The Threesome (That Eventually Led to Spike Lee)

It’s cold out, but I’m sweating (brow, back, underarms). I’m walking quickly because I have to be at a faculty meeting in twenty-five minutes, and I still have twenty-eight minutes left in my commute. I’ve just left the Greek diner where I buy my coffee and toasted bagel with cream cheese. I go there most mornings, but I only run late on Tuesdays—the only day I have an early meeting. I frequent this inconvenient diner, instead of the myriad cafés that have cropped up near my apartment in recent years, because it’s across the street from Spike Lee’s production studio. I’m hoping to run into him. Every day is a new day, and I’ve been hoping this for almost nine months’ worth of new days. That’s how long I’ve been carrying around the screenplay—my screenplay. Before that, the contents of my backpack had been the same for almost fifteen years: laptop; laptop charger; notebook; pens; two small, refillable bottles of hand sanitizer; new gum; old gum; receipts; inhaler; useless USB sticks; stack of student papers to grade; an emergency $20 bill; and a book to read. It was Richard’s idea that I carry around the screenplay. “Be bold,” he said.

 

I began writing it six years ago and completed the first draft within six months. Richard, the redhead that Gus and I picked up in Paris, liked it, which bolstered my confidence because when we met him (seven years ago) he was in the final semester of a prestigious film studies program. Richard (pronounced REE-shard) initially struck me as someone who lies when it’s convenient. His narrow face, wry eyebrows, freckled paper-white skin, and pulvinate pink lips and cock were the trappings of trouble, which is why—in spite of the surge of recklessness that accompanies vacations and makes one believe health statistics don’t apply abroad—I insisted we use condoms.

On the hard wood of our fifth-floor walk-up with Lynchian red walls and an antique orange juice press, Richard made a case for not using protection: he always played safe; he, too, was afraid of EEL-nessess; living in fear was also unhealthy; this was a unique occasion. But his eyebrows. They told me something else. They told me regret would be served with breakfast, à côté du fromage, sous le croissant. Condoms are indeed a drag, but I still said, “No.”

“Really-uh?”

“Yeah. Sorry. I actually like them because of the added friction,” I responded with a straight face. In graduate school, I’d worked as a research assistant on a study of gay men’s sexual behaviors. As the only Latino on the research team, I was assigned all the gay bars in the Jackson Heights area of New York City, where I effectively served as a wet blanket, nervously offering unsolicited anatomy and virology lessons to other Latinos and some South Asians, who, in those moments, preferred anything (darts, billiards, Juan Gabriel from a jukebox) to being reminded of sexually transmissible infections. Over my shoulder was a university-emblazoned tote bag full of multi-colored condoms and informational pamphlets that listed pro-condom talking points, but friction was the only one I could dredge up in the living room of our sublet in Montmartre, after two vodkas, three beers, and ten years. Gus, my husband, said nothing. He merely stood there, with his beard and a partial erection in his underwear, giving me let’s-call-it-a-night side glances.

We’d only just met Richard, a few hours before the condom negotiations, at a sex club with faint lighting and a generous supply of lube dispensers. We didn’t have sex then and there, in the labyrinthine basement where all the nude cruising and fucking was happening, because something about the exposed gray stone, uneven cement, and large wooden casks felt stifling and 16th century. Instead, for almost an hour we circled each other, like moon, sun, and earth, before going upstairs, collecting our trash bags full of clothes and personal items, and stumbling into the small, Gallic hours, and toward our apartment in the 16th.

“Dommage” was Richard’s last word on the matter. I took that as acquiescence and used teeth and two fingers to tear open the condom packet. He slid Gus’s underwear down to his ankles and then extended himself onto all fours. Backlit by a tall wrought-iron lamp with no shade, Richard resembled a baroque painting—resigned to his fate, primed for the pent-up desires of two Americans in Paris.

Gus is the undisputed man of my life, but our European adventures were exactly what we needed and, probably, what we’d set out to find that summer—the final summer before we began the process of adopting a child. By that point, we’d been together for more than a decade, most of it spent living in the same neighborhood. Gus was a corporate engineer; I taught public health at a private college. We went to the movies once per week and out to dinner three. We took leisurely vacations and did the food shopping together on Sunday afternoons. We read one another’s emails, wore each other’s socks, and eschewed birthday gifts. “His” friends and “my” friends were all “ours.” Being conventional was comforting in a way, but it also felt like surrender.

Before Europe, there’d been less patience between us; the bickering, more frequent. I wasn’t sure if it was anxiety about parenthood or subtle resistance disguised as a natural itch.

“Is that porn?” Gus asked one Saturday afternoon and then placed his hand on my shoulder as he leaned into my laptop screen.

“No.” I slid my body out from underneath the weighty touch. “I was thinking, maybe, we could check out a sex club while we’re in Paris. Apparently, they’re very casual, just a bar with a basement.”

“Huh.”

Something practical and stifling should have followed—Oh, I don’t know, Hun. Do you think that’s a good idea?—but he surprised me. “Okay” was all he said.

Throughout the summer, Gus continued to surprise me. After Richard, there was Raúl, the tour guide in Granada; then Vascho and Rafi, the separatist couple in Cataluña; followed by Stan, the Iowan studying abroad in Prague; and finally, Piotr, the contemporary dancer in Warsaw. Gus and I returned to New York in the ascendant, our routine lives rebooted. We owed our debt collectively to the European Union, but only France kept in touch.

Richard emailed out of the blue in May, almost a year after our Parisian romp, to say he’d be in New York in July for his friend’s wedding. He was staying in Manhattan but would happily come to Brooklyn for dinner. When the day arrived, he sent a message in the morning saying he didn’t care where we ate, “as long as we can take a drink together after.”

The Korean food was mediocre but better than the stilted sex that followed, which, in hindsight, never had a chance of living up to the previous summer’s reputation. Afterward, Richard remained naked and squatting on our gray pullout couch, like a casual and garrulous frog, recounting the plot of his upcoming film project—a short about a turf war in Nantes between a fishing community and the young gay men who cruise its banks of the Loire. Ten minutes of uninterrupted description went by before Gus began yawning excessively. Richard pretended suddenly to be tired and began searching the cushions for his wide-mesh briefs. I thought of mentioning my screenplay, but at that point, it was only a rough sketch, and I feared looking silly for dabbling in something to which he was so dedicated. Besides, Gus’s yawning had taken on an air of authenticity. Richard kissed us goodbye, once on each cheek, and then disappeared down the stairs.

Less than a year later, he visited again. He and his new boyfriend had planned a weeklong stay, but in the days before the trip, they broke up. Richard was indignant. “He’s a bastard. But I won’t let him ruin my life,” he wrote in an email. “Can I stay with you and Gus? My friend moved back to Paris with her husband. You are now my best friends in New York! I bought the flights. The bastard was supposed to pay for the hotel.”

Gus was opposed: “I don’t want him to get the wrong impression.”

“Me neither, but how can I say no? He just got dumped.”

It was during that visit that he first read my screenplay. He liked it. And I knew he wasn’t lying because on each of the six nights that he stayed with us, Richard brought home a different man, and it never crossed anyone’s minds that Gus and I should participate in whatever was transpiring in our living room, which would have been easy to do, considering its proximity to the kitchen and my nocturnal bouts of thirst. If Richard had wanted something more than our post-sex camaraderie, I would have been circumspect about his writing feedback.

I also knew he wasn’t lying about my screenplay because I’d been wrong about him. Despite the eyebrows and despite Gus and I both catching crabs during the previous visit’s unremarkable sex—some people are, in fact, asymptomatic carriers, my doctor explained—Richard is an extremely direct person, almost helplessly so. While giving the toast at his friend’s wedding the year before, he told her, microphone to lips, that her dress was a beet too much for the occasion. He would have had no problem telling me my writing sucked.

Gus and I eventually had one child; then, another. I’d still see Richard whenever he returned to New York—he claimed it was impossible to be creative in France—but he no longer stayed with us because our home is a small Brooklyn apartment with barely enough room for our books and us, never mind Richard and his dates. Usually, we met at a café in the neighborhood—their rate of proliferation was such that we were able to go to a new one each time, all with hardwood floors, quirky furniture, and underpaid staff.

“It was the biggest cock I ever saw,” he announced one morning while breaking apart his scone into crumbs. “I almost didn’t know what to do with it.”

“I’m sitting right next to you. I can hear you just fine,” I whispered. The identically dressed, mixed-race hipster couple sipping tea beside us giggled sympathetically, but I was mortified. To be friends with Richard was to be constantly cringing at how loud and uncensored he was.

“What about you and Gus? Any more adventures?”

“Nope. You were our last.”

“Rien?”

I curled my fingers into an O and held it up.

“Doesn’t it get boring?”

“Boring, no. Routine, yes.”

“What’s the difference?” he asked with his hand over his mouth to protect me from the churning mess of scone rubble and saliva.

Breakfasts with Richard weren’t only vicarious living; they were instructional. At each visit, he agreed to re-read my script. He refused, however, to write anything down. I was forced to follow along with my own copy, frantically tracking the arches and undulations in his eyebrows while scratching asterisks into the margins, thankful his feedback was parsimonious: “No.” “Yes.” “Too slow.” “Too much.” “Not this.” “Funny.”

During his fifth or sixth visit, Richard announced that he had no further plans to return to New York. His filming schedule back home was full. I feared my screenplay tutelage was over—Richard was too fastidious for email feedback—but within days, everything had changed. His name was Alfonse, a trim, balding gallerist in his early fifties, who had a wife, a teenage son, and a beady-eyed, sciurine face. He wore bright, monochromatic pants and leather shoes with no socks, and he owned the brownstone townhouse three doors down. Richard had noticed him on previous visits but hadn’t said anything. Then one night, as he was leaving our place after a small dinner party, Alfonse and his mastidoodle strolled past in matching tartan scarves.

Their affair lasted nearly two years. In that time, our neighbor never once acknowledged Gus or I as keepers of his secret—not from his stoop, not while sorting his recycling, not at the corner store. In fact, he’s never acknowledged us at all, before or since. He is part of the crop of people who keep moving into the neighborhood and who seem to be genetically averse to eye contact: always, their heads down; always, jumping in and out of taxis—the squirrels, at least, had the decency to stare before scampering off. But Richard cared little about my gripes with gentrification; he was smitten. (“He wants to know everything about me. And I pay for nothing.”) As for me, I kept the questions to a minimum and tried not to imagine that our least favorite neighbor, through some sort of transitive properties, was indirectly having sex with us.

Richard resumed staying on our pullout couch. In return, he babysat once per visit. Our older son adored him because he was a repository of French nursery rhymes and because he always walked through the door with a paper bag full of pastries. Richard didn’t mind; he was happy to be near his lover. And whenever the wife (elegant architect, also unfriendly) and son (bespectacled, clarinet-playing) were out or asleep, he sneaked over there. On a few occasions, he crossed over by rooftop. One night, they met on the roof.

“Are you kidding? With his family home?”

“He told me they were sleeping,” Richard said while dipping his toast into his coffee.

“You’re living dangerously.”

“It will be more plots for my scripts, no?”

Gus and I didn’t feel great about our complicity, but the affair gave us something to talk about, and even emulate. Once, after the kids had gone to sleep, we sneaked up to the roof, portable baby monitor in hand. Gus complained about the surface—first it was too cold; then, too rough—and I was afraid someone might see us, but it was fun to try something new.

“Who would you want to direct your film?” Richard asked almost nine months ago, after the eighth or ninth time of reading my screenplay. We were sitting at the café after the breakfast rush. It crossed my mind that he wanted me to say him. Richard, after all, was a proper director—since completing his studies, two of his short films had screened at Cannes, and his forthcoming feature-length debut was getting long-list buzz for Un Certain Regard, a program for young talent at the venerable festival—but if he’d been interested in my screenplay, he would have said as much.

“I’ve narrowed the list down to Pedro Almodóvar, Ken Loach, Julie Dash, the Dardenne Brothers, and Spike Lee,” I said.

Richard pursed his lips, as if to say, Poor thing. “Almodóvar is too whimsical and melodramatic; your screenplay is not at all,” he explained. “It’s not funny enough for Loach—Anyway, I don’t like him very much. And it’s too Hitchcock for les Dardennes. They are, uh, dull.” The forced air through his lips made the sound of a propeller plane before an involuntary descent.

My screenplay was about a waiter in his sixties who witnesses a murder on a passing train. Before long, the restaurant worker realizes that he and the killer have the same nighttime commute. He spends the bulk of the script ruminating on whether he’ll tell the police what he’s seen. It takes place in New York City and weaves in race, class, and immigration themes, all of which are in Loach’s wheelhouse. Almodovar, I admit, was a stretch. But the screenplay’s meditative, anticlimactic coda was practically lifted from the Dardennes. I didn’t, however, dispute Richard, for fear of coming across defensive.

“I don’t think Dash makes films any longer,” he continued. “Lee, alors… His first films were magnificent, but now he says the same things, no? So much color, mais rien nouveau. Poof.” Richard’s hands mimed a minor, effete explosion. “And anyway, you don’t have any Black peoples in your story. His movies are about Black peoples,” he shouted. I was grateful that the tables on either side of us were empty.

Richard was white, mordant, and mildly socialist in the common-sense way many Europeans are, but his grasp on issues of race was of a white, mordant, mildly socialist European—what you’d expect from Xavier Dolan, the Quebecois filmmaker. He didn’t understand that Julie Dash, Spike Lee, and I shared something: to varying degrees, we knew what it meant to be not white in a society corseted by white supremacy. My friendship with Richard, however, wasn’t equipped for that type of conversation.

There was another thing Spike Lee and I had in common: “He grew up around here.”

Richard’s eyebrows mimed disbelief.

“I’ve been here almost fifteen years, and I’ve never seen him. His production office is just a few blocks away,” I said pointing vaguely.

“Are you kidding? He is near to us right now?” Richard put down his apricot muffin and picked up the screenplay from the table. “Carry it with you all the times!”

“But I thought you said—”

“Put it in his hands! Be bold!”

Hours after he’d left for the airport, after dinner, after the kids had gone to sleep, I told Gus what Richard had suggested.

“What would you say?” he asked while loading the dishwasher.

“I’m not sure.”

“Do you really think something would come of it?”

The it was my screenplay, and If anything ever comes of it was an impertinent little phrase that found its way into most of Gus’s feedback. It was annoying, even if not wildly off base; the screenplay, after all, was primarily a hobby. But it was also a Hail Mary pass. Academia wasn’t what I had expected it to be. Life at a middling private university was a litigious and desultory downward spiral picking up speed with each passing year: intractable contract negotiations; hostility between faculty, staff, and administration; strikes; scabs; and settlements, just in time for the negotiations to begin anew. My interaction with the students was still precious (sometimes invigorating), but the university’s efforts to increase revenue meant more students and less time with each. I feared calculating how much of the last decade I had spent in poorly facilitated faculty meetings and working on failed grant applications.

Writing was the obverse. It was freeing, a conduit for exploration and self-expression—many fewer boundaries and compromises than higher education. It stirred passions too. Richard, who lived a few meters above the ground, understood this better than anyone, which is why I put up with his extravagant showers and spontaneous whistling and shrugged at his adultery.

“I don’t expect to run into Spike Lee. No point in wondering,” I said to Gus after we’d swept up the mess of macaroni under the table. “Is it too late to go up to the roof?”

Gus went to the closet in search of a blanket. I grabbed a flask of whisky from the pantry.

Every Wednesday, after picking up my eldest son from pre-school, he and I went to the same diner—a bygone Greek place with thick plastic menus and bottomless cups of coffee—and ordered the same thing (ham-and-cheese omelet, glazed donut, cup of milk). The waitresses reliably doted on my round-cheeked pup, allowing my gaze to track the man behind the archaic cash register—a handsome, youthful guy in his late 40s with a stony jaw and goatee. He was a fitter, early-90s George Michael, with the amiable, lost gaze of a man in need of affection—not unlike late-90s George Michael. But he routinely paid me no mind.

My son loves windows, so we always sat at a booth by a window. This one in particular held a partially obstructed view of a converted, three-story, red-orange-brick carriage house: Spike Lee’s office. I’d never before peered through the window with anything more than fleeting curiosity, but after Richard’s pep talk, the narrow street lined with parked cars and towering trees that lay between the famed director and me felt like a negligible distance. From that point on, I foreswore the free-trade organic coffee blends of the nearby cafés and began frequenting the diner four mornings and two afternoons per week. And instead of fixating on the second-generation Greek with the tight-fitting sweatshirt, I kept an eye out for Lee.

Two Tuesdays ago, while I was running late to my morning faculty meeting—after nearly nine unsuccessful months of stalking Lee—I received a message from Richard: “Arriving tonight. Rented apartment nearby. Breakfast tomorrow at your diner?” It was his first time back in New York since he’d ended things with the married man. As it turned out, Albert—apparently, Alfonse was his art-world pseudonym—“got very lazy, always wanting to do the same things in bed.”

I was glad they’d broken up. What little tolerance I held for Albert had slipped its moorings a few months earlier, when he called the cops on a fellow neighbor—a cantankerous, retired postal worker, whose name was either Derron or Derrick, and who had the distinction of being the block’s last Black homeowner. From his parlor window, Albert had interpreted our neighbor’s troubles with a broken key as a burglary in progress. The spectacle of flashing lights, sirens, and shouting brought out a few people on the block who attempted to vouch for our handcuffed neighbor, but the cops were unrelenting. Eventually, his wife, Saran—for years, I’d thought it was Sarah—awoke and came out in her robe and slippers. She berated the officers into unshackling her husband. Rumor has it our scoundrel neighbor apologized the next day, but I wouldn’t put it past Albert to have been the originator of that rumor.

I was recounting this to Richard as we slid into the cracked, baby-blue vinyl booth, when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a dark maroon fedora and charcoal overcoat getting out of the back seat of a black sedan. Even without his iconic dark-rimmed glasses, his face was unmistakable. It was Spike Lee.

“Go!” Richard screamed suddenly. He’d seen him too.

“I can’t. I’m embarrassed.”

“If you don’t go now, I will do it for you.”

“No! Give me a minute.”

I got up and started toward the door—mostly to appease Richard—hoping inertia would take me all the way to Lee and that the rest would be the natural consequences of one grown person staring silently and point-blank at another grown person.

“Eduardo!” Richard yelled. I turned to find him holding my backpack like a relay baton. “Go! Uh-ree!”

Lee vanished before I could cross the street. I was left awash in adrenaline, but also relieved. I picked up the scarf I’d dropped in the rush and pivoted to face the diner, half-expecting Richard to be laughing, but there he was, holding out the palm of his hand, pumping it toward me. I thought he was telling me to calm down, but as I continued walking, he pressed his mouth up against the window. Into a canvas of fog, he wrote, “!TIAW” and then pointed up the street. Lee’s car was still there, idling a few doors down, its trail of lethargic early-winter exhaust defying gravity. It was likely that Lee would return soon and certain that Richard wasn’t going to let me back into the diner.

I leaned up against a fire hydrant on the slender residential street. Legs extended, ankles crossed, heels half-off the curb, the mulch of a recalcitrant autumn beneath me, I waited. I waited long enough for Richard to order breakfast, eat it, order more coffee, and drink that too. I waited long enough to avert my eyes away from two neighbors who would have asked questions I wasn’t prepared to answer. And then, after nearly twenty minutes, the man responsible for Do the Right Thing, Crooklyn, Clockers, Malcolm X, Bamboozled, Get On the Bus, 25th Hour, and Red Hook Summer appeared.

He flung one end of his white scarf across his neck and over his shoulder as his car reversed toward him. I shook off the moderate discomfort in my thighs and stepped over a sop of maple leaves. “Mr. Lee!” He looked up and gave me a casual nod. “Mr. Lee, please wait!” I called out as I jaywalked.

“I’m sorry, I have somewhere to be.” His hoary goatee and the creased skin near his eyes were the only proof that time had elapsed between Michael Stewart and Eric Garner. Spike was still Mookie. The vibrant brick tableau behind him made me feel as if we were standing in his Brooklyn, the one he’d introduced to the world. Doubts suddenly raced through me like wayward souls escaping a netherworld: My writing was shit compared to his oeuvre. I should have re-read the screenplay last night, cut out superfluous dialogue, made sure the characters were three-dimensional, left the ending a bit messier. “What is it?” he pressed.

“Oh, I, uh.” I folded back the pages to undo the curvature I’d forced into the bundle of paper, and then extended my arm: “Here.” His hands stayed at his sides. “C’mon, it’s good,” escaped my mouth. Instantly, I was mortified. I felt seventeen—worse, nineteen—with no context or control over my emotions. I had walked through this moment countless times before. I’d rehearsed several engaging, politically relevant things to say (about the inequity of gentrification, about racism, about John Turturo). Instead, I said some indefensibly dumb shit. My eyes scanned the ground and settled on his blue and orange Air Jordans.

Just then, an elderly woman—a healthy eighty or a barely surviving sixty—walked by in a dark brown full-length fur coat a shade lighter than her skin and a matching papakh hat, pushing a shopping cart. “Hey, baby,” called out the anachronistic figure.

“Good morning, Ms. Saunders,” Lee shouted back.

“You visited your father lately?” she asked without ever breaking her stride.

“Going tomorrow.”

“That’s a good son,” she said, continuing up the block, no longer looking in our direction.

Spike let out a wistful chuckle and then faced me again. “You know how many people hand me their work?” he asked, as if we hadn’t been interrupted. “The best you can do is, ‘C’mon it’s good’? You want to try again?” He pointed to his watch and then placed his hand on the roof of the car grumbling beside us. “It’s not warm out here.”

“Okay, well, I’m a huge fan of your work. All of it, even your big-budget stuff. In fact, I use your films in my classes to talk about the socioeconomic determinants of health—I teach public health. Anyway, my screenplay is about a man who witnesses a murder on the subway—at West 4th. He doesn’t know what to do because he doesn’t trust the cops. It’s an indictment of the NYPD and labor policies in the United States. I think it’s a unique take on racism, through the eyes of a keep-your-head-down Latino immigrant. He’s kind of based on my dad. You can do whatever you want with it. I trust you.” I took a step back. He waited, as if he knew something else was coming before I did. “Also, excuse me for saying so, but I can’t believe we live in a world where Clint Eastwood and Crash have won multiple Oscars, and you’ve never been nominated for Best Director.” I extended my arm again. “That’s all.”

A set of gloved fingers suddenly materialized from the driver-side window. Spike pulled the screenplay from my loose grip and placed it into the disembodied hand before it vanished into the car and behind the window again. “First of all,” he began, “don’t ever give away your work. Second, I do have an Oscar, an honorary one.”

“Oh, right. I forgot—Sorry. But then Chi-raq came out, and it wasn’t nominated for anything, not even the music.”

“It is what it is,” he said with a sigh, eyebrows aloft, one leg already inside the car. “Alright, my man, thank you for this.” Then he disappeared.

That was it. The ensorcellment was broken.

I texted Gus (“Gave screenplay to Spike Lee!!! Call you later!”) and then made my way toward the diner. My backpack, perceptibly lighter.

Richard was standing at the counter beside the donuts, his face wide, looking like he’d just swallowed an expensive bird. He pointed to the bottom of the bill: “Look,” he whispered, “he wrote down his phone number. His name is Stavros. He’s very sexy—Oh!” he caught himself, “What did Spike Lee say?”

“Stavros?” I shouted involuntarily—how had I never learned his name? Richard’s eyes darted around the room. My unrequited crush was refilling ketchup bottles at the other end of the counter. I lowered my voice. “That’s great,” I said, trying not to allow my envy to show.

The thrill of handing Spike my screenplay stayed with me for days. My students, too, relished in the account, but not capturing the moment with a selfie was a missed opportunity, in their eyes. Gus also found it exhilarating. He even seemed proud of me. He offered to help me track down another director, but I didn’t want to, and I hadn’t yet discounted the possibility that Spike might get in touch. In the meantime, I began working on a new screenplay: a Loachian tale about a Scottish pensioner with a drinking problem and a neurological illness who believes Margaret Thatcher is still prime minister. He goes from pub to pub trying to convince people that if they can somehow get J.K. Rowling to join the fight for Scottish independence they will bring about an end to the monarchy and its tax-free land ownership, which he blames for the UK’s socioeconomic ills. The idea took shape while we chatted with Stavros in our living room. Under the pretense of casting for his next film, Richard brought him to our place the evening after I met Spike. Not only is Stavros an encyclopedia of Potter trivia, which he and Gus spent a significant portion of the night discussing, he is also a massive fan of British pop. At one point, he argued deftly—citing lyrics and Wham’s working-class roots—that George Michael’s dance music was political: “He doesn’t get the credit he deserves.”

When we realized that the kids would be up in a few hours, Gus and I excused ourselves and went to bed. We had quick, muted sex. Shortly after Gus fell asleep, I heard light tapping, followed by the doorknob. “Eduardo,” Richard whispered, “do you have any condoms?”

Into the darkness, I responded, “In the hallway closet. The small pocket of my backpack. There should be one.”

Contributor

Alejandro Varela

ALEJANDRO VARELA is a writer based in New York. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The New Republic, The Southampton Review, Pariahs (an anthology, SFA Press, 2016), Blunderbuss Magazine, The Offing, and Joyland Magazine, and has received hon- orable mention from Glimmer Train Press(May/June 2016). He is a 2017 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Nonfiction, and a resident in the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s 2017–2018 Workspace program. He is also an associate editor at Apogee Journal. And he's working on a collection of short stories, tentatively titled The First 200 Years of Eduardo.

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