by Tom Bair

I can’t find New York. I’ve looked everywhere. It’s okay though. I’m not too worried. I lose things all the time, and so . . . so I’ve picked up many methods of recovery along the way. Retracing my steps, cleaning, doing something else, pacing furiously, crying, etc. Or I’ll check the usual places. There are three categories of usual places. They are:

      1. Places in the room
      2. Places not in the room
      3. My own body

“Places in the room” means stuff like behind the couch, beneath the bed, between the pages of books (in case I’d used New York as a placeholder or tried to dry out New York to save and look at), I swish my fingers around the bottoms of the pockets, in the mattress, stuff like that. And my body is in the room but I don’t count my body as a place in the room. My body means stuff like how when people lose their glasses on their foreheads. I also check under my fingernails, along my scalp (this means I have to untangled my knotted hair), and I also take a laxative.

Granted, I haven’t been outside in several years. I guess the real problem here is that I’ve misplaced my apartment’s doors. When I moved in I was told that the apartment had several doors. Eight of them in fact, all in perfect working condition, all with locks and bolts and chains, all capable of pivoting open at a moment’s notice. There was even an intercom there, between two of the doors on the eastern wall of the northeastern corner, so that I could talk to people, invite them up, send them away, give them instructions, etc., without having my doors bothered!

Aside from my doors I have two windows counting the television. The second faces a neighbor’s window. Well, I guess, and I’m splitting hairs here, the window is my neighbor. A true neighbor would be a person I live right next to, right? I have to have made small talk with a person for them to be a neighbor, definitely. I won’t back down on that. Don’t accuse me of splitting hairs and then argue with me about that. I don’t have the patience for it.

You know how when a kid is in one room and a parent is in another room one of them might just call out the other’s name just to check if they’re there? Like, you know, “Mom?” “Sigh. Yes?” “Just checking.” I think New York might be doing that. But the opposite. So, like, instead of checking to see if I’m here, New York is hiding in order to see how long it will take me to notice it’s missing.

As if this stupid city needs any more attention. I resent its narcissism, really. Why would I want to go looking for it? No. I don’t feel any sort of tenderness toward New York. I moved here because I wanted to be close to everyone. Then I was told the city would send 80,000 rats to the surface if it ever flooded. “That’s exciting,” I thought, “like Medieval Times!” But then we had a hurricane last year and it rained and rained and it didn’t even flood then, really. 80,000 rats, can you imagine? I’d relocate for an epidemic. Well, I guess that’s only about one rat for every hundredth person. And opportunity. Is opportunity an epidemic? And George Gershwin! Pah! Now look at me! Look at me in my face! I can’t even find my doors!

Now that I’m thinking about it . . . eight seems like an odd number of doors. I wonder if I’ve been lied to. What could possibly be accomplished with eight doors? Still though, I don’t suggest that slumlords are liars. I am not so naïve to accuse a person of tampering with empirical evidence. What I am suggesting, and I invite you to follow my logic on this . . . is that slumlords are magic. I’ve see one make a whole building disappear!

Pish-posh! I’m always talking about magic! Ask my friends! It’s true. He’s always talking about magic. See! But really, there isn’t any other reasonable explanation. I must have found a way into the apartment at some point. When I moved in, for instance. That necessitates at least one door. But then there were eight doors, and now there are none doors. The only explanation is magic. My friends tease me for saying that. I don’t mind. I don’t even care if I’m right. I’m an idiot. Certified. I’m safest when I’m being laughed at.

I don’t think you can disagree with that reasoning. Please don’t. I don’t have the energy. You should know that if I can’t find the words to convince you, I blame you. I suppose I could have crawled in through one of the windows. Well, the one window. The other stays shut.

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