I know this guy, Charlie Minnovitz. He has gills on his neck. Tells me over bottles of Bud that he is no freak. Says that people are born with signs of waking dreams come true all the time. He can breathe underwater, but he never has. Living on Long Island, he’s found a way to never see the ocean. He drives highways, visits shops by the off-ramps. Sends his kids to sailing class with his wife. Reminds her every time to make sure they got their life jackets on. He has a fear of the undertow that only a man who can breathe underwater can have. He always wears collared shirts, confesses his differences only here at this bar stool.
Charlie says he never tried his gills, but knows they work fine. Says you don’t have to believe in your kidney, but they believe in you. They work even without your prayers. He never takes a tub bath; he showers. Likes the force of the water hitting his skin. Likes to watch the water spiral down the drain. He adds that he also loves to put up wet laundry on the backyard line to dry. Can spend the whole afternoon observing the process of evaporation.
His wife thinks he’s crazy. Thinks it must be something with the gills. But now, after so many beers, he has no idea what it can be. He can swim under all the oceans, but that won’t make him any more20sober. He drains his bottle and wonders out loud how he’s going to make it home tonight. He puts his head down on the bar and is asleep. Begins to snore evenly and loud. And I see the collar of his shirt expanding and contracting as if he was breathing from his neck. But I could be wrong. It could be a trick of the light. The lateness of the hour, and all the beers I am drowning in.