(v) you too, honey

by E.P. Chiew

Timmy has been reading Saul Bellow night and day. He comes to the breakfast table unshaven, bristles like a whiskered mangy cat, and says, "What if every person's essence is but a verb?"

I pour him some orange juice, to avoid him drinking straight out of the carton. Two weeks of being laid off, and Timmy is beginning to smell. Like a putrefying garbage bag. I adjust the collars of my suit. When is a good time to cut the "I'm so sorry, honey" crap?

"I'm sorry, honey?"

"Have you ever thought about that?" He impales me with a glare, as if I alone am responsible for so many insipid evocations in the world. Insipid evocations, I snigger. See, I've read my Bellow too.

"Depends on what you mean."

"Take you, for example," Timmy throws out three fingers at me. The gesture is at once belligerent and judgmental. "When you exit Bowling Green, walk towards Broad Street, do you take the time to look at the man sweeping the pavement, the ethnic guy manning the coffee stand, the woman pulling her child by the hand to day care and screaming because she's already late? Do you think, my god, "in every face the refinement of motive and essence—I labor, I spend, I strive, I design, I love, I cling, I uphold, I give way, I envy, I long, I scorn, I die, I hide, I want"? I look at Timmy's raccoon eyes. He has me twiddling the mother-of-pearl buttons on my blouse. "Do you?"

"I me