Hello, animal.

C’mon, wake up. Time to get moving. No need for formalities, but you should consider trousers. Shoes. And cover those unsightly nipples. There could be construction workers, and you know they were never weaned.


Good, yes, out. Grab a twenty and your keys. You won’t need anything else. No jewelry, no makeup, no disguises or armor or fragments of shamanic masquery. No tokens or talismans of any kind. No bag. No phone. Today we’ll be properly invisible, not movie-star-in-case-I’m-discovered-by-the-paparazzi invisible, not fragrant-and-vulnerable-in-case-I-meet-the-man-of-my-dreams invisible. Properly invisible. Impossible-to-look-at invisible. If you meet the man of your dreams, you can punch him in the face in advance — because I’ve seen your dreams, you perpetual self-made victim, you — and he won’t recognize you if you see him again tomorrow. He’ll still kneel and kiss your fist and offer you a handful of severed plant genitals.

“Out. Twenty. Keys.”

Yes, animal. Out for walkies, only no peeing on the shrubberies and hydrants. Fresh air. The money is for coffee. God, I need coffee, but none for you. You get jittery.


Joke. God, I miss soma. It’s not opium, you know. Probably closer to ma huang, ephedra, but the modern version of that is like making tea from dusty broomstraws. If Monsanto ever figured it out, they could give up all their work on Frankencorn and do something useful for a change. They’d still be unimaginably wealthy, but at least they’d deserve it.

Good. Now lock the door. Seriously. Where do you think you live? Pascagoula? I wouldn’t miss any of the crap you’d lose if you were visited by a thief — who steals books? — but you’d pine.


People would write verses about it and put them in the bible. Did, actually, after a fashion. Imagine growing up with a Kona/Mocha hybrid growing in your yard and then moving to a place where you could only get Lipton in bags — boiled for hours into whatever caustic slime it is that tanners use to turn dead cow skins into shoes. And then make tea from the shoes after they’ve been worn for a year — and add as many long-discarded leprosy-gnawed toes as you like to moderate the acrid bitterness. Pure Kona coffee is that to soma, and that’s just the flavor and fragrance part. And here we are, popping in at Starbucks. Imagine my joy.


“… what size? …”

“Venti. Room for toes.”

“… what? …”

“Milk. Room for milk.”

That was for me. On purpose. For me. I… I love you.

Mmm, coffee. Thank you, animal. Let’s go down the road a few blocks and climb up on a mailbox.

Yes, this one is perfect. Leg up on the wastebasket thing, then just kind of jump backward. Face across the intersection sideways, and we’ll just watch this way, up these sidewalks, near side and far side. …And didn’t even drop the coffee.

We’re watching for other invisible people, of course. Invisible people: finding lost objects, understanding the tongues of animals and birds, compelling love and friendship from men and women and favor in court… Possibly you understand how spotting invisible people might be the easiest part.

Geezer on the bench feeding pigeons — he’s not invisible. Face like an old pineapple about a year past the sell-by date, Albert Einstein hairdo. A thousand people here know his name, not counting the pigeons. The man on the other end of his bench, though: how old is he? Twenty? Fifty? Fifty thousand? Even from here you can see his lips moving, just barely twitching, and entirely disconnected from his eyes. And the pigeons sidle past him without taking their beady eyes off him. No-name jeans from a local shop, holes at the knees that have been earned rather than bought. Headphones with the cord going into a pocket, but I guarantee you that pocket is otherwise empty.

Here, coming our way on the near sidewalk, partially obscured by the large woman with the tiny dog on a string. A girl, digging away at that crevice by the alley with a plastic knife. She’s… what? Five years younger than you? Orange hair? How is that invisible? But yet no one’s head has swiveled in her direction for the duration of our perch.

There are at least  four more. At the gas station across the way. A man in a car, parked by the air pump but not so close he could use it or block it. His face is down, eyes closed, but he is listening as hard as anybody ever could. I won’t point out the others, but you know how to look for them now.

So many. So, so many for this tiny little intersection.

Here’s what you’re going to do now, animal. You’re going to go to the park and you’re going to whip yourself along, with my help, until you’ve made it a full two miles. And a couple of days from now we’re going to do it again. And again. And again. And you’re going to keep doing it until you can do it without being winded in the slightest.

And then we’re going to double the distance. And double it again.

And then I’m going to teach you how to fight, fight with cunning that will terrify you and anybody else, and how to tap into strength you never knew you had.

And let’s hope it’s not too late.


January 8, 2012 · by xalieri · Posted in fiction  


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