Joseph Lease


He doubted whether he knew anyone and he could not awake the dead he

A bottle of Slivovitz on the kitchen table. Alter never drank on a
weekday, at midday. Not his fault--a boy died, a boy fell off Alter's
bus--he climbed on the rear ledge for a ride, for fun, then fell under
an oncoming car. Alter didn't know the boy was there until he fell
off--everyone heard the impact. My father, a seven or eight year old
boy, watched his father, ashamed, in shock.

Sixty-eight years after that accident, I'm in a mall. Watches with
gorgeous faces, displayed in threes in windows. Laughing teenagers.
The Clinique counter full of mauve oils and creams and bright blue
astringent. I want to kiss between Donna's breasts. I wish we could
slip into that storage room. Wearing the charcoal gray sweater she
gave me, I think. This world is not real. And I think, My father liked
the shirt I bought him.

No one here is wealthy, but everyone here is shopping: couples walk by
arm in arm and talk quietly and smile and shop for gifts and household
things. No one is yelling here or haggling. This place does not smell
like Coney Island in 1924: there is no ritual slaughter in this mall,
no chickens are being killed in the sacred way.