ark, my landlord, brought by a bag of green beans. He stood on my front step: glasses, hat. Maybe it was his way of saying, “Glad you paid the rent on time.” I snatched the bag and thanked him. Down in the cellar I went with the beans and began to build a time machine. As soon as it’s finished, I want to blast out of here, because Mark and his wife have problems. They argue all the time. Their house is too close to mine. Sometimes they torture the shih tzu with the garden hose. Coming back from dance class their eyes gleam pure murder, then Susan complains about her ill-proportioned arm, and makes Mark massage her elbow to wrist with 100% pure olive oil. In the back yard I can see them grappling. “That tickles,” she says, as Mark twists her hand behind.
            Once they invited me for dinner. Mark didn’t know that a mango was something you were supposed to eat, and several appliances were smashed. Shortly after, Susan had a hysterical pregnancy. “Causality cannot be held responsible for one thing following another,” Mark said. I felt very afraid and excused myself to go home.
            In the basement, I went to work on my time machine, and here I am still with my hammer and green beans. It’s mysterious: the habits of these people, the terrible sense of sequence. Soon I’ll blast off with a speed that will freeze the stars purple. I want to go back to the land of beginnings. I long to break this waking chain.





ne day Kafka was riding his bicycle over a bridge. Tires bumped softly along the old cobblestones. His insect-like ears sucked sound from the city. On the far side of the bridge, Kafka met his other self, also riding a bike.
            “Well, hello!” said the other Kafka. “Fine day for a ride, don’t you think?”
            The first Kafka—impervious, alert, and convinced this world was prison—made no noise at all and continued on his way.




y heart is set to detonate into a thousand pieces. I am on the train, in my uniform, leaving my future wife to go to war. Her name is Rebecca, and she is across from me in the train compartment, which is no bigger than a telephone booth. The tiny space of the car makes saying goodbye impossible. My dog, Pernicious, is crammed in with us. “He’s more like a goat, really,” says Rebecca, and she is right.

Rebecca has on silver earrings and a green dress. Her black eyes shine like a sad breeze through olive trees. “You look so beautiful,” I keep telling her, my own eyes wet and burning. Distraught, I fiddle with the buttons of my soldier’s coat. I balance my hat on my knee and look at a spit-shined shoe. At war, my chest will glitter with medals and I’ll be made an officer before coming back to live out my life in a sawdust cottage with Rebecca, raising a family, growing old.

But that is a thousand years away. This moment is goodbye now. The dog’s long, Angora-like coat keeps getting in Rebecca’s mouth because the train compartment is so small, and Rebecca is saying “Pernicious is a problem,” while the dog keeps standing up, lying down, licking our faces and whimpering pathetically. He knows one of us is leaving, and the melancholy is driving him insane.