The owner of Beachman's eBay store had it bad for my best friend Gedaliah. I didn't trust him because his eyeballs were made three times smaller by his glasses and it was rumored he kept a time machine in his stockroom used for poaching antiques. The eBay thing was just a front and a former ketchup plant kept the whole operation mostly hidden from public view. Gedaliah paid nine hundred dollars for her walnut pembroke table but the bureau that Beachman sold me was a reproduction with drilled-in wormholes. Gedaliah's table reeked of tea bags close up. The nails piecing it together were oily when you cupped your hand underneath. Its edges had barely softened. 

“Come back with me for the set. Please. You'll learn to love him,” she told me in the car outside his shop. Gedaliah's first husband was cut down from lead paint and her second was eaten by a piano. For the in-between times there was me. For her third husband we had parked between great vats of crystallized ketchup and a yard sign that said Fast Cash 4 UR Stash. 

“Five minutes. My chaperone days are through,” I told her. 

Small talk burbled up easily in between Beachman and Gedaliah. No problem doing that with no customers. I couldn't handle the flirting and so I excused myself down a path carved through sewing machines and mirror glass framed by cherubs. Their wings were more like parrot wings. I followed an extension cord to where it lead under a door marked EMPLOYEES ONLY. SERIOUSLY, DON'T COME IN. Most likely a stunt to keep the time machine rumors moist. I considered throwing a pineapple shaped cookie jar to the ground until Gedaliah told me that we were all meeting at the Mystic Steak Loft for brandies. 

We waited in the bar for hours. “Don't do this,” I told her.

“Oh stop. You don't see it?”

“See what?”

“He knows me. And he's so handsome. His face narrows in a familiar way like one of those gray movie actors,” she said finishing our third bowl of olives. 

When Beachman finally showed up, draping his trench coat on a stool, I was drunk and I told him he was full of shit. 

“It's not a perfect machine,” Beachman claimed. “It can only return eighty-three years.”

“So invest in stocks,” I said. 

He looked right at my best friend, collected her tiny hands in his and said, “I'm drawn to what is rare.”

Familiarity is easily confused with love you shithead, but under the table Gedaliah was already exploring his shin with her foot which meant soon I'd be alone. 

Throughout their engagement Gedaliah wrote me emails. At first they were joyous and typeset with magenta. She'd describe which TV programs they watched together or how skillfully Beachman could apply nail polish to her little toe without getting any on the cuticle. He often returned from his excursions with special gifts. An engagement ring stolen from a major Vegemite proprietor or a toy rocking horse with its sales tag still intact, just like the one she had when she was five. 

And then her emails turned black. She wrote how Beachman had become short tempered. Money was getting tight. Young couples no longer desired real woodwork for which to decorate their homes with. Young couples aren't even buying homes. His antique poaching also came with side effects like nightmares and weight gain. He started skipping the spaghetti dinners Gedaliah cooked and spent every night on an elliptical in their basement. No more TV programs. It seemed as though, she wrote, that Beachman was tired of her. 

Gedaliah became stricken by cramps that began as glass in her stomach before working their way up to her memory. In a final email she had come to realize that she knew Beachman from somewhere else. A man that cleaned her parent's house or a faceless flannel coat splitting up bread for ducks at her teenage hangout. Always watching. Mashing toxic paint chips into powder. Familiar cramps are easily confused with love. 

A year after her emails turned white, Beachman's eBay store went up in flames. They found a body. They found several other bodies which might've been manikins. The cologne from ancient baseball cards, dinnerware melded into velvet paintings of Garth Brooks, brass sows, and rugs embedded with hair. Windsor-style armchairs, Pandora beads, postcards, VHS tapes, real pearl, fake pearl, young adult novels about teachers who were really aliens, bronze babies bred from tropical fowl, ottomans, wood paneled digital alarm clocks, luggage, electric guitars, bureaus with forbidden love letters still stashed within their hidden compartments, samurai swords, Christmas ornaments, Penthouses and coin collections all unified in the afterlife. Gedaliah had soaked them from inside. She entered with a jar of nail polish remover and escaped through the time machine before it too was destroyed. 

Now behind the ketchup plant is only emptiness. I think they won't do anything with the space. In Gedaliah's first email she had said through Comic Sans, “it all tastes exactly like sweet lint.” I think of her now living among the heirlooms where they are all brand new.

Continue Reading...


You were Mia Wallace for Halloween and I was sexy Harper Lee. 'How to fake blow' was stained on your phone's search history under the spiderweb cracks that cut up my fingers where I typed in my name. In all honesty, I wasn't even going to leave the house, but stoned in bed with headphones digging into the pillow is not where new friends are made. Dancing at the church party, we saw four other Mia Wallace's, each with blood running from their nostrils to the bleached spores of their mustaches. I thought we'd reek of fog machine juice forever, but it leapt from our clothes the second we stepped outside into hurricane season South Carolina. Into pie crust cooked with yams that were already purple at the edges.

'Don't worry, I'm easy to forget about. You won't even notice I'm gone, I promise,' was what you said but it was all glitter sleeting from the band of my bowl cut. It was all wet palms.

The next year you were 'Frankenstein Mia Wallace.' Same wig, white buttoned-down and blood, but with olive skin that made you look seasick, finished by a surgical scar you drew from one corner of your forehead to the other in the visor mirror of a Taurus. An expert on pretending with baking soda. On glued-in bolts. Here it was agreed upon that we were the kinds of people who bail and eventually there would come a time when we probably wouldn't talk anymore. Realistically, most people who are friends now won't still know each other in five or so years, right? It's just how things work. Two Halloweens is a good run, let's just appreciate that. But then the make-up became real.

We found out you were allergic to cheap face paint that night and for some reason I obliged when you asked me to take an Instagram of you in the hospital bed. True devotion to the character. Method acting in a wing of Scorpio babies born under another tropical storm.

By the fourth annual Monster Smash we got more specific. This was getting a little ridiculous. I asked you not to watch over me if your dream ever came true. That recurring one about a poisonous grasshopper biting you in the field behind your parent's house. It was narcissistic to think you'd want to follow me around when you had the galaxy to explore, but we still shook on it. We would not hang out as the drafts that make curtains look like they are breathing. I wouldn't haunt you and under no circumstances would you ever, in a million years, haunt me.


There were no more costume parties. There were gaps. There was returning with a sketchy tattoo of some non-existent planet, which was really a logo the city branded to you. You drew re-imagined Disney princesses in Photoshop while I stayed at home, making fun of you to my friends in our father's armchairs. 'Miriam used to be normal. She was cool. Remember that?' Before you were seized by tall buildings and drooled back out an entirely different person. Jeggings to high-waisted jeans. Dust to dust.

I heard it happened driving home from your parent's house in the Pennsylvanian woods. You swerved to avoid hitting a deer and your Taurus ended up upside down in the empty river, blood rushing to your head to rush out of it. They tested you for chemicals to see if that was a factor, but only found shrimp scampi in your stomach because that's what you always asked your mom to make. Your dad began to feel something again from the Classics of Rock Pandora station. He will spend the rest of his days hunting for deer. Avenging your death with bottle upon bottle of Buck urine.

It had been over a few years since we had talked and the person you were to me was made from different parts. Frankenstein, not Uma Thurman. Only the traits I chose to recall, branded cattle iron style on the rosy sirloin of my brain. You said 'it's all about authenticity. I know that incision mark is there, even though it's covered by the bangs of the wig.' I thought a lot about the scorpion kids born when we met and how they were all old enough to run away from home or hide up in trees now.

I didn't go to your stupid wake. I heard they played an acoustic cover of Van Halen's 'Dance the Night Away' like it was a g.d. trailer for an erotic thriller. My eulogy would've involved the shrimps trapped in your belly, that you decided to take with you. They were going down with the ship, into the barren tributary of the Susquehanna. Miriam would do that. No one would've gotten it except us.

But these were not things that were said. These were not things that happened at all. Rather, I stayed at home to watch a movie on my laptop and during a quiet part I think I heard your sneeze. We didn't make it weird, though I knew it was you. The actual you. The kind of person who, no matter how much they spit in your hand, will break a pact.

Continue Reading...