When I saw the man, the man with arms made of flesh and bone, bare to the shoulder, lifting boxes into the bed of a transport truck, when I saw that his arms weren’t long insect things, bristling with hairs, slender and strong, and when I saw he lacked pincers, mandibles, and the plastic skin of a roach . . .

Then I knew the drugs were wearing off.

He paid no attention to me. Why should he? I doubt he could even see me, buried convincingly beneath the trash. I was like the trash. I did not blink. Instead, I stared at his tattoos. Three of them were government issued. They all glided like shadows around on his skin, like ice in a twisting glass. I moved less than they did.

He finished, and orange-gray steam from the vehicle’s departure filled the alley. He watched the truck leave. When it was out of sight, he slid one of his hands to his groin. He undid his buckle and exposed a round, swollen insect abdomen hanging from where his manhood should have been. Over his bladder, above his pubic hair, were a half dozen glassy spider eyes. Like me, they didn’t blink. He rubbed the swollen organ as he walked to the wall. It opened up at the end and he began to lay grape-sized eggs, wet and covered in cream, onto the brick. They stuck there, at hip height. He produced a trail of these, bending his hips foreword, and then added another row, like lines of text. When he was finished, he closed his pants and smoked a chlorette. Then he went back inside.

I stared at the eggs on the wall, terribly afraid.



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