Thursday, May 26, 2005
The Man in the Pinstriped Suit
The long line to the bank teller’s window doesn’t move. Before me the lady, her black hair twisted into a bun, her skin tanned dark on her bare back, sways, hanging onto her toddler as though he was an anchor in a storm. Her grass skirt rustles back and forth. The man beside me clears his throat. I turn to him, squinting to keep out the brightness of his pinstriped suit. As he talks, my mouth hurts. His voice draws out, longer and longer, until each word crawls past my nose in little caterpillars. I know I must swat them or they’ll creep into my nose and I’ll suffocate, but I can’t raise my arm. The woman in her grass skirt has my hand pulled over a thick wooden table, a white surgeon’s mask pulled over her nose and mouth. She works steadily for several moments with a large knife, then gives me back my hand. I step away from the head of the line, my fingers wrapped in bloody bandages. “That wasn’t so bad,” says the man in the pinstriped suit.