You’re knocked out. I’m choking on nothing. That means a trip to The Cabinet. It’s just to the right of the kitchen window. Five floors up, I can see the Canal. The water there is so thoroughly contaminated it will take one hundred years to remediate.
I start by realigning the two jars of peanut butter, the ones from last year’s salmonella lot. I usually put the taller objects in the back but not with the shelf already crowded with enough tampered Tylenol to poison all of Gowanus. I think about releasing some of the fast food super heroes I’ve collected over the years to help but they’re trapped in plastic bags which could morph into choking hazards. My Batman lay asphyxiated next to a multiplex-sized box of Junior Mints. The mints hadn’t officially been declared a defect by any authority but after I almost choked on them during Halle Berry’s sex scene with naked Billy Bob Thornton in Monster’s Ball, I declared all three hazardous.
The beef from that shuttered slaughterhouse in Nebraska, it got its own shelf, and was and was sealed in zippered baggies placed in Tupperware containers stacked inside each other like Russian dolls. How could they be so sure it would eventually go bad? Could they spot mad cow medallions on sight?
Taped to the inside of the cabinet door is the picture of you from last night that the instigators brought over to calm me down. They had no excuses, but now feel guilty they forced you into a Girls Night Out in a Godforsaken neighborhood where you six didn’t belong. In the picture, they’re hamming it up. You’re in the back row, arm bent behind your head, lips so full of promise they brush your bicep.
You used to pray that I would love you more than you thought I did. Before you went out that night you told me your theory that a man’s beard grows every time he has a perverted thought, and asked did I want to dedicate one to you. I replied only that I had a new-found respect for Grizzly Adams, Confucius, and two of the three members of ZZ Top.
I re-position the photo with clean tape and retreat to our sanctuary.
You’re awake now, legs draped over your cedar chest. They cover scenes of an undiscovered Orient you hand painted on the sides. In a sheer top, you’re like a dancer posed on a music box.
Did you finish re-arranging your rancid meat, baby?
Yes, I nod.
Have you stopped choking?
Over your shoulder, an urban stud in a wetsuit drops his kayak into the Canal.
Come to bed, you say, but I’m back at The Cabinet. I toss the super heroes aside to reveal a dust-covered jewelry box, not Tiffany blue, but special nonetheless. Inside is a diamond engagement ring whose certain carat size and clarity I can no longer recall.