at an arcade, a sort of funhouse place, large, cavernous, dark,
there was an empty seat beside you. we were all of us players
of the funhouse video games to sit and wait in these seats
while the games were explained, then we would be allowed to play.
i sat beside you. you told me your name was kathy, but i knew this.
we first met when you were sixteen and i was seventeen.
you were still sixteen, but i was as i am now, except i was still married.
the funhouse had distorting mirrors. they all do.
it was a boy’s night out for me. i had wandered for the first time
into this funhouse. we sat and listened to the long instructions
as to how to play and win the games, but i didn’t care to win,
nor even much to play. i was there looking for what everybody
looks for but never can give a name to. you were spunky and flirtatious,
told me how good you were at the games, told me, you’ll see.
it was time to play. we got on our knees, as instructed, before
the video games. i didn’t know how to play mine, didn’t much care.
it was something to do with spaceships shooting other spaceships.
you finished yours before i finished mine. it turned out you hadn’t
done so well after all, but it was time for you to leave.
there was a man there, smiling and friendly and, if not young,
he was younger than i am now. i thought he was your boyfriend,
and i was disappointed until you told me you wanted to see me again
and asked me for my number. he remained smiling.
he may have been your father.
it was late. the funhouse was closing. we all had to leave.
i pulled out my wallet and fumbled for a card, finally finding one of my own.
i gave it to you and told you to call me at my office, not telling you
not to call me at home due to the wife. (but kathy, i don’t have a wife,
not any longer. haven’t had one for years.) you said you would call,
saying it in a way that means it is true, then you left.
i went outside, into the night where many other young persons
were making their ways back home, some getting into cars while others
waited for buses. i wandered the parking lot, looking for my car,
the funhouse workers eying with suspicion this old man
who had come to play with the children. i held my car keys in my hand,
but my car had been stolen while i was inside playing games.
(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)