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A Poem: Two for the Road 

Outside, everyone drinks wine in the garden, offering it to the latecomer, who refuses repeatedly. A naked woman emerges from an in-ground pool, wine glass in her hand, offering him a sip and asking if he can distinguish the grape variety. He has neither any idea nor any interest, and refuses to drink a drop. The shirtless, emaciated man with wavy locks and sunglasses lounges in cut-off jean shorts, fondles a shotgun beside the wooden chair. He too pushes wine on the newcomer. The latecomer accepts a glass, and inspects the cloudy liquid. It bears more of a resemblance to apple juice, Ohio River water, or better yet, urine.

He wakes up in a bed on the fifth floor of a warehouse in the city, an old, dilapidated, unused factory now used for storing used auto or body parts, populated by hospital beds, IVs, heart monitors, and flat-screen TVs. Men in white smocks surround his bed, only their eyes protruding from behind taut gauze, surgical masks. (It reminds him of a film he once saw, in which the criminal doctor antagonist uses a dentist’s drill to remove the marathon runner protagonist’s healthy teeth, so as to extract details about a collection of priceless diamonds.) But they explain that he is gravely ill, and they must remove two stalky, bulbous sacs from his chest before they grow into edible onions. The man is upset at the news, opens his mouth to scream, but only nuts come out.

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