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the girl from baku by russell bittner


t h e   g i r l   f r o m   b a k u   :  1

:  r u s s e l l   b i t t n e r


"Coney Island Avenue!" the driver announces with single-minded authority as we approach the stop.

I look to the left, scan the avenue for signs of a pearl … of a girl. A girl from Baku.

No Bakunese, Bakuninin, Bakunonian here. Like the cheap plastic slippers she’d left on deposit for visiting hours. Translucent lime-green – the slippers; transparent – the gesture; a mere flight of fancy then, gone now – the evidence. All of it, as ephemeral as the "s" in "island" and the June mermaids on parade on that island – on that sometimes horny, always corny Coney Island.

Our B-82 bus continues on in the direction of Nostrand, Flatbush, Uttica, and a final stop – at Ralph, in Flatlands. What’s to say? 'Sounds like 'Nigel in Blackpool.’ 'Udo in Neukölln.’ All of 'em, 'hoods full of last exits, crash palaces, chop shops. Places where a man might look to mend a car, but never – ever – heal a heart.

She withdrew those slippers, and herself, last night following a much less ephemeral final fuck. One of the few English words she knew well – "fuck." Too well, turns out. And so, following the fuck, I wanted to be crystal clear. "Ja lyublyu tebia" I said. Then, snoozed off. Both the confession of love and the snoozing off perhaps a bit hasty. When I awoke an hour later, she was gone. I’d barely registered the deposit – much less the withdrawal.

"Coney Island Avenue!" from the driver, once out, doesn’t bear repeating as we’re already well on our way to Nostrand.

Slippers: no more. Caviar and sweet-smelling snatch: no more. Out the door and gone. Gone after just the inkling of an interlude – never mind the trouble of an étude.

Girl from Baku is now, tonight, just a phone ringing. With regrets, second thoughts, or possible self-recrimination? Somehow, I doubt it.

I let it ring. Once withdrawn, my girl from Baku ain't mine no more.

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© copyright 2005 russell bittner all rights reserved


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