the air coming in hurts the skin

The music is loud.

I have just met you.

There is dark around yours eyes, and there is a lamp fixture hanging loose from the wall in the narrow hallway. The wattage is low and it makes dim shadows on your small face.

There is dark eyeliner around your eyes, and at some point it got smudged.

I have always found this attractive.

People shuffle past us to the bathroom. There are big and puffy coats, and everything gets a push and raked against.

You finish your fruity rum drink and show me the bottom of the plastic cup. There is a tiny red plastic toy monkey resting on its side. The tail curls up over its back.

I take this as a good sign.

I ask: Do you mind?

You shake your head. I fish it out with two fingers, and put it in my coat pocket.

You make a funny low sound when I get you to laugh.

Someone in a pink goose hugs me long and hard.

You say: look, or you say: Watch. I only look and notice your light blue parka is dirty around the sleeves.

You are vying for my attention, and I am surprised.

You pull out one of those gold dollar quarter sized things, and it is very shiny.

You give it to me, and then you ask for it back.

You slur your words

Then you hold the quarter thing up, and you make it disappear.

I am drunk, and you have become troubling.

I have concern with women who perform disappearing acts.

I drive, and you ask me for a cigarette. You have your own light.

I slow down on State Street waiting for you to show me where to turn off.

You don't point it out.

You just say: Keep driving. I don't want to go home right now.

I say: me either�.

There are a couple reasons why I shouldn't be driving. There is a long scraping noise when the van makes a right turn, and the other is just because.

I turn the music as far as it will go, and both reasons are placed outside my perspective.

You roll down the window, and the air coming in hurts the skin tonight. I am distracted, and miss the turn to go up the mountain. This is a good thing.

I drive to the skirts of Easthampton, and park in the bank's lot.

I say: Come on. We're going across the street to visit.

You hold on to the handle on the doorframe, climb out of the bucket seat, yank your black skirt down, and pull your blue parka close.

I am not exactly sure why I am here. I have a little bit of an idea.

I don't want to go home with you.

Between you and me. I am not afraid. I just think too much.

I think that I don't want to hear your voice on my answering machine.

Not now, or on Tuesday, and so, I bring you to meet the Taxidermist.

I knock on the painted metal door, once and then twice.

She cracks the door and then opens it.

She is surprised and invites us inside. She was sorting photos in her bedroom.

There is a pot of tea that comes from the kitchen. I leaf through a catalog that shows some kind of drying or preserving machine. There is an illustration of a fawn curled up, nose to tail inside a clear plastic chamber.

The girl from the party falls asleep on the smaller red couch, legs in black tights tucked up under her. I sit close to the taxidermist and she lets me sort through her box of eyes.

Fox eyes

Groundhog eyes

Squirrel eyes

Yellow coyote eyes

and porcupine.

There are no bird eyes. There are no beaks.

She says: I don't know how to do that yet, but let me show you something special.

She comes out of her bedroom saying: It is starting to dry out.

In her hands she holds a tiny chipmunk that she has fitted with a smooth plastic baby arm.

She says: It still needs teeth.