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Cafagna IS Marcus Cafagna Mama's boy (for my daughter Noëlle) He calls me now almost every day. Every day he has the same complaint. "It's that woman," he tells me "that woman," in a voice that whines like tires in the rain. Usually he's alone when he calls but sometimes she's there— in the kitchen, the next room just out of earshot. His voice sounding hard and low like a man in jail. "I can't take it," he says "I can't live like this." "Where is she now?" I ask. "Well...she's in the shower but she doesn't care." I imagine her standing naked in his dirty bathtub squinting under the spray, hair blonde and twisted into those tiny pigtails down the back. "Stick with it," I tell hum "she's worth it." "I know," he says, "but I need love. I need a little COMPASSION." 16 the minnesota review He makes me think of the men I've known who suffered alone in wars in hospitals for the insane in back rooms swallowing buckshot. Men who would have killed to be with a beautiful woman and 20 again. They knew what he doesn't. All too well. And at least they were kind enough not to ask the rest of us to save them from it. It's all over now but the drinking No sleep for three nights now. The honey-colored man in the yellow slicker camped in the alley below my window humming spirituals. He shall not be moved from this cheap hotel, that mottled bean bag chair, the garbage men at 5 a.m., bartenders rolling in the kegs, beer bottles clanking down steps to the tavern, police tapping reveille against his heavy body with clubs. He doesn't mind his misery and neither should I— cockroaches pressed like mints to my overheated walls, mice wiggling in under the door at midnight. But his boozy baritone Cafagna 17 drowns out my Schumann, my Schubert, my every thought framed by his droning gospel until I can wait no longer, march down the steps, cross my eyes into his cracked and fissured face, nostrils like unexplored caverns, eyes roadmapped as if I do not exist. Even when I shout, "What the HELL do you think you're doing?" He only blinks, raises a colored party favor to his lips and blows it honking out at me like a long pager tongue. ...


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