David is saying giants, David is saying moon landing. He says this walking into a room. He says this rounding a corner. David rounds a corner, walks into a room and says did we really land on the moon. This was before when he did this. This was in M1. This was where you were. A collab table. You lived there before you lived here. Before you lived here, where you are now. Before you were here, you were there. Before you were here, David said did we really land on the moon. You were by yourself. Everybody else was gone. They were all somewhere else, all of them were. It was just you. You could have checked their calendars. Isolated and identified. You didn’t know their names. You were new to this team.
UX and UI.
David walked in.
David rounding corner, David mid-sentence.
Did we really he is saying. He is saying really like that, like an implication. Like a suggestion. There is a raised eyebrow.
The word for what David’s eyebrow is doing, what his really is saying is arched. You think that now and maybe then. He says really like that, to you.
To you by yourself. To you, then. He says really as if implied. As if a continuation. He is smiling. He is trim and well dressed.
Crisp black shirt, crisp black pants.
Pressed and severe. You think angles, you think math.
Black shoes shining. They look inky, you think. Wet. He looks effortless, you think. His shirt doesn’t look tucked in, you think. It looks like one thing. Pants and shirt. Uninterrupted. Continuous. Effortless, you think. Expertly, you think.
David is saying giants, he is saying nephilim. This was later. He says giants walk the earth. He says bones, he says documentation. It’s in the Bible, he says. He is saying Hebrew texts. Scrolls. It is a word, he says. Nephilim is. It is Hebrew. He says other Hebrew words. They come out of his mouth. Ancient and guttural. Clotted consonants. Blunted and coagulated. Piled together. He is talking to you. Black eyes and black shoes shining.
David is saying daylight savings time.
If you’re going to change time, he says.
If one minute it is seven and now it is eight, he says.
He says this, eyebrow arched.
He says this, effortless and shining.
And there is a logic underpinning all of this. A logic connecting. You understand what he is saying. You wonder why he is saying it. To you. There is a conviction, an assuredness. It is comforting, you think. These words, this David. Sure in their conviction. Assigning meaning, cataloging. You think charts, you think graphs. You think conclusions and connections. Lines traced, connecting and combining. Thinly tied together. Relationships explained and illuminated. David is from New Mexico.
You think turquoise, you think dry expanse. You used to know somebody who lived in New Mexico. Her husband was going to be an astronaut. That was a thing people could be, you thought. We are where people could be astronauts, you think.
You are looking at David’s shirt and thinking about yours. Yours is bunched and wrinkled. Pinched and binding. You wonder how you look in your shirt. You think folds and rolls. Straining skin. Skin soft and skin strained. Strained in fabric. Chafed and ill-fitting. A feeling, a sensation. Despite how it looks, you think. Despite what it seems. And which is more, you think. Which means more. How it looks or how it feels. Which is one and which is the other, you wonder and all this time David is talking.
Now he is talking on the phone. He is on the phone with somebody named Cayenne, you think. You think this is happening. That David is talking to somebody named Cayenne. You wonder if this is real. Hi honey, he says. There is a picture on the phone. It is a young woman. It says Cayenne above her face. Her face on the phone. Pictures and words. Names and numbers. She is smiling. The phone is on the collab table. David has a sit-stand. He is standing up, phone on table, fingers typing on keys. Fingers tapping on keys. David was just talking to you about giants, about moons. Now he is talking to Cayenne. He is talking softly. He coos, he murmurs. He clucks and tuts. David is doing many things at once. You rub your stomach. David picks up Cayenne and goes to wherever he goes. You are all alone, you think, and you wonder for how long.
Ben Slotky’s first novel, Red Hot Dogs, White Gravy was published by Chiasmus in 2010 and was re-released by Widow & Orphan in 2017. His work has appeared in Numero Cinq, The Santa Monica Review, Golden Handcuffs Review, McSweeney’s, Hobart, Juked, Jellyfish Review, Barrelhouse, and many other places. He lives in Bloomington, IL with his wife and six sons.
Artwork by: Rosa Tarlarini
Rosa Tarlarini is an Italian collage artist.