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Not Dead Yet / Benjamin Drevlow


I’m at a bar in Kansas City with a shirt that says NOT DEAD YET.


It’s as close as I can come to optimism. 


In Kansas City. 


In February.


Most other dates and places, too.


Guy walks up to me, says, You got a date?


I say, What’s that, now?


He points at my shirt, says, To die?


I say, That’s the whole point, man. I’m past my expiration date.


Nah, I don’t say that.


I say, Nah. And throw in a Ha! for social niceties.


Guy looks close to sixty-five or so, but that’s probably like forty-five in Kansas City years.


I’m forty-five. 


Which is about 80 where I’m from.


Northernass Wisconsin. 


Everybody everywhere these days looks old as hell or young as shit. Nobody my same age.


Guy says, I’ve been waiting my whole life to ride an inner tube over Such & Such Dam. And now it’s gone. Demolished. What else do I have to live for, right?


I try to think about a body of water big enough in the greater Kansas/Missouri area where one might find such a dam of destiny.


When you gro up in Northernass Wisconsin, western tip of Lake Superior, you never much care about anybody else’s geography.


I don’t ask him his date.


He doesn’t tell me his date.


I tell him mine.


I say, Yeah, actually my magic number was pretty much every hour of every day of every month of every year from ages 14 to 40.


I say, Can’t you see my wrists? Can’t you see the withering of my blue-gree eyes?


I say, But! But then I got me one of these new-fangled magnetic lobotomies. [Gesture of wiping hands off each other.] Solved everything.


I don’t say any of that.


I say, Yeah?


He says, Yeah.


I say, Well that sucks. 


He says, My whole life. For what.


I say, Well it’d’ve made for a pretty good obituary.


He says, Tell me about it.


Then he looks at me. Looks at my shirt again.


Well, he says.


Well, I say. 


Then he walks away. 


Doesn’t say anything about all the scars on my wrists, all the burns up and down my forearms.


I want to say, Hey, come back. I want to know why. I want to know when. I want to be suicide pact friends.


I don’t say that. 


I just turn around to my buddy from Kansas City and say, You hear that guy?


Yeah?


Real Debbie fucking Downer, man. 


He says, Yeah, fuckin’ Kansas City, man.



/



BENJAMIN DREVLOW is the author of Bend With the Knees and Other Love Advice from My Father, which won the 2006 Many Voices Project from New Rivers Press, and the author of Ina-Baby: A Love Story in Reverse, which was released by Cowboy Jamboree Books in 2019. His latest story collection is A Good Ram Is Hard to Find, released in 2021 by Cowboy Jamboree Books. His novel The Book of Rusty was released in October 2022, also by CJB.

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