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BlazeVOX [books]
Cleaning the Mirror
by Joel Chace
(BlazeVOX , 2008)




My tennis instructor Sue and I go on a fishing expedition and fall deeply in love over cocktails on the poop deck. The first thing we realize is that we need to be alone. We want to start a family right away. I point out a dinghy, but Sue has a better idea so we toss a bunch of chum in the water and when it's finally boiling over with black tips and hammerheads we throw off the charter group (except for the chef, of course, who we'll probably need if we're going to start a new civilization on one of the hundreds of not so distant islands).

Life is perfect from that point on. We spend our days full of contentment. We have intercourse all the time, and she revitalizes my backhand. I school a roving gang of howler monkeys on how best to bash in the heads of possible rescue parties. Sue keeps busy on her tan using real coconut oil because the island we've chosen is loaded with them.

In the evenings, we return home to our lavish hut and eat smoked starfish, filet of conch, and sugar-ant pie, and then because Sue’s swimsuit is in such disrepair along with that gorgeous radioactive tan of hers, I tell the chef to get lost so that we can go at it like mad rabbits under the vast, star-sprayed sky.


I have a magic carpet. It's late in the evening and I pick up Beth from her bedroom window, where she's just finished The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico. "I didn't really like it," she tells me, smoothing out a rough spot in the carpet. "Of course," I answer, "it's a sad story." I unpack the cheese because it's going to be a long ride. I have aged Gouda and an English farm cheddar. "The Gouda's best," I warn, crisply steering the carpet west, over Golden Gate Park. "When we're done with that, my darling, I have some foie gras. Do you like foie gras?" "Yes, but do you love me?" asks Beth. "Of course,” I tell her. “But do you like foie gras?" Beth doesn't answer. There is another couple on a magic carpet at about two o'clock, no more than a block away. "Do you know them?" Beth asks, cutting off a big piece of Gouda. I scan for the telltale under-markings, but I’m not even sure that it's Persian. "I don't think so," I assure her.
After we chow down most of the Gouda and some of the cheddar, I park the magic carpet over Sea Cliff and break out the foie gras. The moon is full and the ocean cuts a silver iridescence far beneath us. But not too far. I make sure to stay under radar at all times. The U.S. Air Force can be demanding about things like magic carpets.

All of a sudden Beth looks confused, “Does this mean I’m driving tomorrow.”

But I just smile and brush a lock of hair from her face and put my other hand up her skirt to the part that feels like warm whipped cream, meanwhile talking at length, the pros and cons of sea-air interacting with foie gras. "You see," I explain breathlessly, "it shouldn't matter if the foie gras is any good . . . "


The girl who hands out anti-war leaflets outside my supermarket every Thursday and I are taking refuge from a savage earthquake atop a gigantic skyscraper. The last of the helicopters has just lifted off. There are some secretaries and a man with an overhead projector with us. The secretaries are used to disappointment, but the man with the overhead projector has already sunk to his knees, sobbing into profit forecasts. We watch silently as other skyscrapers in the distance either come crashing down like so many sand castles or are merely spidered with insignificant cracks and fissures.
“What do you think of our chances?” asks the girl who hands out anti-war leaflets, her gorgeous little nostrils flaring. I tell her to hold my hand. Then I gaze at her with earnest eyes that seem to say Fifty-fifty, darling.
Finally it hits.

The building next to us wavers but does not fold. There are people on top of it jubilant, hugging. “I think we’re going to make it,” blurts one of the secretaries. But the man with the overhead projector is too busy fashioning wings from laminated pie charts to reply. He taps the charts then points deliriously to the sky. “You’re all invited,” he says. No one says anything. The secretaries all move away from him as if they suddenly recall his dementia from some tragically devised pickup line from last year’s Christmas party. He turns around for one last cheery thumbs-up then he runs off the side of the building, his arms flapping wildly.

“Wow,” says the girl who hands out anti-war leaflets, squeezing my hand a little tighter.

Our building begins to buckle. The secretaries, the girl who hands out anti-war leaflets, and myself, we’re thrown against the gravel roof. The building sways violently, shaking loose large panes of glass, unfortunate window washers. Then it happens. Everything below us disappears into rubble and air and I lose my grip on the girl who hands out anti-war leaflets, watching her fall further and further away from me. The first thing I realize is that I don’t want her to die alone so I commence my human-bullet technique, whereby I tuck in my chin and my arms and cover hundreds of feet in no time at all. She is happy to see me. “You looked really cool doing that,” she says. “But can you believe we’re still at war in Iraq?”

I tell her I cannot, but that we need to try and concentrate on the task at hand.

Back in our collective freefall, I try to stay calm. After a while I have an idea so I pull the girl who hands out anti-war leaflets close and begin to waltz with her in midair. She laughs and kisses my neck. A couple of times I forget the steps and watch her smile nervously, the cars and trucks blooming exponentially at our feet.



three fantasies about women i sort of know


trevor houser