N  a  p a  l  m     H  e  a  l  t  h     S  p  a  :     R  e  p  o  r  t     2  0  0  9







In Life After


   Deniz, in pencil jeans and leopard print heels, on her faded ten-speed, a block from

where Mark stands in the yard, watching her roll away, his stomach in twist and knot.

What if something happened to her? He should have insisted, but she insisted first and

when she got that knife glint to her Anglo-Turkish eyes, he knew it was useless, better to

leave off.

   Down the road, Deniz turns left on Linden, unexpected. Thought she would hit Mt.

Vernon and glide into work the back way. Why waste leg pumping up to seedy South

Ave with its wanderers and dangers? To spite him, no doubt; fully aware of her half-bared

back, cropped t-shirt wriggled up, deep v-neck giving anyone nearby a cheap look down

the front of her. Mark swallows hard on thoughts of wanting eyes grazing where his hand

swirled an hour before.

   Now, his palm throbs empty as wave motion undertow drags the errant hand to pant’s

pocket and other muscles lean towards going after. Custom carpenter fingers plunge, dig

for key chain, raw intention propelling him to the car wedged in the tiny drive. Easily ten

reasons why he should not dive behind the wheel but, fuck-it times ten, he’s stabbing the

ignition, revving the engine, skidding through reverse and lunging, road forward.

   Rolling himself feels better now, no longer left behind on the fallow lawn, brown with

winter rot. Cranking the wheel towards South Avenue where he saw her turn, Deniz with

gangly white arms and bleach blond bob, her father’s mid-eastern nose and orchid lips, the

finest he’s seen on a white chick. She felt crowded. They argued.

   Mark on task with laser eyes, scanning the street; where is she? No way she’s gotten

that much road beneath her, slow as she was rowing; straddling the 70’s yellow ten-speed

with ram’s horn bars, have to lay out to make it stop. He knows it’s too soon to talk. She

won’t listen, won't try, won’t come down once she’s tangled in the branch logic of her x-

mas tree nervous system.

   They met after 9-11. Deniz was young twenties waitress, slinging at 3AM for the diner

Greeks. She worked the graveyard shift and bar rush, serving the deep mourning types;

the slobs, the drunks, the insomniacs, bellying up to the counter for endless cups of jo

and hotdog garbage plates; followed by the hammered and wasted, the poets and

girlfriends, the sticky spillover from Show World down the street. Mark had PTSD. Their

first date never ended.

   Seven years later, he finds her again on the bump along sidewalk; head up straight,

platinum blond Cleopatra with brilliant schnozzle face taking the wind, plastic shopping

bag lunch swinging wild from the handlebars. Mark slows the car, hangs back a little in the

scene, watching his girlfriend’s smooth-pedal and wonders at just seeing her, like silent

movie through the windshield and she’s pregnant with his kid.