The last day of unknowing. So unknow this. Unlisten, unwait, uncheck the email, disconnect. Sit on the balcony and listen to the horns, the men shouting. Watch the lights of the restaurant across the water click off, the headlights spin, the elevator rise, the reflection of the flash of the high-rise neon, and know that this will all be gone. You will be gone from it, and the past is already another country inside you, a country you’re living in—it’s all already antiquated and yellowed, and this balcony is gone and these clothes have grown moldy and this body has wrinkled and weathered, and this is your last chance, your last night, to not know anything that’s coming. And you could live in it, as long as the bikes keep running and the cigarette burning and the morning never comes.
Frog Slaughter O’Clock
…starts just before I get there. Every day that I go to the market—bananas, 4pm—the three of them are back there: squatting on the tiles, in the blood, rubber boots and rusty surgical scissors, decapitated bodies in various stages of dismemberment in buckets, on the floor, in their hands. Sometimes they’re without skin; sometimes their innards have been gutted and are lying on the floor beside them, all that dastardly inside exposed, extricated, right out there on the tiles. Sometimes it’s just the head that’s been snipped off. But always there’s a beating, a pulse made visible by the blood, the throat, the gushing.
They put them in a pile. In a bucket, different from the basket in which they hang them, still alive and waiting. They must know. In their amphibian brains, their legs tangled and hanging out from the holes in the netting—it doesn’t take a monkey brain to tell you that you’re fucked.
The people who do it seem like regular market people: two women in leopard-print leggings and weird floppy hats, the main guy young, probably younger than me though his skin is hard. The first time I saw him, he was squatted in the blood, a cigarette dangling from his lips as he assembly-line slit the throats of the frogs and tossed them aside. I don’t know where his coworkers had gone. He was alone back there, methodical, exact, covered in the blood. The beating of all those throats was deafening, like a tunnel closing in on me, and I must have been giving him a look, cause he looked up at me as if to say, “What? I’m just sitting here, smoking a fag and cutting the heads off some frogs, you got a problem with that?” And I looked at his as if to say, “No, actually, no problem at all.” Then I took my bananas and kept walking.
We still see each other, almost nod to one another now. Sometimes he’s cutting their heads and sometimes he’s gutting them and sometimes he’s just sitting on an upturned bucket and looking down at all the blood and guts, probably thinking, “Damn, I’m the one who’s gotta clean this all.”
We don’t smile at each other. But I’m hoping someday, if I keep walking past, we will.