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A Man of His Word

She hopped in the car and kissed him on the cheek. "Did you do it?"
   "Of course," he said. "I said I would." He slowly pulled away from the curb while she fiddled with her seatbelt.
   He looked in the side-view mirror and eased into traffic. "What do you think?"
   "I love you," she said, rubbing his shoulder.
   He told her how her mother wasn't scared so much as angry.
   "She said we were made for each other."
   "And my father?" she asked, a tremble in her lower lip.
   He didn't look at her and she felt the car speeding up.
   "He wrote me a check for twenty-thousand dollars," he said.

The Future of Memories

The ceiling was very high and the exquisite marble floors stretched out like a bank of clouds. Tall, narrow windows cast light across the room and up the walls opposite. The predominate color was white. Whenever he shifted his gaze, the brightness would blind him for a few seconds.
   It was crowded for a Thursday morning, but that may have been because it was a free admission day. People wandered about in a state of mild confusion. This confused him because the walls were blank. It looked like something Rothko would have done in a white phase. People bumped into to each other as they moved around the room staring at the walls.
   The new exhibition was in A Hall. He studied the map on the brochure a moment before he realized he was in A Hall. He looked at the invitation again and wondered who had invited him. His connections with art were minimal at best. The last work of art he had completed had been an ashtray for his mother. When was that? Fifth grade, he reckoned. She was dead now. Lung cancer.
   It had been a long bus ride to the museum and he had to use the toilet. There were no signs anywhere, but he saw several men standing in a line at the far end of the hall and headed in that direction. He had to go. Where does this go, he asked the man in front of him. Where does this go, the man in front of him asked the man in front of him. And so on it went. It was parrots all the way down. This is going nowhere, he thought to himself, surprised at the little joke he had made.
   There was a commotion at the front of the line. It's the Playmate of the Year 1967, he heard one old man shout. This was immediately contradicted by someone who claimed it was the woman to whom he lost his virginity. Another man guffawed, how can you lose your virginity? You make it sound like an accident. A scuffle broke out and the line collapsed into a scrum. What were they looking at? A few men wiped tears from their eyes. A man with a booming voice called them all a bunch of liars, that it was the prostitute he had slept with in Tonga during the millennium celebrations.
   Intrigued, he muscled his way forward to have a look. It was his mother.

Two Sides of Love

"You ever have a one-eyed woman wink at you?" he asked.
   It had been years since I had seen Roger, and I'd been certain I never wanted to see him again, but when he called and said he was back in the city for just three days, I thought it would be safe to take a chance. After all, he'd be gone in a few days, back to his posting in Zambia.
   "It's pretty weird," he went on without waiting for an answer. "I mean, during the wink itself she can't really see you. Spooky," he said, taking another gulp of his gin and tonic.
   "How do you know she was winking at you?" I asked. "She might have got something in her eye and was just blinking."
   "I thought about that," he said, "and it was kind of dusty in the market, but I'm pretty sure she was winking at me."
   He called the bartender over and ordered another round of drinks, though mine was almost full.
   "There weren't many other men around that morning. Unless she was a lesbian or something, I'm pretty sure she was winking at me."
   We were silent for a moment. When you haven't seen or heard from someone in a long time and you only have a short time together, you tend to be careful about what conversations you start.
   "Where was her eye?" I asked.
   "What do you mean? Was she a cyclops or something?"
   "No. Was it the left eye or the right eye?"
   "Oh," he said and tossed a handful of peanuts into his mouth, some not making it past his bushy mustache and clattering on the bar.
   "Was it love at first sight?"
   "Isn't it always?" he laughed.
   "So what side was her eye on?"
   "Doesn't matter, does it, if it's love?"
   The bartender arrived with the drinks and a new bowl of peanuts.
   "If it's love, wouldn't you remember what side it's on?" I asked.
Roger gave me a long look while shoveling some more peanuts into his mouth. I didn't turn away. Eventually he averted his gaze.
Picking up his drink and turning back to me, he said, "Let's drink a toast."
   "To what?" I muttered, picking up my new drink. "The past?"
   "To Carolyn," he said.
   We clinked glasses and swallowed deeply.
   "How is she?" I asked.
   "Fine. Fine. She says to say hello." Roger rolled an ice cube around his mouth and let it slip back into the glass. "Remember that big mole she had on her ass? She finally had it removed."
   "Which cheek was it on?" I asked.
   "Hell. I can't remember."
   "The left," I said.


- Bob Lucky (USA – Ethiopia)

Bob Lucky lives in Ethiopia.
He has an MFA from the University of Texas at El Paso and currently teaches at the International Community School in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He is co-author of the chapbook _my favorite thing_ (bottle rockets press, 2011), and his work has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals, including Shot Glass Journal, The Prose-Poem Project, Emerald Bolts, Rattle.work, Shamrock Haiku Journal and Modern Haiku.

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 Copyright © Emerald Bolts Magazine, 2013
The front page image is copyright © by Anthony Kitterick, 2012