There is nothing under the deep wide endless feckless ocean of a sky that I could possibly want from this son of a gun with his hat and his shades and the voice honeyed smooth with WD and moisturizer. There is something Slavic about his voice, though I can’t put my finger on what it is. Maybe a slight rolling in his Rs, not piratical so much as alcohol-infused even when he’s stone-cold sober. But maybe it’s something else, some shadow of a Cold War era film that plays at 4am when my insomnia is kicking me in the gut with its steel-toed boots.

I do not want a thing with him, with this Berkovitch, but he keeps showing up on my doorstep anyway, trying to sell me stuff I don’t need. He posed as a pizza delivery guy once, and I nearly opened the door that time, thinking some charitable friend had seen my Facebook status of announced hunger and laziness and had taken pity on me. But no, it was just Berkovitch, forehead and eyebrows huge and chin minimized to a pinprick in the fisheye view through the peephole.

“Go away, Berk,” I yelled through the several layers of reinforced metal I was lucky enough to have as a barrier between me and him. “Trot off, sniff at some other pussycat, shoo.”

“Pizza delivery,” he insisted, looking down at what was, unmistakably, an empty pizza box. There were no signs of grease anywhere on it, and no friend of mine would have ordered me some kind of low-fat, low-cal, oil-free pizza unless it was April Fool’s and they were trying to be cruel. Messing with my favorite meal is a profanity against a religious experience I don’t easily stand for.

“I’m calling 911 now,” were the words that made him shuffle away. He left the pizza box on my doorstep. I checked it after a while because I really was hungry and I was tricking myself into thinking maybe the guy had left me something edible in there, but it was empty, all empty, just a big childish scrawled heart drawn inside with a pen that was clearly only half work, going on the fritz, since the heart shape needed to be reinforced with lots of lines drawn over and over with various inky thickness to make sure it was legible.

Nothing, really, nothing I could want with a guy like that, this Berkovitch man, who posed as an Avon salesman the first time he came by, and had a civil and quite invigorating conversation with me about how Avon were trying to change their face by not sending out only women anymore, because that was sexist. It was true, I agree, the term “Avon lady” seemed to mean something pretty universal, if you, I added, meant to restrain universality to a certain demographic and geography and socioeconomic standing which, he agreed this Avon gentleman, most people did. But then, see, he turned out to only want to tell me I was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen, and while it was nice to hear, because I’d been having some bad luck around that time, I realized he was a creep and a fraud and threw him out.

And now, well, now he’s just around, and he keeps coming back and sometimes I think about opening the door because he seemed intelligent except for the creepy stuff, and maybe I should let him in and just tell him we can talk and be friends, but the last guy who stalked me stuck a knife in my thigh in the end and I still walk with a limp so I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t do that, but I should call the police and that’s something I just haven’t done yet because really, poor guy, right? Poor guy.


6 thoughts on “Restrained

  1. Erin says:

    This is genius. And beautiful. And funny. And kind of disturbing.

    Also, because stories take on a life of their own once they’re out in the world, I’m taking the liberty of adding my own personal meaning to the piece: it is like my love affair with Russia (or the Czech Republic, but more Russia) (“sky” and “Slavic” in the first three lines, and my brain went War and Peace; can’t help it. Skies and oak trees always make me think of W&P). It’s like, “Russia, why do you keep showing up, and why am I falling for you, and why do I find your empty pizza boxes with hearts in them adorable, when clearly I should be upset that they’re empty pizza boxes, and are you going to stab me in the thigh with a knife, you creeper?”

    (Ahem, I apologize for that bit of craziness.)

    BUT . . . I’m sure everyone has something (or many things) in their lives that this could be a metaphor for. And it works so well on a straightforward literal interpretation level, too. Awesome work.


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