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This Table is Empty

This is my café. I own it. I own this café. Take your acceptable, effortless messiness, your pockmarked cheek charm, your presentable greasiness and go. You’re ghosts. Haunting my café with your tapping legs and hands through hair and sneakers tied tight. Restless ghosts of a Hollywood past. A bothersome threesome taking up a large table meant for so many more. And I am without sage today, or Runes or Tarot cards. I don’t even have mace cause the little pink can fell off my keychain when I was trying to hike up a mountain at dawn to prove I am still alive. Your collective constant tapping, a jumpy white man jazz that I am sure people used to find quirky, tells me that you’re antsy. Something’s off. Despite the scripts with your names watermarked on them, the phone calls in an hour your assistant (somebody’s nephew from The Bay you owed a favor to) just reminded you of, something is happening inside you. I can tell. Underneath your talk of what your female protagonist “would really do” and the nail-biting that accompanies your talk of what “that bitch” Kathy in development really wants in Act II, lies a deep something, and it’s seeping out. A small ooze from beneath your sneaker. The mission statements, diversity job handouts, bones thrown, and exceptions to the rule, are just not wide enough to cover the expanse that is the massive hoard of plodding, relentless, roosters that are steadily making their way back to what you think is your roost. It was ours once. Maybe? Please? A long time ago. Before Jesus and Moses and asshole warlords, who, like you, assumed we didn’t like them, so they just kept killing us instead of going to therapy. Or just like, asking us. Like, “DO YOU LIKE ME? Yes, or no?” And if we dare say no, instead of inquiring like, “Why not?” (Too hard, truth=change) they raped us and sliced us into little pieces. Maybe before all that shit, all that silencing, then it was our roost? Yes. It’s a wispy memory, maybe even just a smell, but it’s there. My Ma knew it, my Abuelita before her, too. The motherfucking roost was ours.


With our fucked-up Mini Chiclet teeth, so small from grinding, grinding, grinding, and our loosened jiggly bits we tried to keep under wraps with straps and whale bone corsets, and metal lined Spanx, (all the while telling people, “I just feel better when I’m slim!”) we’re coming. All rhythmic limping and stumbling towards you on road-hardened amputated stubs and nubs. We hacked off our own body parts

a while ago in hopes of fitting in somewhere, anywhere. And now, we cannot stop. We’re bloody, we stink; we have shit ourselves a million times over, but we’re still moving. You made us into terminator zombies. You created mangled monsters. But then, somehow, because, like, “life finds a way” right, we fucking mutated. We’re not dead like zombies anymore. We’re still alive. Somehow. Can you believe that shit? We’re alive. Like butterflies, mountains, hawks, and little beast dogs that WILL NOT give up no matter how big and terrifying and angry the asshole neighbor’s dog is. Forget Kathy in development, isn’t that a fucking bitch? That we like, won’t quit. And believe me, we want to. And we try. We do like anything else but come for you. We get into dangerous relationships, stuff ourselves full of garbage, fight each other. For a while. Decades even. What a great distraction for you. What a lifesaver of a time-buyer for you. But inevitably here we are, back on this dark road, surrounded by the stench of each other and our single mindedness, making our way. To you. To this café. Where you sit. Where you’ve planted your flag at a table too big for you, not for one second noticing the rest of us have been here, leaning against the wall, weary as fuck, standing for so fucking long, propping each other up, because as you remind us all the time, “Oh sorry, we need these other chairs, we have friends coming.” But now we’re all here. And we’re disgusting and bold. We’re overflowing. At this café. Where you take up the whole table with your fidgety, restless three ghost energy. Where you’re a trio trying so hard to engage in conversation about “beats” and “moments” and “subtext.” But every once in a while, I catch you looking over your shoulder. It’s a teeny tiny hummingbird flit. And as you turn back again, pulling it together, I see something. In the very corner of your eye. In that moist part right there, I fucking catch it.


Terror.


Somewhere, under, under, under, you know what we want.


We don’t want your fucking jobs; we want our legs back.


You leave. You all leave. Not because you saw me see your fear. You have no idea I even exist in this café. That I own. Just kidding, I own nothing. You leave because you have things to do. There is entertainment to make. Meetings to slay. That’s okay. We will find you. We have to. It’s like, our thing. Wherever you go. There we are. You did this. It’s like a horror movie. That you wrote. To scare us. To show us our place. Except we mutated. We changed your Act III. And maybe we’re not so scared anymore. Wishful thinking? Probably.


Maybe we’re the horror now. Maybe we’re the monsters. And everybody loves a good horror film, right? Good horror films sell quickly, right? God, I hope so.

Xoxo.

Vamos.

Onward.

jbr


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