by Anthony Van Hart

I read the awkward scene in Gatsby on the plane. Halfway through I put the coke soaked Southwest napkin inside and shut it.

Minutes passed. I asked for a shooter of Beam, thinking it would give me the courage to finish the chapter. I finished the coke and ordered 2 more tiny bottles.

Half cocked on Beam and diminishing feeling, I read it two, three times. I let the words engulf the open spaces in my mind the way smoke fills vacant rooms and suffocates … everything.

When the chapter was finished and the empty vessels were lined up on the shallow tray like dead chess pieces, I placed the deteriorating napkin back at the start and nodded off on a stranger's shoulder. I don't think he minded.