Cover Photo: Conversations With Chloe by Chris Okum

Conversations With Chloe

She dates a lot of different men. Personal trainers.  Bartenders. American ninjas. A biker now and then. Bikers are the best and the worst. They can command an entire room just by walking into it, but then they'll hit people for no reason. Maybe they think they have to hit people for no reason. Or maybe the think they have to hit people so people will know that they will hit people for no reason. That seems like a good reason to me. A biker hit me once. He was hogging all the parking spaces. Took three for himself. Turned his bike sideways. There was nowhere else to park. So I said, Move your fucking bike right now. The biker pulled me out of my car. Through the window. He got me in a headlock and punched me in the face until some guy who was watching the whole thing from his car told him he should probably stop before he killed me, which to his credit he did. He listened. Bikers normally aren't very good listeners. But for some reason they make me feel safe. I don't know. When I'm around them I feel safe. Maybe that's because bikers remind me of cops. I think cops should be more like bikers because if the bikers were the cops instead of the cops being the cops this whole entire place would be really safe. No one would ever get out of line. Just the cops. And the bikers. The next time I talk to Chloe I'm going to ask her if I can just sit and listen to her conversations. Chloe is always talking to someone. She's a good listener. She says, I don't want to be but I have to be if I want to pay my rent. I told her I want to listen too. I told her I want to listen to her talk to a biker. I told her I want to know what a biker really has to say when he can just sit back and relax and act like a biker. Because I'd like to talk like a biker. I'd like to be able to say move your fucking bike right now and get away with it. I can't get away with saying that. I thought I could but I can't. I don't know why I thought I could but I did. There's not a whole lot I can get away with. Children will listen to me. But that's about it. Anyone over the age of ten is not going to listen to a word I say. Because they don't want to talk like me. They would probably rather talk like a biker than talk like me and I can't say I blame them. I'd rather listen to anyone but myself. But it's not like I can stop doing that. It's not like I have someone else to talk to. And then there are the drums. Someone is playing the drums and I can't hear myself think. I have to scream if I want to hear myself. I don't want to scream. I don't like screaming. It's not like I like screaming. But what can I do? There's nothing I can do. So I scream at myself. I say, Go to sleep right now! I say, Go get your jammies on right now! I say, Brush your teeth! I say, Get in bed and turn off the light goddammit! But I don't get mad at myself. I'm not mad at myself. I don't take it personally. I used to take it personally. Maybe because it was. It is. It's always personal. It's always one person to another and that always makes it personal. I've seen children booed by adults. Children performing a play and then they're done and the adults boo because they hated the show and they want to let the children know how much they hated it. They boo and boo. Boo! Boo! You guys suck! That was awful! What a waste of my time! Is anyone in charge! What's going on here! Who's responsible for this! Heads will roll! Someone has to pay! Someone always has to pay. That's what Chloe says. Someone always has to pay. Except for you, says the biker. Does that sound like something a biker would say? I have no idea.