1. Contemplating it
A man died in a fiery car crash on the 105 Freeway.
You hear the news, but you’re still hungry. It’s lunchtime.
Anyway, it’s not like he was disemboweled, you think. He
burst into flames.
There’s a Vietnamese food truck away from your cubicle, down the elevator,
outside the office building, parked on Wilshire Blvd.
2. Buying it
Usually you order the spicy chicken banh mi, but today—maybe
because a man died in a car crash—you opt to order the
A man in a beard and a beanie tells you “it comes with
ham and pâté on a roll.”
You order it and wait while a gust of wind blindsides you
and others waiting in line.
JFK and Nixon—or is it Reagan?—are spray
painted on a wall, looking at you.
Says someone: “Tear down this wall.”
3. Eating it
There are tables all around the exterior of the office
building you work in. You sit at one (by yourself) and notice
blood stains on the ground.
You follow the red-black trail and find its origins on the wall.
A man sits down at the table next to you. He’s smoking.
You hate this. The deli special now tastes like a giant’s Marlboro.
You look at the blood and then at the man smoking.
You think you could kill him.
4. Tossing it
Sriracha has an incendiary effect. Your lips feel like they’ve
been split in half—both of them. The smoking man leaves.
You pant, holding your tongue out like a dog, a tramp, airing
it out or something.
You can’t finish the deli special. You see that the smoking
man has a red beard.
You imagine his face—no, his whole body—on fire, like the man on the 105.
After throwing away what was left of the deli special, you walk by the bearded man
in the beanie in the banh mi truck and give him a four-lipped smile.
In a mirror, on your way back into the office building, up the elevator, into your space, in the women’s bathroom, you see red stains
in the corners of your mouth and on your cheeks,
and you can see why he didn’t smile back.