frying. A batter for sweet things, for example, and a straight tempura style batter.

Everything is washed. Next up - the fryer.

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Deep Fry Thursday 

This is the first post of the day that will recount my adventures with my new deep fryer.

I hope to document every step and every delicious bite, but obviously pictures will take a backseat to me not burning the house down.

I have one data point of experience with deep frying and it was many years ago when I made tempura batter for shrimp and asparagus on the kitchen stove in a pot of oil. It worked OK, but it was dangerous and it made the apartment stink like grease for several days.

Now that I have a house with a deck and a backyard, I can do the frying outside!

This is gonna be great!


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Wednesday, January 26, 2011


For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.

When I got laid off from my job, I wasn’t too concerned at first. My wife was still working and we had savings. We didn’t have that many expenses.

And I wasn’t worried about my prospects.

I hold a Master’s degree in business administration with an impressive and continuous work history.

We live in a large city where there are plenty of companies engaged in commerce that should be, at least in theory, interested in my skill set.

“Something will come along” I told myself.

“This may actually be a good thing” I told my wife.

A week later to the day, my wife told me that she was pregnant. A small kernel of worry began to form in me, somewhere. But still, I wasn’t terribly concerned. Nine months would be a long time. In nine months, I figured that I’d have a solid start on a college fund. In nine months, we’d have the nursery painted yellow.

At 18 weeks, my wife’s best friend from university threw her a baby shower. Friends of ours traveled from up and down the east coast for the weekend. While the women were eating cake and opening gifts, I took the husbands and my poker buddies and a few work acquaintances to a whiskey bar. We slapped each other on the back and smoked fat cigars and at the end of the evening I put the lot on my credit card.

My wife was furious with me for that. She was spending more time being nervous and angry and impatient. I told her not to worry, in order to reassure her. I begged her not to worry, on account of the baby.

From the shower, there were so many gifts that they stood in stacks in our living room for 3 days before were able to sort through all of them. There were baby clothes and bins for soiled diapers and all sorts of baby things that I couldn’t even fathom.

One of the couples that had come to the shower weekend was The Manhattan Danfritzs, William and Jessica. Will was my closest friend from university. After graduation, we had lived near each other in New York City, during which time Jessica and my wife had become very close friends as well. William was a stock analyst and made good money right away but it wasn’t until he had been at it for a few years, just around the time that I had moved from Manhattan to attend graduate school, before he received a number of significant promotions in short time and really began to make a name for himself at his firm.

Jessica, William’s wife, was an entertainment lawyer. She too was an instant star in her firm. The two of them had become a power couple amongst the Manhattan elite and when they arrived at my wife’s baby shower, I hardly recognized them. They dressed differently and they talked differently, not just from how they had used to dress and talk, but differently from anyone I had ever met before.

This had made our back-slapping reunion at the whiskey bar a bit awkward. At the end of the night, my friends and ex-coworkers tried to pick up the tab, both because I was supposed to be the center of attention but also because they all knew that I was unemployed. Will was the only one who didn’t try to help pay because, I think, he couldn’t really understand what all of the fuss over a few hundred dollars was all about.

The day after the baby shower and my night out with the guys, my wife called me on my cell phone. I felt hung over, but I was following up on a few job leads anyway. I had left her at home going through the shower gifts.

“Did Will say anything to you about their gift to us?”

Going through the gifts again, Sarah had reexamined the pair of baby shoes that the Danfritzs had given us. She knows a bit about fashion and designers and, lately, all the best brands that sell clothing and shoes for both baby and mother. But she hadn’t heard of the brand of the baby shoes until she looked on the internet.

“Hon, these are $1000 baby shoes. Will and Jessica gave us $1000 baby shoes.”

I went home straight away to see the $1000 baby shoes.

Later that day, casually rubbing the toe of a $500 baby shoe with my thumb, I realized that I had missed a scheduled job interview. I had raced home to see The Shoes. Our savings account’s balance was slipping. The winter had been harsh and heating bills were the highest in years. Sarah’s cold had turned into bronchitis and, on account of the baby, the doctor’s bills had gotten large.

The next morning I received a voicemail about my missed interview. Apparently, I had wasted some important person’s time and I was informed that I should fuck off.

And then Sarah was 7 months pregnant. I was still unemployed. The spring time was glorious and our garden, usually flush with small flowers and early vegetable shoots, was brown with the fall’s remnants. I could see mold and slime on the decaying plants. It hadn’t been turned over.

Our savings were tapped. Sarah’s parents didn’t call as often because every time that they did, I was finding a new way to ask for money. I still called my parents every few days to keep them updated on the progress of their new grandchild. They sent $20 every 5 days.

With Sarah asleep on the couch, uncomfortable with child and unable to sleep in our bed, I would search the internet for job leads, no longer limiting myself to our city or even to the east coast. I needed a job. My family needed money.

Late one night, I was at the computer and Sarah stirred on the couch. My glass of cheapest whiskey was empty, except for barely a remnant of an ice cube. On a shelf, I saw the gifted baby shoes on display. Our family needed money. I logged on to Craigslist and posted the following ad: “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

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