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My lawyer took me to dinner at a new restaurant downtown. It was his way of saying thank you. A friend of mine had been run over by a milk truck and I had given her his card while she laid waiting in the street for the ambulance. Six months later she had a four-speed, gold-plated wheel chair (with cup holder) and the lawyer was able to pay off his wife’s orthodontist, so they were both pretty happy.

Maybe you have read about this restaurant: it was shaped like a flying saucer, balanced on the top of the city’s highest building.  It revolved, of course, they always revolve, but this place was different. The menus were printed on sheets of aluminum. The head chef, brought to our city at great expanse, specialized in a cuisine composed of exotic, genetically engineered animals. The waiters walked around in something that looked like silver pajamas with metal disks projecting from the shoulder pads. In the kitchen, the cooks wore goggles and used arc welders to braise the cheesecake or blacken a leg of jackalope. 

I ordered the roasted llama-cow in rosemary and fennel sauce and my lawyer got some sort or hamster-snake hybrid served on lentils.

“How’s yours,” the lawyer asked, chewing furiously.

“Llama-y,” I told him.

I’d known the lawyer for some time. He was something like the family attorney in that he had not only handled my divorce, but my parents’ divorce and their parents’ divorce before them. He was not a young man anymore, and I feared part or all of his teeth would spill from his mouth as he gnawed ineffectively on a particularly tiny bone. I imagined them crumbling like yellowed glaciers into the sea.

“What is that,” he asked me?  “Snake or hamster?”

“It looks like a tiny rib,” I said. “That could be either one, I guess. Probably snake, since they have more ribs. Statistically, it’s probably a snake.”

He smiled. It was a fatherly smile, if your father happens to be ancient, inscrutable, and vaguely immoral. My father is, so to me it seemed very sweet.  I became sentimental and thought about my old dad in the home he was in now, making passes at all the nurses and medical equipment with indiscriminate and myopic abandon.  Someday I would find out the exact address of that home and send him a card or something.

It one time my dad and the lawyer would meet for golf once a month.  They would always drink too much at the clubhouse, burn down a utility shed and reduce their caddy to tears. Sometimes they would strip off their clothes, run naked across the greens and bury each other in the sand traps. When my father recovered a day or two later he would stay in the dark of his study, avoiding phone calls, afraid of being either sued or kicked out of the country club.  But somehow, nothing ever happened and they went on meeting once a month and reenacting the whole thing, leaving behind them a wake of smoldering sheds and traumatized caddies. 

“What’s that,” the lawyer said, squinting down at his plate and poking at something small and white with the tip of his knife.

“A skull?” I guessed.

“Snake or hamster?”

“It’s hard to say.”

“It looks like death,” he said. “It looks like little death served up on a plate.  Look at it staring at me.  What are you staring at you little hamster snake death fuck?”  He looked at me.  There was an expression on his face that I could not interpret through the mass of wrinkles and liver spots. It could have been regret. It could have been nostalgia. 

“Actually, I think it’s a hip bone or something,” I told him, not because I really thought so but because I thought it best to get him off the subject, whatever the subject actually was.

“Snakes have hips?”


“Oh,” he said. I think he was disappointed.  I tried to work on my own meal but after the first few bites the novelty of llama-cow had kind of worn off and the thing tasted more like overdone steak than anything.

In the end, the lawyer decided to concentrate on the lentils.

[Forever after at

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