Some Books and Authors mentioned in this interview:
Kevin Wilson: The Family Fang / Tunneling to the Center of the Earth: Stories
Jorge Luis Borges: Collected Fictions / Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings / The Aleph and Other Stories
Etgar Keret: Suddenly, A Knock on the Door / The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God & Other Stories / The Nimrod Flipout: Stories
Stephenie Meyer: Twilight / New Moon / Eclipse / Breaking Dawn
Orson Scott Card: Ender’s Game / Speaker for the Dead / Xenocide / Children of the Mind
Tomas Transtromer: The Great Enigma / The Half-Finished Heaven / The Deleted World
Roberto Bolaño: 2666 / The Savage Detectives / By Night in Chile
J. R. R. Tolkien: The Fellowship of the Ring / The Two Towers / The Return of the King
Italo Calvino: Invisible Cities / If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler / The Baron in the Trees
I Have a Confession
—from Vertigo Browning’s Hello, Hella Hot Cyborgs!, Part 3: Security Status
At the bookstore, I hit on the girl who works here by reversing the order of the books she’s sorted from A to B. I also point their spines toward the inside of the shelf so she sees only the paper edges. She might be half my age. I dig in my already-pink eyes (I’m thirty-something years old, and I still eat my eye-boogers). I think I’ve “turned her off”—which makes me smile since we’re in the sci-fi section with the series about robot girls who can literally be turned off. The bad guys always beat them by pressing their power-off buttons.
“There are so many,” she says, re-rearranging the books.
She’s seen my eye-boogers. I wipe my finger on my shirt.
“I must have a medical problem,” I say.
She twitches: “You like these books? They’re awful.”
Oh, she means the books about the robot girls.
“What,” I say. “God, what, no, they’re terrible.”
I ha, nervously.
“Can I help you find something,” she says.
“Your ‘on’ button,” I say, and I motion as if poking her belly.
I’m so nervous, I dig for another eye-booger. To my surprise, she eats one of her own. Then she struts away. On my way out, I see the same girl, calm behind the counter, reading the third book in the series.
This story originally appeared in Monkeybicycle.
Jason Gordy Walker lives in Birmingham, Alabama. His poems have been published in Measure, Town Creek Poetry, Think Journal, Cellpoems, and elsewhere, and his brief fictions have appeared online in Monkeybicycle, Journal of Microliterature, Nap, Cafe Irreal, and others. He teaches composition at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, washes dishes at a local restaurant, and plays bass in a rock band called Limbs.
Image: Flickr / Rooners Toy Photography