smell of lamp oil
—Et pour madame? We have an excellent Domaine Grivot Clos de Vougeot for tasting this evening. 1995. Very rare et sans pareil.
—Lovely. Edward? You do go by Edward, yes?
—Yes, yes. Edward. Ed. Eddie. Yes.
— Whiskey. Rocks. Soda back. Please.
—Oh! That’s probably a ridiculously expensive wine. I should have asked.
—No, no. It’s fine. Whatever you like. Yes.
—So you work in…?
—That must be very stressful.
—You have no idea. Really. The weight of every decision. It’s an incredible amount of responsibility.
—Of course the rewards are rather nice.
—Do you have a light? I might have a Gauloises. Being here, you know.
—Oh yes. I ought to have some matches in my pocket. Look, yes, from that patisserie on… oh! Have you been there? You must. They do say Paris is for lovers.
—Your wallet’s fallen, there. On the floor.
—Let me. I can reach it.
—I’ve got it, here you go. It’s very old. Does it have sentimental value?
—Something like that, yes. Thank you.
—Monsieur. There seems to be a tiny problem with your carte. Do you have another, peut-être?
—Impossible. Try it again.
—Or perhaps cash, monsieur? These systems, you know. They can be, shall we say, unreliable.
—This is unacceptable. I will have my assistant deal with this matter in the morning. You will simply have to wait.
—This is not possible, monsieur.
You exchange glances with le garçon and he slips the garrote around Edward’s perfumed neck and snicks the wire tight through skin fat flesh
blood cascades rich streams of Bordeaux
smell of roses
—A pint o’ Guinness, will it be?
—No, friend. Whiskey, soda back, rocks.
—And a glass of the house red.
—As ye like.
—You were saying.
—Right. I love kids. Someday, you know? I’d love to be a dad.
—You’re wallet’s fallen, there.
—Oh, I can get it.
—Here, it’s closer to me.
—No, really, I can reach it.
—I’ve got it. Here. Oh! What lovely photos. The youngest has your eyes. Definitely.
You nod at the kindly bartender and Edward’s eyes go north-south as his skull caves in with a satisfactory crunch as the shillelagh meets his temple
scarlet Rorschach blots pool on sticky floor
smell of ozone
—Welcome to Vesta! Please enunciate clearly your desired beverage and it shall be prepared to your pleasing.
—So you were saying it’s Edward, right?
—Yes! But call me Eddie. They all do.
—They. Just, well… nevermind. Barkeep, one whiskey. Soda back. Rocks.
—Confirmed. And a beverage for your companion?
—Red wine. Please. Whatever you’ve got.
—The belt is so lovely from here.
—You are lovelier.
—Oh go on.
—Really. It’s so damn hard to meet someone these days. It’s lonely out here in space.
—And that is possibly the worst pickup line in the history of mankind.
—Worked on you, didn’t it?
—I am seriously second-guessing my own judgment right now.
—I can’t believe I’m even here.
—I just want someone to come home to, you know? To know someone’s missing me. Someone’s waiting. It’s kind of embarrassing to admit.
—The rocket jocks. A girl in every port.
—They do that. You’re one.
—But that’s not me. When I’m out there, it’s just vast, you know? A big empty. It’s like my cells scatter across galaxies, and I need a point of origin, a pulse that brings me back to one place. Brings me home.
—That’s a pretty vulnerable kind of way to be.
—Maybe it is.
—You sound skeptical.
—I might be.
—Welcome to Vesta! We appreciate your patronage. Please place personal device on sensor to pay.
—I’ve got this, wait… dammit.
—It fell over here, I can get it.
—No, let me.
—I’ve got it.
—No, really, let me…
—Got it. Here. Nice unit. Huh. That’s a lot of waiting inbounds.
—Full frontal is an interesting choice of avatar. Did she have those done? They’re very symmetrical.
You brush the bar droid with your fingertips and its nasty black stinger extrudes and Edward shimmers in the air
man-shaped crystalline curtain sublimates to ruby fog
smell of sawdust
—What can I get y’all?
—Do you have wine? Red?
—Yeah. It’s in a box though. Ain’t fancy.
—That’ll do. A big one.
—Right then. Mister?
—Whiskey. On the rocks. Soda back.
—Back. On the side.
—Sure thing, mister fancy pants.
—Hey Eddie. You know what happens if you play a country song backwards?
—You get your dog back, you get your truck back, you get your wife back…
—Oh hell, I sure enough don’t want her back! I been done with that bitch forever now.
—You and me, baby.
—Damn. My lighter’s dead.
—I’ll light you up, sweet thing. Got one here in my pocket.
—Shit, you dropped stuff everwhere you drunken asshole. Lemme get that.
—Hey, no, I can do it.
—What’s that there. Fucken hell. Is that your wedding ring?
You meet the waitress’s eyes and she smashes a beer bottle against a pillar, sinks the jagged edges into Eddie’s throat
abstract arterial spray on red checked gingham
smell of coriander
—¿Algo a tomar, lady?
—Vino. Vino tinto. Por favor.
—Por supuesto. ¿Y pa señor?
—What? Yes. Whisky. Rocks. Soda back.
—Fucksake. Whiskey. Ice. Hielo. Soda.
—What? Sorry. Got distracted there. Do you see this? They’ve got eighteen guys in the back of a pickup and no one even bats an eye.
—Which is it?
—Which is what?
—Is it Edward, or Eddie, or Ed?
—Does it matter?
—Perhaps it’s even Ted. Who knows.
—Oh come on. You’re being ridiculous.
—Do you even know which it is?
—What kind of question is that? Of course I know.
—Then tell me. Which is it?
—I feel like I’m being interrogated. I would have thought you’d know me a bit by now. I’m a tad offended, actually.
—I think I’ll have a cigarillo.
—Whatever you like.
—I need a light.
—I have matches in my pocket.
—I know. Your passport’s fallen on the floor.
—If I pick it up, and read it, will it say Edward?
—Who’s to say.
The waiter approaches with machete raised and your blood pulses hot but endless cycles of Edwards spin crystalline fractals behind your eyelids and you slump exhausted shake your head no and he turns away
You walk alone into the desert heat and shatter into rustling papery leaves and blow away on the hot wind
smell of clean red clay