There’s a man queuing for the bus, battered paperback in one hand and groceries in the other. The air is saturated by pigeon feathers and the overripe smell of warm grapes from the fruit shop.
A girl stands nearby, swathed in dark blue silk. Only her eyes are visible.
An old woman stumbles out from an alleyway and starts a lengthy conversation with no one on the quality and consistency of grey-white spatter that covers the footpath.
A man sleeps in a doorway, cradled by warm cement. A lit cigarette is balanced precariously on his lips.
Tall Africans move through the crowd gracefully while white trash flock around like seagulls, squawking at their children.Take a man, rewind two years, and you will find him finally freed from exams and assignments after half a dozen long years, those final months grueling, the mental equivalent of fingernails on blackboards. Sometimes when he sits down he wonders if he’ll ever be able to get back up again.

Rewind three years. He is watching someone, a strange man-child who can lead a conversation from wookiee martial arts through to the Terminator movies without drawing breath. The stranger is currently recounting, word for word and action for action, scenes from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. This odd creature will later be known for his performance at the local comics store, stalking up the stairs like he was Tarantino’s Bride. He’s short, slightly round and Taiwanese. He makes Star Wars fan films, and one day he may actually kill everyone who’s ever laughed at him. Downstairs, co-workers poke each other’s nipples with pens and listen to Rammstein. The room smells like sweat, soy sauce and lonely men’s bungalows.

Rewind five years. He’s meeting a girl who likes anime. She doesn’t know it yet but there’s a whole lot of evil in her stomach, wrapping thick black weeds through her choked insides. It’ll be enough to make her scream and stumble through the morphine. For now though, that scar-tissue kudzu is far away.

Rewind nine years. He’s a boy, now, talking to a girl who might be interesting or cool or tragically sad but she doesn’t know whether that’s just the chemicals talking. They’re peeling chocolate icing from the top of school cafeteria doughnuts, talking about horse tranquilizers and the significance of the lily. He’s addicted to nicotine but has never smoked.

Fast forward six years and he’ll be ruthlessly self-editing, bringing down the scalpel of time and memory, selectively removing those narratives that went nowhere.

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