The Whisky Blot
Journal of Literature, Poetry, and Haiku
I’m working nights again, the light of six computer monitors glowing bright and humming low, security feeds segmented into scenes the size of a postcard.
Given time zones, the 3-hour time difference, and your sleep schedule, I could text.
Maybe tell you that I love you.
But I hate you. We aren’t speaking and a trespasser appears on the black-and-white security feed — small, so small that they could fit between your calloused hands, enclosed by walls made of tobacco-stained fingers, dying from suffocation. Or maybe small enough to be plucked backwards from the gate, guided sternly back across the street within your sturdy grip. It’d be as if they’d never crossed beneath the archway to begin with, but
they’ve crossed the gate, they’ve moved beyond the threshold.
I announce the intrusion via radio, my voice monotone and flat as it travels across the electronic current.
The guards are on their way and thoughts of you depart in
You size glasses for a living.
Your hands, constantly coated with dust and dirt and grime at home,
the home you never want to be in,
are scrubbed and washed, unsullied, while you’re out fiddling with borrowed instruments.
When you say “I never cared enough to do anything else,” I believe you.
You’ve never cared enough.
At least, under your insurance plan, I’m offered vision care.
I leave work and let a subway car carry me to someplace else —
a place where I have my own money, where I’m never beat up or choked out, where I don’t feel quite as angry.
A man at the end of the car scratches madly at his arms and legs, reopening old wounds.
There’s blood on his hands; it touches everything.
The sight is irritating and makes the hairs on my arms bristle, it sets my teeth rattling —
but I’m headed someplace else.
I scroll through old texts.
Where are you staying tonight?
And what are your plans for tomorrow?
The years seem to be passing by faster and faster.
Someplace else, it’s nice out,
sunny and mild.
I take my time walking back.
Before the pandemic, I’d pass parents and children on their way to school, smiling politely. Now,
I pass refrigerated trucks that serve as temporary morgues.
In a pandemic, you start to think of everything as a virus. Allergies. The common cold.
Policing and its penchant for violence.
You start to think of contempt as a virus. It infects us on a cellular level, becomes a part of us, and then it replicates. It spreads, moving from one host to the next.
We die or we survive, but survival is insufficient.
There is no full recovery. The virus lingers in the body. Its symptoms weigh you down for so long, your body changes. You adapt until, without realizing, you start to think of yourself as a virus.
We’ll need to restart everything.
Did you ever try on any glasses?
I guess I’ll pick a pair for you.
I have about a week left to exchange them.
Hey Jake, what’s your address? I have your glasses. I’ll mail them today.
Hi Jake, can you try and pick up those glasses because when I track the package it says that they tried to deliver and now it’s at the post office. If you are unable to get the package I will remake the glasses.
The post office says they held the package for the required amount of days and now they are returning to sender.
I already reordered 2 new pairs for you, how should I send them?
Are you planning a trip home anytime soon?
Keep me posted.
I did not ship them again because you were moving.
Just tell me where to send them.
I sleep the rest of the morning away. The light outside my window shifts to afternoon. I wake up and immediately check my phone.
Multiple missed calls. I sleep with the ringer on silent.
There’s a voicemail left by you.
I listen, but it isn’t you. It’s from your number, but it isn’t you.
On the other end of the line is the sound of primal screaming emerging at the front end of grief, a cry expressing pain so devastating, so earth-shattering and destructive, that the sound gives rise to a deafening, all-consuming silence.
I leave New York wearing a mask and let an airplane carry me home.
There’s no signal, so I scroll through old texts to the last you ever sent.
My part is done, you wrote. I wish I’d seen it before.
My part is done.
Staring at screens all night has left me bleary-eyed.
I’m getting older and the years seem to be passing by faster and faster.
In nine days, I’ll be twenty-six. In nine days, I’ll lose my vision care.
I don’t see anything particularly troubling about this fact. If my glasses break, you’ll fix them. If they’re lost, you’ll still replace them.
We aren’t speaking. I hate you and you’ve never cared enough, but you size glasses for a living
and I love you.
Jacob Moniz is a graduate of UC Santa Cruz, NYU, and the University of Notre Dame. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Catamaran Literary Reader, Penumbra, Chicago Quarterly Review, The Ocotillo Review, and Southeast Review, among other journals and publications. He is the recipient of a grant from the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts at the University of Notre Dame, which he used to fund a multimedia arts project based on his family history in São Miguel, Azores. He has since been selected as a 2023-2024 Fulbright Student Researcher to continue work on this project in Portugal.
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