Excerpt from “Against Type”

The janitor looked past her at the shoji front door. Listening to the open nothing in which they stood. Look, Miss Callie, he said.

What is it, she said.

He motioned that it was okay for her to come closer. I’ll just show you, he said. Come here.

What is it?

The janitor slid an open hand into a greaselined neon toolbag, coming out with a small pamphlet he thrust at her, as if dirtied more for holding it.

She stared at it, thumbed it open, feathered and fluffed the browned laminate.

Well, come on. You can read, can’t you.

Don’t matter. It’s got pictures. Here.

He levered the pamphlet from her and pulled to the side and strafed around her into the room and rounded back with the thing now opened to an advertisement for a play promoted by a grotesquely silhouetted couple in coitus.

And now what? said he.

Callie expunged the thing back at him. No, she said. No thank you. Not that. Now, if you’ll let me go, I think I need to go see Grant. Fistful of slippery cloth and pulling forward as if to fling herself anywhere but there.

Of course, Miss, he said. I just thought you’d ‘ppreciate the opportunity. Won’t change nothing will it?

No, maybe not. Maybe next time you decide to be all cosmic mentor it will. She was backing away with pinkie brushing bare stucco, the Janitor unmoving with pamphlet still in hand, red ringed eyes perhaps those of a small anger after all.

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