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Slaloming the Siphoners


by Smiley McGrouchpants



               "Spare any change?"
               I dodge his attempt at making eye contact and narrowly slip past the door before it closes.
               I'm inside.
               Whew!
               No time for that, though, because:
               "Hey!"
               Hipster-neutral dressed simulacra-person offers a glance and a wave, sudden as a ping-pong serve, designed to crowd your space and "pal" you but I dodge it — I'm practiced at this.
               I order.
               "How's your day going?" dude says, too old for this job, not grateful for a second start on life, but pointlessly & overcompensatingly overconfident, instead.  (He's "been around!")
               After pretending not to hear him . . . pretending still . . . pretending yet still again (shifting my eyes to the artwork on the wall, then fazing out, I apparently must not have heard him, it would seem) . . . the echo of his hailing dies away, like a lone, unheard note in an empty music hall . . . 
               My mocha's ready.
               I sit at a table, dodging en route couples coupling for comfort, like swarms of bees, like everyone's set on "default."
               At last, I open my book.
               Only to find:

               You are not about to begin reading a copy of Italo Calvino's If On a Winter's Night a Traveler.  For reals!  The printer fucked up the leaves!  It's actually . . . TOM FUCKING CLANCY!

               Is this a joke?

                                             SO SORRY!

               Wait: doesn't the book actually incorporate tha—

                                               THE END



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