by Cheryl Anne Gardner
It was the assless chaps and the way he tossed effortless smiles at people on the street. It was refreshing to see such positive energy being flung, bungee-style, out into the world. It’s harder than it sounds, bleeding delirious happiness. I’d seen him before while I was driving my car, while I was sat at the local cafe, and once, behind me, while I was in the elevator going up to the fifth floor. I’d been having a bad day that day. I was grouchy, piss-faced, pantyhose sagging in the crotch. It was interview day, and I just knew I was going to wash up dead in the sweltering heat. I imagined that the whole elevator situation was some satirical vignette — a day in the life of an economic casualty — and the headline would read Dunk Tank Victim Stalked by Tattooed Cowboy and Tax Scams. I was a big cake kind of person, a future criminal with restless legs and a nice haircut; well, that’s how I assumed I would be described in the closing arguments. “Rape is a weapon of war,” whispered the Cowboy into my ear as the android supermodel announced our approach to the fourth floor. I was pretty sure he meant “rape” as a metaphor, even through the hot, bleached-out breath he was depositing on my neck in frothing spit bubbles of joy. I stabbed him in the eye with my nail file. Nobody saw that coming, least of all the auditor who was waiting for me on the next floor.