Going Public 

Page 2 of 4

She has pearls on her neck and mermaid-like hair, all kinked and wavy, pulled back behind her ears. Maybe she's hiding gills.

"Is there a beach around here?"

"Yeah! Castle Island! Just keep walking down this street, Summer St. and it turns into L Street and then take a left on East Broadway and you'll end up on the beach."

"Thanks!"

"But be careful. One of my girlfriends was there the other week, just reading a book, when one of my other friends says to her, 'I don't want to scare you, but this guy's been watching you and he just took your picture.'"

"He took her picture?"

"Yeah. So be careful! It's the middle of the day, so there should be a lot of people... so you should be ok. I just thought I should warn you."

"Thank you very much; I'll watch out for any creeps."

She walks away and I walk across the street. I knew it was across the street; I looked up the directions before I left.

The Customer Service Center is boring. I get my package and get out of there. Should I bother to open the box? I've undergone this sort of heroic quest—I guess it's complete? I finally have my watch back? I look up and see two church pillars. What sort of place needs two churches right next to one another?

Opening the package, I walk toward my next adventure. The packing peanuts fall out and I debate picking them up. They're not biodegradable, but the concept of leaving a trail behind me is too appealing. I litter. I'll be able to find my way back.

A bicyclist attacks. Shocked, I exclaim, "Excuse me, could you tell me how to get to Castle Beach?"

"Uh, it's like really far from here. You should take the bus, the nine. The stop is over there."

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"Thanks."

What terror. I didn't see him until he whirred right by me. I went on autopilot.

Eventually, I find myself between the two churches. I guess there are a lot of Christians here. I wonder if there's a rivalry between the two, perhaps for parking on Sundays. Honk Honk! I want to worship god! No I was here first! Screw you! Fuck off! That's how it would happen.

I notice I'm on East Broadway. Excellent. Make the left. Walk along East Broadway. I pass two beauty salons and four pubs. I like this place. The beauty salons are filled with women getting manicures and pedicures and facials. I hate the smell that seeps out of their doors, like fashion formaldehyde—keeping them young and prim. The pubs smell like French fries.

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A woman waits for a bus. The number nine. She wears bright pink lipstick and holds two grocery bags. Her back is hunched over; they weigh her down. Her jacket is also bright pink, with zebra stripes. She is perfect. I want so badly to take her picture; my hand is already on my camera—No. I want to remember her. I never want to see her again.

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