The Mouf

Inappropriate Concert Reviews: The Knife, 4/15/14 at the Fox Theater, Oakland

Please gather ’round as we transcend transcendence.

** If you are a stan for The Knife, please preserve the integrity of your blood pressure by clicking away now. **

I’m not really a huge fan of The Knife. “Heartbeats” is a cool song, I guess. Yeah, I’m one of THOSE fans, the kind that only likes this band’s one hit single from like 2005 or whatever. Knife fans, I told y’all to click away, but if you’re still here, let the waves of your resentment towards my basic-bitchness crash through you. You are a rock that stands alone in a heaving sea of fake The Knife fans. Feel your feelings. If all else fails, eat your feelings.

Is The Knife even a band though? Or are they a dance troupe formed of Cirque du Soleil rejects? More on that later.

Good thing I was drunk when the opening act came out, because it was this dude in a fishnet banana hammock who will heretofore be referred to as “Jane Fonda” after he pranced onstage and said, “Are you ready to do AEROBICS?” and then immediately launched into a diatribe on the ballsacks of the men in the crowd. This was highly uncomfortable because I attended this show with a man, and I really don’t want to think about his balls. Seriously, I do not! And not only that, but Jane Fonda kept being like, “Bounce that ballsack. Ladies, bounce those tits. Now touch the person next to you.” So he’s all trying to rub up on me, and I’m like, “I’m emotionally unavailable,” and he says, “So?” and I kind of shrug, like good point, but then I’m like, NO, wait a second! “THE BODY SAYS NO.”

Okay, enough about my interpersonal drama. The Knife come out. All twelve of them. They’re a grab bag of men and women all clad in the same jewel-toned jumpsuit. “We are beyond gender,” these outfits are supposed to say. I’m pretty sick of all this faux-politically-correct Tumblr shit, but I don’t want to be that asshole who’s raining on the parade of every college’s freshman gender studies class, so whatever. Every person in this “band” looks like that Florence and the Machine chick. Every one of them! That’s pretty much the only thing that’s impressing me at this point.

Music starts playing, and right away I see that Florence and the Machine Person #3 is merely pretending to play the drums. I’m real suspicious-like. Of the twelve Florence and the Machine People, only one or two appears to be ACTUALLY playing an instrument. Are we supposed to notice this? I can’t tell. Everyone around me is dancing like a fucking freak sacrificing their firstborn to the blood moon. Jane Fonda got us REAL turnt up apparently. But what is this shit, “The Knife (DJ Set)”????????? <—not enough question marks in the world for this question.

They start playing “Full of Fire,” that clappy-hands song. God, if there’s one thing in this world that I cannot stand, it’s songs with clap-tracks (I’m looking at you, “Sound of Settling”). So you know it’s a bad show when I’m like, “Well, at least they’re not faking the clap sounds…” And the Karin Florence and the Machine Person must have been actually singing, because she sounded goddamn horrible. (To be fair, “What’s your story? That’s my opinion” is a great lyric. Great! Now back to our regularly scheduled negativity.)

At this point, The Knife (DJ Set) gave up all illusions of live music. They put on a backing track, vocals and all, and started performing subpar dance routines. Oh my God, I thought, I’m at a taping of America’s Got Talent. Seriously, it was so amateur that I kept waiting for Nick Cannon’s stupid grin to float above me like some mocking Cheshire Cat. If you’re gonna trick your audience into thinking they’re attending a concert, a concert with LIVE MUSIC, when it’s actually more like a high school dance recital, can you at least hire some professional dancers or dance to some music I actually want to hear?

So they prance around to a backing track for another hour, and I’m not going to describe that because I’d rather talk about ANYTHING else (Why are women’s sneakers so ugly? How could MLB introduce a rule that incentivizes players to drop the ball? How’s the weather in San Franci- OH IT’S FOGGY THANKS).

“Don’t go away,” Florence and Machine Person #11 tells the crowd as the dance troupe winds down. “You’re gonna want to stick around.”

Falser words have never been spoken. The curtain rises, it’s like 10:30, the backing track is still playing and the lights are still low. We all assume they’re having an intermission so they can change into new gender-bending costumes. My limbs start to get heavy. Half the crowd has left, and the other half is still dancing like they’re being exorcised. I don’t know what to do. It’s only 10:30, and I don’t really want to dance with this dude. He’s trying though. Bless his heart, he’s trying. And I keep hoping we might see some people play actual instruments. But no. Even the stage managers seem to be confused. The house lights come on, then go off again, then back on.

The intermission was not actually an intermission at all. The show was over. No encore. No actual music-playing. Just a bunch of androgynous Swedes who wanted an excuse to wear silk pantsuits. Someone air-DJed, for fuck’s sake! Who does that? Do I sound mad? Well, I guess I’m a little pissed.

The Knife (DJ Set) did not play “Heartbeats.” And don’t tell me I didn’t “get it” just because I don’t pray to an altar of minimalist Scandinavian occult-figurines every night. I fucking GOT IT, okay? Not everything is art.


Inappropriate Concert Review: Iron and Wine, 11/1/13, Fox Theater in Oakland

This is a picture of a swarm of people photographing a dog pissing on a Banksy tribute to 9/11. Banksy pieces were basically made to be pissed on. I was just waiting for someone to come lick the dog piss off Banksy’s wall-piece. And then they’d cut off their tongue and auction it on Ebay for like $10k because THAT TONGUE TOUCHED PISS THAT TOUCHED A BANKSY, don’t ya know?

The Iron and Wine show was kind of like that: pissing on the artist, licking up the piss, mouthwash in the form of song, spit, repeat. The most enjoyable part of this show was that this enormous, gorgeous theater was packed with people who paid a bunch of money and Ticketmaster bullshit fees just to piss all over this perfectly nice man. I think his name is Sam. Sam Beard.

Really, though, Sam Beard brought it upon himself. He strolls out onstage with his eleven-piece band, and they all assume their positions, and we clap for a polite ten seconds, and then we stop clapping, and this is the part where normally a song would begin. But instead, Sam Beard just starts kind of mumbling inaudibly for five minutes, the band stifling yawns, the audience forced to focus on Beard’s ill-fitting pants and the way they give an almost impressive illusion of camel toe where presumably dick should be. Like a Magic Eye poster: squint and it’s camel toe, relax and it’s dick.

Okay, at this point we’re five minutes into the show and I’m cursing the Fox because this is not the first (or even second) time that I’ve seen a dude on that stage moving his mouth and no sound is coming through the speakers. But maybe Mr. Beard will stop mumbling long enough to play a song that we can actually hear.

He does! The band starts playing a thing. It’s something off The Shepherd’s Dog, and I’m privileged to not know any song titles off that album because it’s one of those rare pieces that is flawless from start to finish. So the band is playing, and they sound absolutely spectacular. I’m warm and fuzzy inside. Beard is singing, and he sounds aiiiiiiight, but I still can’t understand a word coming out of his mouth, and I know the words to this song, but it’s like he’s replaced them with a new set of non-English words. Whatever, who needs words, right? I’d say the overarching theme of this show was FUCK WORDS.

The music, though. There was this three-piece horn section led by an extremely tall, lanky trumpet player who was dancing around and rubbing his butt on the other two horn players until they were all giggly. The horns yanked Iron & Wine out of the folk genre and gave it a loungey, smooth-jazz feel, but before it could turn into smooth-jazz-easy-listening (like what your parents listen to), the drummer would interrupt with some experimental tempo that was, like, sooooooooooo 2013. And we in the audience needed that, because we were a bunch of attractive late-20s/early-30s people coming to terms with like, aging and not achieving our goals and shit, and we don’t want to listen to what our parents listen to, we want to feel modern. And we did.

Beard, with his lack of words, lost our attention. Desperate to regain it, he’d try to hold fireside chats between songs. “I love you too,” he’d say to anyone and no one. “Yes, I will play that song for you in a few minutes” (which, tangent: WHAT THE FUCK?! What actual musician out there hears his fans requesting songs from the pit and actually PLAYS THEM? At this point I knew he had to secretly be a huge asshole, because only someone trying super hard to seem nice would do a thing like that).

“Turn the mic up!” someone shouted from the balcony. Alarmed to hear coherent words from the balcony, but not from the stage with the actual microphone, the audience murmured its approval. “What?” Beard said as he cupped a hand to his ear. “TURN THE FUCKING MIC UP!” The audience cheered and cheered. The girls next to me were like, “Is he drunk? Why does he keep mumbling?” and eager to fit in, I was like, “Yeah! Right?”

Beard just kind of stood there and finally launched into a song. The mic was still not up, but it didn’t matter. He didn’t know the words to the song, his song, so he stopped playing it. “Sorry,” he said. “This is a song called…” Awkward pause. He didn’t know the name. “Aw for fuck’s sake,” I groaned. “It’s ‘House by the Sea,’ ya wanker.” I mean, he didn’t know this, but the song starts out like, “There is a house, by the sea…” So like, OBVIOUSLY, it’s “House by the Sea,” but I guess you need to know the words to come to that conclusion.

Eventually Beard kicked the band offstage and tried to have another heart-to-heart with us. “I hope you guys don’t mind curse words,” he said. Like what the fuck is this, an Odd Future show? “Because one of the words in this song is ‘fuck.'” Okay, whatever, call my mom and tell her that I lied about the weed being Matt’s that one time, because my adult privileges were just revoked. Then Beard launches into an acoustic version of Monkeys Uptown. I’m not gonna say that’s an insurmountable fuck up, but seriously, insurmountable fuck up. That is the worst song to play acoustically, it makes the word ‘fuck’ lose all its novelty and power, and at this point I am seriously questioning Beard’s decision-making skills.

Blah blah blah band comes back out. The mic gets turned up! Good thing, too, because we were about to have a mutiny on our hands. We were about to bust out a cane. Like no joke, two more seconds of mumbling and we were going to hold Beard down and shave off his namesake and insert each facial hair into the motherboard of iPhones on an assembly line in China. Take THAT, you 1800s-looking son of a gun.

One-song encore, and we’re off into that sweet Oakland night. I was actually pretty pleased to spend my hard-earned (ha) money heckling that guy who covered “Such Great Heights.” Yeah, he forgot the words to half his songs and yeah, he made a lot of weird gurgling sounds, but let’s look on the bright side here. The band sounded GREAT, Beard’s beard was paradoxically both long and soft, the crowd was cool, and it was surprisingly refreshing to go to a show just to piss all over the musician like he’s a Banksy piece.

The Pip

Onscreen, a large eagle was preparing to take a crap over the edge of her nest. Her brown and white butt feather quivered in anticipation as she dug her talons into the pile of fuzz and twigs she had amassed over the years. I sat transfixed, my shoulders slumped forward so that my nose almost touched the computer monitor.

The eggs were supposed to hatch on Tuesday. It was now Saturday, and the eggs were still intact, and I was still installed at the desk in our bedroom, my pink house slippers rooted firmly to the carpet. If only my family would commend my patience – the sacrifices I’ve had to make – but I can’t expect much from them. Knots of hunger chewed at the edges of my stomach, but I tried to ignore these human problems.

Bill had stopped bringing me meals two days ago. “If you want a hot meal,” he was now saying, “then you can step away from that – that – that fucking thing –” he flung his arm towards the computer – “for thirty minutes so you can join your family – remember us? – at the dining room table for dinner.”

I planned to call a divorce attorney the minute these eagle eggs hatched. If I had known that Bill would go balder than a bald eagle when I’d married him at 23, I probably would have called off the wedding. I wondered if, eleven years later, I could still get an annulment on the grounds of fraud. Hair fraud.

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Blood Orange, 4/12/12, at Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco

I was drunk. I don’t remember this show. That’s fine by me, because if I did remember this show, I would probably remember doing this terrible dance where I threw my freaky branch-like arms up in the air, crossing my wrists at sporadic intervals while I tucked my chin to my chest in some futile attempt to lick my own collarbone. But I don’t remember that.

Oh, but, shit. The internet never gets drunk. The internet always remembers.

This is so embarrassing. Why am I even calling attention to this? What am I doing with my life? I know what I’m not doing with my life ever again: dancing.

Tall girls can’t dance. Every tall woman must endure a cruel rite of passage where she tries to dance, fails, and is ridiculed by her friends, family, coworkers, cat, strangers on the internet, and even that homeless guy outside Safeway who keeps insisting that he banged her friend while offering her a cupcake he pulled out of the trash. It’s really that last guy whose opinion caused me to stop dancing forever. Before he told me what was up, I lived in a bubble of ignorant bliss where I deluded myself with such excuses as, “I did professional dance for 6 years!” or, “I can do the worm!” or, “I got the high score on that Ke$ha song on Just Dance for Wii!” Oh, Jess, you poor, sad, tall girl who can’t enjoy life because you’re denied the simple pleasures of dancing and wearing Jeffrey Campbell heels.

Well, you know what? We live in a fucked up, topsy-turvy world where racism isn’t illegal, men scratching their beards into microphones isn’t illegal, jogging isn’t illegal, and tall girls dancing while drunk isn’t illegal. Injustices occur every day. So I’m going to dance sometimes. DEAL.

Summary where I pretend to be a person who is succinct: tall girls can’t dance, but sometimes we do it anyway. Also, I’m pretty sure this show was good, but I wouldn’t really know. The End.

Radiohead, 4/11/12 at HP Pavilion, San Jose

Radiohead is NOT approved by the Food and Drug Administration of America. Let me tell you.

The first time I saw them, my friend fainted in some sort of alien seizure caused by their awesome light show, and had to be escorted out on a stretcher by the medical technicians. I was kind of traumatized, but I still wanted to dance to “Idioteque,” you know?

The second time I saw them, I started vomiting uncontrollably the minute they stopped playing. Completely sober, mind you. I was kind of traumatized, but I still wanted to dance to “Idioteque,” you know?

The third time I saw them was this night. I had eaten an entire Indian buffet beforehand and was double-fisting beers so fast that I gave myself a terrible stomachache and had to unbutton my pants, so I was just hanging around with my pants unbuttoned and my stomach sticking out like I was 5 months pregnant (but really it was just a food baby). “Aw,” cooed a girl next to me. “Is it a boy or a girl?”

“I’m gonna let them decide that on their own,” I retorted, feeling super feminist for some reason, probably because of all of the British accents emanating from the stage. I gave her the death glare while chugging one of the beers.

Thom Yorke started dancing or picking bananas at an extremely fast pace or whatever you want to call it. He seriously looked like he should have won every Westminster Dog Show ever. He would have been some breed of dog named after a chicken.

Then there was Jonny Greenwood. This is a man who does not have a face and is still one of the most attractive people I have ever seen. Much of the show was spent making “No Face” jokes with my friend, because it’s not like I’m going to pass up that opportunity. I can’t help but be impressed by men over the age of thirty who still rock that shaggy skater-punk/Justin Bieber hair. It’s the opposite of balding, and I can get behind that.

Everyone else in the band was bald, but that’s cool, this isn’t a beauty pageant. It’s a Radiohead concert. Jonny Greenwood is like some crepuscular light sent by God or The Universe or whatevs, it’s just a special gift on top of an already special gift.

Back to the music. Thom is hopping around like he forgot to take his Adderall, Jonny’s doing things that do not involve having a face, the rest of the band is rocking out, I’m rocking out by rubbing my exposed food baby all up on everyone, the rest of the crowd is just kind of standing there with their flannelled arms pinned to their sides like they go to Radiohead shows every day.

I don’t really blame them; the setlist sucked. They played almost all of that tragedy that I refuse to acknowledge as a record, The King of Limbs. The good songs were 15 Step, Reckoner, The National Anthem, How to Disappear Completely, Idioteque (best!), some b-side called something like Blah Blah Blah Orgy, Karma Police, and I forgot the rest. They played for almost 3 hours and did a (pre-planned) double encore. They did not play my anthem, Jigsaw Falling into Place, and therefore my embittered self did not buy a $50 Radiohead cardigan. I don’t even know what to do with a cardigan…put my arms in the sleeves? Like, button it up?

Cardigan confusion. Bad setlist. Incredible everything else. Go home, do it all again the next day.

Odd Future, or some rap show, 4/9/12 at The Warfield, San Francisco

This show was weird as shit. What is up with me and underage children at dirty rap shows? Whoa, pedo, whoa.

Things first got weird when I didn’t know the name of the group I was seeing. I kept calling them Odd Future Gang Will Kill Them All, which made me nervous, because we all know I am a pacifist, and I will start wars to preserve pacifism, you know? So all this talk about murder coming from a group of underage ruffians wearing neon-inked HOODIES (can you believe the nerve?) just didn’t sit well with me.

But then I walked inside The Warfield, and they were selling shirts that said “Golf Wang,” so I was like, okay, they’re Odd Future Golf Wang Kill You All. I liked this name better. I had the distinct sense, however, that this name was wrong. My women’s intuition comes and goes in unpredictable waves, and on this night it was this little itch at the back of my neck that kept saying, “I’m not scabies. I’m your conscience, telling you that you have no fucking idea what band you are seeing right now.” But to Google their band name would be to admit that I was wrong. I don’t mind being wrong, but I certainly don’t want to hear it from that smug motherfucker, Google.

I was the oldest person at this concert. I felt a pang of envy at all the fifteen year-old girls in booty shorts with their supple little buttocks forming half-moons where skin meets denim. I was like, I could rock that look! But I don’t…but I could! But…I don’t. But I could! But…no, I just don’t. Just don’t.

My friends had floor tickets, while I was banished to an assigned seat in the balcony. Old and alone, alone and old. “This is the first concert I’ve been to!” Teenager Katniss said to Teenager Katnisss. “Ohhhhh my gosh! Me too!” Teenager Katnisss said. “Wow, me three!” chimed in Teenager Katnizz. “Let’s do the wave!” I suggested. All of the teenagers ignored me.

The show started at 8:00. Too early for me to have had my morning coffee. Teenagers were jumping, butt cheeks were bouncing, everyone was making those weird hand movements people make at rap shows where you put some, but not all, of your fingers together, and you shove your hands in the air as if you just don’t care (but if you were truly apathetic, wouldn’t you forgo putting your hands in the air?).

“Smoke weed, smoke weed, smoke weed!” one of the rappers demanded of the crowd. Oh no. I’m not falling for this one again. Immediately I start having PTSD flashbacks of the Great Underage Rap Show Disaster of 2009. It was an Andre Nickatina show in Petaluma, California, where fourteen year-olds were dry humping so hard I thought they might all get pregnant without penetration. “Smoke weed!” Andre Nickatina ordered. “Smoke weed, smoke weed, smoke weed!” Sheesh, I thought, I really hate being told what to do, but okay. So I smoked some weed. A big-muscled security guard grabbed me and dragged me to the street. “Heyyyyy,” I whined. “The rapper told me to do it.” A solid legal defense if I’ve ever heard one. I briefly considered suing the venue for discrimination when the security guard wouldn’t let me back in, but then I went to a high school party with some random kids instead, so, failure all around, and also, what am I doing with my life?

So when Underage Rapper 1 demanded that I smoke weed, I knew I wasn’t falling for that one again.

Except that I was. “Hey,” I shouted in the face of a male teenager clumsily smoking a joint, “let me hit that.” He passed the joint to his friend instead. “Aren’t you, like, a grandma?” he said. “I’m twenty-five,” I said. I resented the high-pitched desperation in my own voice. He blinked in slow motion and stared at me blankly. “It’s physically impossible for me to be a grandma,” I said. This seemed to soothe his mind, because he grabbed the joint from his friend and handed it to me. “I found this weed on the bus,” he laughed. My eyes rolled to the top of my skull. Oh, God. I promised that after this moment, I will go to grad school, I will stop drinking, I will wake up at 5:00 in the morning every day and do that weird yoga stretch where you stick your ass out and greet the sun, just please, forgive me for this low point. Then I smoked the weed.

It was totally Bus Weed. That’s a thing. Old, alone, and disappointed, I decided to do whatever it took to join my friends on the floor. WHATEVER IT TAKES, I thought, whatever it takes. I was willing to buy beer for underage children, I was willing to stop genocide in Darfur, I was willing to acknowledge that Easter is a holiday even though we don’t get it off work, just let me on the floor with my friends who are old enough to drink. I walked up to a man holding all of the yellow wristbands for the floor. “Hi,” I said, “can I have a wristband to get on the floor?” He looked around to make sure nobody was looking, then snapped a yellow wristband onto me. I was very relieved because I didn’t know how I was going to solve that Darfur problem.

I found my friends surrounded by the same overly-stimulated teenagers I had just left. I mean, they were probably different teenagers, but one’s named Katniss and the other is named Katnisss, and still another is Katnizz, so what do I care? Pot, meet kettle, because I totally have a stupid made-up name too, yay parents leafing through the baby name book while incredible wasted!

One of my friends was fighting with a fifteen year-old boy. “My friend has to go to the bathroom,” he said. “Can you save his spot?” Robyn laughed and head-butted him in the face. “Have you ever been to a concert before?” she said. He hung his head in shame.

The unknown rap group on stage started talking. “Yo, yo, yo, we got some kid here with his dad! That’s bad ass! Both of you, come on stage!” They did. The dad was twenty-four, the kid was nine. I was still the oldest person there.

At least you don’t know the band’s name, I consoled myself.

No More Music

I went to three concerts this week. Let’s recap them and purge them from my memory, so I can stop being like, “What am I doing with my life?”

The Craziest Man in the World

The man known as The Craziest Man in the World finished washing his dishes in the sink. He had taken time to prepare and consume one serving of baked salmon. As his plain white china hung on a dish rack to dry, he listlessly ironed his slacks for tomorrow’s day of work. He was an accountant, and The Craziest Man in the World.

He had earned this title by stupidly leaving his journal under a bar stool four days ago. It was tax season, and that day had been particularly full of clients screaming into his ear as he stared straight ahead, blinking predictably every four seconds as if he were keeping the beat to a song. At six-thirty, he shuffled out of the office, past a Round Table Pizza (whose sign had been desecrated to read “Poundable Pizza”), and into Would You Believe?? Cocktails.

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Sweet Valley Firing Range

When they came out, they were the same. Their screaming faces were the same shade of rotting peach, and their wails pinched the same spot inside their mother’s ears. Priscilla cried into her mother’s left lobe, and Sarah into her right.

It didn’t take long for two things that came out the same to become different. In the beginning, their mother juggled the babies awkwardly in her lap. Later, she held the twins as if they were each a bag of groceries – Sarah a bag of glass that made anyone within earshot cringe when clinked together, and Priscilla soft-skinned fruits that bruised easily and oozed decay.

Identity is a tangled mess of roots and branches for anyone, but theirs had fused together and grown so caked with dirt that it seemed impossible to pull apart or make sense of. So when the news raced around town one November that the girls had shot each other at the same time, only with whispered guilt did mothers tell their daughters that some things are impossible to separate.

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A Glow

“You’re so brave,” Stephanie said, wrapping a wool blanket around her legs.  “I mean, aren’t you scared? If it was me, I’d have pissed myself by now.”

I had been sent home from work, again, because they’d caught that guy jerking off onto the hood of my car, again, on the security cameras installed in the parking garage. He’d escaped this time, unsatisfied and unapprehended.

“I don’t subscribe to a life of fear, Stephanie,” I said. I was so full of shit. I had a bulletproof vest hanging in my closet, for God’s sake. I wore it twice a year when I went skiing – it was the only time I could get away with wearing such a bulky clothing item.  I reveled in those two days a year when I knew I would not die of a gunshot wound to the chest. Skiing into a tree, maybe, but not a bullet wound.

Stephanie got up to peer out the window. I couldn’t suppress a giggle as she immediately dropped face-first onto the floor. “To the window, to the wall,” I stupidly sang.

“Liz. Oh my God. What kind of car does he drive again? A green Honda? Um, don’t freak out, but he’s parked across the street.”

I walked over to the window. He was sitting in his car with the driver’s window rolled down. When he saw me, he put his fingers to his mouth in a V-shape and wiggled his tongue around excitedly.

“Hide, Liz!” Stephanie hissed.

Frozen in place, I watched his thin, eerily long tongue roll around his fingers. His saliva glistened in the light like freshly fallen snow on the sunny day after a storm. Dazzling diamonds, I thought. Dazzling.  I tried to have another thought, any thought, please oh please a normal thought, but the harder I tried to avoid dazzling diamonds, the more they glittered in my mind, all sticky with spit and the semen I kept finding on my car.

I couldn’t feel my fingertips. His eyes were locked into mine, and I swear I could see the close shave on his milk-white skin. How does he shave so close? I wondered.  I bet he uses one of those straight razors, he probably keeps it in a porcelain stand on his counter – no! Don’t be ridiculous, you can’t see stubble from a second-floor apartment, you’re so dumb, with your diamonds and your –

They had him this time.

With flashing eyes that mirrored the flashing lights outside, I turned to Stephanie.  “Did you call the fucking cops?” I growled.

She looked like she had just been slapped and told she was less pretty than her sister. “Liz…” she pleaded.

I turned back to the window. The only thing glistening now in the late-afternoon sun was the pair of handcuffs separating his hands from the rest of his body. When the police turned him towards the waiting squad car, his eyes finally broke from mine like a severed tightrope. I walked into the bathroom, locked the door, and turned on the bathtub and sink. Stephanie’s fists upon the door were miles away.

All that was left of this stranger was on the hood of my car. Bleached by the sun, the spots of semen had turned crusty and unknowable, their existence spent like a diamond’s in reverse – unpolished now where they used to shine. In the roar of bathroom water, I vowed to never wash my car again.