Ian Sanquist

He said we were filling an empty casket. He told me there was work on his fishing boat. He promised me I’d feel like a new man. He knew I was a liability. He knew I’d lost my memory. He knew I didn’t hear things the way everyone else heard. He said it was hard work. He said anyone could do it. He said it would make me feel like a new man. Anyway, I like the ocean. I like the idea that no one’s really powerless.

Around this time, a lot of adulterous men had started living in the caves at the outskirts of town. They’d been fortifying the sand dunes, making arrangements for winter, from the sounds of it. They’d gotten kegs and kegs of dynamite, and everyone was waiting to see what would happen next.

The first day on the boat, the water was calm. The second day we drove further out to sea, and the water was still calm. I thought about stories I could tell. I thought about El Dorado, and the armies waiting there. I thought about the armies I could join, and the armor I would wear. I looked at the scar on my chest. It was narrow, it looked like it had been done with a boxcutter, but not with the intention of killing me. Maybe to scare me, or make me doubt my fortune. The third day we filled our nets. The fourth day we filled our nets, we filled the hold, we sailed back to port a crew of rich men. We drank all evening. We knew we’d found good fortune.

A month later I went back to the city. I’d been receiving letters at the post office in that fishing town, at least, they said the letters were mine. When I got off the train someone tried to steal my suitcase. I knocked him to the ground and said he’d have to try harder than that. A crowd gathered around us and I kicked the man in the stomach. The crowd seemed to like that, so I kicked him between his legs. A police officer broke through the crowd and put his arms on me. I went limp, as I’ve conditioned myself to do in situations like this. I thought about the caves and the dynamite, and Plato’s cave, and women with tangled wild black silver hair, and women with hair growing on their backs. I wondered whose casket we had been filling. The policeman let me go. He arrested the man who tried to rob me. He hit him with a stick. I think he broke his arm. He smiled at me, but it was like he was smiling two smiles, or had a second mouth hidden behind the first. I tried to smile back, but I have only one mouth.

I didn’t know where to go, so I went to a hotel. There were clean sheets on the bed, and a window with a shade. I turned on the television, but the noises were horrible. I wondered where my wife was. I know I had a wife. As I recall, she was beautiful. As I recall, her favorite dress to wear was blue. Someone tried to kill both of us. I don’t know why. They tried to kill us twice in public, in a car and on the sidewalk. They tried to gun us down both times. Then once they rigged a bomb to my car’s ignition, but I was too smart for that. Anyway.

Someone must have given them our address. Maybe they killed our son. Did we have a son? I don’t know. If we had a son they killed him. If we had a daughter they killed her. Don’t do it sloppy, I said. Don’t make a mess. It’s your fingerprints. It’s your recurring nightmare. Every night I thought I heard someone breaking in, but my hearing’s never been right. It’s only the wind. It’s only the children, they’re only sleeping. It’s only the wind under the door, it’s only the children turning in their beds. I always locked the door. I always locked the windows. I tried not to worry too much about my good fortune.

Now someone in my room is named Sonia. I found her on the sidewalk. She is beautiful. I gave her a hundred dollars before she came into my room. I’ll give her a hundred dollars before she leaves. She sounds like a bird, or someone spoiled. I rub my cock on her stomach. I put my cock between her legs. She sounds like a bird, but I like the noises she makes when I fuck her. Sonia, I say, Sonia, have you ever let your hair grow wild? Have you ever listened to the wind, Sonia, have you ever truly loved a man? She arches her back. She makes noises like a bird. It’s like she’s behind a curtain. She smokes filtered cigarettes and watches me from behind a curtain. She crosses her ankles. She wants me again, but I don’t think she’ll ask for it. She wants to play games, but I have little time. She wants me all the way in her. I don’t think she’ll ask for it. I’ll give her a blue dress to wear. I tell her she reminds me of my wife. I tell her she is beautiful. I think when I put my clothes back on I’ll go and test my fortune in an army of El Dorado.

Ian Sanquist is a writer from Seattle. His work can be found in various venues including Juked, >kill author, Word Riot, and Mobius.