Its so simple. Just take one animal. Okay? No, no, an animal, say it, “ah” very good, “nee,” okay, “mool.” Great, altogether now, yes, yes perfect, an animal, any animal. Somebody say an animal. Yes, you over there. Oh, you weren’t raising your hand, okay then. Somebody, please, please somebody just tell me one animal. Yes! You! Hmm. “Blue?” Hmm. Well, no, blue is not an animal but…Yes! You! “Sun?” you said? Well. Okay. Class, do we know what an animal is?
The great divinity that is Mother Nature has been eavesdropping my morning class. Two squirrels leap right in through the third story window to demonstrate what animals are, but one of the squirrels feels terribly embarrassed and leaps right back out the window. The other scurries across the classroom, prompting fifteen boys to lunge after the thing, trapping it in a corner. One of the thirteen year olds comes within inches of stomping the squirrel’s head in, but the stampede of boys shoves him aside thereby giving the creature ample time to dart back out the window. Having failed to kill either of the invaders the crowd releases a collective sigh of disappointment. “Those are animals,” I add, supplementing my definition with a dozen whiteboard drawings. “Draw an animal, and write for me what it eats and where it lives.” An hour later when I go to collect papers a boy at the front of the class hands me a drawing of what I believe is a cloud, with the word “blue” written next to it.
By two thirty, absolutely no later, I’m down the street eating Indian food where I always do. World Wrestling Entertainment is playing on the television overhead. The sounds are broadcasted by a suspiciously large speaker system, which is a real treat. I can sit and eat my chicken and still feel like I’m in the bleachers, drenched in sweat and curry and tandori sauce just like the rest of the live studio audience. Apparently The Ziggler has been disqualified? The wrestling community is ostensibly aghast at this decision – his opponent, a far smaller and inferior man has been declared the winner. The referee points to some kind of tomfoolery. The diners around me don’t seem to understand what is happening but are upset nonetheless, sipping their iced teas without looking away from the television set. I shovel the last fistful of rice into my mouth before leaning my chair back on two legs and burping violently for several minutes. I have done this before, many times before – in this very chair, at this very time, with this very indigestion – for the last 9 months straight. I am teleporting from day to day, week to week, month to month. This is life in the retrospective – colossal jumps across great chasms of time, from one distant memory to the next. I realize I’m not sweating. Not profusely, at least. This is a breakthrough moment – this is significant – this is symbolic – this means something. The Ziggler has knocked the referee unconscious; the ensuing commercial break tells me how I can bleach my skin white in just three days. And in just three days I’ll be finished here.
In my bathroom there is a small hole with a lid. If you lift the lid and misplace it, as I inexplicably did, you will open a portal to a very bad place from which unknown horrors shall emerge. Cockroaches will appear by the dozens and in the dark of night you will feel them on your neck and thighs. And even if they are not there you will feel them, like shit covered phantoms, scuttling across your greasy, ever-moistened skin. But with just two days left, I find the lid and seal the portal. The cockroaches are gone, and soon I will be too.
On my last commute I grip my rhinestone-studded steering wheel and breathe deeply. I wanted to play the very first CD I made for this car, but it’d long ago been stomped to shards by some negligent backseat passenger. So I forego the music, too much sentimentality to handle anyways. I’m usually too lethargic in the mornings to make a U-turn so I take the long route, through the alley with the chickens and the Chinese kids standing in the street staring at the gravel and the midget with the proportionately fitted bike. I walk on this street a lot, to and from the Internet café, but I realize now that I have never given it a name. From there I make a right, and then another right onto the main drag, where I usually shout “FUCK” to myself just to make sure I’m present. From there I make a left turn onto that stretch where all the trash is. This street doesn’t have a name either, and I realize I never gave it the respect and dignity it deserved by creating a mental narrative for it. Maybe next time. Straight for a while, not much to say or do, just keep quiet and check the clock, and then make a right at the T intersection. This is it.
I check the power lines leading up to the school. In the last few months I’ve been divining each day based on the kingfisher sightings, at least when I remember to. They’re always perched on the same spot, like the Spider Hunter in Borneo. I’m able to spot maybe one of these colorful omens each week. Once, a few months ago, I saw two of them, and it was a good day. Today there are three.