Too hot to go out now, asphalt black and burning with the bitumen that aggregates viscous gravel, tar that burns bare feet and paws of bored Labradors panting on tile inside. I would like to go out naked on my mountain bike in high top tennis shoes. I would like to wave to matrons on their way to Los Angeles, the ones who vote for border walls while hiring Oaxacans to prune their boxwood hedges. If I could, I would like to hail our own glorious Angel, our guard and gardener who swirls his Toro, filling ears with the din of his wand. Its power cordless and cloud forming like a low pressure front off the coast of Baja. I would like to, if I could, silence the cry of Angel’s long leaf blower, calm the whirl of his billowing blossoms, push him in the pool, for he must be hot, this ethereal presence who wings his way around our grounds in his low-brimmed bucket hat, replacing garden lights. If I could I would like, since I have to stay inside, since the sun has gone down on the day, torrid on the black top, leaving me to clicking ceiling fans and carbonated cans of seltzer, I would like to unstrap Angel, unladder this pruner and wrestle him on my yoga matt, narrow and full of dog hair though it might be. He has scooped the fallen mandarins from beneath the fruitful citrus tree, he has passed the bikinis on the lip of the kidney pool. We spoke yesterday of the skunk named after Zorro, who burrows beneath golden rock and waddles down the walkways at night, spraying renters in the complex. Angel has warned me of windstorms and wasps in the center of unpicked grapefruit. He smiled and bit into an imaginary rind, his teeth as white as heat. Angel would like to lose a few pounds, he would like to take a shower if he could, ask for a raise, a back rub and a happy ending. Me too.

Casey Charles

Casey Charles writes from Missoula, Montana, and Palm Springs, California, where he is working on his third novel, the story of a nineteenth century “gay” anarchist who immigrates from Poland to Chicago. His memoir Undetectable is forthcoming from Running Wild Press. Find more about Casey at (
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