Contempt for Indianapolis It was May something-or-other, the year of our Lord whatever, when you arrived with an overnight bag & a joint copped from a Music Education Ph.D. dropout. Could only visit for 24-hours, you said, had more important food on your plate. Not me. I was depleted, my fields canned-soup salty. It was clear from the first puff this was not just weed: something in how it rattled metallic against the walls of my chest. Long gone was that impish campus weed that had so many times made our bodies rub against each other before long walks in the woods. No woods in Indianapolis. Just Great Recession hangover empty lots in Indianapolis. Claustrophobia made me say, “Let’s go out to Indianapolis.” You hated that my building was next to a school & that day couldn’t swallow that actual students were actually playing so close to us. It would be the last time we walked hand-in-hand. It’s your brilliance I miss the most. You were a fool. That night was Chinese food & a bad movie. You’d made up your mind when the credits rolled. Later I’d go crazy in Indianapolis. I guess now you know. All I knew was you.
Contempt for Philadelphia You apologized first thing that morning as I put on jeans & left for coffee. But Philadelphia hadn't yet risen ‘cause it’s not really a city. A town? Sure. A village. You could hold Philadelphia in your hand but why? When the coffee shop finally opened I took a corner table to count the hours I had left in Philadelphia. Pretty couples & strollers & chatter flooded the place as I glared at a map on my phone leading me to Old Philadelphia. Yes, I stood at Franklin’s grave. Of course I visited the Arch Street Quaker Meeting House. “In Philadelphia settled non-conformist Christians,” said the tour guide. “They were abolitionists & had no clergy.” Sitting at a pew in total Philadelphia silence helped somewhat. There were 20,000 bodies buried below. Maybe all I need, I thought, is to be alone in an empty Philadelphia. Or would that make things worse? A beer at a bar, then a phone call: “We need to talk about so much before leaving Philadelphia.”
Pablo Piñero Stillmann has been the recipient of Mexico’s two top grants for young writers: The Foundation for Mexican Literature (f,l,m) and The
National Fund for Culture and Arts (FONCA). His work has appeared in, among other places, Bennington Review, Gettysburg Review, Mississippi Review &
Blackbird. His book of short stories Our Brains and the Brains of Miniature Sharks won the Moon City Short Fiction Award and was published in 2020 by Moon City Press.