In the mirror he could see his face was rounder. It drooped near the neck and his cheekbones no longer shone through taut skin. (Two people in one day), he thought. He saw where an eyebrow was escaping across the bridge of his nose. He felt like a transaction. Red flickering beams scanning a can of pop. (Other things to do), he thought. Easily missed. It was in the solid stream of water, the sustained note of liquid rhthym, that his mind functioned best. (There is a theme of water in my life). He lounged in the bathroom rain, massaged shampoo through his hair. (Number 3 on the top, number 2 on the sides. But I’m not paying $25 for a haircut anymore. I’ll grow it out. Need to get shampoo, and honey and peanut butter. Bread too. Mail those checks). He thought about calling the Municipal Court, telling them the check was in transit.
(Tickets aren’t penalties. They’re revenue streams), he thought. Images of the rich laughing and paying the fine. The poor fighting in court to lessen the fine. (I could get a criminal record if this doesn’t get there on time). He sneered at the moldy shower curtains. He felt mold growing on his skin, slimy. (This stream, unbroken, like consciousness. I can’t remember later. Let it go. It’s too bad the only place I think well, the paper would get wet). He saw a mirror against the tiles, and some marker that wouldn’t wash off. He’d write his thoughts on the shower wall. (Everything’s in Robert’s voice). More shampoo. He always remembered his shopping list in transit to some obligation. (Only to myself though. I don’t have to go). He felt time pinning his chest to a wall. Shallow breaths. (I need a patron. I don’t want to work in restaurants anymore). He’d tell them, “I couldn’t get tomorrow night’s shift covered at my restaurant, so I need to get my morning shift tomorrow morning covered.” (These are my last two shifts there ever. “I’d have to leave early to make it to the restaurant on time. Work till midnight. And then I’d be back at the coffee shop at 7:15 the next morning). He toweled his body. Saw a lump on his chest, between the pectoral and the shoulder. Felt it, long and sinewy like a scar. He met his confused eyes in the mirror. (You look old already). He finished drying, wrapped the towel around his waist. (Did I brush my teeth already)? Smiled in the mirror. Looked down, away from his yellowed teeth. The lump was gone. He thought of a worm. (I didn’t feel it move though. Would you feel it move)? His eyes unfocused and stared at the wall behind him in the mirror.
[New York Summer 2007]