I was telling some guy I didn’t know that I needed fresh air, but he wouldn’t let me outside. I could see it—the outside—for I stood within the threshold of an open door and the rain was on my cheek and on my tongue. He wore a knit shirt, that aforementioned man, the kind a golfer wears, but I was pretty sure he wasn’t a golfer. But these days any person might wear what was once called a sport shirt in an office and let the dust dust their shoulders for all I know. He was shorter than me and I thought of him as a kind of dwarf, though he wasn’t actually proportioned as such; he merely reminded me of something from a Disney film. He had a beard that told me that if he didn’t work here he’d be hefting a sledgehammer, or that he otherwise meant business, and the polo-golf shirt added to this effect, for I was sure it was a kind of uniform. I suppose he could have been called Busy, but that seems diminutive. His palm on my ribs felt like a sledgehammer. I tried explaining to this guy that I wasn’t going to go anywhere. Where was I gonna go? It was all parking lot out there, and the oaks and pines that in the cicadaless winter looked like they wandered off into nothing, or—barring that—that they stood there and made sure you’d never leave, like they were guarding you, which of course they were. “But if you tried to run, I’d have to stop you,” said the beard-dwarf-guy. I said, “You can try.”
Jamie Iredell is the author of five books, the most recent of which is a novel, The Fat Kid.
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