"climb faster," he urges. "they'll lose interest if they can't see you."
           i'm climbing as fast as i can, but i can't seem to pull myself over the top of the hill. behind me, the escaped lion and lioness are closing in, both of them looking to do me serious harm. it's been like this all day; when there was no animal actually escaping, the silhouette dancers fucked with me, making fleeing elephant shapes, sending me into panic. seeing them melt back into mocking females did little to restore my calm, and i'd have to check the elephant trailer, repeatedly and compulsively, before i could eat again.
           the ringmaster has been taking way too much pleasure in menacing me with the big gun. where is he now?
           i pull myself over the top of the grassy slope just before the lions reach me. i lay there, eyes closed and muscles tight, anticipating wrenching, screaming pain, but he was right; when i finally look back, they've gone back to the bottom, the female urinating on the tires of the striped vw safari, the male sniffing a smallish tree.

"do you think anything good can come of fucking someone you do not love?" i asked her.
            "that's what i've heard."
            "why do you ask?"
            "i'm thinking," i said, "of fucking the unloved."
            "go ahead. fucking someone you love is much worse."

"my father was born on the hottest day of the hottest year," she told me once.