Your Latin was bad.
My bad was longing for you,
Your Latin was bad.
My bad was longing for you,
Behind the mountains,
I wonder if you are there,
wondering the same.
I order lockdown
but you always find a way
to enter my mind.
Need a time machine
to find you back in high school
and confess my love.
Romina and Julian always hated each other. They didn’t quite know why but the feeling was strong and mutual. It started the first time they lay eyes on each other which was on the first day of school when they both started first grade. They lived next door after Romina’s family moved to their little town, and their parents became best friends. The hostility between Romina and Julian was not temporary as their parents had hoped but lasted all the way through high school. They graduated together but did not congratulate each other on that academic achievement. They instead presented each other with annoyed looks and without even inquiring about each other’s plans, they went their separate ways. A few years passed and in this world – or rather a few countries – where everybody is allowed to be whatever and whoever they want to be, both Romina and Julian, unbeknownst to each other took some radical steps towards the discovery of their true beings. The personal enlightenments saw Romina become Romeo and Julian become Juliet. They met again after many years, at the ten year high school reunion that also marked ten years since they last saw each other. This time, not knowing he was looking at the person he hated the most in his childhood years, Romeo formerly known to his classmates as Romina, saw Juliet across the dance floor and fell in love at what he thought was first sight. Juliet, with her cheekbones too delicate to ever have belonged to a boy felt Romeo’s piercing stare and turned hence locking eyes with the handsome young man she did not recognize. And just like that, on a forgettable dance floor at their ten year high school reunion, surrounded by former classmates and the sounds of Gwen Stefani’s Sweet Escape, and after seeing each other for the millionth time, Romeo and Juliet fell in love at first sight. The feeling was strong and mutual, and as happens with some loves, irreversible. Their parents, who had stopped talking to their children when informed about their identity transformations, now also stopped talking to each other. The next door neighbors, once best friends, blamed each other for the ‘disgrace’ their children trusted upon them and started hating each other with the same passion they once invested in their friendship. Romeo and Juliet did not care that their families were now sworn enemies, and continued to love each other in a most poetic way. I don’t know what happened after but somebody said that they were so enchanted with Italy, which they visited on their honeymoon, that they decided to settle there and become English teachers in some town whose name I’m not sure about. Could be Verona but don’t take my word for it.
Marty read ‘The Post Office’ by Bukowski and decided to become a postman. He applied for the job, got a call back, passed all the tests including Exam 473. He knew he would because 473 are the last three digits of his social security number and that was surely a sign. Marty is an avid reader. As a new postman, he reads all the postcards before he places them in the mailboxes. People are skiing in Colorado, France and Switzerland and are happy about it. He would be, too. Somebody witnessed a street mugging in Mexico. Or was it New York? Marty wonders where would Bukowski go on a winter holiday. Marty is starting a book. He is going to call it ‘The Mailman’. It’s going to be about his adventures at work. He’s been at the job for a month now and has never met any of the mail recipients. Nobody is ever home when he delivers. Everybody works so no sex for Marty. His book is stuck. A postman’s job was supposed to be exciting. Where are all the women? One day he rings the bell of an apartment to deliver a small package and a man opens the door. He is Asian but Marty cannot tell the difference between Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese or Korean so he doesn’t know from where. Even the food is the same to him. He sees that the man wears a kimono.
‘Are you Japanese?’ asks Marty handing him the package.
‘Yes’, says the mail recipient in a kimono. He signs the receipt.
‘Is that a book?’ asks Marty.
‘Yes’, says the Japanese man.
‘Oh, I read a lot, too.’
‘I don’t read a lot.’
‘What book is it, if you don’t mind me asking?’
‘The Art of War.’
‘Oh, are you going to war?’ Marty’s attempt at a joke flies unnoticed by the Japanese man.
‘No, I just read’ he says.
Marty looks at his Japanese signature on the receipt sheet. It looks like a delicate piece of art surrounded by bureaucracy.
‘It’s beautiful’, says Marty. ‘Your signature is beautiful.’
‘Thank you’ says Japanese mail recipient.
A door next to his apartment opens and a young woman walks out. She says ‘hello’. The Japanese man nods. Marty says ‘hello’ back and smiles. She smiles, too. She is not pretty but Marty finds her beautiful. She lives in number 5 and nobody ever writes to her. She receives bills and advertising. Her name is Myra. Marty thinks that’s the most beautiful female name he’s ever heard. Sometimes Myra receives lingerie catalogues in the mail. Marty thinks she’s probably ordered something from them before and now they keep sending her catalogues. He wonders what she ordered.
Marty buys a book at the bookstore and mails it certified to Myra. He puts the city as the sender. He also buys a ‘thank you’ note to include and wonders what to write in it. After some thinking he writes ‘thank you for keeping the neighborhood safe’. He then wonders if that makes any sense and what is Myra doing to keep the neighborhood safe. Presumably she is not committing any crimes, so that’s her way.
The next day, the book for Myra appears in his mail batch. He rings Myra’s doorbell to deliver it. He hopes that Myra is home and is happy when she opens the door. Myra is surprised to receive a package. Marty hopes Myra will like the book. He tries to start a conversation. Like most people he mentions the weather. It’s cold. ‘It’s the end of January’ she says, ‘It’s supposed to be cold.’ She hands him back the signed confirmation. She looks at him straight but does not smile. She’s prettier when she smiles. Her lips part as she takes a breath and Marty thinks about kissing her. She says ‘bye’ and shuts the door in his face.
Marty knows all the names of all the people in the neighborhood. Myra Smith is his favorite. Today she received a new credit card offer with zero percent interest rate. She must have a good credit and Marty is glad for her. He drives his funny mail truck very slowly when he passes by Myra’s condo. He hopes to see her but it never happens. He wonders if she’s read the book.
One day Myra gets another certified package. Marty shakes it. It could be a book. Or a box of chocolate. He checks the sender’s address but it’s a PO box in the city and the sender’s name is ‘sender’. He takes the package to Myra and rings the bell. Myra opens. She wears a terrycloth robe. Marty thinks that there is some black lace peeking underneath but he cannot stare so he’s not sure. Myra also wears red lipstick and Marty watches her beautiful lips as she signs the receipt. She is not surprised like last time. She hands him back the receipt and looks him straight in the eyes. Her eyes are dark but feel like looking at the sun. He looks away.
‘Thank you’, she says softly.
‘You are welcome’. He glances at her wishing he could take her cherry lips and keep them forever.
‘It’s very cold outside’ she says.
‘It’s February. It’s supposed to be cold.’ He immediately regrets those words wishing he’d said something more friendly, more agreeable.
‘Not on Valentine’s Day’, she says.
The Japanese man hears voices outside and peeks through the fisheye. Marty is ready to leave but makes himself look at her ruby lips again. A memory for the road.
‘Would you like to come in?’ says Myra. She smiles and gently bites her lower ruby lip. Marty looks at her not pretty but so beautiful face with cherry lips. He smiles. She’s read the book. She wants her mailman.
‘Yes’ says Marty, ‘I would like that very much.’
Through the fisheye, the Japanese man watches as Marty enters and Myra shuts the door behind him. ‘That sonofabitch’, he thinks in Japanese.
Under the bright sun
you lock me in a sweet dream.
I burn but don’t care.
Down the streets of my heart,
And the avenues of my mind.
Down the valleys of my soul,
And the hills of my entire being.
The dense fog outside,
Much like the fog in my mind,
Under your kisses.
When I saw your face,
my warrior heart white-flagged.