Daniel Olivas
You're the Only One Here
A thousand flying rhinoceroses happily winging their way over the Arco Towers towards Santa Monica? Yes, I guess, that would be stranger than what's been happening to me. But not much. I mean, think about it: you know what a rhino looks like, right? Oh yeah. You're an Animal Planet freak, so of course you know every permutation that thick, gray wrinkles could offer. And you certainly know what wings look like. Now those can come in an infinite variety. Personally, I love the deep blacks and sunny oranges of the Ruddy Turnstone's wings. Their summer plumage, you know. You prefer a simple swan's? Figures. Elegant, graceful, white. Like you. Anyway if you put them together you get a flying rhino. What's so strange about that?
Pops used to say, "Uno nunca debe confiarse en la apariencias." You know, appearances are deceiving, or something like that. But not when it comes to me. I'm so ordinary looking. Pops always said that I was his beautiful baby girl, even after I graduated from USC Law School. That's a father's love. He would never call me plain. But that's what I am. Plain and brown like a grocery bag. What? Oh, you're sweet. Thank you. I have little doubt that women love you. You know just what to say. Is it hot in here? I can play with the thermostat. No, no. I'd better not open the window. The thermostat will do. By the way, are those handcuffs hurting much?
Well, it all started a few months ago. I was working away writing a draft opinion for Justice Bickerman. He loved my writing and usually didn't change a word. It was an interesting issue involving a somewhat novel habeas issue. I remember when I finished the final draft, I set the neat stack of pages near my spineless yucca and dwarf silver nerve, on the same table where my DeskJet sits, and I took a deep breath feeling very proud. A few minutes later, I walked it over to Bickerman and he took it with a smile, the way he always did. I headed off to lunch with a grin on my face wider than a tasson spathiphyllum leaf. I almost skipped over to the Pollo Loco at the Grand Central Market a couple blocks from the state building. When I came back to my office, I found my opinion sitting on my chair. I did a little rumba to it expecting to see his usual FINE JOB!! written in neat, red ink on the front page. Instead, a tiny, vicious scrawl said See my notes. So, I opened it. He massacred my work! Every page looked like a war zone with red slashes and x's. My heart hit my throat with a thud. I turned on my heel and burst into his office without knocking. He looked so pathetic sitting there with a napkin tucked under his flabby chin, tuna on white and a Diet Coke sitting in front of him in like pathetic sacrificial lambs. At first, Bickerman smiled. Then I threw my raped opinion on his food. Oh, you should have seen the fear drip into his eyes. But that's when it happened. I swear, it did. I closed my eyes for but a second. I shut them hard with anger that went beyond anything I ever felt before. When I opened them, Bickerman was gone. Pfffftttt!! Like that. You know it's true because it was all over the Los Angeles Times. Not all the facts. Only that he was missing and how his co-Justices and poor wife couldn't imagine where he could be. Now, you have to admit, that's stranger than a thousand flying rhinoceroses. Right? Of course I'm right.
At first, I didn't think that I had anything to do with it. But it happened again, just three days later. I had this date with a guy I met after I was reassigned to a new Justice in the other tower of the state building. What? James. A nice guy, or so I thought. He had worked as a research attorney for my new Justice but he was transferring to work for another. Change of pace, he said. But now I figured his Justice finally saw through him. Anyway, James and I kind of hit it off so we ended up going out to Westwood to see a movie. At least, that was the plan. When he picked me up in front of my apartment, we sat for a long while in his parked VW trying to decide what to see. I voted for something with a little action in it. Maybe Arnold or Bruce. I figured, his being a guy and all, he'd be happy. But no. James wanted to see a romantic comedy. One with Julia Roberts, for God's sake! I started getting really pissed. But he kept on saying how Julia - that's what he called her, Julia, not Julia Roberts, like he goddamn knew her or something - he kept on saying how she got great reviews for this latest movie and how she was kind of coming back after a few disappointing outings. His word. Outings. His voice went on and on and finally I closed my eyes and tried to shut him out. And then silence. Pure, beautiful silence. And James was gone. Just like Bickerman. You know about him, too, because that one made the local TV news a lot once it came out that James was actually being considered for a judgeship himself despite being only thirty-one years old. Boy wonder, it turns out. Harvard undergrad. Stanford law. All this despite being born to a poor, single mom in Van Nuys. Oh well. He still would have made a shitty judge. I guarantee it.
Well, now it's pretty lonely. I hadn't realized that most of the people I socialized or worked with were such assholes. But they're all gone now. You're the only one here that I can talk to without getting royally pissed-off, Robert. What? No. I said that I can't. I'm so alone. I need you here. I'll keep you fed and clean. Don't worry. No, I said. Robert, what part of "no" do you not understand? Stop it. Stop it! You don't realize how good you've got it! No! Robert, one last time. Shut up. Shut up, now.
Daniel A. Olivas is the author of The Courtship of María Rivera Peña: A Novella (Silver Lake Publishing, 2000). His fiction and poetry have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, THEMA, The Pacific Review, RiverSedge, Red River Review, Web del Sol, among many others. The author's work is featured in several anthologies including Fantasmas: Supernatural Stories by Mexican-American Writers, edited Rob Johnson with an introduction from Kathleen Alcalá (Bilingual Press, summer 2001), and Love to Mamá: A Tribute to Mothers, edited by Pat Mora and illustrated by Paula Barragán (Lee & Low Books, 2001). He may be reached at olivasdan@aol.com or visit his web page at http://www.homestead.com/DanielOlivas/olivas.html.
All contents copyright The New Journal, 2001.