My eyes are like diamonds, finely cut in the mirror. The outlines of my face waver, melting into the cracked walls behind me. My tie represents who I am. Neat, perfectly-strewn, nice. Together.
There is no image in my head as I drive through the night. No faces of my dead mother or vanished father, just the recurring voice of that waitress.
You want fortune cookie?
Today is my birthday. I have celebrated alone at this restaurant. There is no family riding in on the trains from out of town, no friends decorating my apartment while I’m away. There is just me, and this smooth paper that remains from the cookie. I rub it in circles between my thumbs and index finger as I steer toward the address on the back of the paper.
367 Eastbrook Ridge
The trees along the sidewalks point at me with their branches. Look, they say, there he goes again.
This is where the address would be, if it were real.
There is a van at the end of the alley. On the latch of the door hangs a mask of shredded, multiple skins peeled from human faces that have rotted together. I pull it over my head. The flesh grabs hold of my cheeks.
The keys wait in the ignition, a golden chain strung to its end, dangling below the dashboard. Gold—everlasting, unchangeable. On the wheel is taped another slip of paper, already opened from its fortune cookie. I climb inside and start the van.
43rd and Prospect Road.
Something is in the trunk, kicking and rolling.
I drive until I reach the destination, a bar with a yellow neon sign that attracts customers like zombie moths. Men in worn suits. Men with worn faces. Drunken smiles.
I park on the corner, and unclip the gold chain, which is now mine. I expect to collect many more. I will go back to the restaurant next Saturday, and order the dish that is not on the menu. I will devour it slowly like it’s my last meal. The waitress will not ask me if I want a fortune cookie again. She will already know my answer.