The most imperfect queer in the world stands in line outside a U-Haul depot, holding an empty mason jar. This is not a clichéd joke about queers and premature cohabitation enabled by rental moving van companies, nor even a study of the mason jar as an object in queer history, emblematic of Sandor Katz’s culinary contributions to the art of fermentation in the wake of his diagnosis with HIV. Rather, this is the story of our protagonist, and only of our protagonist — if they even consent to that title — who mostly wears navy blue button-down shirts and has never made a rash decision (or a sourdough starter) in their life.
I watch her reel against the crowd toward the edge of the bridge. She leans over the steel barrier, eyes hypnotised by the river below. No one seems to notice her, their faces fixed to illuminated screens. She raises a high heel onto the railing, then another.
Name’s Logan. I was a truck driver doing a long haul across Nebraska when the first portals opened. Seemingly random across the entire planet, fiery chasms tore rifts across the land, and demons of all sorts flooded out.
I listened to it all unfolding on the radio in my big rig. I kept thinking it must have been some War of the Worlds broadcast. Not an April Fool’s joke, but some convincing tale. But it was the same “story” on every station. I neared Omaha, and there was heavy traffic going the opposite direction I was. The horizon glowed red in the twilight. Omaha was ablaze.
We spent the anniversary of our son’s suicide tending a fire deep in the wild of the North Cascades, the sound of the Skagit River rushing by a constant reminder of the persistent truth of impermanence.
My husband’s boy scout training emerged in the form of confidence and a methodical approach to fire-making. We stacked logs in formation, two at a time. Poked the burning cuts of wood with a charred stick. Taming the coals and teasing out their heat.
In the summer I started a compost. It stood at the back of the lot, out past the trees and the grass on the edge of the wood. It was a good spot because it was half sun, half shade, and the smell didn’t reach the house.
In the compost I put the dead grass that dried up in the sun. I put sticks and twigs and dried leaves. I put dandelions and logs and whole fallen branches, and soon I had a great heap of dead things.
Nick bought paint, white paint. Enough white paint, he thought. He also bought all of the brushes and rollers that the man suggested should go with it. The man knew plenty about painting houses. Done plenty of painting, myself. What you need is probably 5 gallons. Now, do you need brushes?…
Nick started with the back room…with the closet in the back room. It was a basement apartment. It was once part of the main house upstairs, but the kindly upstairs couple had turned it into a basement apartment for people who needed a place to get back on their feet. They had sealed off the upstairs at the top of the old stairs but kept the stairs themselves, in case they should ever want to open the place back up again. As it was, the stairs now just went up and ended against the wooden boards which sealed off the upstairs from the down. The stairs were there, but went nowhere.
The Leisure Plaza is full of cool shit. Fruit machines, American pool (hey guys, you’re welcome), tenpin bowling and interactive squash – but it’s all off-limits to lesser mortals like me. There’s a big red ‘X’ slashed through it on the map in the orientation room. I stared at that X so freakin’ hard, I’m surprised it didn’t burst into flames.
With a flourish, the waiter unleashed their steaks. Dan was hit by the smell first and his mouth watered accordingly. He braced himself for consumption, but rather than hand them their bounty, the waiter curiously knelt by the trolley and rummaged underneath, before popping back up again with something gripped firmly in his hand. Dan had no idea what was taking place and a peek at his wife, Susan, revealed that she was as bewildered by the whole process as he.
Today I walked six thousand and thirty-nine (6,039) steps which I appraised as ‘acceptable’.
I consumed five hundred and thirty-one (531) calories for breakfast in the eating of one bagel (254) with cream cheese (100) and smoked salmon (177).
I shed twelve (12) tears whilst crying on the phone to my dad about the fundamental question: “Am I willing to be hurt in the same way by this person again?”, which I resented but had to concede was #growth.