One Tomato


And Vernon Klinker made a pass at Sally Jones-Dibky and didn’t even care that her
best friend, who turned out to be jealous, saw him do it.
So then Harlan Henderson said to Silas Cornerbird, “That’s fucked up. That’s
really fucked up.” Only Silas didn’t know what he was referring to. He just pretended he
did so Harlan wouldn’t explain it and bother him anymore.
And someone in the kitchen said, “One tomato is never fair,” but you couldn’t
really tell who it was and I might have been the only one imagining how incredible an
unfair tomato could be in the hands of a strong woman. Everyone else was probably
wondering, What would you answer someone who said something like that anyway?
You understand, don’t you, that I hadn’t yet realized that I wanted to be humiliated.
Sexually, I mean. Not just ordinary stupid put-downs. Something imaginative.
Something to get me going.
And then this reservation guy with black braids and a silver belt began licking the
back of his hand and I couldn’t decide how I felt about it so I started coughing.
It was like I was watching myself and I was thinking, “Why are you doing this
thing to yourself?”
So then I didn’t know what to do so I didn’t do anything.
And the phone rang and nobody was answering it.
So I answered it.
The phone said, “Howard? Howard is that you?”
I said, “Yes, it’s me.” But the phone didn’t believe me. Not for a minute.
She said, “Why aren’t you Howard?”
I didn’t know what to say. I wondered if I might be Howard.
She didn’t say anything. But I could tell she wanted to.

Rich Ives is the author of Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days currently being published in serial @ Silenced Press everyday in 2014 and forthcoming in paperback. Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.