Amanda Choo Quan

Black Chris

Black Chris is somewhere at the other end of the bar, but I can’t see him. Over something
clear and bitter (Stephanie’s), and yellow and pineapple (mine), Stephanie tells me all about him.
The man. The legend.

How old is Black Chris? Stephanie asks Steve, the bartender.

I don’t know, says Steve, pouring someone else something clear and bitter.

No-one knows! Says Steph, throwing up her hands.

Black Chris was there before Steve and the other bartenders, before Cha-Cha’s current owners,
before all of them. It was as though when Cha-Chas opened up in Silverlake,
long long ago (2005), Black Chris sort of just emerged
and disappeared when his set was done.

I saw him at the Vons on Alvarado last week, says Steve, sort of hushed.
Steve is from Montana originally.

White people really, really like him, Stephanie tells me, then nods to a white boy who passes
in Adidas track pants and baby pink baseball cap. It won’t be long before I understand
how it all works — that a nod means I know you from the Bay, or from art school, or from
the college we all went to upstate, or from someone’s bar mitzvah, or from a rally,
or from a punk house, or from the farm we all worked on last summer. Or maybe nothing,
except the divine in me bows to the divine in you, which is the true reason white people like yoga.

Black Chris plays all the nights, says Stephanie. Emo on Sunday and Death Metal on Tuesday and
Rap of the Early 2000s on Wednesdays, which was today. “Hot in Herre” was on, and
nobody was really dancing, just sort of curving their bodies towards each other, a sea of
self-contained hooks, a hardware store. Now and then someone whooped. There were a lot of
people. Someone bounced out of rhythm and made a gap in the crowd and Stephanie says there, do
you see — and there he is, in a black beenie, and a jacket full of buttons of bands I don’t know,
but I know Stephanie does.

And yes, he his black, but in the sense that he looks bored. He is radiating boredom, and
they are catching it and throwing it at each other, dancing in and around it. I am not sure
what is going on. Isn’t Black Chris the best? Stephanie says. Without trying too hard, you know?
I sip my pineapple, and Stephanie wrinkles her nose at me. Is that even good? She says.

Too sweet, I say, as I am expected to. I am ashamed. But I am learning. I want to learn. I can
feel the weight of its residue, the pineapple, I mean, on my tongue.
Yes, he is, I say, meaning it. How has he cracked them all open without them even
knowing? I’m not sure if his heart is into this, not really. But I suppose it doesn’t need to be. To satisfy.

When Steph and I get home, she sits me on her lap. She tells me where and where not to
touch her. I lap it up like a new language. I kiss her shaved head and graze the half moon on
the inside of her elbow with my thumb, though I am afraid that these both mean nothing
—her symbols, my actions, the mystery of it all.

She asks me if she thinks she is beautiful, but the way she says it makes it seem more
sophisticated than I could ever voice my own desire, which right now is for home. She is
rapt though I haven’t done much to her. I am waiting for her, as they all do, to tell me what
else she needs.

andalusia: a haunting

sancoche wake up in a place that frowsy and damp like the bottom of a ship. it dark and it
making hot. hace calor. sancoche feeling the weight of it pressing against he scales.
sancoche dont know how he reach there but he know the day he reach is the day he born
and he dont know how he know it but he do. sancoche lonely down there. sancoche dont
know what is lonely but he know is what he is. sometimes sancoche does feel feet stepping
on him but not stepping on him at the same time. sancoche don’t know what that mean.
sancoche have a tail. sancoche first words is soy la verdad y la vida. sancoche don’t know
what that mean but sancoche think it sound nice. sancoche don’t know what mean mean.
sancoche getting restless. all it have to drink is something old and spoil and grey that fall
through the crack sancoche cah see because sancoche eyes having trouble adjusting to the
dark. sancoche think maybe is orange juice. sancoche think maybe is sancoche. sancoche
know that is orange juice. sancoche don’t know how he know is orange juice but he know.
sancoche know it have people upstairs. sancoche wonder if he is a people. sancoche cant
hear the people but sancoche could feel them. sancoche don’t know if the duttiness and
frowsiness is the place or just him. sancoche can’t sleep. sometimes sancoche fart loud so
the people upstairs know he there. when sancoche belch it does stink up the place even
more and shake the walls. sancoche like the stink. sancoche think it sound like music.
sancoche does time he farts so that when the people sleeping it does wake them up.
sancoche so sad sancoche feel like is christmas. sancoche feel like nobody does see him but
then sancoche whip himself stupid because it not that the people blind is that he down
here. duh, sancoche. sancoche like the sound of flesh. sancoche like reality tv. sancoche
like the quiet but sancoche still lonely. sancoche decide to start to pray. sancoche faith give
him strength. sancoche decide nothing stopping him from rising up but himself. sancoche
fly up through the stinkness and end up in a people belly. sancoche rise up and reach from
one pit to another. sancoche horns push through the belly skin and sancoche belch an
incredible belch but sancoche feel that the people dont know is not dem and is sancoche.
sancoche never see these people before and these people never bother with sancoche.
sancoche feel these people is he family. but sancoche dont know if is they make him or he
make them.