engineering mishap.


that scene from the bridge still haunts me. that old man, who is talking on his cell phone. hell, he even laughs a bit, and not just a small laugh, not just a giggle, no, it's a full-on knee-slapper, his head falling back and everything. he is roaring with laughter. and then he hangs up the phone, pulls himself over the railing, squats down a bit, like a gargoyle or a seagull, and he just looks down at the black water. he doesn't look for long, not even long enough for the abyss to look back at him. maybe in everyday life, the abyss kept staring back at him, and that's what did it. maybe it was something someone on the other line had said. no one knows what that phone call was about, what the hell was said. but that's the point, i suppose. it didn't even matter. he jumps.

"i can count the number of times i've driven across a bridge like this," the girl said to me. i thought for a moment, thinking maybe it meant something, but it didn't. all she was saying was that she hadn't driven over many bridges. i couldn't count the number of bridges i've driven across. there have been far too many. i used to have a friend who feared driving over bridges. he was afraid of a quake, or some engineering mishap, and it'd be all over. the car would just keep falling and falling, and there wouldn't be a good goddamn thing he could do about it.

my friend and i were at lincoln square. i told him how lincoln square reminded me of the malls in the philippines. "minus all the dirt," he said. "minus all the security checkpoints," i said. i told him about how things just exploded sometimes, even though it wasn't exactly true. i only heard about one explosion at a mall in manila. and it wasn't even an explosion. i clarified this, and told him that it wasn't just terrorist bombings or whatever. sometimes it was just an engineering mishap. those were my exact words: engineering mishap.

this blonde girl i used to work with at tower, she became an engineer. we went to the state fair together. it was the first time i had gone to the fair with someone other than a relative. we bought all that crappy deep-fried food, and we stuffed ourselves silly. she rode some ride that wasn't really a ride. it was just this thing that shot a car forward really fast. i refused to get in it. i had a fear of rides, especially fair rides. every year, it seemed as though some poor kid was getting thrown from the tilt-a-whirl, or else getting all tangled up and asphyxiated in the giant swingset. she wanted to go ride the giant carousel. "no," i said, "absolutely not." we went to the kcra channel 3 booth instead and got our picture taken like we were real news reporters. later, it occurred to me that i should've kissed her right before they took the shot. that's what confident boys are supposed to do.

lacking confidence, lacking any sort of plan, you've still got to give it up. you've got to admit the guy knew how to laugh. he could laugh his fucking head off.

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