THE TABLE SPREAD
"Ask not of things which, if they were made
known unto you, would trouble you..."
Multiple rings through either earlobe, nostril
sapphire-studded, lips done tar-baby black in contrast to her
chalk-white-cheek complexion, eyes a brilliant aquamarine, brows
auburn, ditto hair except for tips dyed blue-rinse gray after
stripping them of natural color, identify Amy, dressed in tights and
T-shirt, well-worn leather jacket and chrome-toed cowboy boots—garb
she is allowed to wear at work—enters the flat's communal space
You're just in time for FOOD.
She plops down at the table on which Duke has
lain the pizza—still in its box, lid and base agape like disjointed
With Judy and
Greer's at Harbin? Never seen him with his All Stars
off; can't imagine him in the nude. So Greer is up at
touchy-feely, new-age Harbin?
Duke grunts, his head-start on the pizza
preempting speech. Amy joins him eagerly.
Duke, with his free hand, points at the hall
that connects the flat's compartments.
Funk. Must be homesick or something.
Won't come out of her room.
Poor thing. She's scared. A foreign
country, a foreign culture; she can barely speak the
"Barely" speak it? Z's vocabulary
races rings round yours and mine. She must've
memorized the fucking Webster's dictionary; "can barely speak the
What I meant to say is that she's
hard to understand.
That I'll grant.
They could hire her down at Amoeba
but she doesn't have a green card.
Yeah, why not?
You just admitted she's hard to
I don't mean word-wise; I mean
thought-wise; I'm not thrown off by her accent. It's the
weirdo-way she thinks that's got me stumped.
Like what, for instance?
Well... like clothes. She's borrowing
Etta's—which is cool; Etta wouldn't mind—except she's
also borrowing Etta's personality.
What? No way. They've never met.
That doesn't matter. Z is living in
Etta's room, with Etta's stuff; a person's psyche can
You're full of crap.
And when a person's own identity is
as out-to-lunch as Z's she's maybe more inclined to take on
Psycho-crap! You doing therapy, or
Duke twists the cap from a bottled beer.
Yeah; comic books.
So? Even comic books use psychology.
Trust me on this point, Duke; Z is a schizophrenic.
Right; like I'm a manic depressive,
Judy's a multiple personality, Greer's a paranoiac—well,
Greer is, I'll concede, a little bit paranoid...
Bullshit nonetheless; just shut the fuck up.
They eat in silence for a while, though
genuine seldom reigns. Since Duke's arrival, Rap, now Rock
tests the limits of strategically-located speakers, their
single-power source surging through a plug in an overloaded
outlet. Palpable is the all-pervasive, heavy-metal beat; until
it shuts up; Duke and Amy sit like silent film stars munching; Z
has entered with the disconnected cord in her upraised fist.
Her protest booms in the transfixed void and catches
Amy / Duke mid-swallow.
"The life for the life, and the eye
for the eye, and the nose for the nose, and the EAR for
the EAR, and the tooth for the tooth, and for wounds
Z drops the offending cord.
Duke shrugs impassively.
The tension breaks with Z's involuntary smile; it is her very first since landing in