Fire — "Arabiki - Coarse Grind"

by David Cady

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Arabiki. He's the one always standing too close with his boozy exhalations, endlessly pushing his massive glasses to the top of his considerable honker with a hooked forefinger. Arabiki looks like a grizzled praying mantis in greasy glasses. Once, he suddenly peered over his desk at me and asked if I wanted to "fiddle around or something" after work. He said it in a drunken sing-song. He trilled it. Fiddle around? He's a guy, I'm a guy, and we both have kids, so how was I to interpret that? Did he mean hit the bars and talk baseball, or was it more along the lines of wrestling each other in some hotel in our underwear and black socks? Anyway, I pretended I misheard the question and gave a neutral laugh that sounded very much like, "Ha ha." Yesterday, he winked at me. His self-defining glasses popped over the top of the divider of our pod, and I'll be damned if he didn't wink at me. But it happened so fast that I'm beginning to wonder if maybe he wasn't simply just... I don't know. It was weird.


OK, this is getting freaky, because he just passed me a note. He palmed it efficiently onto my desk as he was walking to the fax machine. He's standing over there, tending as usual to his unruly spectacles and acting as if he did not just slip me a carefully folded piece of paper with a Hello Kitty sticker on it. He must have studied origami or something, because the note is creased to look like a rocket or a banana or a... oh. As it opens, each layer has a little message scrawled in cramped, uneven letters. "Meow's it going?" "You're purr-fect." "You give me paws for thought." At the center of the unfolded sheet of paper is a short question: "Are you feeling this too?"

My ears hear the rush of an angry ocean. Nausea hits my stomach. I grab a Post-it and in a shaky hand scribble the word that is now a towering, floodlit cathedral in my mind's eye:


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