The police officer asks me as he fills out a form on his clipboard— routine paperwork for the wallet snagged from my hands by a blur of a man at East 180th. Just 60 dollars and my debit card, I shout over the din of the police station. But in the change pocket, I kept a spare key for my first loam- colored station wagon—the one peppered with rust, that sputtered and jumped like an old grizzly bear as I drove it down to the local punk venue. Or the tiny mustache comb that I used to groom my facial hair before the first date with my wife— the two tufts on my upper lip trembling like two spooked chihuahuas as I rehearsed all the jokes I would fumble that night. And what about the piece of string I tucked behind my driver’s license— that brown, frayed, wispy thing I clipped from the biggest ball of twine in the world for my grandfather, not knowing he had died of a sudden brain aneurysm the night before. I’m sorry, sir, could you repeat yourself. I couldn’t hear you over all the noise. The police officer says as he rests a pencil against his uniform scruff. Sure, officer. 60 dollars, my debit card, a key for a battle tank, a priceless mustache comb, a thread leading back to the past.
Jean-Luc Fontaine resides in New York where he teaches the arts at an elementary school in the Bronx. He enjoys cheap coffee and falling asleep on subway cars.
Originally published in the FALL 2018 edition of The Helix.