Center of Center (21)
a serial novella-in-flash by Chris Wiewiora
At H.Q. in the break room, I mostly feel at ease. Torideo is a throwback. We get our inter-office mail in a wooden grid of cubbyholes. We read paper announcements tacked on a bulletin board. The simple realness is necessary. Drivers keep the buses on time without a hack, since driverless vehicles were totaled after a Panoptic simulator piled up deaths.
Above my locker, Danny Wocowitz opens his with a casted arm. Danny’s blond hair drapes over his shoulders and I’ve seen it flash through his driver window like corn tassel. One sec, Danny says, putting away The Way of the Fist.
All yours, he says, slamming his locker shut. I’m off to Tae Kwon.
I’m glad to know another member of the reading tribe, even if his recommendations for me are off. When I first met Danny, he stuck out his hand and introduced himself first and last name. So I did the same. He was glad to know another Pole. He thought we shared common ground. Then, he saw that I was taking a book out to read and asked what I was reading. I said, Selected Poems. Danny didn’t ask whose poems, he said I should read any selection of poems by Bukowski.
Danny is cordial, but he’s not asked me more about myself. He just talks about himself. The last time I saw him at our lockers he told me about competing in a Tae Kwon Do tournament. He had already earned his orange belt from a spin kick test. In match up, another guy roundhouse kicked his arm and Danny blocked, but missed positioning his pad to absorb the blow. The guy’s leg fractured Danny’s wrist, but Danny ended up beating the guy, breaking another guy’s leg, and finishing the tournament. No big deal, Danny said.
I woke to Myszku meowing. She was so much louder since her ears had healed. The pain subsided and the volume she would hear lowered. She wasn’t quite deaf, but she made up for hearing less by being noisy.
I would roll out of my bed tucked into one corner of the all-in-one and then go into the nook of a kitchen with her rubbing my ankles. It didn’t help to shush her, or really say anything unless I was holding her and she could feel my voice box vibrate. She kept looking up at me, making sure that I knew it was a new day and she should eat again.