by Robert Lopez
I was sitting in a parked car outside my apartment and reading a book. A realtor was inside the apartment and showing it to prospective buyers which is why I was sitting in the car and reading a book and not inside the apartment doing something else. The apartment belonged to my girlfriend, who owned it. I moved in with her after I couldn’t stand it any longer in the apartment I’d lived in by myself for fifteen years. It was too loud was the reason. It was too loud from the downstairs neighbor and his dance music and the kids across the street in the playground and the cars picking up the children after they were done playing in the playground. The kids in the playground were the worst people you ever saw, if you can even call them people. They screamed and yelled and were out to kill each other every morning and afternoon. I had thoughts of doing something unspeakable from my living room window, which was on the third floor and overlooked the playground, something that involved a telescopic lens and a tripod and making worldwide headlines and I know it’s awful but I’m human like everyone else and sometimes I need quiet like how quiet it was in the car outside my apartment when I was reading that book. Inside the apartment the realtor was showing it to prospective buyers and I wanted one of them to go ahead and buy the apartment so this way we could move somewhere else. I didn’t like living there because it was too dark and the neighborhood was full of rich, white people who were all cold and awful and unfriendly and I’m not sure you can even call them people. I had the same unspeakable thoughts about these people that I had about the children in the playground but the only difference was I had no vantage point and thus could never employ a telescopic lens and a tripod and make worldwide headlines because the apartment was on the ground floor and looked out over nothing. My girlfriend didn’t like these people either and she didn’t like the apartment for how dark it was but I doubt she ever thought about a tripod and headlines because she’s not that sort of person. She wants a dog and talks about wanting a dog all the time so you know she doesn’t think the way I do. This is what I was thinking about when I was sitting in the parked car outside my apartment and reading that book. I thought the book concerned the aging process and how one might enjoy it, but it didn’t actually have anything to do with the aging process, let alone how one might enjoy such a thing. Instead, it talked about the things of the world, gardens and vegetables, friends and relatives, children and dogs, love and betrayal, because what else is there.
Robert Lopez is the author of three novels, Part of the World, Kamby Bolongo Mean River —named one of 25 important books of the decade by HTML Giant, All Back Full, and two story collections, Asunder and Good People. A new novel-in-stories, A Better Class Of People, will be published by Dzanc Books in April, 2022. Dispatches from Puerto Nowhere, his first nonfiction book, will be published by Two Dollar Radio in March, 2023. His fiction, nonfiction, and poetry has appeared in dozens of publications, including Bomb, The Threepenny Review, Vice Magazine, New England Review, The Sun, and the Norton Anthology of Sudden Fiction – Latino. He teaches at Stony Brook University and has previously taught at Columbia University, The New School, Pratt Institute, and Syracuse University. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.