Jigsaw Puzzle

By Valerie King

I was doing a shot of tequila on the LES on Friday night or Saturday morning when a voice said to me, “What are you running from?”

Speaking was a kid I’d been talking to in a most animated fashion about the plight of working families, but I’d snapped the conversation closed the second I saw something in him open up to me. I wasn’t looking for his truth, didn’t want to see it or feel it or hear about it so I hopped up from the table and ordered everybody a round of shots. I realized I couldn’t carry them back all at once, so I got ready to down mine at the bar. He’d followed me and spoke right as I had my head tilted all the way back, eyes closed, burning liquid sliding down my throat. I put the empty shot glass back on the bar and pressed my lips together before answering:

“What am I running from? Haha! …Oh, lots of things. Don’t you worry.” I smiled at him and made to grab the shots and PBRs.

He didn’t let me go- “I bet you mine’s worse…”

“How could you possibly know that?”

“Sit down and let’s talk about it and we’ll find out.”

(Are you kidding? Nope. Not kidding. I gathered the shots.)

“I’m not going to do that. I’m going to go back and sit with everybody else. You should come.”

He didn’t move, and I walked away.

In another life I would have sat down at the bar, hung onto his every word and begged for more. I would have been there till the sun rose and I passed out from exhaustion in a cab back home from pouring out my soul and drinking his. I crave that kind of openness, when someone’s got that door open and a vault bigger than all of Gringotts is exposed, filled with all kinds of treasure and junk and space, that has been emptied or has yet to be filled.

As it was, I kept my secrets to myself and stayed up instead with three people who have the remarkable ability to feel and understand without ever asking any questions designed to pin me to a bar stool. We wrapped our hearts together and raised our voices to the heavens about the nature of evil and middle America and watched the city take a morning bath in pastels, enraptured like King David on his rooftop but with a lot more Camel Blues. Whatever I would have been looking for in him, I’ve been lucky enough to find already here, unfolding, floating like a peony in a bowl of water next to my bedroom window.

Valerie, Madam at the Kingsland Motel, Brooklyn, NY is full of surprises. If you want to talk to her, email valerie.jo.king@gmail.com. If you want to find out more about her without talking to her, check out her Tumblr or her WordPress. She loves a good joke; everything is hilarious.

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