The Slovenian by Oline Eaton

I’m sitting on the stoop of a church discussing subliminality with the Slovenian man I met on the street ten minutes prior, when he flagged me down to ask if I’d ever considered doing Neo-Futurist Theater because my nose had the curvature and wisdom of a Native American’s.

A theater/film/sketcher/slashie person, the Slovenian is preoccupied with reality and truth. He believes everything is made better by being on the stage.

As we sit on the church steps, time and again he repeats, “This could not happen. We are so real that no one could ever believe we are being as real as we are being right now… unless we were on the stage.”

I don’t know what that means. Judging from the flash of horror that dodges across his face, The Slovenian also hasn’t the faintest clue and instantly wishes he could take it back.

He can’t, and so he seizes my hand.

He smells vaguely European and is missing a tooth.

He’d had six or seven scotch whiskeys. He tells me this six or seven times.

But a drunk Slovenian is a verbal train-wreck from which one cannot easily walk away. And a drunk lapsed Catholic Slovenian who has arrived at a fervent belief that you are an angel sent by God proves even more of a challenge.

Eventually, I extract myself, but The Slovenian has no intention of going quietly. In my wake, he stands on the church steps, bellowing a pledge that we will meet again. Not simply in the afterlife, but in the here and now. Into the pale purple of the dawning morning, he shouts that he will meet me—his angel, his “mysterious fleeting thing of a fleeting night”— under the decorative lamppost in the alley by the garbage dump.

Six weeks later, I see him again. We are coming from opposite directions while crossing a street. He is wearing the same sweater and still missing the tooth.

The Slovenian catches my eye, looks me up and down, and smiles in that way men smile at girls they’ve never met and are imagining naked.

I thank God for failed memories and scotch whiskey.

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