City of Ovens

The street whore looks on transfixed. From where she stands, hips thrust, the sun brightens. Noon to dusk to noon. This is the third week without a night.

People sleep in the street. Not in alleyways, and not in their cars after being evicted, but where the herd crawls along in their happy business. A john walks by and testifies every hour. The street whore is named Opea and her office is loud. In a rash of people and none of them talk to each other.

“By midnoon I’ll need that ticket.”
“From China to Russia to my backyard.”
“Can’t see the moon to even paint it.”
“Living outside my flat now.”
“…too much for a gun.”
“That much money?”
“I remember, yeah.”
“I’m only half-black.”
“A salary for this?”
“…size twelve.”
“Come as you are. Knock three times.”
“The 1960s…”
“Get her out of school.”
“…stole that book last week…”
“Fifty dollars.”
“It was a little while back.”
“That guitar…”
“…big flood…”
“Asia must be dead by…”
“Meeting you in a few minutes.”
Je t’aime.
“Take a breath, now, tell him to hold on…”
“Got this shirt…”
“I can’t pay the bills.”
“The Green Revolution…”
“Gas station caught on fire…”
“That news channel gets it all wrong.”
“I swear!”
“Lucky us, that we’re…”
“From Fifth, then you go to…”
“Big meeting tonight. Big one, asshole.”
“It’s a girl.”
“Hell if we’re ever going to sleep…”
“They got Florida.”
“…all I’m getting is static. Hello?”

Opea continues her post. A fly lands on her nose. She smokes a cigarette. Thinks of her dinner. Thinks of her baby. Juts her hips at a prospective customer.

The sun is still there.

“Hey babe. Looking for a date? You want a date?”
“I need a date.”
“Yeah, baby, I got you a date.”
“How much?”
“Not much up front. It’s the return trips that cost you.”

Opea laughs like the plastic whore she is. The john wears blue jeans.

“You clean?”
“I don’t got rabies.”

The john laughs.

“Come on, baby, take me somewhere.”
“I got a truck.”
“We can talk while we’re going there.”
“Yeah. Sun’s hot, huh?”
“Hot as hell, baby.”
“Hell’s done come up to play with us.”
“I guess so.”

Once they’re in the truck, he hands her fifty dollars. Opea slips the money into her bag. She pulls her panties down and climbs on the john. He leaves a face of spit on her breast from where he sucked on them.

“I’m surprised you didn’t want to use a rubber.”
“I can’t get pregnant anyway.”
“That’s good.”

Opea leaves the truck and walks into the restroom of a nearby restaurant. While in a stall, she cleans herself. Refinishes her makeup.

Once outside again, she smokes a cigarette. The sun looks at her. She looks at the sun.

“You fucking devil.”

The traffic of noise runs on.

“…tonight. I mean…”
“When’s the last time wind…”
“She died a few…”
“I’m not getting anything.”
“…what? Can’t hear you.”
“I…something…you there?”
“Can you hear me?”
“I can’t hear…”
“…phone’s fucked up.”
“Goddamn piece of shit.”

Everyone who holds a cell phone looks around puzzledly.

“You guys getting any reception?”
“The goddamn piece of shit.”

Opea feels the first wind she’s felt in weeks blow in from the horizon of sky scrapers and the sun brightens and the city becomes a gas oven.


~ by Jeremy on May 29, 2009.

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