The vodka zombies sat and stewed at the park, grumbling and drooling and nearly comatose. Often they yelled at one another. Other times they wolfed down food from plastic takeout containers. I once saw a man punch a woman in the head. He was drunk though, and the punch was more of an open-palmed high-five to the temple. Sometimes the vodka zombies pissed standing near an oak tree. When it rained, they found cover under newspapers or plastic tarps.
Today there were four of them at a picnic table. Two talked incoherently. Two slept sitting up. It was dry and my ears ached against the cold. I walked past and opened the door to Irene's.
Irene's was a bakery that opened early and was known for its donuts. There were a few newspaper articles about the place cut out and pasted on the window, for the passers-by. A sitcom once filmed here.
Irene wasn't Polish herself, but she tended to hire young Polish women. All the Polish girls working at Irene's wore green smocks with pink collars. On the weekends they went dancing at the techno bar.
There were six seats at the counter and all were filled. I waited, looking at the donuts and then at the girl at the register. She was blond and thin and made me think of my twin sister June.
The girl at the register had soft features, yet spoke in a brief, icy tone: "Next." Her eyes were green, darker than her uniform.
June had green eyes and blond hair. She currently lived out West, but tended to move around every few years.
I stared blankly at this girl working at Irene's, and realized: I haven't thought of my sister in a few weeks. And I hadn't spoken with her for months.
My sister hadn't yet visited us in New York, though she had promised each of the past three Christmases, and on a postcard she had sent last month. There was a woman tickling her own bare ass with a feather on the front of the postcard.In Cody. Do you remember going to the Buffalo Bill museum? We were little then, and Dad I think said he saw a jackalope there. I hope to visit this fall. Love, June.
I did remember the jackalope, but it was in Jackson Hole. I thought they were real, too, at least back then.
I paid the girl at the register, dropped a dollar in the tip jar and offered an overly generous
"Next," she answered.
When I got home, I looked in the drawer for some postcards. I found two: one showed a dog wearing a snorkeling mask, and the other was a picture of the man on the mountain in New Hampshire. I chose the man on the mountain.June: Today I saw your Polish doppelganger. She works at the bakery and has green eyes. We are moving to the Northwest in December. By the way, the jackalope was in Jackson Hole. Remember Dad looking scared? Love, G.
I set the postcard by my wallet, to mail the next time I went out. I walked to the front of our apartment, and stared through the window at the buildings across the street. The apartments were tan, beige, brown, yellow, red.
--Greg Kellerman lives with his wife and cat in Seattle, Washington. He was born and raised in Butler, Pennsylvania. Art: Little Pink Stream Running Through the Grass (2012) by Greg Allen-Müller.