Again, Greasy Body

by Fuzzy Winkerbean

“I’ve lost my taste for it.”

Greasy Body pauses, mid-fry with his mouth full, and glances up at me. Once, when my grandfather was dying, I told him that I’d heard he was sick but he looked good. This was the same glance up, hostile and unsure at the same time. I still don’t know what it means. “Lost your taste for what?” he asks.

“The job. I can’t keep doing this.”

Greasy Body finishes his fry without looking at me and peels off another paper napkin from a stack on his tray. The stack of pulped compressed wood is huge. Bigger than God. No normal human being could ever think they’d need this much wiping down. He’s already gone through a third of it. We sat by the trash specifically so he could wing them straight in. He wipes his hands, his mouth, and proceeds to the rest of his face, his neck , his hair. He tosses the napkin into the can with a heavy wet slap. I refuse to look inside to see if it stuck.

“Shouldn’t that go into some sort of hazardous waste container?”

Greasy Body sneers at me as he swabs a new napkin down through his shirt and across his chest.

“No, really. Isn’t that flammable?”

He considers it and nods, surprised, before tossing the napkin into the can. “Excuse me,” he mumbles as he rises and heads for the bathroom. I am left alone with my salad. I look at it. It looks at me. Neither one of us is impressed. We’re both wilted and a little brown. Dry.

There’s an e-mail kiosk against the wall in front of me. The screen is dark, but I head over and slide a credit card through the slot. “So does this thing work or not?” I realize that I’ve started talking to myself. The words are fresh in my head, but that’s not conclusive… maybe… no, I definitely made noise. This is why I need to get off the road. It’s hard enough to build any kind of life for yourself. It’s harder when you’re never around to do it. Even harder when you come home crazier than when you left. I shake my head and replay events, involuntarily mugging my way through the memories, nodding and twitching to nobody in particular.

This isn’t even how it starts. This is it. The full show. It’s comforting at least to understand how simple and innocent madness can be. Such a fine line between internal monologue and flat-out raving. A meaningless distinction, really. Let he who is without tick cast the first stone.

I look around the food court and spot Greasy Body befouling a chair across the table from a stranger with his back to me. Who the hell would talk to Greasy? Who the hell would Greasy talk to? He smiles and shakes the stranger’s hand as he rises and comes back home to his fries. He begins munching without a word.

“Who was that?”

“That was Bill.” Munch, munch. “You know Bill. From work.”

“Ah.” Bill is still wiping his hand on his pants. “No, I don’t think I’ve met Bill. Student or body?”


“Hmmn. What’s he doing in Virginia?”

“I don’t know. Maybe he’s visiting his family. What are you doing in Virginia?” Greasy Body stares at me, eyeless, his jaw ruthlessly working over the potato paste. I want to tell him to let it go. It can’t hurt anybody now. But he wouldn’t go for it. “The spuds’ve had it too easy for too long.” I’ve heard him say it before.


Past pieces presented by Baja Phats

fast and slow by Ben Timberlake
Two lists
by Secho
Moving Day by Erin


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