By a beat cop. During a night storm, the beat cop
pelts Mark with little powdered donuts, gone slumpy in the rain. Slump.
Slump. Slump. Itís hard to eat powdered donuts in the rain. Itís a futile
exercise. Following five or six steps behind Mark, the cop picks the donuts
out of a disintegrating box. The lid has transparent crinkly paper. The
crinkly paper snaps under the percussion of raindrops. Mark hears the
crinkling of this crinkly paper as the cop knuckles open the lid to nab a new
powdered donut. The copís fingertips are thick with doughy goo. He has gecko
fingers, the floury pads you get when you batter fish and drop the fillets
into the pan. The cop has a hard time throwing the donuts. They stick to his
fingers and plop to the sidewalk, little dollops rippling puddles, neon signs
shattering and reforming on the water. When a donut drops in a puddle, the
cop swears, ďDamn!Ē Sometimes he steps on one of these sad lumps and has to
scrape the thick rubber sole of his police shoe on the curb or against the
edge of a newspaper bin.
is walking home from work. He works overtime two to three days a week. Itís
nearly ten at night. His apartment is twelve blocks from his office. Earlier,
as he walked the first few blocks, he had worries left over from work,
worries that were crowded out of his mind when the second donut hit him in
the back, which meant Mark could no longer believe that the first donut had
been a mistake. Mark is anxious about what else the cop might do, given the
authority of the city police. Mark chooses to keep walking. He pretends it
isnít happening and hopes that what isnít happening stops soon. The cop will
run out of donuts. Mark will make it home. Something will happen, but it
wonít be because Mark forces the situation. Confrontation doesnít seem
the cop gets Mark good, a wet powdered donut thwumping against his rain
jacket like a beanbag duffing a tarp, the cop says, ďYes!Ē His enthusiasm
betrays a distressing psychological deviance.
catches the copís reflection in the dark bay window of a wine bar. The cop
has stopped to extend a curious tongue to the ruined surface of a powdered
donut. The cop detects the delicate open flavor of rainwater, mixed with
gloppy sugar. Mark steps into the wine bar. The cop tastes critically, opens
his eyes, finds Mark gone. He is bewildered. Mark feels triumphantly
political with his warm cabernet, watching the depressed civil servant storm
off down the street, flinging donuts at the canvases of parked cars.
third fiction collection, We Were Ugly So We Made Beautiful Things, is
now available from Word Riot Press.
Archived at http://lit.konundrum.com/prose/barringerd_mark.php