Sunday, October 14, 2018

Picking Up That Name You Dropped

The German man with the patrician mien and the dismissive attitude is rubbing me all kinds of the wrong way, but looking at one of Katie’s larger pieces, he brightens up a little, saying, “I know of an antique butterfly collection, thousands of specimens, that I’m trying to get rid of for a friend of mine. I offered it to Damien Hirst but he says he’s done with butterflies.”

“Isn’t he the one who carved up a shark?” I ask after I finish repressing the urge to roll my eyes all the way back into my skull. “Maybe he’ll go back to aquatic creatures."

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Is It, Though?

The woman who came into the booth wanting to fight about dead butterflies has calmed down, decided I’m friendly, and is now waxing philosophical.

“Isn’t it amazing,” she continues, “how nature makes everything so that is serves some greater purpose, like how butterflies are made for pollinating flowers?”

“It’s possible that what you’re seeing,” I say carefully, “instead of just one overarching intelligence, is really a lot of smaller intelligences, each with their own agenda, trying to exploit weaknesses and find a niche for themselves, and all of those sort of add up to a greater agenda, right?”

“That’s exactly what I mean,” she enthuses, her eyes shining.

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Dark Timeline

“And everybody on that show is best buds and they all support each other,” Katie says, referring to a TV show we watch called The Good Place, “and I follow them all on Instagram and Twitter and everything.”

“That’s the thing,” I says thoughtfully, pausing from shoveling food into my mouth for my late night after work meal. “As the timeline grows darker, the pockets of light will shine brighter.”

“Oh,” Katie says, “you’re not referring to the TV show, are you."

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Joy in Disdain

The woman who sells jewelry at the booth across the aisle from ours slides over with a conspiratorial look and says, "We see a lot of trends here, right? Well, there’s this thing where women grow their nails long and put a stone or a jewel on it, and I think it’s gross!”

“I really like people who have strong opinions on things,” I say, laughing.

“Oh yeah, I just really hate stuff,” she says, smiling.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Then He Speaks

The long-haired man with the Tibetan mandala medallion and quartz crystal in necklaces around his neck and his decidedly more squarely dressed girlfriend don’t seem stoned. They gaze at the butterflies in Katie’s pieces with no more or less starry-eyed wonder than any of the hundreds of other people who come in to our booth drawn by the metallic blues and soft, matte purples and yellows, the shimmering teals and sharp crimsons.

But they sure do smell like weed.

“The energy in this booth is very good, very different from the rest of the market,” the man says with a serious face.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Parallel Pests

Behind the counter in the booth, I see, to my horror, a mosquito. Springing into action, I slam my palms together, killing it instantly, and I grab a paper towel to wipe my hands.

Later that night, on the way home, I see, floating around by the advertisements above the seats, another mosquito, blatantly disregarding the fact that it’s October in New York, and mosquitos should be long dead by this time.

My first instinct is to send this one to hell just like I did his foul cousin, but then I imagine what I would look like, flailing about, clapping and smacking my hand into the walls of the subway car, and I content myself with glaring at him until he flies away to another part of the train.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Parellel Play

The couple coming toward me on the sidewalk stop at the unattached sink that somebody put out in front of their house, and pretend to wash their hands in the basin. They rub their palms beneath the non-existent faucet, and then flick non-existent water drops off their fingers as they walk away together laughing at their silliness.

Later, at the market, I wash my hands in the bathroom, singing the alphabet song absent-mindedly to myself. I remember the couple, and smile.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Distracting the Hunter

He’s clearly not here to shop for butterflies, this guy, and the way that he keeps invading the space of this woman that he is clearly hitting on is getting my hackles up. When he puts his hand on her shoulder again, laughing at some joke he made, I decide I’ve had enough.

“Hey man, which butterfly were you looking at again?” I say moving into his space to get his attention. “Was it this one?” I add, handing him a random piece to his total confusion.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Power of Belief

“The creative God-law of the universe... is all around you and in existence for the fulfilling of your every right desire,” I read.

A man shambles into the subway car and collapses into the seat next to me. He is clearly in the middle of a nod, and he seems to be falling over in an impossibly slow spin as he tries repeatedly to clear his sinuses by blowing his nose into his hand over and over and examining the contents in amazement.

As ropes of snot congeal between his fingers before his dulled, twitching, half-lidded eyes, I try to imagine some words I could say, some action I could take that would benefit him, something that would help to set him on a path away from this catastrophe next to me, but in the moment, I can’t think of a thing.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Swiped Out

I swipe my card through at the subway turnstile as soon as the guy in front of me goes through, but something about the way he goes through causes it to bounce back and then forward again, which uses up my swipe. I stand there, befuddled for a second - there’s no place to buy a Metrocard, and since I have a monthly, I can’t use it again for another eighteen minutes (an eternity in New York).

I sigh in annoyance, and turn to make my way up the stairs and down a block to the next entrance, where I know I can buy a single use Metrocard and get on my way, when a woman stops me.

“Hey,” she says, smiling, “I’ll swipe you in."

Thursday, October 4, 2018

A Kind Of Theft

The woman selling her photography at the market has strung a chain across her booth so she can run grab some food. The chain is more symbolic than anything else, as it wouldn’t keep out anyone who was truly determined to come in, but most people stroll by without disturbing it.

One young woman, however, walks up with her friends, rifles through the rack of postcards the owner of the booth has at the front of her booth, pulls out a picture she likes, and snaps a photo of it with her phone. Expressionless, she slips the card back into the rack and walks away without a glance backward to see if anyone noticed.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018


“You seem kind of frantic,” Katie says after I arrive home.

“I’m not fra.., I mean, I did close up the booth and then have to go back for my phone and my headphones, and then when I got to the subway there was this huge group just standing there that I had to sort of weave-slash-push my way through, and then this one girl waited to swipe until the person before her went through, even though you don’t really have to....”

“To be fair, it does look like those big subway turnstiles are going to eat you,” she interjects.

“Yeah, but only if you never seen them before, and then I was going down the stairs to the L and everybody was in my way and..., you know, maybe I am frantic."

Tuesday, October 2, 2018


“I saw that thing you texted,” Katie tells me. “But you should know that on Facebook, Instagram, texts, whatever, I won’t open stuff that has Trump’s image on it, so I didn’t open it.”

“Cool, well, you know how they’re doing that Trump emergency broadcast thing tomorrow at 2:18 where he can send a text directly to your phone, so I sent you a calendar request telling you to turn your phone off at 2:10.”

“Oh,” she says, her voice audibly calmer, “thanks."

Monday, October 1, 2018

Temporal Anomalies

After about four hours in the booth, I looked at my watch to find I’d been here about thirty minutes. Time seems to behave... differently, here.

"⏱has🛑” I text Katie, whom I relieved when we changed shifts half-an-hour ago.

“For some reason, the booth has been sucked into a wormhole,” she replies, confirming my suspicions.