Carpooling on Sundays

Eduardo Suré; Economy Car Sketch, 2017; Graphite

I’m not a man,” said Margaret, “and I don’t know anything about ties, but I do know they shouldn’t be that wide. Or that short.” Margaret was short brunette. Her hair was naturally curly and it framed her face, which had a look of gentle authority.

“I never noticed,” said Susan. The waitress arrived with the lemonades the two women had ordered and set them on the table. She looked briefly at Susan for any needs. Susan was a thin woman with black hair and a shy demeanor that suggested she might play third chair violin in a symphony orchestra. The small Italian restaurant filled with a lunch crowd. The waitress noticed the hostess had just seated a party of four in her section and left to greet them.

“You never noticed our Pastor’s clown ties?” asked Margaret.

“I only know he wears a suit,” said Susan, “I sit in the back and never see much of him.”

“Well I do,” said Margaret. “His ties are twice the width of normal ties and they never make it past the apex of his big belly. It’s like a giant arrow pointing at his stomach and reminding us we need to pay tithing to feed him.”

“Oh, Margaret!” said Susan, “You are just as bad as Jessica!”

Margaret smiled and sipped her lemonade through a straw. She held it between her right index finger and thumb and picked at the ice in her drink repeatedly. “How is our wild friend?” she asked.

“Still the same,” answered Susan. It was louder in the restaurant than when they first arrived. Susan felt her words masked by the noise and that it gave them a fair amount of privacy. She became bold. “Did I ever tell you what happened with Brother Mark?”

“No,” answered Margaret. She leaned in. “Are we talking about Brother Mark the deacon?”

“Yes,” answered Susan, “that Brother Mark. And Jessica. I never told you anything?”

“No,” replied Margaret. “So tell me.”

“Well,” said Susan, “A couple of Sundays ago, I dropped Brother Mark off at his home after Church like I always do. As he thanked me before opening the door to get out of my car, he put his hand on my leg.”

“He did what!” exclaimed Margaret. “That’s gross! He’s married! And twice your age! And GAG! What did you do?”

“I didn’t do anything,” answered Susan. “I kept my hands on the steering wheel and looked straight ahead out the windshield with my eyes popping out of my head until he got out of the car.”

“You are too nice,” said Margaret. “I would have slapped him on his ear. You called him and told him you wouldn’t give him rides to church anymore, right?” Susan took a sip of her lemonade and inspected the condensation on her glass as a way to avoid eye contact with Margaret. “Susan, you told him didn’t you?”

“Well, no,” answered Susan.

“Susan!” exclaimed Margaret. “Why didn’t you tell him?”

“Because I didn’t know who would open the church,” answered Susan.

“So you were afraid that if you didn’t give the old adulterer a ride to church, the congregation would just gather around the front doors whimpering in the rain?” asked Margaret. “Everyone would be OK, Susan. Besides, how ridiculous is it that an old man like Brother Mark needs a ride. What was Jessica’s role in all of this?” The waitress brought the women’s’ entrees. Susan watched Margaret smile and thank the waitress, but she could tell her smile was forced. Margaret was frustrated with Susan’s meekness.

After the waitress left them, Susan said, “Well, I told Jessica what happened. You know Jessica, she made fun of me. Saying we would have ugly babies and that I was going to hate changing adult diapers.”

“That Jessica,” said Margaret. “Did she tell you anything else? She wouldn’t miss a chance to tell you what to do.”

“She told me to tell Sister Sarah, his wife,” answered Susan.

“And she probably offered to go with you to tell her,” said Margaret.

“You know she did,” said Susan. “Of course, I told her I wasn’t going to cause problems in their marriage.”

You are not the one causing problems in their marriage, Susan,” interrupted Margaret.

“So Jessica said that she wanted a ride to church every Sunday too,” continued Susan. “The following Sunday, I picked her up first and then we went together to pick up Brother Mark. He was not happy to see her. Jessica stepped out of the passenger side – you know I have a two door – and folded the passenger’s seat forward suggesting to Brother Mark to get in the back seat. Realizing what she was asking, he said something about being bigger and having bad knees. Jessica just yelled, ‘Shot Gun!’ as if that settled things.”

“What did he do?” asked Margaret.

“He didn’t know what to make of the situation and Jessica didn’t move, so he had to crawl into the back seat,” answered Susan. “It really was too cramped for him back there.”

“Serves him right,” said Margaret.

“Jessica baited Brother Mark during the entire ride,” said Susan. “She asked him things like how the wonderful Sister Sarah was doing. How he and Sister Sarah went on dates without a car… Asked him if he’d ever learned to drive… She mentioned to me loudly that one of the young single men had asked her about me. Picked a cute one too. I’m sure she was lying.”

“What did Brother Mark say?” asked Margaret.

“He mumbled his answers,” answered Susan, “but Jessica didn’t care what he said. She knew she made him uncomfortable. When we arrived at the Church, she said she was glad we had decided to carpool together from then on.”

“And what did he say to that?” asked Margaret.

“Oh, he complained about his back and his knees as he got out of the car,” replied Susan. “He said they should take turns riding in the passenger seat. Jessica guffawed…”

“Guffawed?” asked Margaret.

“You know with her it’s not a laugh,” said Susan. “She cackles like a witch chasing children. Anyway, she told him he was such a kidder. Then, she grabbed my arm and dragged me toward some sisters that had just arrived and left Brother Mark to unlock the church on his own.”

“She’s a mean girl,” said Margaret.

“She is. And then, she sat by me during church,” said Susan. “When she saw him looking at me, she put her hand on my leg.”

“She didn’t!” exclaimed Margaret.

“She did. I could feel my ears go red and hot,” said Susan. “At one point, she looked him right in the eyes, grinning. I watched her out of the corner of my eye. It wasn’t even a normal human grin: she looked like one of those dogs on the internet that smile after they get caught doing something wrong. You know what I’m talking about?”

“The submissive grin? Ears back, squinting, bared upper teeth…” responded Margaret.

“Like that,” said Susan. “Well, it’s been a while since Brother Mark was in middle school. He didn’t know how to respond to that. After Church, he caught me at a moment when Jessica was off somewhere and briefly told me he found another ride home.”

“Have you heard from him again?” asked Margaret.

“No,” answered Susan, “But Jessica called him to ask if he wanted to ride with us to church on Sunday.”

“What did he say to her?” asked Margaret.

“He said no,” replied Susan.

© 2017 EDUARDO SURÉ ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Jennifer’s Adventure

watercolor - white tailed deer - 2017 3x2
Eduardo Suré; White-tailed Doe, 2017; Watercolor

Jennifer walked alone quietly through the state park’s woods and ate her favorite leaves. Food for white-tailed deer had been plentiful during the spring. It continued to be so in summer, but cooler days warned her the woods in which she lived were about to become dangerous. Hunting season was about to begin.

Jennifer had learned about hunters years before. It had been early fall. The morning had been cool. She and another doe had gone to enjoy the variety of grasses a meadow nearby offered. They had been out in the open when her companion’s tail went up as a warning that she had sensed danger. Jennifer had heard an odd squishing sound that had come from her companion’s direction. The other doe had been struck by an arrow, had stumbled, and then had fallen. Jennifer had run into the cover of trees knowing her companion would not follow.

Jennifer remembered that morning as she reached a spot behind some bushes that grew where the woods and a meadow met. She smelled the air and analyzed it for signs of danger. She looked around the woods that surrounded the meadow. She saw a sign. Across the meadow, men moved through the woods. They were scouting. They would soon return to hunt. It was time for her to leave.

Jennifer had survived past hunting seasons by taking a long and hazardous trip from the woods in the state park to smaller woods surrounding a golf course. There was a path older deer had worn that helped her find her way there. She found and followed this path soon after seeing the humans in the woods.

Jennifer followed the path through the familiar parts of the woods where she lived. Then, the path took her to denser parts with which she was less familiar. She caught scents other deer had left on the vegetation that formed walls beside the path. The path led her across fields where she stopped to eat. It also led her by a creek where she stopped to drink. The path led through backyards and close to homes. Some of the homes had left out food for deer, and she was happy to eat it.

Predators also used the path to travel. Jennifer had grown large enough to fight off most predators. She was occasionally surprised by a dog. Some just wanted her to leave their territory. Others wanted to play and barked and nipped at her heels. She dealt with dogs easily. However, there was one predator she feared almost as much as humans. Unfortunately, she encountered one on her trip.

As Jennifer walked, she saw a black figure using the path ahead of her. She stopped and looked closely at it. It was a bear. When the bear noticed her, it began to charge. She raised her tail. If the bear knocked her down, it would not try to kill her: it would just begin to eat her. She stomped her feet and let out a grunt as a warning. As the bear came nearer, she stomped again and released a foul smelling fluid onto the ground from the glands in her feet. The bear was undeterred. When the bear was close enough that she could see the glassy surface of its eyes, she leapt off the path and ran. The bear chased her, but she was much faster than the bear. She got away.

Jennifer found a place to hide after her escape and remained hidden. After she calmed down, she found her way back to the path. It was the only way she knew how to get to the woods surrounding the golf course. She felt heavy from the energy she lost taking flight from the bear, but she wanted to keep moving forward. She ate familiar foods offered naturally by the forest as she went. She stored the food in one stomach, but it would not be digested until she was resting in a safe place.

The path led Jennifer to grass cut short along the side of a road. Then, the path ended where it met the asphalt surface of a highway. She knew the path continued on the other side. She also knew automobiles traveled at high speeds on the road. She was poor at judging their velocity and had just barely survived other crossings. She saw a truck coming. She was going to cross in front of it, but its loud horn startled her. She stopped and watched it roar by. The wind from its wake made her take a step back.

Jennifer watched cars approach from the left and go by. After a long while, she did not see cars in the horizon from the direction from which they had approached. She crossed quickly and stopped on the grass at the median between the road going east and the road going west. In her way, was a short steel barrier that prevented vehicles from crossing the median.

Jennifer looked left and saw no cars. Without hesitation, she jumped over the barrier and onto the asphalt. A car made a screeching sound when the driver slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting Jennifer. She looked in the direction of the screeching noise. She saw the car coming toward her on her right. She prepared to leap forward; however, a large truck flew past the car on the other lane. She changed direction and began to run back. She heard a horn. She changed direction again and ran across the road without caution. She was lucky. She made it to the shoulder on the other side.

Jennifer knew the cars would stay on the road and not try to run her down. Once she was on the grass beside the road, she slowed down and eased her way into the thick vegetation at the edge of the woods. She found the path quickly and followed it. The sounds of tires rolling over the highway were faintly audible behind her. She was almost at her destination.

As Jennifer walked through the woods, she caught a scent a buck had left on vegetation. She had been alone since her companion had been killed. She occasionally met other deer and she was friendly, but she preferred to be alone. She did not yet want the company of a buck, but she saw it as she walked further down the path. The buck saw her too. He began to trot toward her. She was familiar enough with the woods and simply walked into brush where she knew he could not follow because of his antlers. As she walked through, she heard him struggling and grunting behind her.

Jennifer walked through the thicker vegetation until the air was free of the scent of bucks. She could not hear the highway. She stopped to rest and digest food she had eaten along the way. When she felt her energy return, she found her way back to the path. She followed it until it faded. She knew then she had arrived. There were no hunters, only golfers. Better still, people living by the golf course would leave out deer food during the winter. She would live there until the end of hunting season. In the spring, she would return using the same path to the woods in the state park.

© 2017 EDUARDO SURÉ ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Anthony Opossum

virginia opossum - 2017 - widescreen
Eduardo Suré; Virginia Opossum, 2017; Watercolor

Anthony is a Virginia opossum. He is almost as large as a cat. Most of his fur is a mix of gray and brown colors, but his face is white. When he is going about his business, his black eyes and long face are pleading. His face and fur invite touch, but his bare tale is creepy. His long snout filled with sharp teeth is unsettling.

Anthony lives inside the hole of an oak tree. The oak tree is in a forest. From the forest, he can hear the sounds of people enjoying their backyards. Children are particularly loud. He can smell barbeques and even some of the uncooked food people place on their tables. He is tempted to investigate. One day, he does.

Anthony pokes his head out of the hole in the tree where he lives. He looks around. He smells the air. There is no danger. He cannot hear people, but he can always smell their food. He climbs out of the hole and down the side of the tree. He walks with a sway on the ground. The legs on one side of his body move forward together at the same time. Then, the legs on the other side of his body move forward together at the same time rustling the leaves on the forest floor beneath his feet.

Anthony arrives at a fence where the woods end and a backyard begins. The fence is wooden. It is built with vertical boards. An empty space as wide as the boards is between them. He easily fits through a gap and feels delightful scratches on his sides as he crawls through it.

Once Anthony is in the yard, the smell of food hits his nose. It places a gentle finger under his chin and leads him across the lawn to the side of the house. There he finds two garbage cans surrounded by loosely filled lawn and leaf bags. The cans are overfilled with white garbage bags that prop their lids open. The smell is so strong he can almost distinguish the food items of the buffet that awaits him.

Anthony looks for a way to climb to the opening of the cans. He sees a way up using the lawn and leaf bags. They create a kind of staircase. As he climbs the bags, he hears barking. He looks in the direction of the sound and sees a dog sprinting from the back of the house toward him.

Anthony is suddenly overwhelmed by fear. His body takes over. He falls on his side as if he has been shot. He lays on top of a lawn and leaf bag with his mouth and eyes wide open. His tongue hangs out the side as if his last wish was to taste the top of the paper bag on which he lays. He emits a putrid green fluid from his anus. The dog is suddenly silent. The smell makes him pause. His eyes water. He throws up a little in his mouth. Someone calls the dog’s name from the back door of the house. The dog is eager to sprint away from the smell.

According to Anthony’s heart and breathing rate, he is in a coma. However, he is fully conscious and mortified. He would have rather been bitten – no, killed – by the dog than witness the look on its face after he soiled himself. He is incredulous that he was capable of putting that awful smell in the air. He feels like a coward.

Anthony stops death feigning once the dog is inside. He pulls his tongue back into his mouth and closes it. He stands. He hates himself for responding the way he did. He feels ashamed. He feels he is worth nothing and should be dead. He tells himself he must never act like a coward again. He needs to be able to live with himself.

Anthony climbs the rest of the way to the opening of a garbage can. He is going to eat his self-loathing. He tears open a bag with his claws. The smell of the food in the garbage bag is strong. It is mouthwatering. He finds a piece of fried chicken and tastes it. Delectable. The outside is crunchy. The meat inside is full of flavor. It makes him forget what happened. He finds bits of scrambled egg. There is a hint of cheese and salt. Appetizing. He tastes a blob of something unidentifiable. It appears as though it may have come from a kitchen sink strainer. Tasty. He is experiencing so much pleasure he does not notice the dog has returned.

The dog barks. It is an angry bark. It says, ‘The only good reason you have to be in my garbage can is that you are dead, and you are clearly not!’ The dog is a little mass of fur, skin folds, and rage.

Anthony must fight, but not against the dog. He is on a garbage bag on the can beyond the Toy dog’s reach. He must fight against the feelings inside of him that lead to involuntary death feigning. He feels his legs begin to fail him. The fight going on inside of him is fierce. His mouth opens. Food that is not completely chewed falls out of his mouth. He refocuses from the dog to relaxing his body. He lies calmly on the garbage bag. The dog is barking. He takes deep breaths. The dog is barking. He is soothed by the delicious smell of garbage. He tenses and relaxes his muscles to the rhythm of the dog’s barking.

A woman comes out of the back of the house to investigate the reason for the barking. She sees Anthony in the garbage. She begins waving her arms. She picks up a river stone from the landscaping by the stairs, throws it at him, and misses. He hisses. She picks up another stone, throws it, and it hits the can he is in. He screeches. She picks up a third stone.

Anthony does not know what happened to that third stone. He jumps off and sprints toward the woods. The dog chases him. Anthony turns around and shows the dog his numerous sharp teeth. The dog stops chasing him, but stands its ground and barks. Anthony turns around and walks toward the fence. He goes through a gap and into the woods.

Anthony does not run the rest of the way home. He walks with a defiant wobble. He took flight, but he does not feel that makes him a coward. He did not soil himself when the dog threatened. He responded to the woman’s attacks. He threatened the dog when it chased him. That was much better than feigning death and stinking up the place. He did what he wanted to do. He did not let fear take over.

As a result, Anthony’s world is larger. There are more places to go. There are more things to see. There is more delicious garbage to eat. That’s a good thing, because the life of a Virginia opossum is short. Anthony is making the most of it.

© 2017 EDUARDO SURÉ ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Predatory Behavior

runner - 2017 - widescreen
Eduardo Suré; Runner, 2017; Watercolor
Charles was frustrated that an empty beer glass waited on the counter in front of him. As he waited for the bartender, he watched the ring from the beer he had just finished slowly sink toward the bottom of the glass. Christopher looked over at Charles when he began tapping the side of his empty glass with his fingernails. The ticks were not audible to the bartender in the noisy bar filled with the happy hour crowd, but Christopher could hear them and he took a drink from his own half full glass of beer to keep himself from slapping his best friend’s hand. Charles picked up his glass and wiggled it at his eye level like a chemist mixing a solution in a test tube.

“Just give her a minute, Charlie,” said Christopher. He did not want the two of them to be the jerks at the bar.

“What are those shorts called?” asked Charles. He put his glass down.

“What shorts?” asked Christopher. “Who are you looking at?”

“Those shorts that girls wear,” said Charles. “They’re loose and have stripes around the leg openings and up the sides.”

“Are they for running or what?” asked Christopher.

“I don’t know. That’s why I’m asking,” said Charles. “They look like running shorts guys would have worn in the 70’s, but only women wear them now.”

“Where did you see them?” asked Christopher.

“Some chick on the subway was wearing them,” said Charles.

“Did you want a pair, or what?” asked Christopher.

“I’m just wondering what they’re for,” said Charles.

“They’re for attracting studs, like me,” said Christopher, “not for ogling by perverts like you.”

“How could one possibly give shorts a lecherous look? They’re just objects,” said Charles. “Speaking of ogling, you want to hear something funny? So my mind dwelled on the function of the stupid shorts and I glanced over at them hoping for a label to pop out of thin air or something. I didn’t look at the girl’s face or anything, but I got this feeling like she was looking at me. So; I glanced up at her face, and you know what? She was staring at me!”

“Like pissed off or what?” asked Christopher.

“Yeah, I guess,” said Charles. “So I looked down, all embarrassed. Aren’t women supposed to ignore you?”

“They can’t ignore me,” joked Christopher.

“So I was uncomfortable and I wanted to look around,” said Charles. “So I looked over at the map mounted on the side of the train above the seats by the door. I wanted to look like I was trying to figure out my stops. There was a guy sitting underneath it, so I glanced at him. It was just a reflex. And you know what? The dude was staring at me!”

“Like mad dogging you?” asked Christopher.

“What do you mean, mad dogging?” asked Charles.

“It’s like when someone is trying to threaten you with the way they are looking at you,” said Christopher.

“I don’t know,” said Charles, “but I looked over at the girl with the shorts and she was staring at me still.”

“Well, that’s what you get,” said Christopher.

“That’s not all I got,” said Charles. “So I was just looking down at my lap because I didn’t want any trouble with this guy. I didn’t know if he was crazy or what. Then, some lady walked over and stood by me. It wasn’t weird that someone would do that because I was sitting by the door. She was just waiting for her stop. I looked up at her real quick and…”

“She was staring at you,” said Christopher.

“Right!” exclaimed Charles. “I looked over at the guy and the girl and they were staring at me too!”

“Well, you asked for it,” said Christopher.

“Maybe from the girl in the shorts, but not the other people,” said Charles.

“Yeah, you did,” said Christopher. “Everyone responded to your predatory behavior.”

“Get outta here with that crap, Chris,” said Charles. “Like you know anything.”

“Predators stare when they stalk,” said Christopher. “You were like a creepy little lioness in the grass and they were like gazelles. You triggered their fight or flight response.”

“I don’t think I stared so much they felt threatened,” said Charles. “It was just glances.”

“Maybe it seemed that way to you,” said Christopher.

“So you’re telling me they wanted to fight?” asked Charles. “Because if they wanted flight, they would have moved or avoided looking at me.”

“Well, no. Since you are both human, the confrontation escalates before there is an actual fight,” said Christopher. “It sounds like they just wanted to dominate you.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” said Charles.

“Yeah, I do. Want me to show you?” asked Christopher. “There’s a guy sitting near the corner of the bar. Look at his face for a little longer than one should.” Charles had no intention of staring at a stranger, but he scanned the faces at the bar and found the man Christopher had pointed out to him. The man looked up from his drink and their eyes locked. Christopher noticed and said, “Don’t look away, Charlie.” Charles stared at the stranger.

“Thanks to you I’m going to end up fighting this guy,” said Charles without looking away.

“No, you’re not,” said Christopher. “Walk over to him and expose your neck.”

“Hello, no,” said Charles.

“Do it,” interrupted Christopher, “and I’ll pay for your tab tonight. Have you ever seen a monkey do it? It’s either your neck or your genitals.”

Charles spun around on his bar stool and stood up. He began walking toward the stranger with a confidence elevated by the alcohol in his system. The stranger at the end of the bar continued to stare at him, but did not stand. Charles removed his tie and unbuttoned his collar. He looked for a reaction from the stranger, but the stranger only turned to face him. He did not stand. When Charles was within an arm’s length of the man; he reached into his own collar, pulled it down, and exposed his neck. The stranger rose from his stool and bit Charles’s neck like a vampire. The bite left pressure marks, but did not break the skin. Then, he sat down and took a drink from his beer ignoring Charles.

Charles walked back to his seat humiliated.

“Well?” asked Christopher. Charles picked up his fresh glass of beer and took a long drink.

“I don’t think I like what I just learned,” said Charles.

“There’s a hierarchy of status among people, Charlie” said Christopher. “You’ve been asking people where they stood all along without knowing it.”

“Yeah,” said Charles, “I’m going to be the lion from now on.”

“As long as you can accept,” said Christopher, “that lions don’t live very long.”

© 2017 EDUARDO SURÉ ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Voters

voters - 2017 - widescreen
Eduardo Suré; Voters, 2017; Watercolor
Last summer, two men sat at the counter of a plebian diner somewhere between the sounds of cooking in front of them and the clinking of forks on ceramic plates behind them. Daniel frequently stopped at the diner after work. The cold air calmed his body after a long day landscaping in the sun. Eugene only stopped at the diner before his last night shift of the week at the factory. Both middle-aged men sat at the counter hunched over their own business. Daniel thumbed through his phone and Eugene flipped through a marked up sample ballot wrinkled from being frequently taken in and out of a pocket. The woman working behind the counter brought Daniel a plate with two eggs, two slices of bacon, two sausage links, and hashed browns covered with cheese. Eugene’s eyes dwelled on Daniel’s plate.

“I want good health,” said Daniel out the side of his mouth as he chewed sausage. Eugene snorted when he suppressed a laugh. “Is something funny?” asked Daniel.

“You might want to get your cholesterol checked,” said Eugene.

“I don’t go to doctors,” said Daniel as he cut through the hashed browns and stuck a piece in his mouth. “If I go, they’ll find something wrong with me.” Eugene turned his head, squeezed his eyes shut, and wrinkled his forehead.

The woman behind the counter surveyed her area of responsibility. She tossed a towel she was holding in her hand into a tub that released the smell of bleach into the air. She picked up a remote, aimed it at a television, and turned it on. A politician appeared on the screen speaking angrily and pointing his index finger at a map of Europe that was superimposed on his right. The woman behind the counter listened to the rant for a minute and then flipped through the channels until she found a baseball game. She tossed the remote next to a cash register and looked around.

“We should be polite to our neighbors,” said Eugene aloud to no one in particular.

“We want foreign allies,” said Daniel.

“That’s right,” said Eugene turning to Daniel.

“…so we can’t be polite,” Daniel finished saying. The expression on Eugene’s face conveyed confusion and regret.

“Sorry?” asked Eugene.

“We need to tell them how it is and what we want, or else they won’t work with us,” said Daniel. He finished chewing his bacon and looked at Eugene. “Do you want a world free from terror?”

“Of course,” replied Eugene.

“Then we need to kill all the terrorists,” said Daniel.

“Well; yes – obviously, killing all of them would do it; but…”

“If you’re going to kill all of the terrorists then you must be able to identify all of them,” interrupted Daniel.

“How do you propose that we identify all of the terrorists?” asked Eugene.

“We have to sort out the terrorists from the non-terrorists,” replied Daniel. “Are you a terrorist?”

“No,” replied Eugene.

“See? Like that,” said Daniel. He wiped his mouth with a paper napkin, placed his knife and fork parallel on his plate pointing to three o’clock, and called the woman behind the counter. She pulled a bill out of her apron and placed it in front of him along with a red and white mint. He looked at the bill without picking it up. “Food costs more and more every day.”

“The economy will get better,” said Eugene.

“Or worse,” said the woman behind the counter.

“Or both,” said Daniel.

“The economy will certainly not get better, honey,” said the woman behind the counter. “It will get worse.”

“Or both,” repeated Daniel as he placed his money on the bill on the counter. “Have a good one,” he groaned as he spun on his stool, stood up, and walked out.

Eugene watched the woman behind the counter. She pinched and scratched at her crotch. Her eyes met Eugene’s when she looked up to see if anyone noticed. She smiled apologetically and said, “Sorry, hon: I have a rash and the itch is just torture. It just comes on all of a sudden. I’m scratchin’ before I know what I’m doing.”

“Do you think anyone is going to vote for that guy?” asked Eugene.

“Who knows?” replied the woman behind the counter.

“Would you vote for him?” asked Eugene.

“That’s a very personal question, don’t you think?” asked the woman behind the counter with raised eyebrows.

“Sorry,” said Eugene.

“You want some coffee?” asked the woman behind the counter as she scratched her crotch.

“No, thanks: just the check,” said Eugene. The woman behind the counter pulled a bill out of her apron, glanced at it, and placed it in front of Eugene. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the sample ballot. He stared at the page and the candidates he circled until someone new sat next to him and startled him. He shoved the ballot back into his pocket and felt the other pockets for his wallet. The woman behind the counter watched as Eugene left his payment on the counter, got up, and walked out the door. She continued to watch him through the window as he stood in front of the store. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the crumpled sample ballot. He looked down at it, clenched his fists around the edges, bit down on the top of the pages, and whipped his head sideways to tear off the pieces.

© 2017 EDUARDO SURÉ ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Seven Days

mosquito 1 - 2017 - widescreen
Eduardo Suré; Mosquito 1, 2017; Watercolor
When Brian was a kid, he placed in a bucket the most interesting looking rocks he could find in his back yard. His back yard was only an eighth of an acre, but his parents landscaped it elaborately and he found beautiful rocks among the mulch. As he searched, he felt a drop of water on his face. He looked up at the sky and then heard his mother shout from the doorway that he must go inside their house. The boy placed his bucket on the ground and ran through the door only seconds before a heavy rain fell. He looked out of a window and watched his bucket fill with water. He then went to his room, found something else to do, and forgot about his bucket and collection of rocks.

When the rain stopped, a mosquito found Brian’s bucket of water. It landed on the surface of the standing water and laid eggs. The mosquito’s eggs floated on the surface of the water for two days. After those two days, the eggs hatched.

One larva among the larvae was extraordinary. Its cognitive abilities were humanlike. If Brian had the same qualities, he would have been called a prodigy. The larva did not know it was extraordinary. No one told it. The larva spent its time like the other larva: swimming in the bucket, feeding, shedding its skin, and visiting the surface to take a breath of air through its siphon tube.

The larva changed into a pupa during its fourth molt. Its time being a pupa was a time of rest. It was a time of reflection. It was a time for the pupa very unlike its larval days when it hungered constantly for microorganisms. It did not continuously crave and consume organic matter. It had time to think. As the pupa flipped around the water, it noticed other pupae. It saw the number of them. It noted they had everything in common. It wondered how, among so many, it could feel so alone.

Two days later, its pupal skin split. The mosquito stood on the surface of the water waiting to dry. Its body hardened. The mosquito saw its own legs. They meant to it greater access to the world. It saw a new world that was beyond the bucket of water. The mosquito felt its wings on its back. It wondered how life could be so wonderful to give him legs one minute and wings the next. When its wings dried, it flew. He could go where he wished: the deck, a flower, a leaf on a tree. It was more freedom than it ever believed it would have.

The mosquito was determined not to lead a solitary life only dedicated to meeting its own basic needs. It would use its intelligence to live a life of greater purpose. It would use its mobility to reach other mosquitos. It observed wasps and thought it would form social groups as they did. It would lead other mosquitos to less risky sources of protein than blood. It would teach them to lay eggs in locations offering higher survivability than puddles. This is the meaning the mosquito wanted for its life.

The mosquito observed a songbird flying in the backyard. This songbird, like other songbirds, was intelligent and had extraordinary vocal learning capabilities. The bird was able to name its children, and its children remembered their names their entire lives. It was a bird who ate mosquitos. It was a bird who may have eaten the mosquito if Brian had not been there. Brian, who left the bucket out where the mosquito was born and developed into an adult, clapped his hands once and killed it.

//eS