The Nadir

who you are

Ran sat at a wooden table in Galanga. The dying rays of the sun painted the restaurant interior red, on a sunny afternoon in Noho. In a white dress shirt, with the collar unbuttoned, she fanned herself, to ward off the early spring heat, and took a shot of lao khao.

The Thai eatery was quieter than usual, drifting somewhere between lunch and the evening rush hour. Dallas appeared in an off-the-shoulder blouse and acid-washed jeans, heels clicking on the tile floor. She went right over to Ran, “Good to see you again.”

“I figured you’d might like cuisine like this,” Ran said, refilling her glass.

Dallas sat down and ordered a plate of fish cakes, with bird’s eye chili dipping sauce and lime, “How have you been?” she said, “I haven’t seen you in a while, not since that night at New York Central, I don’t think.”

“No, I’ve been busy,” Ran replied. She offered the rice whiskey bottle to Dallas, who shook her head, “I have a dinner party later tonight. That stuff is strong!”

Ran glanced at the label, “I wouldn’t have guessed. How did you manage this in Thailand?”

The fish cakes came to the table, “Well, they eat it with a ton of spicy, sour food, minced pork and grilled prawns – like peanuts or buffalo wings here.”

“Sounds delicious. May I?” Ran reached for a haddock cake.

“Go right ahead!” Dallas gestured at the plate.

“What have you been doing in New York, since you got back?”

“There’s this artist I want to sponsor, help her open up a gallery. A small one, here in Downtown.”

“That’s nice of you,” Ran dipped a second cake in the sauce, “Did you ever hear from your old girlfriend, the one who came back to the states early?”

“She lives up in Oregon now,” Dallas sighed, looking out the window, at the deepening sunset, “She said that her house is near an apple orchard. I thought she sounded happy.”

“Was she the soul mate you said you had met already, and it didn’t work out?”

Dallas shifted in her seat, “No, that was another one. From before.”

Ran refilled her glass, to wash down the salty cakes, “Not to pry, but do you ever think of her? How she is?”

“Sometimes,” Dallas said looking up at a point above Ran’s head, “I was wracked with guilt. I just walked away. I guess you could say Aspen, the second woman, was a rebound. I shouldn’t have done that. It made sense that I was dumped in Thailand.”

Ran sipped the burning whiskey this time, “If you could make amends, would you?”

Dallas looked at her, “I am not a strong person. That’s why I did what I did.”

The shadows were long, as the sun was eclipsed by the cityscape.

The plate was almost done; Ran pushed the glass away from her. She placed a few rumpled bills on the tabletop and stood up to go.

“I met Alli in Florida,” Dallas began, “She was such a powerful spirit. I didn’t feel like I could be the one for her, even if she was the one for me.”

Ran glanced down as darkness fell, “Do you feel like you could be there for her today?”

Dallas looked down, “No, I can barely be there for me.”

“She will heal, like Aspen,” Ran said moving around the table, to the door, “But can you heal? Can you avoid that from happening again?”

The brown bottle glinted in the pale light of the evening. Dallas regarded Ran, “I want to say I am a different person, but honestly, I don’t know.”

Ran nodded, “Take care Dallas.”

Outside, she walked several blocks, before lighting a cigarette and exhaling into the sky. Ran sat on a park bench, feeling the night’s first breeze, wondering if she had done anything for Alli.

bougee goku


Rodrigo – Concierto de Aranjuez for guitar & orchestra: 02 Adagio

Floating Signifier

not here

Ran walked hunched over, under her umbrella – her black leather shoes, and the feet of her gray slacks, getting wet. She turned into Zibetto, and found a seat facing the window.

She got the cappuccino, blond roast, and a prosciutto panini. Ran opened a nearby newspaper to read. The music in the espresso bar was piping hot Bossa nova jazz, redolent of a faraway, tropical land.

Alli met her there, bustling through the door, in a black pea coat, hydroplaning across the floor. She ordered a macchiato and sat down next to Ran. They sometimes grabbed lunch together there, when they could.

Steam rose from her beverage, misting Alli’s glasses, as she took a sip, “Not to talk about exes, but Kaan said she glimpsed Dallas, at the Grand Hyatt, the other day. She must be back from Thailand. I told you about Dallas, didn’t I?”

Ran folded the paper, “Maybe you did, long ago. Remind me again of who she is?”

“She was an old girlfriend of mine. We went to Fiji together, once. Dallas went to Australia to do a semester of graduate research and I waited for her. She came back, but I never heard from her. She was living with Kaan’s former girlfriend Aspen, by the time I found out she was back in the states.”

“I see. That’s horrible!” Ran turned on the stool to face her.

“Dallas was the one who left Kaan to pick up the pieces. I moved on too. Kaan is still not happy about what happened. Aspen never came back.”

“Right,” Ran said, “Who does something like that?”

Ran looked at Alli with concern. She then turned back to the window, the street motley and the view diffracted through hundreds of raindrops. Ran’s stomach flip-flopped, as she took a sip of her Sumatran coffee.

Unperturbed, Alli also looked out the window, before tapping a bleating notification on her phone. “I got to get back to the office; I have to get on a conference call. Our accounting department rep had a fall and can’t come back after lunch.”

“Yes, no problem,” Ran held her hand and Alli squeezed her shoulder. She left a tenner for the meal and was whisked out the door, with the same speed, with which she had entered.

The streets hadn’t cleared, even in the rain. Pizza deliverers for Uber Eats rode by, with pies piled high and lashed down on the backs of their bikes. A bus knelt into the curb and disgorged itself of an afternoon rush hour load of passengers.

Behind the window pane, Ran thought of the blond at the bar, Was that Dallas? Did I meet the one who hurt Alli? And Kaan?

Another customer entered, raindrops rolling off a beige wool coat. The gust that followed in his wake threw the ears of her newspaper in disarray. Disconcerted, Ran paid for the food and stepped outside, under the awning. Thin streams of water poured down in front of her. Could that really be Dallas?

She stepped out into the downpour and hailed a taxi, trying to forget about what she had just heard.

sumatran coffee