Exit Strategy

I want to run away. I want to pack my meager belongings and that delightful girl in a tiny sack or an old Volvo and sputter off into the early sunset of this very long winter. It doesn’t really matter where I end up, Spain, July, even a couple months in Sarasota playing shuffleboard and eating a Grand Slam breakfast, lunch and dinner at Denny’s. Sausage. I need a change, because February is the longest short month and I’ll be perfectly honest with you, these compelling new episodes of “Lost” are too far apart for my tastes. So I shuffle outside to the bus stop and the cold wind stings my eyes, or the faded black booze-bags under my eyes, and I’m mopey and self concious about the white headphones that announce my participation in the iPod revolución. White sheep. Across the street, I step onto the curb and into a whole chocolate cupcake. I shake my leg, like your cat does when you stick tape on its foot, and the cupcake rolls into traffic. Thirty seconds later, a full school bus crushes it and stops at the light in front of me.

I look up from my frosted sole and there’s a kid, no more than six old, staring at me with his forehead pressed against the cold half-window of the bus. He wants to run away too. To Chuck E. Cheese’s. I smile in a way that I imagine to be non-threatening and he smiles back, abruptly detaching his forehead from the window. With my attention, he immediately raises his hands to his chest, one hand closed into a tight fist, the other an open palm. He pounds the butt of his fist on the open palm three times and throws scissors. He keeps smiling. Then he does it again.

One, two, three: Scissors.

Spontaneous roshambo. I pull my hands out of my pockets and mimic his fist and palm. I alter my stance to make it more athletic, like I’m about to return his tennis serve, and he gives me his serious game face. One, one, two, two, three, three: Scissors Scissors. Naturally, we both throw scissors the first time. And the second time. The light turns green and his bus starts to roll. His face flashes urgency, seconds before I shred his paper with a third consecutive scissor and suggest to myself that I can probably stick around for at least another year.

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