Small Talk

Hello Mr. Magazine - - SMALL TALK - Text by Ryan Rogers Il­lus­tra­tion by Yichi Liu

I slow to a crawl un­til I fi­nally spot the ad­dress and park across the street. It’s early enough to ex­pect morn­ing jog­gers, but I don’t see any.

I am wear­ing the shirt I slept in with fresh un­der­wear and a pair of blue gym shorts with Comeaux High School printed across the thigh. I did not go to Comeaux High School. Th­ese gym shorts used to be­long to some­one else. “Can I bor­row th­ese to wear home?” I asked, al­ready stick­ing my feet into them. “Sure,” he grinned. “I prob­a­bly won’t bring them back,” I said. Still naked, he got out of bed and strut­ted over to me. He put his hands around my neck and stuck his face in mine. “If I let you bor­row them,” he breathed into my mouth. “You’ll have to bring them back at some point.” I rolled my eyes up to meet his. “You’re let­ting me hold your gym shorts ran­som?” He reached down and grabbed my dick. “You’ll be back.” I haven’t seen him since. Th­ese gym shorts are part of a col­lec­tion that in­cludes t-shirts, box­ers, hood­ies, and other gym shorts taken from guys I’ve slept with – each one swiped in haste be­fore a kiss on the cheek and a prom­ise to text later. There isn’t any stash­ing; I just in­te­grate them into my wardrobe and wear them with­out rit­ual. Of­ten, I can’t wash the boy out of cer­tain items, but that doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, I’d pre­fer if each re­tained the odor of its for­mer owner. My two fa­vorite scents come from a Tu­lane Uni­ver­sity sweat­shirt (An­des Mints) and a Hack­berry Car­di­nals Base­ball shirt (burnt hair and stale sweat). But th­ese gym shorts – the blue ones with Comeaux High School printed across the thigh – they just smell like my fab­ric soft­ener. I get a text that reads, “You here yet?” I stare at the screen for a mo­ment be­fore typing, “I just parked.” “Ok. The door is un­locked. No small talk, re­mem­ber?” I don’t re­spond. I exit the car and cross the street. Fi­nally, I spot a morn­ing jog­ger: a 20-some­thing of man­nequin pro­por­tions. I want to liken her run­ning pos­ture to a grace­ful an­i­mal of the African plains, like a gazelle or a spring­bok, but I’ve never ac­tu­ally seen ei­ther run – in per­son, that is. I have seen a golden re­triever run, and that has to do, I guess. Un­like the jog­ger, the clouds are not hard to de­scribe. They are metal­lic and ap­pear to be bolted to the sky like God’s own art in­stal­la­tion. The thought of God watch­ing me

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