g r e g    m u l c a h y



I did not say, he said, I had anything to do with it.

You think you get to approve or disapprove.

I said I didnít like it, he said, and I donít. I didnít say anything about approving or disapproving. Itís unappetizing.

So you lead her life?

I donít want to be served—to get my food—from a waitress with a tattoo on her hand. Okay? Thatís all Iím saying. Iím not saying anything else but that.

The restaurant had been a factory when he was a kid. He did not say that. A factory. Why had they gone there? She had no tattoos. She had never said anything about tattoos. Why now this aggressive defense?

Youíre missing, she said, the essential note.


Judgment. As though you assume yourself empowered over whomever you meet.


There, you see?

He had lost all the essential notes. Every one. She was telling him. He knew. Among the obsolete, he was obsolete.

Why was she wasting her time?

Did she think he thought he had some authority on any level beyond his modest and continuously declining position?

As though he were in charge of the temple. Or castle. Or manse or lands or state.

She was polishing her truth on him.

What she thought he was good for.

Homemade tattoo.

Part of it.

Who knew the sanitation, the needle, the blood.

The circumstance.

Maybe a drugged or drunken mistake.

Maybe the homemade and heartfelt memorializing of significant event.

Was that better?

Did that matter?

She, furious with him, when would she ever have had anything to do with anyone who wore such a crudely-stitched ikon to or what whatever it was?

As though he were to respect—to bow down to—any ink he might come across.

He had seen them.

He knew them.

How they cooed and charmed and got what they wanted.

As though he were to polish her teeth with a string of pearls. Or did that polish the pearls?

He could coo and charm too.

Yes he had fallen out of the culture to the extent he had been in the culture to fall from it. Though what were all these tattoos about. Some completely fantastic pretense to whatóa tribeóthe tribalóthe pretended tribe a pretense to solipsism or worse a desperate attempt to create through belief connection when any connection remaining so tenuous as to be no connection at all?

As though everyone and everything had to pretend or be pretended to be someone or something completely other than it was.

She had the tea kettle on.

Maybe they could dress up as pirates or gypsies or astronauts.

Maybe that would save them.

She wanted to picture the world she wanted.

Yes—once a factory.



GREG MULCAHY is the author of Out of Work, Constellation, and Carbine. He lives in Minnesota.

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