Sabotage at McCaffrey’s, A Poem by Chris Russell

Every time I opened my mouth to talk the waitress would come to the table and ask how everybody was doing. I began to think she was watching me from out there somewhere, waiting to interrupt me, or perhaps cosmically was sent to interrupt me so I would have to deal with her. Some of my friends were talking about baseball, of which I have no interest, but one of them brought up the subject of this new baseball movie that just came out, and since I had seen it and enjoyed it, I thought I’d chime in and return to the land of friends talking with one another. “I saw that. But I felt the relationship between the protagonist and his daughter to be much more moving than baseball,” I said. “You would say that,” one said. I felt insulted and a little embarrassed. Everybody was looking at me. “Didn’t you think it was moving?” I said. “Yeah, if you’re an asshole,” he said. “Why, just because I like to feel my movies?” I said. Everybody except me stood up at the same time and cheered for Ortiz who just hit a homer. I was knocked off guard and jumped in my chair, knocking my water over. “He’s cut off,” one said. I was beginning to feel pushed out of the circle. I picked up a butter knife and threw it at the television. It bounced off and cut a woman’s cheek. “What in the hell do you think you are doing?” She said. “You just cut me.” “It was an accident,” I said. “That was no accident,” she said. She got out of her chair and charged me with her purse. I broke the line of attack and she broke a heel and fell into the table, sending food into my friend’s laps. “I’m sorry, but you tried to retaliate with exceptional force, and I am trained in the art of redirecting force onto areas that have greater concentrations of it, until the forceful area cannot move under its own weight,” I said. The waitress came back. “Sir, you’re going to have to leave,” she said. “I don’t drive or have any money for a taxi,” I said. My friends made no effort to convince her that I should stay, their eyes still fixed on the television. I’m not even sure they realized I was being asked to leave. “Would you let my friends know that I’m being asked to leave?” I said. “What friends?” She said. “The one’s at that table right over there,” I said. “Sir, there’s nobody at that table, she said. “Well, if I see them, and you can say they are not there, then how can I be sure that you are here?” I said. “You can open them now,” a woman’s voice said. “Happy birthday!” I was staring at a bed. I turned around. A young, beautiful woman was smiling at me. “Is this what heaven is like?” I said. “Something like that, Dad,” she said. “I’m not sure who you think you are, but you are not my daughter. I don’t even have a daughter,” I said. “How long have I been away from earth?” “Dad, it’s okay. The doctor’s said this would happen,” she said. “It’s obvious you’re not going to tell me the truth,” I said. I picked up a letter opener on the desk beside me and ran at her with it. There was no way I was going to let some egghead from another planet turn me into a Pavlovian experiment. “You could have been great,” she said. She unzipped her skin and pulled out what looked like a laser gun. “There you are,” I said. I ran at her sideways and went for the gun. She got a shot off but it missed me, and hit a minion who was just coming in the door. “You’ve bit off more than you can chew,” I said. I ran out of one-liners to say after that. “Would you like to kiss me?” she said. “That depends,” I said. “Do you have a face?” “No, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying,” I said. “You have a good point,” I said. I leaned forward, closed my eyes, and pursed my lips. “All set to order?” She said. “I’ll have the black bean burger,” I said. “Good choice,” she said. “Anything to drink with that?” “Could I have a water with lemon?” I said. “Absolutely,” she said. “Thanks very much,” I said. “No problem,” she said. But I knew better. There was always a problem. I thought I’d demonstrate the obvious. “What if you’re out of water?” I said. “Highly unlikely, sir, she said.  “Would you like me to sit with you for a while?” “I’d like that,” I said. Maybe she did love me.  “Would you like me to sit on your lap?” she said. “If you can find my legs, they have to be around here somewhere,” I said. “You don’t need legs for me to sit on your lap,” she said. I liked her optimism. She lowered herself onto my lap, and for a minute I almost felt my legs. “I think I’m in love with you,” I said. “Do you hear guns?” “There are no guns around here,” she said. “Except for maybe this one,” I said. I made a move. She looked back over her shoulder at me. I wasn’t sure where all the sand and dust was coming from, but there was a pile of it over by the cleaning station. “This is too good to be true,” I said. “Undress me,” she said. My ears were ringing. I thought I heard somebody screaming. “This isn’t going to end well for me, is it?” I said. There was a pair of legs in the corner by the plant, moving all by themselves. “I think I found my legs.” I said. “Do you want me to go get them and bring them to you?” she said. “If you wouldn’t mind,” I said. “No problem,” she said. I was beginning to think maybe there wasn’t a problem.

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